July 31, 2013
by Andrew Williams
I was nine when me and my brothers started playing shows. My mother was a singer and was classically trained. She had a scholarship to go to university based on her singing but chose not to make a career from it. There was always music around and it came naturally to us.
I started playing piano when I was seven. My parents taught us how to play guitar and piano but then we had lessons. My brothers and I sang together and made up our own songs. We’d sing in front of family friends and relatives at home. People responded to it, which encouraged us to take it further. We were young but I remember seeing people such as Elvis and The Jackson 5 on TV and wanting to do the same thing. We felt confident we could do it. The first show we did was at a local arts festival. The three of us stood there and sang a cappella.
Our parents were never our official band managers. They helped facilitate things early on because we were six, nine and 11 when we started. Our dad is an accountant so he was always very conservative and helped to establish us as a business but we were very committed and wanted to go all the way. We started recording and researching managers and tried to build fans.
I’ve been working with my brothers for 20 years. We have a very close bond musically, our influences are all very similar and we have a natural synergy.
The downside is the nature of working so closely together – there’s going to be friction when you do just about everything together creatively. The lows are breathing the same air for so many years and having to come up with those distinctions between what is family, what is business, what is the band. There’s no perfect balance. We’ve done really well considering how difficult that can be at times.
Most of our arguments have been between us as a band and other people but with our new album we had our biggest argument ever between ourselves. We’d reached our 20-year mark as a band and had been going non-stop. We weren’t communicating well. All of a sudden we lost patience with each other and stepped away from making the record. I’m the middle brother in the band so I’m often the peacemaker. I’m usually the mediator but in this case it was just a matter of time until we went back to working together. It took a few months.
Becoming a father is a huge step, regardless of your age. I was 19 when I became a dad. It was an amazing thing. I don’t compare myself to people my own age because I’ve always worked with older people. I’d done so many things by the age of 19 I was in a different place to other people my age – 19 is really young to become a parent, there’s no doubt about it, but I felt capable. You learn how to manage your time a lot better.
My wife and I have five children. We never said: ‘We want to have a large family’ but my brothers in the band and I are the oldest of seven siblings. I grew up with a large family surrounded by organised chaos.
I’m amazed by nature’s ability to take two people and invent completely unique combinations of those personalities – my kids always surprise me. It’s amazing how you can have so many different types of personalities within your family.
Hanson’s new album, Anthem, is out now.