Hanson, the Tulsa trio, is back
11/30/2007, 10:55 am
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By Andy Argyrakis
The Daily Journal correspondent

Those who previously pegged Hanson as a prefabricated, prepubescent pop band have a lot of catching up to do. Not only were the three teenage brothers a band for a couple of years before their ultra catchy 1997 single "MMMBop," the trio -- Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson -- the group has now evolved a more soulful (and mature), acoustic pop/rock sound. No longer with the likes of Mercury or Island Records, Hanson has its own record label. Guitarist Isaac, 27 -- who recovered quickly after surgery for a blood clot last month -- called The Daily Journal to talk about all the changes and the band's new CD "The Walk."

AVOIDING FOLLY: I've been in the public eye since I've been 16, and it was a huge opportunity to have success at that point in your life. For some it's less of a blessing than others, but for us, it was very natural as artists -- the fact that we recorded, played and performed our own songs. That process helped enable us in a lot of ways to maintain longevity and a connection with our fans. ... We've been really lucky, and I thank my brothers for being a huge source of common sense!

BROTHERLY BONDS: One of the biggest advantages over the years is that we were never in this alone. We've always held each other accountable, which played a big part in sticking this out and not getting too screwed up, even though we are freaks in our own right! (laughter)

AFTER FIRST FAME: We spent 2 1/2 years making a record with a major company, which isn't any way to maintain, sustain or grow a career. ... We saw being on a major record company was more of a risk than going indie!

EMPOWERED: We're going at it alone now, but it (has) improved our relationship with the fans through our concerts, and the fact that we're in constant communication.

'MMMBop': I'm really proud of the first record "Middle of Nowhere" and all its songs people know best -- "MMMBop," "Where's the Love," "I Will Come To You" and "Weird." As young songwriters and musicians, we were really doing everything we possibly could to make the best record, and we had the privilege of re-recording the album acoustically recently, which we'll release at the end of this year as a 10-year celebration. It's really funny, but these songs really do stand up! ... We continue to play those songs with the same excitement and passion as the first time!

NEW MATERIAL: On "The Walk," it definitely accentuates a lot of the old school musical roots. ... With "Middle of Nowhere," we featured a lot of Motown influences and our (second CD) "This Time Around" covered a lot of gospel and blues-oriented influences. (The next CD) "Underneath" is more mellow than those records and takes more of a singer/songwriter approach, but "The Walk" ... has the most raw quality out of all the records because it was recorded mostly live, yet still says "this is Hanson, the band."

ILLINOIS INTERESTS: First off, we're all excited to visit Joliet because it's been awhile since we last played, which was a radio-related concert. Illinois has always been a really good place for us -- between the suburbs and the city and all across the state. If you think you like Hanson, then I know you'll like the show when we come to town. If you think you don't like Hanson, I still think you'll like this show because the mixture of our original music and (a few surprise covers) has the potential to appeal to a lot of different people.

SHOES FOR AFRICA: As many of us know, there are huge issues with AIDS and poverty in Africa. ... So we (went to) Africa to become fully engaged on the issue, and in turn, felt the need to encourage our generation to reach out and do something about it. (Fans who want to get involved can purchase a pair of TOMS shoes on the upcoming tour and another pair will be sent to the less fortunate in Africa).

Boys to men

1992 Brothers debut as children's act The Hanson Brothers at the Mayfest Arts Festival in Tulsa, Okla.

1995 Hanson released the independent debut disc "Boomerang," followed by a recording of "MMMBop."

1997 Mercury Records released Hanson's "Middle of Nowhere" CD, including the smash single "MMMBop."

2000 Second album "This Time Around" released; touring continues.

2004 "Underneath" album came out on group's own label, 3CG Records, which stands for 3 Car Garage where the boys held their first practice sessions.

2005 Helped make documentary film "Strong Enough to Break" about the band struggles.

2006 Released new single "Great Divide" on iTunes.

2007 Indie album "The Walk" landed at top of the Internet Albums Chart and number 4 on America's Independent Chart.