Hanson Is All Grown Up — and Dads of 15! Inside Their ‘Awesome Journey’ in the 25 Years Since ‘MMMBop’

By | July 6, 2022


In this week’s issue of PEOPLE, Hanson brothers Isaac, Taylor and Zac open up about their rise to fame and life at home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with their combined 15 kids

It’s a sunny May afternoon in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Hanson brothers IsaacTaylor and Zac are attempting the impossible: getting their combined 15 kids — ranging in age from 1 to 19 — to smile for the camera during a PEOPLE photo shoot at the band’s recording studio.

One of Taylor’s sons, 3-year-old Indiana, is proving especially tricky to persuade.

“Indiana, do not look at the camera!” they all take turns telling him, trying reverse psychology. It works.

“I’d say there’s a healthy dose of Taylor Hanson in Indiana,” Isaac later says as he sits down with his brothers for their interview, as Zac interjects with a laugh: “We’re all incredibly stubborn.”

Or call it tenacious, a quality that has been the cornerstone of the brothers’ success. Both before and after Isaac, 41, Taylor, 39, and Zac, 36, skyrocketed to fame 25 years ago as Hanson with their infectiously catchy No. 1 hit “MMMBop,” they’ve done things on their terms.

In 2003, when they felt their record label no longer understood them, they walked away and created their own indie label, 3CG Records. They’ve since released five studio albums, the latest being Red Green Blue in May.

And despite the call of the two entertainment capitals, Hollywood and New York, they moved back to their Tulsa hometown with their families for good in 2008.

“I think we’re lucky that we’ve always been a little bit of an anomaly,” says Zac. “To be brothers who don’t fight that much and who share a dream, that’s unique. We’ve been a band for a long time, and a lot of people go, ‘Wow, you’re normal,’ because the industry has a way of leaving its marks on people. But we just always had a really strong sense of place.”

Hanson Is All Grown Up — and Dads of 15! Inside Their ‘Awesome Journey’ in the 25 Years Since ‘MMMBop’
Hanson Family

The onetime teen and tween heartthrobs — who are currently on a 90-date tour in support of Red Green Blue that runs through November — are instilling the same healthy respect for home in their children.

“They’re never going to go through the world wondering where they belong, because there’s a bunch of people that love them,” says Zac, who has five kids — sons Shepherd, 14, Abraham, 8, and Quincy, 16 months, and daughters Junia, 11, and Lucille, 5 — with wife Kate, 38.

Even when the trio’s on the road, they’re dads first.

“After I finish a show, it’s like, ‘Hold on a second. I’ve got to do an encore, then I’ll call you for the bedtime story,'” says Isaac, who has three children — sons Everett, 15, and Monroe, 14, and daughter Odette, 8 — with wife Nicole, 38.

Adds Taylor, who has seven kids — sons Ezra, 19, River, 15, Viggo, 13, and Indiana, 3, and daughters Penelope, 17, Wilhelmina, 9, and Maybellene, 18 months — with wife Natalie, 38: “The job of being a dad is to sacrifice everything you want for that kid. I may be in the middle of meeting some famous musician, but, sorry, I’ve got to call my daughter and talk to her about her day.”

Raised primarily in Tulsa by mom Diana, who homeschooled them, and dad Walker, an accountant, Isaac, Taylor and Zac moved with their parents and four younger siblings to South America for their father’s job in 1989.

They grew up listening to ’50s and ’60s rock and roll, soul and Motown, and when the family moved back to Tulsa in 1990, their parents encouraged them to start playing the piano.

Eventually they found their musical passions — Taylor focused on the keyboard, Isaac picked up guitar, and Zac played the drums — and made their debut as the Hanson Brothers in 1992 at the annual Mayfest Arts Festival in downtown Tulsa. It’s the same festival taking place just outside their recording studio on the day of their PEOPLE shoot.

“In this very neighborhood, we were playing little shows and trying to build a fan base,” Taylor says. “We had several thousand fans on a mailing list, and we felt pretty proud of our local work.”

