Isaac Hanson Interview - Hanson Use Your Sole Tour Schedule
The entertainment news scene is filled with tales of artists with egomaniacs and self destructive behavior. It's a tale too often publicized and a view our voyeuristic society seems fixated upon. Indeed there is good in the entertainment world. Hanson and HelloGoodbye kick of their "Use Your Sole" today in Hanson's home state of Oklahoma. The tour, presented by Tom's Shoes includes a Walk Around The World before each concert at venues and on college campuses, with tour mates HelloGoodbye taking part in the one-mile treks with HANSON and TOMS Shoes.We had the pleasure of speaking with Isaac Hanson who spoke in-depth about the band's causes, his personal trials , what it takes to change the world and more.
Musicpix: It's hard to belive that Hanson has been around since 1992. You've accomplished a lot both in your musical career as well as your humanitarian efforts. At what point did you decide to use your talent for a greater good?
Isaac: As far back as 1997when we were releasing "Middle of Nowhere", we did some early pediatric stuff with the Elizabeth Glaser Foundation. We were very selective about stuff we supported. That was one of the few things that we did. And that was of course pediatric AIDS research and what not. We really felt like we were being constantly hit up with people saying "please do this and please do that". There were a lot of worthy causes but we felt like if it's not something we fell like talking about for the rest of our lives, this is not something that we feel like we can speak about intelligently and have some kind of tangible goals and missions for what it is we're talking about and what it is we're doing.... It wasn't until we made a trip to Africa and we were making "The Walk", which we had had on our hearts on a long time to do. Finally we said, "you know what? If we don't just do this, we're never going to know." We said we're just going to take time out in the middle of this record. We were just struck by the realities of both the incredible sense of optimism and opportunitythat there was within everbody that we met, whether they were in a shanty town or whether they were in a hospital... whether they were in Johannesburg or whether they were in Soweto. There were opportunities all around for a hand-up, not necessarily a hand-out. We really felt like once we had left Africa, we said to ourselves we had been waiting for a big red button... we had been guilty of the thing most people are guilty of... the big red button concept. We realized we had to do something tomorrow, and the next day and the next day. Because of that, we first took the song "Great Divide" which was one of the songs off of "The Walk" and made it a charitable single. We also created some merchadise to sell as well which was charitable We said this is just the beginning. We want to find ways to engage the audience in the discussion. We don't know if they're going to love this idea or not, but we have to try. A charitable single is not enough, even a charitable record is not enough... it goes away. We need other ways to get people involved, so we realized that one of those things was going to be a walk before every single show. We really didn't come to that conclusion until we realized that there was a shoe company caled Tom's Shoes that was giving away a pair of shoes for ever one they sold, and they had a goal of selling 50,000 shoes so they could give away 50,000 pairs of shoes to kids in Africa. So we made multiple calls with no luck. Randomly at a party in New York we ran into a photographer who knew the owner of the company, and said "here's his cellphone number, call him". Taylor gives him a call and say's we're about to go on tour in 6 weeks, we want to talk to you about doing one mile barefoot walks before every single show to help people understand what it means to not have something. We want to send the message of tangible, real action and motivate people to do more than just give a dollar. We've now done 112-113 one mile barefoot walks. We've raised enugh money to build one school in Kenya, build 2 wells, give shoes, give 500 mothers drugs to prevent their kids from being born with AIDS... and the list goes on. That's just the begnning. We feel like we only barely touched the surface of what it we can do. Ultimately Hanson is not going to change the world. It's going to be the people who go out and do it themselves that are ultmately going to do it. No matter of how many millions of dollars you can raise, you need people on the ground, you need people around the world coordinated and helping out in the process.
Isaac: We have a couple of other friends who've done some remarkable things. Taylor has been doing a fast as symbolism... trying to say listen, I'm going to sacrifice my well being as an example, an encourage others to do so. Darfur is a trajedy in and of itself. Taylor can speak more intelligently that I can about the specific issues. It has to be dealt with in the country itself. It has to be dealt with in the right way. But as Americans, we can be a positive influence on the process. The goal is to be right influence.
Musicpix: Hanson is quite involved on the world stage. What are your views on the domestic political front?
