Hanson brothers reveal how Scots pal helped them become nineties megastars

By | February 9, 2019

Daily Record

Hanson ruled the ninties with hits like MMMBop (Image: Sam Levi/WireImage)

They were the ultimate pop idols, three young brothers who found fame with MMMBop in 1997.

Now, as Hanson prepare for their biggest ever Scottish show, the trio from Tulsa, Oklahoma, have revealed that they owe their mega-success to a Scot.

Zac, 33, Taylor, 35, and Isaac Hanson, 38, were clean-cut kids when they teamed up with Altered Images rocker-turned-producer Stephen Lironi to knock MMMBop into shape.

It helped them sell 17million records and topped the charts in 21 countries.

The alliance with Stephen, husband of former Altered Images bandmate and ex-EastEnders actress Clare Grogan, has continued since he worked on their first two albums. And Isaac said: “We have a soft spot in Scotland and love Scotland as a whole because of Stephen, and also Clare.

“We are really good friends. Last time we played London, Stephen came to visit and we had a good time together.”

Hanson brothers Zac, 33, Taylor, 35, and Isaac Hanson, 38 (Image: Handout)

Zac added: “I love Stephen, He’s awesome. He ended up being a great collaborator. Stephen is really good at things we’re not good at.

“He had worked with Black Grape and had experience mixing, playing instruments and working with loops.

“Vocals weren’t his forte but I learned about the textures and the loops from his ideas on those first two records.

“He did a ton of work on MMMBop, as did the Dust Brothers, but Stephen worked on everything on that record.”

The fact that MMMBop topped the charts more than two decades ago might make you feel a little old. So too might the fact that all three Hansons married fans they first saw at their shows.

Isaac, Zac and Taylor, who have 12 kids between them, insist there is nothing weird about how they met Nicole, Kate and Natalie. After all, they say, Stephen married the singer in his band.

“We met our wives at shows, he met his wife while playing shows, so it’s not that unusual,” said Isaac.

“Meeting somebody at a show, albeit a rock ‘n’ roll fairytale, is not unusual. People meet each other at work all the time.

“She was a lovely young 19-year-old girl. I was 22 at the time and said to myself, ‘I need to meet that person,’ and  I made sure it happened.”

Hanson were founded in 1992, when Isaac, Taylor and Zac were 11, nine and six.

MMMBop and the album Middle Of Nowhere gained them multiple Grammy nominations and they had five consecutive top 40 singles, including Where’s The Love, I Will Come To You and Weird.

Clare Grogan singer actress wedding white dress bouquet greenery white flowers Stephen Lironi groom husband (Image: Daily Record)But as they released their follow-up album, This Time Around, a record label merger almost derailed their careers.

Isaac said: “Our record company situation was a complete mess after a corporate merger that put us on a rap label, and they flushed our second record down the toilet.”

The boys said they struggled to be taken seriously in the early years, until Stephen came along. Z

ac said: “As young people, we felt constantly patronised. People in the industry told us we were so young that we didn’t know what we were doing which was, frankly, not true.

“We were told it wouldn’t work – but it did.

“We’d like to follow a similar path as bands like U2 by being around for decades with 50 years behind us of stuff we’re proud of. Starting out so young makes that possible.”

Isaac added: “Our youth when we began could have been a disadvantage because people were patronising to us and tried not to take us seriously.

“But it is also an advantage because I’m 37 and I’ve been doing this over 20 years. We’re still releasing records and selling out tours around the world.”

Hanson are heading to Scotland to perform with a full orchestra of Scottish musicians. They promise an orchestral version of MMMBop, despite the fact they’ll have just two hours of rehearsals.

Zac said: “I don’t get sick of MMMBop. I get sick of people thinking that I
would be sick of MMMBop. I’ll play it every day from now until we stop.”

He added: “We have had good experiences in Scotland. It has been at least six years and we’re looking forward to returning. Each time we come back it’s a fresh experience.

“In 1997, it was 12-year-old girls. We look out now and there’s fans that are our peers, the fans bringing their kids, and fans that didn’t discover our music until a few years ago.

“Stephen is the impression of the Scottish in my mind because it is so personal. Stephen in the studio would be smoking cigars and being a rascal.”

Zac says he can’t wait to meet the Scots who will back them on stage.

“Collaborating with local players is an amazing illustration of how universal music is,”he said.

The lads also plan to savour some local beers to compare with their own brew – Hanson Brothers MMMhops. Zac said: “That’s part of the reason we started making beer – because we had the experience of drinking beers in different countries. I’ll be drinking those beers when we come.

“I don’t know if we can give them a run for their money, but I do think Scottish people would enjoy Hanson beer.”

● Hanson play the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on Sunday, February 17.


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