by Brittany Sturges, Temple '08
With a new (and completely independent) release, The Walk out in stores, this long-time Hanson fan (yes, they were my first concert ever) got the chance to chat with Isaac on the phone about what the trio has been up to over the last 10 years.
In New York at the time of the interview, the trio were preparing for a show for their current tour. Their new release is what Isaac considered to be more of an “old-school record.”
“For the first time, we approached this record from the beginning with a clear vision of what we wanted to achieve,” Isaac said. The record took a bit longer than they would have liked, but in the end, the brothers were able to work more thoroughly on the material. With the help of Danny Kortchmar (who has worked with artists like Billy Joel, The Eagles and James Taylor), the record was molded to their liking.
On some of the songs, like “Ngi Ne Themba (I Found Hope)” and “Great Divide,” some children's choirs from South Africa were featured on the backing vocals. Isaac explained that there was a music class in the school that “created a lot of potency to the lyrics and really influenced the record.”
Their first single, “Great Divide,” is not only a success in terms of musical maturity for the band, but it’s also serving a better cause. All the proceeds from downloads of the song will go directly towards the Perinatal HIV Research Unit at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. When asked why they decided to choose that specific program, Isaac mentioned that they had seen a direct need while down in South Africa. The program was doing well—in fact, it’s reduced the rates of HIV transmission from mother to child, according to Isaac, and will help save the next generation.
The Walk is the brothers’ first fully independent release, out on their own record label, 3CG. With this record, Isaac mentioned that they’re getting the chance to show people who the band is and who they were.
They decided to start their own record label, due to the “quick death” that the music industry is suffering. Isaac said how the band itself was hurt by the evolution of the music industry and couldn’t give the same input on their later records as they had done on their critically-acclaimed release, Middle of Nowhere.
Speaking of Middle of Nowhere, what about “MMMBop?” When asked about the chart-topping hit (that will take over your thought process for days at a time), Isaac said, “MMMBop has a life of its own.” He mentioned that the time of its release, “MMMBop” and the band were thrown into the pop-rock category, despite not fully fitting in with their musical peers of the time.
Well, how does the band fit into the current music scene now, especially with indie music being, well…popular? Isaac mentioned that, today, there aren’t a lot of bands out there that “can do harmony.”
He went on to say, “Where we come from stylistically, it isn’t like everyone else.” When asked about if there are any bands that may have a similar (but not identical) approach to their sound, Isaac mentioned Maroon 5 and perhaps, Gavin DeGraw.
If anything, this band has proved that they have the talent and integrity to withstand all the changes and obstacles that have been thrown at them for over a decade. Plus, they’re still enjoying every minute of making music. In the end, that’s what counts.