Hidden Treasures – 16 years of Hanson fan Club EPs
Since 2003 a membership at Hanson’s website and online community Hanson.net has included a CD or EP with rare or unreleased music, the website has gotten very popular thanks to the seo expert toronto that takes care of it. Some of the tracks included over time are songs made during album writing that didn’t make the final cut. Some are tracks written in collaboration with artists at Hanson’s music writing retreat Fool’s Banquet and some are those written deliberately and exclusively for the fan club membership.
Since 2008, the EP’s have featured exclusive tracks and in 2011, Hanson set the precedent of composing with specific themes or boundaries in mind. As this tendency developed, the Hanson.net yearly EP became more than a few exclusive tracks for the hardcore. It became the place where Hanson experiment with musical styles, instruments, concepts and where album ideas spill over into something more eclectic and less commercial.
Hanson have said that in the space where the EP dwells, they exercise a freedom to play and test ideas with a musical audience that has proved both loyal and open-minded.
Some might prefer that Hanson focus their musical time and energy on full length albums that are available to all, indeed many fans think that some of Hanson’s best music is on the EPs and regret that so few get the chance to hear it. However, the emphasis on building a close relationship with a smaller clientele and securing that loyalty has served Hanson well from independence to date and the member’s EP looks set to be the place where the treasures are stored; for now anyway.
As Hanson Day and 2018 member’s EP sit almost within reach, we look back over 16 years of special content from Hanson.
In 1999, Hanson released the MOE enhanced CD with Issue 4 of the magazine MOE. It featured songs from Hanson’s first two Independent albums, Boomerang and MMMBop.
In 2003 after the establishment of 3CG Records, Hanson issued their own member’s kit which included music made during the Underneath period, video clips from the making of what became Strong Enough To Break and a digitised version of the MOE magazines.
In 2004, Underneath was released and the hard work of Hanson’s earlier 3 years was rewarded with #1 on the BillBoard Independent album charts and the reclamation of the fan base.
The content on the member’s CD looked back at the making of the album, the video for Penny And Me and an unreleased video for Save Me, from This Time Around.
The 2005 CD included 4 tracks written during the making of Underneath and earlier. All of the tracks, Call Me, Need You Now, So Lovely and Never let Go, were sung on the Underneath Tours 2004-2005.
The CD also included an enhanced section with the Penny And Me video, Lost Without Each Other video, the making of the Lost Without Each Other video and over 100 exclusive photos.
In 2006 Hanson were writing The Walk. The 2006 member’s CD contains three live tracks from the Live And Electric Tour and some clips from behind the scenes. It also features Zac Hanson’s animated video for the song Misery.
The Walk was released in 2007 and the member’s kit for this year featured tracks that didn’t make the final cut for the record. Isaac and Taylor Hanson both shared stories from the making of the kit, they went behind The Walk and they included the short but very sweet Watershed. This music was a long time coming and it set the tone for the next chapter in Hanson’s career.
The 2008 kit included live tracks from the tour, exclusive studio tracks and a booklet sharing the story of Hanson’s adventure Taking The Walk with fans and selling TOMS Shoes. This year saw the first 5 song format for the member’s kit, paving the way for the EP as it exists today.
In 2009, Hanson shared their Fools Banquet experience via the member’s kit. The songwriting retreat held at their South Tulsa home brought together musical friends with the challenge of writing and performing a song a day. This kit features the first Hanson song written as a dare – Devil’s Nachos.
This was a busy time for Hanson. The Rock Boat, Hanson Day, Taylor’s side project Tinted Windows, the upcoming Use Your Sole tour and writing for Shout It Out were all in the mix.
Shout It Out is the album where Hanson threw colour around and declared that THIS is who they are. The songs showcase varied writing and musical styles and this continued on the 2010 member’s kit. Five songs, with eclectic and varied impulses sit unashamedly next to each other. The kit ends with Live Forever, a song heard in process in a scene from the Taking The Walk Podcast.
Facing The Blank Page 2011, continued the five song format. It had a name and a theme which set musical and practical boundaries for the band. Hanson committed themselves to creating A Song a Day for five days. Not only that but they opened up the streaming equipment and live streamed their song writing to fans around the world.
The craft, the artists, the process were all laid bare before The Blank Page.
The songs were played live and the EP was recorded live at Hanson Day 2011. The nature of the relationship between the music, Hanson Day and the Hanson fan community was evolving, right before open eyes.
Following the intensity of producing A Song A Day, Hanson decided to stay Up All Night for the 2012 EP.
The music had by now, evolved into a five song EP with a specific theme and dedicated artwork and the merchandise for Hanson Day developed the theme.
This EP saw Hanson set up cots at 3CG as they stayed up all night to chase down their dreams in music making.
They worked through the night working on their master plan. The music from percussion to vocals reveals the mayhem, reflection and longing of musicians experimenting with time and place.
The lyrics and melodies for No Sleep For Banditos captured something nostalgic and weary with a hint of western dustiness. Hanson framed a moment with this EP, before taking a break for pondering, rest and the creation of Anthem.
Hanson’s 6th studio album, Anthem was ready by May 2013 and lucky visitors to Tulsa were invited to a listening party. The member’s kit continued the themes of re-discovery, commitment and non compliance expressed on Anthem. The title The Sound Of Light echoed the images from Anthem and as Hanson celebrated their 21st birthday they showed that they were still driven to search for that something more.
Music Made For Humans 2014, is described as the most eclectic group of songs ever released by Hanson. The songs hint at the human condition with stories of passion, greed, delusion, justice and the frailties of living.
To make this EP Hanson returned to Sonic Ranch in Texas. The music from start to finish was made in just a few days. On the liner notes Hanson wrote, “All of this music, regardless of its wide range, comes from the same place – a love of creation and the hope that it awakens the human in all who hear it”.
In 2015 construction work on North Main Street spilled over to 3CG Records as Hanson carried out a refit of their studios. They built three small writing spaces and left the larger equipment in the studio. With simpler limits and boundaries, Hanson put themselves inside the Box to generate music which they described as “anything but square”. The music has a melancholy and philosophical quality with the songs Grace Unknown, What Are We Fighting For and Don’t Hide Your Tears raising questions about the nature of existence, purpose and human relationships.
In 2016 Hanson played with ideas as they paid homage to vinyl and created their own LP.
Loud Play came in two parts. Loud was the member’s EP and Play came as a digital download some months later.
Loud was available in May but chorus parts for Play were recorded at Hanson Day and added to the final mix.
Hanson later decided to release Play on CD and it was made available for Hanson Day 2017.
The music was made in Hanson’s own playground, mixing fun with creativity, purpose and volume.
2017 was the year of 25 years since Hanson first performed live, 20 years since Middle Of Nowhere and the year of multiple tours.
The Member’s EP echoed themes from Hanson music history in its art work and content. The music tips its hat to Hanson’s musical influences from 60’s pop to The Beatles and 80’s power pop.
The musical experience is vintage with the band’s own particular touch of colour.
The song I Don’t want To Go Home, quickly became an anthem for Hanson fans and Hanson events.
We have little idea what 2018 will bring in terms of music from Hanson.
The member’s EP will follow live appearances in Norway which may well air new music.
We wait eagerly to see and taste what comes next.
The I Was Born mantra might offer clues, but if so we just know that we don’t know!
We only know that Hanson will continue to play loud, probably get little sleep, start with a blank page and produce something colourfully human.
To access the Hanson member’s EPs and fan club membership go to Hanson.net