Hanson performs Friday, Oct. 6, at Saint Andrews Hall in Detroit (Photo courtesy of 3CG Records)
Twenty-five years of Hanson? And 20 years of “MMMbop?” How crazy is that?
But it’s true. The three brothers from Oklahoma, who set the world on fire with their “Middle Of Nowhere” album’s sales of 10 million copies worldwide two decades ago, are now adults and fathers, and they’ve have survived and even creatively thrived as an independent act with their own label and their own vision, mixing music with philanthropic projects and even their own beer, Mmmhops.
The men don’t mind remembering their time as boys, however, and this year the group is celebrating its anniversaries on the Middle Of Everywhere World Tour, along with the release of a “Middle Of Everywhere — The Greatest Hits” album and, on Oct. 27, its second holiday album, “Finally It’s Christmas”…
• Isaac Hanson, the trio’s guitar-playing oldest brother, says that this year’s anniversaries have crept up on him and his siblings. “To some degree there’s a lot of it that just feels like yesterday,” Hanson, 36, says by phone. “But at the same time we were doing our first a capella gigs back in ‘92, and that does feel like a long time ago. There’s a lot of hours and a lot of years of work, but we’ve been very consistent about the way we do things since then. We have full-on trip-out moments where we’ll be talking about something, some performance we’ve done or something, and I’ll go, ‘Wait a second — that was 10 years ago!’ It all kind of blends after a point.”
• The Hanson of 2017, of course, is different than the group of 20 years ago. “For me, honestly, the biggest takeaway I have right now is it really feels like we’re throwing the gloves off,” Hanson explains. “Once you’ve been doing this for this long, it just really feels like there’s no reason to not just pursue every crazy idea. You’ve crossed a certain threshold where it’s like, ‘OK, I guess there are no rules anymore.’ It’s very freeing in that sense.”
• Hanson never repeated the massive success of “Middle Of Nowhere” or “MMMbop,” but that was never the key to building a career according to Isaac. “When we wrote ‘MMMbop’ we weren’t chasing a hit,” he explains. “We’re trying to just write songs we like and feel good about; If they happen to be hits and hit the world at the right time and right way and can transcend beyond just your immediate fan base, then that’s great. But the first thing you’ve got to do is do music you’re proud of and you care about. So you’ve got to start there. And then the next thing is you’ve got to care for the people who show up and support you and build a robust fan base. Those are the cores and that’s what we focus on.”
• The upcoming “Finally It’s Christmas” celebrates the 20th anniversary of Hanson’s first holiday album, “Snowed In” and answers fan requests for another seasonal record. “Ever since the very beginning of that ‘Snowed In’ record coming out, people are constantly going, ‘Are you guys ever gonna make another (holiday) record?’” Isaac says. “It was one of our favorite records we made, a really fun record to make, so we always felt like maybe one day we’ll make another one when it’s the right time. The 10th anniversary went by; That’s not it. The 15th went by; Definitely not the time. Then a couple years ago we started thinking, ‘Y’know, if we’re going to make a Christmas record again, the 20th anniversary seems about right.’ And it’s funny that back then we had younger brothers and sister who made random voiceover-type cameos at the very end of ‘Snowed In,’ and now we have kids who are about the same age. Things like that made us think this seemed about right.”
• Hanson has plans for 2018 and 2019 that Isaac says, “will remain a secret,” though he acknowledges that “there will definitely be new music in a variety of different forms.” As for the future beyond that, he says, “I still feel like the jury’s out for a lot of things with us. I do know who we are. I do know what we care about and I know we’ll be working our asses off for the next 25 years coming up because we care about it. But how the history books write it all out remains to be seen.”
If You Go:
• Friday, Oct. 6. Doors open at 7 p.m.
• Saint Andrews Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit.
• Tickets are sold out.
• Call 313-961-8137 or visit saintandrewsdetroit.com.