“I realize first of all how incredibly rare it was to have that kind of success around the world,” he said during a recent phone interview. “I look back on it and say, ‘Wow, I am so blown away by the successes over the years.’ ”
Guitarist Issac (age 27), keyboardist/singer Taylor (24) and drummer
Zak (22) were teenagers when their breakthrough album “Nowhere”
was released in May 1997.
Having already released two independent albums by that point and written most of the material for “Nowhere,” the boys considered the album’s success a precursor of future fame, Issac said. “You don’t have as much perspective,” he said. “You believe in your music. You believe your music should be doing well.”
Hanson proved the Notorious B.I.G. right, however, as more money did
in fact cause more problems. Hanson’s next major label release,
“This Time Around,” had disappointing sales despite receiving
critical raves for its more adult sound. It peaked at No. 19 on the
The Hanson brothers spent more than two years after that working on their next album, but the label refused more than 80 songs, claiming they weren’t marketable. The brothers had reached their boiling point and left the label.
“We were stuck in a really bad situation,” Issac said. “There was no real, reasonable way we were going to be able to make a record.”
Rather than go through a fight like that again, Hanson formed its
own label, the independent 3CG Records. Another 18 months of work had
to be put into “Underneath” before it was released in April
2004, and its appearance at No. 25 on the Billboard chart made it
With all the work put into the album and tours embarked upon in between studio time, Issac chuckles when the word “comeback” is mentioned. “On some level, it was a comeback in that we were able to come back from a major label that almost strangled us,” he said.
The band toured over the next few years after that, with all three brothers by that point wedding and the older two having children. That maturity extended into their view of the outside world, as Hanson has gotten involved in the fight against poverty in Africa.
Hanson has aligned with TOMS shoes in a deal whereby for every pair
of shoes bought by the public, the company donates a pair to South Africans.
The group also organizes walks prior to each stop on their The Walk
tour (which is in town this weekend), where participants
The brothers recently returned from South Africa, where they delivered more than 50,000 shoes. “It’s not just been about concerts. It’s also been about engaging with our fans, encouraging them to take action,” Issac said. “The right thing to do is to help those people who need help.”
Hanson may never again move millions of records — thanks to
a digital market that discourages album ownership as much as the inability
to recapture lighting in a bottle — but the band can’t complain
about living out a lifelong dream before being able to drink
“You go from being an 11-year-old kid on a stage in a local art festival in Tulsa, Okla., singing ’50s covers to performing before thousands,” Issac said. “We just feel like this is just one more day, one more chapter and hopefully just the beginning.” -