Hanson bring trademark pop to Madison

By: Abby Sears /The Daily Cardinal - April 11, 2008

A fter more than a decade since they released "MMMBop," Hanson are touring with catchy, mature tunes.

Most people remember Hanson, the musical trio of brothers from Tulsa, Okla., for their long hair and infectious nineties mega-hit “MMMBop.” Nearly 11 years after their first single topped charts worldwide, Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson are now businessmen, activists and experienced musicians enjoying a national tour and successful album.

The youngest brother, Zac, described the band’s signature style as “rock and roll with a pop sensibility,” influenced by the music of the late ’50s and early ’60s. While working on the band’s latest record The Walk, released in July 2007, Zac said the brothers listened to bands such as Wilco and Travis, infusing their album with a different sound than previous

“I would say this record is a little more raw, a little simpler,” Zac said. “We recorded most of the record live, together, just the three of us playing. I think that allowed for the record to feel a little more spacious.”

Hanson attributes part of their growth as artists to recording The Walk on their own independent label 3CG Records. After splitting from Island Def Jam Records, the brothers created their label in 2003 and began recording their first independent release titled Underneath.

During the making of Underneath, Hanson filmed a documentary detailing the band’s trials and tribulations recording their first independent album. Throughout the filming of the documentary, the brothers realized they were not alone in their experiences with the mainstream music industry.

“It’s not something unique to Hanson, the process you’re watching, it’s the norm, it’s the standard,” Zac said. “The messed up system we were working in is the reality of what so many of these executives think is a working process. It’s not the way to be successful building a career.”

Currently, the band is building up the 3CG label to reflect a necessary change in the music business. Citing artists such as Radiohead and Jessica Simpson, who is rumored to be considering an album release on an independent label, Zac said Hanson hopes the 3CG label will work toward creating a new and improved recording industry.

“We want to do something that is unique and something that works,” Zac said. “We don’t want the only difference between our label and another label to be the fact that it’s run by Hanson, we want to find core ways to change the way the business works.”

Zac said the band has enjoyed recording under 3CG for several reasons, most importantly the freedom that comes with an independent label. By establishing and maintaining positive contacts throughout the independent industry, Zac said the brothers are able to get their product out to fans as soon as possible without the industry pressures of marketing or financial concerns.

“What we want to do as a band is release more music, more often,” Zac said.

Another luxury from working on their own label is the freedom to pursue other projects outside the recording industry. The Hanson brothers were able to put their music career on hold and travel to South Africa and Mozambique to fight poverty and AIDS in Africa.

“It was just kind of an inspiring idea, it was something that we were like ‘We need to stop this record and go … we’re not sure what role we’re going to play or where we’re going to find ourselves, we just need to go and learn what we can,’” Zac said.

While in Africa, the brothers decided to use their music as a starting point to get involved in the AIDS cause. They recorded the song “Great Divide” in July 2006 and gave all proceeds from the recording to AIDS prevention and research. Even upon their return to the United States, Hanson is still able to contribute to the fight against poverty—the brothers paired with TOMS Shoes and agreed to donate a pair of shoes to a child in Africa for every pair of
TOMS Shoes sold on their The Walk Tour.

Before every performance of their current tour, the Hanson brothers walk a mile barefoot to raise awareness for the causes they support. As the name of their recent album and current tour suggest, the band has survived a long journey through an ever-changing music industry and will continue down the path of creative freedom.