Hanson Is All Grown Up — and Dads of 15! Inside Their ‘Awesome Journey’ in the 25 Years Since ‘MMMBop’

As their audience grew, the brothers faced judgment from members of their evangelical Christian church who felt they should be singing gospel instead of rock. The criticism inspired “MMMBop,” an upbeat anthem about life’s highs and lows.

When the band released their first full-length studio album Middle of Nowhere in 1997, “MMMBop” served as the lead single. The song went on to hit No. 1 internationally.

“I remember during [an] early promo [tour] going to a mall in New Jersey, and every spot was packed within minutes,” Taylor says. “Looking out at that crowd, it was a feeling of stepping through a door that you can never go back through. I distinctly remember that.”

“MMMBop” earned Hanson three Grammy nominations, but it also boxed them in, as fans and critics were unable to move past their youthful sound.

“It was a double-edged sword,” says Taylor, as Isaac notes that they left several record companies over the course of four years before starting 3CG. Still, the brothers — who have never broken up during their 30-year career — are grateful for all that “MMMBop” has given them.

“‘MMMBop’ is something that wasn’t false, and it wasn’t somebody else’s message,” says Taylor. “The relationship with the fans that we made with that song continued for years after. We always aspired to have longevity.”

Success has brought heightened scrutiny to the brothers’ sometimes-controversial behavior, including a Pinterest page belonging to Zac that included racist pro-gun memes and transphobic posts. He apologized after the since-deleted page was leaked in 2020, saying its contents “provided a distorted view of the issues surrounding race and social justice” and “do not reflect my personal beliefs.”

That same year, Isaac faced backlash over an Instagram story in which he wrote, “We are quickly approaching Christmas and it too will be canceled (by our governments), just like Easter was and Thanksgiving is being suggested to be. I for one will not comply.” In a later statement to Vice, he expressed remorse “for the pain and worry that my posts caused.”

Despite these dark detours, Hanson’s long run has been mostly blessed by sunshine. Without “MMMBop” the brothers likely wouldn’t have met their wives, who were all once fans at Hanson concerts.

“We’re married to amazing women, and they match our personalities very well because we’re not at all the same,” says Zac.

The Hanson Bunch

Hanson Is All Grown Up — and Dads of 15! Inside Their ‘Awesome Journey’ in the 25 Years Since ‘MMMBop’
Hanson Is All Grown Up — and Dads of 15! Inside Their ‘Awesome Journey’ in the 25 Years Since ‘MMMBop’
Hanson Is All Grown Up — and Dads of 15! Inside Their ‘Awesome Journey’ in the 25 Years Since ‘MMMBop’
Left: Isaac Hanson, his kids (clockwise, in center) Everett, Monroe, and Odette, and wife Nicole | CREDIT: ASHLEY ALEXANDER
Center: Zac Hanson, kids (from left) Shepherd, Junia, Quincy, Lucille, and Abraham, and wife Kate | CREDIT: ASHLEY ALEXANDER
Right: Taylor Hanson, kids (from left) Ezra, River, Wilhelmina, Maybellene, Viggo, Indiana, and Penelope, and wife Natalie | CREDIT: ASHLEY ALEXANDER

They’re also the backbone of their families.

“Everyone feels loved and valued, and that’s coming from my wife in all directions toward me and our kids,” says Zac. Adds Taylor: “[Marriage] isn’t always perfect days, but it’s a shared adventure. I’m so grateful.”

An hour into the interview, dad duty calls for Zac. He has to take his daughter Junia — also a singer— to perform at a local festival.

“I’m so sorry,” he offers politely. “We took one car, and if I don’t leave soon, we’ll miss it.”

Ah, the joys of juggling music and fatherhood.

“It’s a roller coaster,” says Taylor. “But we’re enjoying the ride.”

Adds Zac: “It’s an awesome journey.”

For all the details on Hanson’s journey and life now, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.


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