Bopping With Hanson

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Bopping With Hanson

17 December 2004

Former teen pop group Hanson has grown into a mature rock outfit capable of taking care of its own career. RIZAL JOHAN meets the band.

THEY were just teenagers when Hanson exploded into the music scene in 1997 with their infectious hit, MmmBop. Three albums later, the Hanson brothers – Isaac, Taylor and Zac – are young men and most importantly, musicians who have complete control over their career.

Hanson was in Malaysia for a one night acoustic show at Hard Rock Cafe, Kuala Lumpur last week to promote its latest album release, Underneath. It has been a long time coming for the band whose last release was 2000’s This Time Around. Much has changed since then as vocalist/keyboardist, Taylor, related in an interview last week.

“There were a lot of reasons for taking four years to release the new album. One is, just us starting our own record company (3CG Records). We were originally signed by one label (Mercury), and than that became another label (it became Island Def Jam). Ever since our second album was released, we were working with people who didn’t really understand who this band was because they weren’t the original people who signed us,” Taylor, 21, explained.

Hanson, who consists of brothers (from left) Taylor, Isaac and Zac, have recently taken their careers into their own hands. “So, through the second album and into the making of this album (Underneath), the labels were constantly changing, and we were slowly losing the relationship with the label. They didn’t have the kind of connection or understanding because they weren’t from the original company. And so, more and more and more, the process was slowed down and it caused things not to move as quickly with the making of the third album.”

Distractions and delays aside, Hanson held firm with the music making.

The decided to take their careers into their own hands – producing their own music, sourcing the studios and finalising distribution worldwide.

“So we said, ‘Hey guys, we’ve finished the album, we’ve pushed things along … it took us two years of pushing and pulling to get the momentum and really create the music the way we wanted it and you know what, we’ve finished this record. We’re done, this is the record we want to take from you, we want to own the music and we want do our own thing. Because neither one of us are getting each other.’

“We wanted to move forward. We started building our licensees around the world and also the (ongoing) acoustic tour, taking it slow and steady.”

Minor hits like Penny and Me and Lost Without Each Other chronicles that comeback journey. As a guitar-pop album Underneath does an expert job not only of capturing the best of the Hanson boys in their early 20s, but proving that they still can turn out good music even when they are relatively far from the spotlight. But there is still an eager audience waiting. Hanson has been out touring Asia, playing in 13 countries such as China, the Philippines, and Japan, for the last five weeks. Malaysia marked the last stop before the brothers take some well-deserved rest. Since Hanson is handling the promotion of its new album, the boys still have to go on tour next year as the new album has yet to be released in Europe and South America.

“One of the things we’ve done is that we’ve staggered the release of the album around the world because we wanted to be able to support the record as it is released in different parts of the globe. So, we’re about to release in Europe and Latin America and so, into next year, the middle of next year, we’ll still be promoting the record and actually visiting and touring for this album,” he said.

And being in a band since 1992, Taylor (nine-years-old at the time), and his brothers have enough experience when it comes to performing. The band also released a tour film Underneath – Acoustic Live early this year in select cinemas in the United States.

When asked whether they practiced for these acoustic shows, Taylor replied: “We practiced a long time ago, like when we first started playing acoustic before the release of the new album. We did an entire tour last summer around the States playing shows like this, smaller venues, acoustic shows and we ended that tour in New York. Beginning of that tour is when we said, ‘Okay, let’s work out this music acoustically,’ and ever since then, we’ve been going back and forth playing electric shows and acoustic shows.”

Hanson’s Underneath is available through Sony/BMG.

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