They’re back! Hanson are returning to Australia and we caught up with the oldest of the trio, Isaac, to discuss Tulsa, Beer and the middle of everywhere.
Trying to to hold back inner squeals and ignore memories of my 12-year-old self, the call from Oklahoma comes through and it’s Isaac Hanson. He’s asking for me. I remind myself one more time that I’m almost 30 years old now and this interview needs to be conducted with some sort of professionalism; even if I have been waiting 17 years (to the day) for this moment. I digress.
BOOMERANG, ECUADOR AND HANSONMANIA
In 1997, with the help of the Dust Brothers (Beastie Boys, Beck), Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson rose to stardom with the release of MMMBop off their first major label album Middle Of Nowhere. However, this was not the then teens’ first offering, having previously released two indie records Boomerang (1994) and MMMBop (1996). The brothers grew up in a very musical household and due to their father’s job as an accountant in an oil company, the family moved around to places such as Ecuador, Trinidad and Venezuela, where their passion for music grew as they listened to old records such as Chuck Berry, Bobby Darinand The Beach Boys.
“Truth be told, I remember writing my first song when I was somewhere around the age of nine. It was actually a very simple song and we were living in Ecuador at the time. I don’t think my mum really remembers showing me this, but I asked her how to play some simple chords and I remembered it and went downstairs and sat there for an hour or two and wrote a song about wishing that I could help the poor people on the streets.”
In fact, their parents played a big role in keeping the brothers grounded through the success of MMMBop and the mayhem that followed from screaming teenage girls.
“My parents are really good people and they have always been ambitious and unafraid. They also very much had a strong moral perspective about life which was, ‘Listen, this is your life and no one else can live it for you, so make the decision you feel comfortable with and that you’ll be proud of when you’re older. Don’t be a fool and don’t make an ass of yourself, it’s not worth it.’ I have a great relationship with my parents and my brothers and that kept everything well grounded.”
HANSON DOWN UNDER: UNDERNEATH, SHOUT IT OUTAND THAT MELBOURNE SHOPPING CENTRE APPEARANCE.
Isaac tells me he’s looking forward to getting back to Adelaide and has “fond memories” of being here.
“Before the point of the Shout It Out tour , it had been about six or seven years since we were there for the Underneathtour , so we’re excited that we’ve been able to make good on our promise and get back to our Australian fans.”
I reminded Isaac of the Melbourne shopping centre appearance in 1997 where 20,000 Hanson fans flocked about to see the brothers perform just three songs. (My mum wouldn’t let me take a day off school to fly interstate to attend.)
“Oh man, that Melbourne experience is something we will never forget. It was pretty remarkable. The one thing I regret the most is not having our full band there so we couldn’t do a full concert. The reception was something we really didn’t expect the first time being down there; luckily we’ve been able to come back a few times since.”
No, we are lucky Isaac.
SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH AND TAKE THE WALK
We talk about the possibility of ever doing something other than playing music, and although Isaac has been on television before playing a part in Sabrina The Teenage Witch, he tells me there’s another Hanson brother that is probably more suited for acting.
“You know, I think I could act because I think I’m emotionally complicated enough to do that, but there’s a part of me that isn’t sure. I just want to be really good at the job I’ve got, which is making music.
“I have a much younger brother [Mackenzie, who makes a cameo in the new video for Get The Girl Back] who is a bit of an extravert, to say the least. He’s an aspiring comedian/writer/director guy. So who knows, maybe in some form or another in what he’s doing, I might get my toe in there.”
Speaking of toes, the boys had the opportunity to go down to Africa with some friends who have developed a research hospital and found themselves confronted with the reality of much need there. What followed was the Take The Walk campaign, where the guys walk bare foot for one mile before every show. For every person that joins the walk, $1 is given to a fund to support one of five causes in Africa. They hope to bring the campaign to Australia this time around.
“The campaign is still very active,” Hanson affirms.
“We have been talking about restructuring and new initiatives. We would love to bring it to Australia because it’s such a humbling experience. You’ve heard of the old saying, ‘Walk in someone elses shoes’? Well, try walking with no shoes. It’s about having a purpose and doing something for somebody else.
MMMHOPS AND THE FINAL WORD
After they brought out their own line of beer called MMMHops in 2011, the brothers recently announced the release of their beer in stores and have plans for a brewery in the future.
“I definitely think we can continue to do more interesting things, and one of those things right now is beer.” Hanson enthuses.
“We are passionately focused on it, and this is not a flash-in-the-pan as long as people like what it is that we’re doing and so far we haven’t had any problem selling the beer and it has done really well. Our focus now is to grow our business into a legitimate brewery business. MMMHops is an introductory beer and is well crafted. People will hopefully be very happy with the taste and we’ll try our best to bring it down to Australia as soon as we can.”
As we come to the end of our chat, I thank Isaac for taking the time out to speak with me and wish him luck on the Anthem tour coming up in August.
“I have to give credit where credit is due. First of all, it’s all a lie. I’m actually a raging ass and underneath its all a facade and I’m completely full of crap,” Hanson laughs.
I ask him to give me and all the Australian Hanson fans out there the final word.
“You know, people have always thought about our fans, ‘Oh, they’re all women, they’re so loud, and they’re so insane. Oh my God!’ And what most people don’t often give even remotely enough credit to is that from 1997 to 2014, those fans sing every single lyric to every single song, no matter what it is and they’re there,” Hanson asserts.
“I’m not sure if we can take credit for that but what I can tell you is, I’m extremely grateful for that, and my brothers and I make sure that reality is recognised and that our fans understand we appreciate it and have an entertaining experience and want to come again.
“So that’s the purpose, at the end of the day, Hanson fans more than anything are tried and true hardcore music fans.”
Hanson Anthem World Tour dates
Tue Aug 5 – The Tivoli, Brisbane
Wed Aug 6 – The Coolanagatta Hotel, Gold Coast
Fri Aug 8 – Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Sat Aug 9 – The Palais, Melbourne
Tue Aug 12 – HQ, Adelaide
Fri Aug 15 – Metropolis, Perth
Sun Aug 17 – Powerstation, Auckland NZ