Going The Same Way – Tracing Footsteps.
Each month until June 2017 we will share fan stories from around the world to celebrate Hanson’s remarkable career and Fan Community.
We have invited fans from five continents, to share their experiences and they tell us in their own words, how they have traced footsteps on a journey with Hanson and their music.
Ari’s Story – 20 Years with Hanson: Capturing and Shaping the Moments of My Life
August 16, 1997, Kitchener, ON, Canada
It’s Saturday. I sit with my mom in our living room, eating cereal, lounging in my pyjamas, trying to find something interesting to watch on TV. Something catches my attention, and I pause. It’s YTV – a channel on which I regularly watched my favourite show, Goosebumps. A live concert is playing and immediately, I am drawn in. Then I recognise them. It’s Hanson. I feel a sense of curiosity but also guilt. Most kids my age had a pretty strong opinion on them: you are either obsessed with them or you passionately hate them. I had dismissed them previously without really even listening to their music – I had seen and heard “MMMBop” and “Where’s the Love?” but hadn’t really given it a chance. But here I am, in my pyjamas on a Saturday morning, listening to Hanson perform live at Canada’s Wonderland. From that moment on, I was hooked.
It wasn’t long before Middle of Nowhere became the first CD I purchased – my allowance was no longer just reserved for buying Goosebumps books. I started regularly buying nearly every teen magazine and “biographical” book about them I could get my hands on. Eventually I had a white, plastic briefcase full of their posters. Anything they released officially was a special purchase though – the feeling of unpacking a new CD, VHS, or later DVD – there was nothing like it. Listing through the CD booklet as the fresh sounds hit my eardrums for the very first time – these are the feelings that stay with you for life.
Along with Hanson, I fell in love with the drums. Seeing Zac Hanson playing, (who is, as I had memorised, only 3 months and 16 days my senior) made me want to play too, and believe I might actually be able to. And so I started “air drumming” and occasionally would make drumsticks by taping 2 markers together, use chairs as snares and toms and attach a frisbee to the leg of a chair to mimic a cymbal. I started saving up to get my own drums, but as we had lived in an apartment and my allowance was not high, it would be years before I could actually get my first real drum kit.
September 30, 2000, Toronto, ON, Canada
It’s been over 3 years since I got hooked on Hanson. My parents drove a fellow fanson friend and me to Toronto. I was about to see Hanson play live for the first time in my life! Many teenagers might dream of their wedding days or the first time they have sex as the defining days in their lives, but for me, this was one of those days (and weddings or the first time having sex turned out to be a lot less important: there are many significant moments in life that end up being a lot more important than these). That concert was an experience of a lifetime – the best day of my 14-year life thus far!
2002 – 2003, Kitchener / Toronto; ON, Canada
It is 2002 and it had been quite a while since fans had heard much from Hanson. My 16-year-old self is getting interested in all sorts of music and Hanson kind of dropped from my radar for a while this year. My family moved into a house and I finally bought my first drums with the money I saved from my allowance over the years since discovering Hanson (though it wasn’t enough, so my parents paid for the difference). It is now 2003. I found out Hanson indeed hadn’t given up on music, but were actually in the process of starting their own label to release their music independently due to the declining state of the music industry! Hanson is releasing its Underneath Acoustic EP, and as soon as I heard it, I was thrilled. In October, 2013, on their Underneath Acoustic Tour I got to see Hanson play for the second time, again in Toronto, this time with my best friend who isn’t a fan herself. Though the second show could never compare to the first, it was an amazing experience that will remain with me for life.
2004 – 2011, Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina / Zagreb, Croatia; Europe
It’s April 2004, Hanson just released their newest album, Underneath, which I am taking like a treasure with me on my move to Europe (in Bosnia and Herzegovina). In 2005, Hanson came on a tour to Europe. While I was as committed to the band as ever, I unfortunately did not have money to travel to see them play, and it would take all the way until 2011 before they came to Europe again. In the meantime, I kept up to date with all their releases, moved to Zagreb, Croatia in 2010, and by the time they came to tour in 2011, I saved up some money to catch a cheap flight to Paris, France with my partner to see them play. Not only did we get to see an incredible show from the first couple of rows, but as luck would have it, we were also both selected for a “Meet & Greet” with the band. So after 14 years of being a fan, I finally got to meet the band who has been such a big part of my life. And while it was wonderful to be able to talk to them a bit, shake their hands, thank them for their music – meeting them can’t compare to experiencing Hanson in the way I got hooked on them in the first place: hearing them play music.
