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Mmmcomeback: Hanson grows up, release new album
By: Kelley Dunn
Posted: 9/21/07
In an mmmbop, you're gone.

That is, of course, unless you're a Hanson.

In the years since the blonde-haired trio took over the airwaves and bedroom walls of young girls across the country in the '90s, they have gone through quite a bit. Ten years, three studio albums, three marriages, four children and a Saturday Night Live skit later, the boys are poised and ready to take the world by storm again-this time with a little more funk.

"I think this band has grown quite a bit since Middle of Nowhere (Mercury Records, 1997)," said guitarist and vocalist Isaac Hanson.

Isaac and brothers Taylor (keyboard, vocals) and Zac (percussion, vocals) have been performing together since the early '90s. The trio started out singing a cappella and reached iconic pop-culture status with the ever-peppy hit "Mmmbop," the bands runaway single off of Nowhere.

Experiencing such success at such a young age-Zac, the youngest, 11 at the time-could have easily set the members up for Bonaduce-esque child star collapses. Experiencing your early teenage years in front of thousands of screaming fans is not exactly a common occurrence, but Isaac, who did, does not regret his unique upbringing.

"I don't really feel that [starting our careers] today versus 10 years ago would have been better," said Isaac. "I do think, however, that would have helped misperceptions for who this band is…people would more readily understand who this band has always been."

Occasional misconceptions aside, Isaac would not change the path Hanson has taken over the years.

"In the end, I feel like it was more beneficial that we started when we did," he said. "[We have] bands in their early 20s come up to us and say 'the reason we play music is because of you guys.'…It's who I was, it's who I am and I'm very, very proud of that."

In addition to growing physically and musically, the brothers have also grown into the world of business. After conflicts arose with former label Island Def Jam Records, Hanson started 3CG Records, its own independent label.

"There's a huge lack of consistency in the [music] business," said Isaac about the band's move. "There has been a huge shift and change in the business and the way that it works…two-thirds of all music being sold is in the form of individual songs…It's this short-term thinking that leads to a lack of focus, abandoning projects and things that could potentially produce results."

The Hanson brothers use 3CG to promote the production of quality albums as a whole, rather than concentrating solely on generating hit singles quickly. Isaac went on to say that with EPs and singles taking precedence over whole albums, buyers are starting to question the perceived quality of music, driving its price lower and lower.

"You'll spend $3.50 on a latte everyday, but you'll second-guess spending a dollar on a song," Isaac said.

By fostering artists and focusing on career and album building, the Hanson brothers hope to help take the music industry back to its roots, looking at music in the long-term rather than living single by single.

In addition to their work in the music industry, the Hanson brothers have also taken a special interest in a more humanitarian field. Their most recent album, The Walk (3CG 2007), features vocals by children from a South African orphanage. In addition, all proceeds from downloading the song "Great Divide" (the second track from Walk) will go to an HIV research unit in Soweto, South Africa.

"When we flew to Africa, we went there with open eyes and ears, trying to figure out if there were tangible things that we could get involved in, things that we could have a direct impact on," said Isaac. "For every person that is in trouble and downtrodden, there is another person ready to work to make their life better. I was really inspired."

It is no question that the Hanson brothers have grown up. With taller statures, shorter hair and families in tow, Isaac, Taylor and Zac hardly resemble the sprite young boys that started the boy-band revolution of the 1990s.

"I feel lucky with what we have," said Isaac. "A good number of people have been fans and stuck around for 10 years. A lot of bands can't say that."

The trio will continue their journey back into the limelight in St. Louis on Oct. 6, as they perform live at the Pageant.

"If you're only familiar with 'Mmmbop,' you're going to be in for a big surprise," said Isaac. "We play everything from '60s and '70s covers to [songs from our new record] to 'Mmmbop'. It's going to be more aggressive than people might think it would be."

Advising that fans come to the show "expecting the unexpected," Isaac did give one promise for possible concert goers. "People can come to a Hanson show and expect to have a good time."

And who knows, it could be the start of another musical revolution.