Thirteen years ago, there were three longhaired brothers that took over MTV, radio stations, Billboard charts, and the walls of young girls across the world. These three boys brought with them songs like, “MMMBop” and “Where’s the Love” and were too precious to be ignored, at least by most of the population. There were however, some of us who could not stand the fact that our world was being dominated by these youngsters known as Hanson. The brothers were like a modern-day Jackson Five minus two brothers. Little Zac was the 11-year-old drummer, while 14-year-old Taylor was the dreamboat main singer, and 16-year-old guitar player, Ike, was happy to harmonize on stage with his hearththrob younger brother. In 1997, Hanson ruled the world of pop, and it was pretty damn annoying. As a senior in high school. I viewed these guys as nothing more than New Kids on the Block wannabes. I was too old and too mature to be listening to their songs. But I was definitely not too old to joke about them with my equally mature girlfriends.
Flash foward to present day and I am finding out that Hanson is going to be playing at The Depot and that I could interview one of the brothers. How could I possibly say no? Who cares if I was never a Hanson fan? I had the opportunity to talk to one of these sweet-singing brothers and the biggest question on my mind was do people really take you seriously?
I spoke with the eldest of the Hanson brothers, Isaac, who back in the day was known by rabid pre-teen girls as Ike. Isaac was calling from Los Angeles, where the trio was for their “Shout it Out” tour. Before launching into the interview, I revealed to Isaac that the interview with him was a bit surreal for me, and we began talking about how old we both were when Hanson got big. Turns out, we are the same age and are only eight days apart. After wishing each other luck into the world of 30, we began talking music.
Isaac Hanson is pretty straightforward, but it is clear that he knows how to enjoy a good laugh. He is happy to talk about his confidence in the band and reveal that unless people actually listened to a full Hanson album outside of hit singles like “MMMBop,” then they don’t really know the music of the three brothers. According to Issaac, Hanson sounds just about the same as they did 13 years ago, that is with the exception of the voice changes that maturity brings with it.
“I think the only thing that might skew people’s perceptions was our youth, initially. If you really look at what we’ve done over the course of the last 13 years, a huge majority of the music is basically kind of R&B inspired, pop rock of some sort. I would say in large part that even though people might not initially understand what I’m talking about, it has maintained a lot more similarity than difference. That being said, if someone only heard a song from ‘Middle of Nowhere,’ i.e. ‘MMMBop,’ ‘Where’s the Love’ or something like that, and then they heard ‘Shout it Out,’ they would probably think, ‘holy crap, who is this band? They’re totally different’. But I think most of that has to do with voices, and the difference in age of the voices than it does to do with the nuts and bolts of the music that we make,” says Isaac.
The 2010 release of “Shout it Out” serves as the group’s sixth album release. Though the band has not been in the tabloids and on TV and radio like they once were, they have spent the past 13 years recording and touring. According to Isaac, the group ran into some problems with a record label merge that took place with the label they were on after their second album release, and it was because of label problems that it took them over four years to record their third album, “Underneath.”
“We were very, very frustrated with that because obviously that’s like career suicide in a lot of ways. It’s neglecting all of our fans around the world and creating a real problem as years go on,” explains Isaac.
Despite problems with their label and four years in between albums, Hanson found themselves receiving a good amount of response to “Underneath.” According to Isaac, the album became the No. 1 indie record the year it was released. Following their third album, the guys continued to record on their own label, and have toured heavily in promotion of their albums. Along with touring, the trio has donated time and resources to charity by organizing one-mile walks in every city that they have toured in since 2007.
“In 2007 we released an album called ‘The Walk’ and we did one mile walks in every city that we toured in throughout 2007, 2008, 2009, and now 2010. We are raising money for poverty and AIDS relief in Africa,” says Isaac.
While they continue to be proactive through charitable efforts, the Hanson brothers are also excited about their newest release. As they tour in an effort to promote the newest album, Isaac says that he feels pretty confident that music lovers will like what they hear on “Shout it Out”.
“The record is definitely kind of live and rootsy sounding. It’s got a lot of connections to a lot of the music that we grew up listening to; ’60s R&B and even little bits of singer/songwriter elements of the ’60s and ’70s but it’s obviously or take on it so it’s a little more of a modern twist on some of that. The entire record was done with the three of us from top to bottom live in the room. These days, most records are not made that way. It’s a very raw and honest interpretation of what it is that we do musically,” says Isaac.
So what can music fans expect from a Hanson show? According to Isaac, it’s a whole lot of fun.
“One way or the other, part of going to a concert, part of music, is living in that moment and experiencing the moment for the sake of appreciation for that time and what’s going on then and there. Hopefully, people are having an experience that is engulfing them in some form or another. If you’re coming to a Hanson show, don’t be afraid to leave your ‘shy cap’ behind you. Come to have a good time and to hopefully enjoy music for the sake of music,” says Isaac.
If that’s not enough to get you up and out the door to check out Hanson, then Isaac is confident enough to issue a guarantee that you will end up liking Hanson, despite what you thought 13 years ago.
“I have confidence that if you come to a Hanson show that you will not regret it. Come and prove me wrong,” says Isaac.