December, 2013 – Zagreb, Croatia / Paris, France / Rome, Italy / Milan, Italy; Europe
Luckily, it didn’t take too long after 2011 for them to come back to Europe: it’s 2013, and Hanson are doing another European tour, and this time, my two partners and I are able to see 3 shows on one tour. For a non-Hanson fan, it might sound like a lot, but for Hanson fans, it really isn’t outside what is “normal”: many fans who can afford it see multiple shows of theirs on a single tour. We wear the numbers of shows we’ve seen as badges of honour, and my 6 is relatively low in comparison to many others, especially U.S.-based fans. This tour experience was particularly special for me as I got to meet numerous fans who also went to multiple shows, with whom I’ve remained in touch since then.
It’s also great getting a feel of different venues, crowds, set-lists… In Paris, the venue made the acoustics beyond amazing – sound-wise it was the best show I had ever experienced in my life.
In Rome, the crowd was few in numbers and so the atmosphere was more intimate (though the space was too large for such a small crowd). What was also special about both these shows was the smaller pre-show for fan club members which gave us the opportunity to hear songs they don’t usually play during the regular shows, and also to have a brief Q&A with them.
In Milan, the energy of the last show on tour was just through the roof, and experiencing it from first row was an experience of a lifetime. Not to mention the incredible honour of having Zac Hanson take off the cowbell he used on his drum set on that tour and walk to the side of the stage where I was and hand it directly to me. That cowbell has been sitting atop my drum kit ever since.
February 19, 2017 – Zagreb, Croatia, Europe
Hanson and their music have been such a profound part of my life for what will be 20 years this August. You know how a smell can take you back – bringing up memories that are tied to that particular smell? Memories you didn’t even know you still had, let alone that you remembered the smell that was tied to them – yet the smell is a trigger that brings that memory back like it was yesterday. Well, for me, Hanson’s music often works the same way. Sometimes, a Hanson song comes on, and I remember the feeling I had when first hearing that song. I heard the song “Love Song” today as I was driving and I remembered the feeling of buying the single for “This Time Around” which other than the title track included “Love Song”. I remembered that CD, and the moments of listening to those two songs as a taste of the album that was yet to come. It’s often hard for me to be aware of my own feelings as I’m feeling them, and so it can certainly be difficult to remember feelings from the past, but today I vividly recalled a feeling I felt 18 years ago. Similarly, another song came on during my drive, and I remembered the exact curve in the road where I drove a few months back while that same song played. And every time I hear “Make It Out Alive” I can’t help but laugh because I remember the moment that song came on as chickens were crossing the road in front of my car and the lyric “we may not make it out alive” seemed terribly hilarious in the context. Then I remembered when I had just moved from Canada and the album Underneath had just come out and I sat in a car on a field in Bosnia on the 1st of May that year, listening to the whole album, feeling rather lonely but finding companion in these three Oklahomans I had fallen in love with years ago. Or playing the Shout It Out album on my headphones and walking to the rhythm of the upbeat songs on my way to town in Bosnia, and to classes in Zagreb to keep my mindset positive. Each album, each song is tied to so many memories. Essentially, Hanson is the soundtrack to my days: their songs are direct links to moments of my life.
I can’t talk about Hanson’s impact on my life and not talk about what I do. I’m a full-time activist and it’s a dream job. Like Hanson is passionate about making music, I am passionate about advancing human rights and trying to make the world at least a little better for us all, especially those of us who are more vulnerable and marginalised in this world. And often I feel I can connect Hanson’s music to what I do. For starters, some of their songs are directly related to activism and fighting for a cause you believe in. Also, they do some activism to complement their music: Their “Take the Walk” campaign (along with the causes they participate in privately with their families). What sticks out more in my mind, however, is that I think that not only is Hanson’s music and work compatible with my own passion for activism and human rights, I think that it is Hanson who are partly responsible for my path in life.
In a way, since that Saturday in August 1997, Hanson, along with my parents and educators, have been responsible for raising me into the person I am today. Hanson showed me passion. They showed me how to stand up for what you believe in, not losing hope, to be an optimist, to chase after your dreams – and to dream big while at it. They showed me that when you believe in something, when you want something, persistence usually pays off. And they showed me that sometimes, when you are in a broken system, you can create your own thing and push forward to get closer to achieving your dreams on your own terms. These are all lessons that helped get me to where I am today, lessons that allowed me to not wait for others to do something for me or for the communities I belong to, but to drive the change I want to see in the world.
Odd as it may be (considering age-wise they are basically my peers), Hanson are my educators, my secondary parents, my role models. Thanks for raising me well, Hanson – I don’t know how you feel, but I am pretty proud both of the inspiration and role models you have been and continue to be for me and so many others, and of how I and my life turned out, in great part thanks to your music and your influence. Thank you for being responsible for capturing as well as shaping my life over these 20 years and counting! I can’t wait for the next European tour, and exposing my partner to the wonders that are Hanson shows and everything around them, and sharing many more unforgettable years on our collective Musical Ride! 😉
Many thanks to Ari for this fabulous story of loving Hanson and their music.
Please do not take or use Ari’s pictures without permission and credit.