From the ‘Middle of Nowhere’ to the international stage, Hanson’s debut celebrates 20 years

By | April 29, 2017

Tulsa World

In an “MMMbop,” Tulsa band Hanson became a household name.

Five years after the trio of brothers played their first concert at Tulsa’s Mayfest, donning leather jackets and playing old rock ’n’ roll covers, they would release their major-label debut album, “Middle of Nowhere.” It would sell millions of copies and earn the band of teenagers three Grammy nominations.

And this year, “Middle of Nowhere” turns 20. That’s about four years older than Isaac Hanson, the oldest member and brother of Taylor and Zac Hanson, was when the album was released.

The album included the song “MMMbop,” a song about life’s fleeting relationships wrapped in earworm upbeat tunes, and dominated culture in the 1990s. It stayed at No. 1 for three weeks in the United States, topped 1997 critic polls and in a flash turned the band members into international superstars.

It was the band’s most successful album, which gave them a platform from which they continue to proudly sing for their legions of fans around the world, fans who now include beer-drinkers and festival-lovers.

With their new music, their brewery operations, their studio in Tulsa, their annual Hop Jam Beer and Music Festival, Hanson Day events each year and global tours, Hanson has made the most of that bright flash of the spotlight 20 years ago. But their core as three brothers from Tulsa who just love music, that’s intact.

“For better or worse, we have evolved for sure, but we’ve also maintained a certain core about who we are, which is we were raised on late ’50s and early ’60s rock ’n’ roll and R&B and you can always hear that throughout,” Isaac Hanson said before 2016’s The Hop Jam. “And that’s just always been who we were. As much as we’ve evolved, that’s stayed the same. And the focus on putting that enthusiasm for the music that we’re making at the core of it.”

Added Zac Hanson: “From an early point when people asked us to do movies and make lunchboxes and that sort of thing, we said let’s do things that we’d be proud of in several years, not just things that make us money. The fortunate side effect of doing things you can be proud of is you usually don’t do things your fans will be embarrassed of. I think we have been lucky to hit the right combination of things with young fans from the start who identify themselves and say this is important to me and who I am.”