Isaac Hanson walks 'The Walk'
By Kevin C. Johnson

The new Hanson tour, including a scheduled stop in St. Louis, hit a snag recently when guitarist Isaac Hanson was hospitalized after a Dallas show for a pulmonary embolism that required surgery.

But the "MmmBop" band is up and running again, and Hanson reports all is well with him, though his case of Paget-Schroeder syndrome remains a concern. Paget-Schroeder is a disease in which upper body muscle development constricts arteries from the heart and causes possibly fatal blood clots in the lungs.

"I'm feeling really good, really lucky," Hanson says. Until a few years ago, around 40 percent of those with the disease "would not be able to effectively use their arms again. It's in large part because of modern technology that I'm in a situation where I can go back on stage and be able to have a career as a guitar player."

After the current run of the tour, which includes a rescheduled date Tuesday at the Pageant, he'll undergo additional surgery "to get rid of the risk of severe clotting again, potential long-term damage, and the risk of never playing guitar again."

Hanson will have the surgery over the Christmas holidays, then resume touring.

"This isn't the kind of thing that's going to stop me," he says.

Hanson had more to say about his condition, the new tour and the band's new CD, "The Walk," featuring the single "Great Divide."

Proceeds from "Great Divide" go to AIDS relief in Africa. The CD was partly inspired by the group's visit to South Africa and Mozambique, where they formed a choir with children from an orphanage.

Hanson also has teamed with TOMS Shoes to donate 50,000 pairs of footwear to African children. Fans of the band are invited to buy a pair of TOMS and participate in a one-mile walk, beginning at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Pageant.

Q. What was it like getting out of the hospital and back on the road? MORE

A. My shoulder and elbow were tender. I wasn't in a lot of pain in the classic "Oh, my God, this hurts" sense. It was more internal, more of my being careful because things don't feel quite right. I've been careful most nights, wrapping my arm every night. I'm continuing to wrap my shoulder and elbow. It keeps me from overexerting it.

Q. How did fans react to your illness?

A. In every city, there's a significant amount of people really concerned. They were very nervous. I feel lucky because so many people have said they're praying for me and thinking of me and wishing me well. It encouraged me to know that many people were concerned.

Q. How would you describe the new CD "The Walk," which debuted in the top five of Billboard's Top Independent chart?

A. For those who don't know Hanson particularly well, those who don't know us beyond the first record or even beyond our first single, if you listen to the album you'll be like, "Who is this band? They're different from what I thought." But despite 10 years of voice changes, there really are a lot of similarities to what we've done before.

In a lot of ways, "The Walk" takes the influences of "Middle of Nowhere" with the early Motown and R&B on it, the feeling of the second record ("This Time Around") with the bluesy gospel feel to it, and the last album, "Underneath," with the rootsy and mellow quality, (and) puts them all into one record, while still moving forward.

Q. Do you feel that some listeners don't know much about Hanson beyond "MmmBop?"

A. It's not that they don't know us beyond that literally. When I say that, I mean a lot of people know Hanson on a cultural level, but not on a musical level. I'm referring to the cultural reality of what that first record was. There were a lot of circumstances surrounding that record that were iconic. We invented a word, "MmmBop," that sticks in people's minds. There was never a song called "MmmBop" (before), and there hasn't been one since.

Q. What's it been like for Hanson to make the transition from boys to men in the music industry?

A. Having a career for 10 years and being able to sustain yourself, is a hard thing to do whether you're Hanson or the Beatles or anyone in between. There's lots of ups and downs and challenges. When I think about the bands we love, people like the Stones and the Beatles, they started off as young, fresh-faced pretty boys who evolved past that because they put songwriting and musical ability at the forefront. That's what they were about. And that's what we've tried to do. We're not going to be young forever.