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.
The trio of brothers from Tulsa, Okla., scaled the pop heights in 1997 like few other acts in that decade, with global multiplatinum honors for the single “MMMBop” and album “Middle of Nowhere” (Mercury). Now, a combination of hard work, business savvy and an experienced new independent partner is creating an audience for Hanson beyond the top 40 format.
On the evidence of an acoustic London show Nov. 5 at Shepherd’s Bush Empire club, that audience comprises new admirers and original fans from the act’s teen-driven commercial heyday.
Hanson’s first album in four years, “Underneath,” was released last spring in the United States on the group’s 3CG label, distributed by Alternative Distribution Alliance. It debuted on The Billboard 200 at No. 25, its peak position.
Storming out of Tulsa, Oklahoma with their major-label debut, Middle Of Nowhere, featuring the “can’t get it out of my head” hit “MMMBop,” drummer Zac Hanson and his brothers Isaac and Taylor became the biggest-selling teen idols of 1997. Zac, only eleven years old at the time, found himself a superstar overnight.
by Billy Amendola
Now nineteen and the CEO of the band’s label, 3CG, Zac speaks to MD online about what it’s like for him eight years later. The brothers’ latest CD is Underneath, and, unlike it predecessor, it lists only Zac behind the kit.
I can’t help it, and apparently no one else can either. Every time I say the name Hanson, it conjures up the brothers’ 1997 monster pop hit MMMBop.
I ask 19-year-old drummer Zac Hanson, who started singing with Issac, 23, and Taylor, 21, when he was just six, how the group feels about this seven long and transformative years later.
“It doesn’t bother me,” says a laid-back Hanson, speaking over the phone as he’s waking up from a nap in pre-gig Connecticut this week.”It’s really awesome, I think, that you can have that much recognition, that when you say the name of the band people can immediately associate you with a song or music.”
When Hanson scored a 1997 hit with its indelible single “MMMBop,” it was easy to mistake the trio of young Oklahomans for yet another contrived boy band, albeit one that could actually play its instruments and which favored a bouncy bubblegum take on ’60s rock, pop and soul to lip-synced modern R&B.
At that point, guitarist Isaac, keyboardist Taylor and drummer Zac had already written 100 songs and been recording on their own since 1992. Now, after two albums for Island, the brothers are once again on their own. They became some of the rare independent artists to land in the Billboard Top 40 — their third studio release, “Underneath,” debuted at No. 25 — and they’re striving with some success to position themselves as a credible indie power-pop band, as well as “musicians for life,” as Taylor says.
The decision to go it alone is never an easy one to make, particularly in the high-stakes world of the music industry.
But going it alone is exactly what the three young brothers who make up Hanson decided to do for their new album, Underneath. And the good news is that it’s a strategy that seems to be working.
“What’s cool about being independent is that you have the opportunity to evolve and grow and change with the times in a way you may not have otherwise had,” says oldest brother Isaac. “You have the opportunity to make your own decisions about how to release your own records.”
Seven years, two albums and several inches off their trademark golden locks later, Hanson is back and rocking the upper strata of the Billboard charts with their latest album, “Underneath,” which ups the volume with an evolved, mature sound like you’ve never heard from them. Even their fans have changed over the years, with the likes of their contemporaries Avril Lavigne and Michelle Branch professing to be Hanson fans.