No going back for boy band done good Hanson

By | April 20, 2012

The Telegraph 

AFTER the teenagers had stopped screaming, Hanson kept going.

The band had laboured for five years before MMMbop made them 1997’s boy band du jour, so they weren’t about to put down their instruments for a different day job.

Brothers Isaac, Taylor and Zac faced the inevitable showdown with a label that wanted another album like the other one, Middle Of Nowhere, which sold more than 10 million copies, and they walked away.

For almost a decade, they have recorded and released their albums independently and seemingly maintained a successful career.

It probably helped that the Hansons could write and play.

“Ever since we started, of course we believe in having hit singles and albums but now it’s much more about building a career and an experience with the fans,” Taylor says.

 

Their story is hardly unique in the annals of the music business.

After Middle Of Nowhere‘s success, Hanson spent almost three years trying to write songs which sounded like MMMbop or I Will Come To You or Where’s The Love, with more than 80 potential tracks rejected by the label.

Hanson didn’t want to cast the accountants and lawyers who had taken over the business as villains, but enough was enough.

While other labels were interested in signing the band, the brothers knew the only way they would retain control, both creatively and financially, was to do it themselves.

“People thought we were nuts. Maybe we saw the shift coming, that the business would change dramatically and what it meant to be an independent band would be redefined,” Taylor says.

“Having had success, we were able to reinvest in ourselves. We didn’t buy Ferraris – we bought a studio and gear.”

Besides their radio-friendly pop-rock sound, Hanson had also proven to be savvy self-marketers, setting up a fan-friendly website.

So when they went their own way, they already had the tools with which to directly communicate with their fans.

“The evolution of pop culture has always focused on the connection with fans. We had a sense of the temperature of the water that the labels didn’t have,” Taylor says. “And having success when we were so young meant us and the fans grew up together.”

Now their audience reflects both the early adopters who have stayed loyal and the latecomers who recognise their talent courtesy of the power of YouTube. “Our audience is far more eclectic now than ever,” Taylor says.

“One factor, not to be mechanical about it, is that if you survive long enough, people will see the 20-year-old drummer, instead of the seven-year-old and take you a bit more seriously.

“They look at you and think, ‘That’s cool; I want to do that’, instead of ‘That’s my middle school girlfriend’s favourite band’. But hey, there’s still lots of young women at the gigs and

I always hope there will be!”He may not be so happy about the prospect of lightning striking twice for the Hanson family.

All three men have families of their own and Taylor says their children have inherited their love and talent for music.

“It’s scary. First of all, we won’t be letting them use the name – for their own protection!” he says, laughing when asked if there could be a Hanson 2.0.

“They will have to come up with their own name or they’ll never get out of the shadow.

“I can’t imagine someone (in the family) won’t want to write songs or be a musician because they see it as a positive thing.

“They rode around with us on the tour bus and have seen the world; who wouldn’t want that job?”

Hanson, Hi Fi Sydney, EQ, Lang Rd, Moore Park; September 15, $59, moshtix.com.au