Isaac: Here's my view. We're all Americans, we're all in one form or another in this together. At the end of the day we all have to have personal responsibility for ourselves and for the people immediately in our care. So if we focus on those things, and focus on being responsible... parents, brothers, sisters, friends, then most of these issues get solved. I think we need to focus on having intelligent debate. I understand both sides of the issue. have friends who are on both sides of the issue... specifically if you're talking about healthcare. I don't feel like it's my place to cloud issues by getting involved in that discussion, because although I am an American, at the same time there's only so many things I can talk about. I would say it's profoundly important that you be educated, that you know where you stand on the issues and that you speak up appropriately. I will say that I think there has beenan aggregous amount, in certain cases, of politically and intellectualy irresponsble things and that goes for both sides. Both sides are irresponsible. One thing I've found is that inflammatory speech very rarely gets you anywhere. All it does is it upsets everybody. And then you become dogmatic and angry. And there's plenty of that going around. What I'm concerned about is people being.... I don't know. Respect and dissent, there's a fine line.. you have to walk that line appropriately because both are necessary. In a lot of countries around the world elections happen and there are riots and thousands of people die... so we say look at this debate, it's so intense... at the same time, nobody is dying.
Musicpix: From a personal standpoint, you've dealt with some pretty serious health issues yourself.
Isaac: I'm really ucky. I dodged the bullet, actually I've dodged the bullet twice. In 2003 and 2007 the same thing happened. Both times were potentially life threatening. They both were pulmonary embolisms. Actually 2003 was worse, because I caught it later. That's just one of those things where you say to yourself look, I have my time and I better live it, because if I don't live my life with some degree of purpose and love... I subscribe to the concept of we should ultimately treat each other with compassion and love. On some level or another, whether it's Ghandi saying "be the change" or whether it's "do unto others as you would have them do unto you"... either way, that should be the focus. I've tried my best in my life to live that way. I have not done it perfectly by any stretch of the imagination. I'm glad that it was not the end for me, and I look forward to a lot more time to live my life passionately and with care for others.
Musicpix: Back in 1997 you all were kids when you hit the motherlode with MMMBop... you had the number one song in pop music at the time. How did you stay grounded?
Isaac: I'm going to give credit where credit is due. I've got some badass parents. Everybody is human, no one is perfect... but my parents are pretty great people. They put the protection of their children above everything else.My parents were always of the point of view of protection of the sanity of their children. Especially in the case of my brother Zak who was 11 at the time. Teenagers need protection from themselves. We live in a society that prolongs youth far too long, because between the ages of 16 and 18, if you haven't started to act responsibly... as an adult, you're going to have a really hard time adjusting... that being said, everybody needs to get a little party on. My point is not to be prudish my point is just to say life is short.
Musicpix: You seem seem to be very active on your website. www.hanson.net. What types of things can visitors expect?
Isaac: We are rehearsing right now, so their will be a lot of updates on how that is going. We try to update the site or Twitter every couple of days or so. Some people tweet and blog too much. There is something to be said for silence. As the tour goes on, there will be a lot of stuff. Everything from the walks to the various happenings on tour as well as allowing people to vote on songs for our set list. We're going to put up a list of 5 songs for every single show on the tour. Whichever song gets the most votes wil be added to the set-list.
Musicpix: Lastly... any info on your upcoming 2010 release?
Isaac: The new record is one of the most straightforward records we've done in a long time. I would almost say it's like organic pop with and R&B backbeat. "Underneath"which was released in 2004 was a record that kind of survived. We had a very unfortunate relationship with an inherited record company who had no passion for our music. That was very difficult, it took 4 years to get that record made. The Walk had a very specific mission. It was not about glamour and glory, it was about staying steady, staying on path and moving forward. Also having that understanding with our fanbase what it was and what we're about. This record is probably the most liberated record since the very early records. We actually produced the entire record ourselves, which was not something we originaaly thought was going to happen... but it just felt right when it came down to it. We went ahead and tracked it mostly live, so a lot f the songs are one take. It's been fun to record.
For more info on the tour and Walk events check out www.UseYourSole.com .
TOMS SHOES PRESENTS
HANSON & HELLOGOODBYE
USE YOUR SOLE
*HANSON, Steel Train and
By: Steve Mitchell