featuresHanson preview:
Brothers coming to South Burlington

By Katie Robichaud
News Editor

Every article about Hanson seems to bring the band right back to that bubble gum pop image. They are pictured with their long blond hair, singing “MMMBop” as adoring young girls hang on to their every word, screaming frantically and asking, “Taylor, will you marry me?”

Since then more than decade has passed, and the Hanson brothers have grown up, recorded three more studio albums and have become involved in research for AIDS in Africa.

While writing and recording their latest album, “The Walk,” Hanson and some close friends visited South Africa. During the visit, they were inspired by their friends’ work and wanted to educate themselves about Africa, Isaac Hanson said.

Last November they revisited South Africa with representatives from TOMS Shoes, a company that donates a pair of shoes to a child in need with every purchase. Hanson and TOMS Shoes delivered 50,000 shoes last November to children in South Africa.

The brothers are married and started families of their own. (Well almost, Zac is expecting his first child this May.) Much has changed in the past 11 years, but Hanson is still on the musical path it has always been on. Currently, the brothers are on the third leg of their tour for “The Walk,” and will be in South Burlington at Higher Ground on Wednesday, April 23. After the tour, Hanson will be working on its next album and hopes to have a new record out next year.

Q&A with Isaac Hanson

Q: What prompted you to take such an interest in the welfare of Africa on your newest album?

A: We felt like we needed to get involved and didn't know exactly how. We had some really close friends who were technology developes and they were developing medical technology that they were about to launch in the United States. Before they launched it in the U.S., they said they hadn't made a single dime off this may never make a single dime off this, but we need to use this to save lives in Africa.

So naturally, we were really inspired by what they were doing and saw that as an opportunity to go get educated and to go see what the lay of the land was.

Because of that trip, we ended up looking for some kids to sing on the album while we were down there. We had begun writing and recording the album "The Walk," but we really felt like it would be amazing to come bak with something, you know, something musical. To go to Africa and not come back with something would be a real shame...They (childrens choir) came in and sang on the songs "Great Divide," "Blue Sky" and the song "Been There Before." It was a really beautiful and inspiring experience. We felt like once that trip was over and came back we felt like well we don't have the perfect solution but we can't wait for the perfect solution.

A: What were some other inspirations you had while writing and recording "The Walk"?

A: We have often said that much of our music is only partially autobiographical, so direct inspiration from things is even hard for even us to particularly pinpoint. It's always about telling a story. Sometimes you are just sitting there and you just find it in the motion and sometimes songs will sit for years before they fully complete themselves.

A song like "Been There Before," which is the second song on the record, is certainly one of my favorite songs on the album because it reminds me of the songs we grew up listening to. Ironically enough, the song actually talks about that. That was definitely an inspiration.

Q: What do you think has changed since creating your own label, 3CG?

A: I don't think having our record company has changed our music. We spent two and half years making that record, never ever would we have done that in any other circumstance. We wrote twice as many songs for that record as we did for "Middle of Nowhere" and "This Time Around" combined. So, it's a significant problem that had nothing to do with our creative process and everything to do with the noncreative merger that ultimately put us at odds with our own creativity. So really it was about surviving. It was about protecting the creative process, protecting what we do as a band. Basically, and continuing on the path that we have always been on. I think if you listen to "This Time Around" and you listen to the album "The Walk," I think you will hear a lot of similarities. Tehre are definitely some production differences...and that's really just an indication of time.

Interview by Katie Robichaud