Hanson were not a boy band. The truth about the brothers’ rock cred revealed 20 years after MMMBop

By | March 22, 2017

Daily Telegraph

EVERYTHING you thought you knew about Hanson is wrong.

They were not a boy band.

Yes, they are a band of brothers genetically blessed with teen idol looks and the pop gene but if you have another listen to their monster 1997 hitMMMBop, you may discover that Hanson were in fact, a nineties alternative act.

While MMMBop was blamed for killing grunge and ushering in the next wave of bubblegum pop with Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys and NSYNC smashing on to the global pop charts the following year, the brothers have been wrongly accused of being manufactured for adolescent consumption.

Hanson were never a boy band, say Isaac, Zac and Taylor.

The credits of their major label breakthrough record, Middle Of Nowhere, remind you that the teenage Isaac, Taylor and Zac were working with some of the most respected names in the 1990s alternative scene.

The Dust Brothers, who had worked on Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique and Beck’s Odelay added hip hop beats and scratching to their irresistible melodies.

Beck’s dad David Campbell was also brought in to compose and conduct the strings on the tracks and with the Dust Brothers and with guitarist and programmer Stephen Lironi, added a “patina of hipness”, according to Hanson’s major label bosses at the time.

They also enlisted director Tamra Davis, a go-to director for alt-rock heroes Sonic Youth, The Lemonheads and Veruca Salt to create the MMMBop video.

Zac (right) with brothers Isaac and Taylor was just six when they formed Hanson 25 years ago. Picture: Supplied.

Drummer Zac, who was just six when the brothers told their parents they wanted to form a band and 10 when he was thrust into superstardom, said they landed in the same camp as Spears and Backstreet Boys simply because there was no other band like them.

“We make no apologies for loving pop music. But being labelled or put in a genre of manufactured pop is not the same thing,” he says.

“You look at Middle Of Nowhere and how it was associated with Backstreet or Britney who came after and it’s not even the same people working on those records.

“From the players to the producers … the Dust Brothers and David Campbell, who has done every great record from then to now and Steve Lironi, who had produced Black Grape.

“For better or worse, we were maybe our own worst enemies because we were out there on our own. There wasn’t that many bands who sounded like us.”

Hanson formed the same year as Silverchair, Blink 182 and Weezer. Picture: Supplied.

Hanson formed the same year as Weezer, Silverchair, Blink 182, Veruca Salt, The Waifs and Wu-Tang Clan.

As they celebrate their 25th anniversary with the Middle Of Everywhere world tour, they are one of a handful of bands who have maintained their line-up without a break.

The trio have proven to be astute businessmen when it comes to maintaining Team Hanson and while it has been four years since they troubled the album charts with 2013’s Anthem, they remain wildly popular with fans around the world.

When they performed MMMBop acoustically on an American television special last year, there were plenty of fresh faces in the front row and enthusiastic screams when they got to the chorus.

“We are starting to see 19-year-olds at our gigs, who weren’t even born whenMMMBop came out. It’s a very cool thing to experience,” Zac says.

Hardcore fans travel from around the world to attend their annual Hanson Day and The Hop Jam festival days or the Back To The Island concert event in Jamaica.

Those of legal drinking age have no doubt sampled their craft beer, naturally called MMMHops. Zac has seen his signature and the band’s logo turned into tattoos and admits that kind of dedication provokes mixed feelings of gratitude and concern.

There were young fans at their acoustic performance last year who weren’t born when MMMBop was released.

Fandom has become lifelong friendship for thousands of fans who have met at a concert or festival.

But Zac also credits their online presence for maintaining the Hanson rage.

While newer artists have switched their digital presence to social media, Hanson’s community remain united via the fan club on the band’s website.

And it is also where they do the lion’s share of their business, whether it is selling their music and merchandise independently or tickets to the shows and festivals.

“We invested a lot of money into building a website and an online community, even in the MySpace days and a lot of bands don’t even build a website now, beyond it being a home page to direct fans to their social media pages,” he says.

Hanson will perform all their hits on the 25th anniversary tour in June. Picture: Supplied.

Another thing you think about Hanson which is probably wrong was disguised by MMMBop’s catchy chorus.

Read the lyrics and the song reveals itself as a melancholic reflection on losing friends. And hair, which none of the brothers appear to have to worry about.

“You’re right, MMMBop really is a dark song about loss,” he says.

“When you are a kid, you are supposed to go to school, play outside and hang out with your friends.

“You don’t spend your weekends playing gigs and the rest of the time rehearsing and writing songs and when you do something so out of the normal, you tend to alienate yourself. You’re not supposed to be living your dream when you’re six years old or 10 years old.

MMMBop was a reflection of that dichotomy, what happens to those relationships when you follow your dreams.”

***Tickets for Hanson’s Middle Of Everywhere tour go on sale next Monday.

The tour opens at Perth’s Metro City on June 15 and then plays Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide on June 16; Forum Theatre, Melbourne on June 18; Enmore Theatre, Sydney on June 21; The Star, Gold Coast on June 24; and The Tivoli, Brisbane on June 25.