Hanson is back – older and maybe wiser
21 August 2004
Hanson has grown up. At least a little. Band members Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson – 16, 14 and 11 years old when the three brothers from Tulsa hit it big with MMMBop – are now 22, 20 and 17.
Taylor is married.
He’s a dad.
The boy-band era has come and gone.
And they’re back on the road, unplugged.
Hanson’s infectious debut album, Middle of Nowhere, was nominated for three Grammys and sold 6.5 million copies in the United States. Their second album, 2000’s This Time Around, flopped, selling only 270,000 copies.
“Did that make us feel big doubt or inner turmoil?” asks lead singer, pianist and guitarist Taylor from the back of the band’s blue tour bus. The group is about to play its show in Philadelphia. Beside him, percussionist Zac and guitarist Isaac vehemently shake their heads.
“No. Absolutely not,” he says. “But when you make music you always want to make an impact. So when you don’t reach as many people, of course you’re disappointed.”
In May, the band split with its label, Island Def Jam, and will release an album, Underneath, independently early next year.
“It’s not by any means the case that we have exhausted our opportunities to get signed,” says Isaac.
“People will be saying, ‘Oh, the independent release. Hanson was dropped,”‘ interrupts Taylor. “But really, it was just time for a new phase to kick in. We reached a point where we really needed to go for it ourselves.”
Underneath features collaborations with producer Danny Kortchmar (who has worked with Billy Joel, Jon Bon Jovi and James Taylor), vocals by Michelle Branch and a title track co-written with Matthew Sweet. An acoustic EP that features some of the new songs was released on the band’s Web site last weekend, timed for the start of the acoustic tour.
“My girlfriend is in college, and she has to figure out what she wants to do with her life,” says Zac. “I have friends my age and I go, ‘I have lived three times as much life as you have.’ Not in a mean way – I’m not putting down my peers.
“This is a burden, yes, but what more would I want to do than be burdened by something I love?”
Growing up as child stars has saved the creative brothers from the doldrums of regular adolescence.
“I can’t see me in high school,” says Isaac, who attended eighth and ninth grade before Nowhere dropped, and has since, along with his brothers, been home-schooled.
“You find yourself with tunnel vision, like, ‘I’m in ninth grade. I think what ninth-graders think. All I see is ninth-graders. I am ninth-graders.’ You evolve with everyone else, not at your own pace.”
So they have been touring the globe and growing up. Isaac has taken up yoga to correct a shoulder problem caused by slinging a Les Paul guitar over it for most of his life. In June 2002, Taylor married Natalie Anne Bryant and the couple had their first child, Jordan Ezra, in October.
“He’s a new source of inspiration,” Taylor says.
And so is their new lineup of songs.
“We know how great making music can be,” says Taylor. “The work, the pain and the frustrations are all because we have tasted how amazing it can be. You are always striving to get there again.”
Their Philadelphia stop drew fans who lined up at 4am to secure prime space, sleeping at a nearby gas station in one-hour shifts to keep their places.
“Some of these girls think it’s still 1997, screaming their heads off, like, ‘Hanson! Hanson!” says Katie Renkes, 17. “Last night they did a cover of Crosby, Stills Nash and Young’s Teach Your Children. I mean, that is so awesome!
“They’re not just a boy band,” she says. “From point A to point B, they have really grown up a lot.”
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald