An older, wiser Hanson comes to Calvin
By: Skye McIntyre and Teresa Reilly, Collegian Staff
Posted: 4/23/08

Go ahead and write Hanson off as a one-hit wonder. 27-year-old Isaac Hanson, the eldest member of the trio that took the pop music world by storm over 11 years ago, frankly doesn't care.

"The past is just that, it's the past," he said matter-of-factly. "It's what gets you to where you are. It allowed us to have an incredible group of fans and it's what's allowing us to evolve and change with the times."

Fans and new faces alike will pack Northampton's Calvin Theatre Friday night for a near sold-out show featuring the towheads from Tulsa, with openers Kate Voegele and locally-based Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers.

"If you are only familiar with 'MmmBop' or 'Where's the Love?,' or something from our first record, or are only familiar with the concept of Hanson as in you really don't even know the music, all you remember is a couple of videos with a couple of guys with long hair. Come to a show," Isaac said. "If you walk up to me after a show and you say, 'I never came to a show and I really didn't like it,' fine."

His statements are fair enough. The band's name alone evokes a wide range of comments, the majority of which are negative. Though it may not always apply, the expression that "first impressions are everything" certainly rings true in the case of Hanson. It's difficult for most to get past the image to which Isaac refers - one they established when their youngest member, drummer Zac, was only 12 years of age.

Now married with four children and one on the way between them, the brothers have come a long way from the days when the Spice Girls were invading the states suggestively asking Americans if they wanted to be their lovers, and the Backstreet Boys had not yet graduated from playing theme parks and high school auditoriums.

The difference between Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson and their contemporaries, however, is deeply-rooted passion, a force that drove them first to command respect from labels that consistently slammed the door in their faces, and later to fight for themselves against record executives who insisted they churn out bubblegum hits for the sole sake of selling records.

After several years of coming to terms with the changing music industry, one in which mega-corporations own nearly every radio station and dictate the small selection of songs that reach the airwaves, Hanson decided to take a risk when they began their own independent label, 3CG Records, in 2004.

The band's gamble proved to be worth the high stakes. That same year, their sixth studio album, "Underneath," reached number one on the United States Independent music chart.

Since then, their music and message have taken them all over the globe. Their current tour, "The Walk," in support of last year's release by the same name, is what brings them to the Calvin.

When asked to what he attributes the group's longevity, there is little hesitation.
"Kickass fans," Isaac said firmly. "Honestly, I think we are lucky. Not only do the three of us really love what we do and want to continue to do it for a very long time, but we also have a really unique situation which is the fan base that we reached right at the beginning of our career has been a very loyal group of people, a very passionate group of people, who has continued to come to show after show and has continued to buy records."

The group of people he speaks of will be equally audible Friday evening well before the Calvin's doors are opened, as Hanson's partnership with TOMS Shoes will take them on a barefoot mile walk around the area to promote awareness for children in need.

The band's work with TOMS, along with their continuing effort to create awareness for the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa, both go beyond supporting worthy causes by connecting them to their peers, an age group the band believes has power that extends beyond their own recognition.

"They can figure out things they can do themselves that ultimately are a heck of a lot more effective than giant organizations…you cannot underestimate the value of people," says Isaac.

Another group of people not to underestimate are Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers, a Northampton-based band whose members share more than just a love for music. They all call UMass their alma mater. In fact, they recently visited campus to sing the national anthem at a men's basketball game.

Their sound is unique in its sheer honesty and simplicity. The music, said frontman Kellogg, is intended to "break your heart and make you laugh."

As for how he thinks the band will be received at Friday's performance, he said, "If you have a pulse, you will have an amazing time." Regarding their homecoming, he said he's "so damn excited my toenails are going to fall off."

Why did Hanson choose the Sixers to accompany them on "The Walk?"

"We like Stephen a lot. We have been really impressed by him as a musician and a songwriter. He's got a great voice and a good sound and he's a fun guy," said Isaac.
And Kate Voegele?
"You got an artist who is just at the beginning of her career and is looking to build, and has a good opportunity to get on the road and potentially bring some of her fans to our shows and so on and so forth. I think it's a mutually positive thing," Isaac said.

Whether the show as a whole makes your toenails fall off or leaves you with all appendages still intact, it'll likely leave fans with a deeper respect and those unfamiliar with their music with a new appreciation. Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8.