Hanging with Isaac Hanson

By | November 11, 2010

The Mount Holyoke News

On November 15th, “MMMBop” sensation Hanson will take the stage at Northampton’s Calvin Theatre. The group will be releasing a live DVD box set on November 30th called 5 of 5 and is currently on tour with Jarrod Gorbel promoting Hanson’s most recent album “Shout It Out.”

Isaac Hanson, the oldest member of this teenage pop sensation talked to The Mount Holyoke News about their influences, childhood and raising his own children.

MHNews: Has there been a favorite artist you’ve gotten to tour with over the years?

Isaac: Well we’ve met a lot of people over the years- not necessarily toured with all of them but you have people like Billy Joel and Paul McCartney…that you get the opportunity to shake hands and say hello to at different events and passing’s to talk to for a few minutes…

One of the more significant musical things for us, is we’ve had the horn section from The Blues Brothers movie and who were in the band and made the records with [John] Belushi and [Dan] Aykroyd. They played with us a bunch of different times with the promotion of this record…We grew up watching that movie. It was that movie and oldies radio and stuff from the late 50s/early 60s as far as R&B, rock and roll, Chuck Berry, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin- that kind of stuff. So to get the chance to play on stage with those guys and talk to them- especially Bones Malone, who is a primary arranger and coordinator of the horns section, whose absolutely a gentleman and a really great guy to talk to.

It’s been really big for us and we covered, amongst other things, we covered “Gimme Some Lovin’” and the song “Shake Ya Tail Feather” which are both in The Blues Brothers movie. We actually originally knew those songs from the movie first and then discovered the original versions as well as recently recreated a scene from The Blues Brothers movie for this single ‘Thinkin Bout Somethin’ off this record. So are The Blues Brothers love has sort of come full circle [laughs] and I’ve had the opportunity to work with those guys, play with those guys…

The movie itself was inspiration for the video. The scene where Ray Charles breaks into song in the music store and then the whole Blues Brother Band and The Blues Brothers themselves start singing and the next thing you know a spontaneous dance party in the street happens and basically we recreated that scene with our own little twists here and there…It was definitely inspired by that movie and our love for that song, as well as the feeling that that particularly scene and that that song from that movie caused. So we felt like it was representative of what the song ‘Thinkin Bout Somethin’ made people fun and so it seemed appropriate.

MHNews: Did Hanson collaborate and talk to the director about it? Or did they bring it to you first?

Isaac: It was definitely our idea (laughs). Interestingly we were talking about video ideas- that idea came up in passing and we we’re like, ‘Oh that’d be real cool,’ and then Taylor was looking at video stuff online and he pulled up this scene from The Blues Brothers movie…[he] realized that the song just totally clicked- it made sense…They might as well have put this song in the movie it totally work. So then we went down the road of figuring out how to recreate that scene. We ultimately built the set for the music store inside our office and then found a downtown street in Tulsa, OK which is where we’re from, and filmed it all there. So it was pretty fun- pretty cool.

MHNews: What was it like growing up in Oklahoma and then being able to travel all over the country?

Isaac: “We’d lived as young kids in Arlington, VA and also for about a year had traveled in South America because our dad was an accountant for an oil company and took the opportunity because I think amongst other things he was brave enough and ambitious enough to kind of take an usual job opportunity…We’re originally from Oklahoma. Then my dad worked for the [U.S. Government Accountability Office] in Washington and then moved back to Oklahoma. Then that oil company that he worked for, we spent right about a year in South America because of that job after he’d been there for a couple years…

Tulsa is a small town but it’s not quaint and rural- the metro area is about a quarter of a million people, but by Northeast standards it’s not particularly large but it’s not a small town…Interestingly it’s very similar in size to Kansas City.

MHNews: What was it like growing up in a family with so many siblings? Was there ever any jealousy?

Isaac: Well when we first started we were so young that I think the only one of our siblings that would remember us not doing music is my sister Jessica, who is 22; so she might have had a few years of memory where we weren’t doing music but…by my sister Avery was one we were already playing concerts. So pretty much everybody only knows us – {laughs} I don’t know if there’d be any jealousy particularly one thing my parents have been really, really good at – and I think we are evidence of that – is filling a lot of individuality and self confidence in their children and the rest of the kids in my family have no lack of self confidence or willingness to kind of be themselves and in a lot of ways ambitious too. There’s definitely not any kind of jealousy particularly, I mean sometimes I feel a little bit weird because you know we created almost like two separate families…because we’ve done so much and being on the road and all that kind of stuff.

MHNews: Would you ever encourage any of your own children to be interested in music?

Isaac: {laughs} It’s funny because I think our modern culture- We were talking recently, we were in San Francisco, [CA] in a beautiful theatre that we were playing…it was built after the 1906 Earthquake in San Francisco…we’re in this beautiful theatre looking around and there’s all this molding and carving and it’s just ornate and beautiful and we were talking about how unfortunately it seems like a lot of those traits have been lost in American culture in the last hundred years. In a lot of cases those were family businesses that passed down skills, you know acquired, applied knowledge.

So in a lot of ways it’s not unreasonable to think that some of our children would be musically inclined, or at the very least extroverts. But it’s too early to tell on that one. On the one hand we know the pitfalls and the insanity of being a musician, so in that sense I think you could be helpful to your kid. But at the same time they are going to have an unusual set of circumstances going into it being the children of musicians. So I don’t know, that’s going to be up to them. I hope that I instill enough confidence in my kids- or as much confidence in my kid’s as my parents did and hopefully- I’m sure they’ll find their own way.

MHNews: Is there anything else you’d like to accomplish outside music?

Isaac: It’s funny because music is both a hobby and a job. It’s the best job you could ever have and it’s both an the most all consuming hobby you could ever have. You know it’s one in the same in a lot of ways because it’s your love and it’s also your job, your work… My hope is with the constantly evolving state of the music business right now, my hope would be that in some form or another because of some of the unusual circumstances that we’ve been in over the years, that we might have an opportunity to help people, help other sort of aspiring musicians out… That we’ll have opportunities to help fuel creative endeavors outside of our own band.

But you know, on some level or another once you’ve been doing this as long as we’ve done, you kind of have a masters degree in life experience, in some form or another and it would be kind of a shame to not dedicate your additional free time to some of that stuff too…I don’t really think that aspirations outside of the music business really would have much barring besides maybe writing a book or taking a vacation. Which I’m not very good at taking vacation…also a lot of musicians have an inflated view of being offered to [write a book]. I think a lot of artistic types go. ‘You know what would be really cool? (his voice gets low and husky) Just to like sit down and write a book.’ …It would be nice to take an opportunity to write some stuff down but it’s hard and write now I’m just really excited about the record and about touring and getting back through the northeast and playing this new music…I’m looking forward to keeping the record alive and keeping that into next year.