THE WHIT
BACK TO
HANSON

Hanson - a long way from forgotten
By: Alicia Hartgrove
Posted: 9/20/07

Think back 10 years ago when boy bands were an epidemic. Hate it or love it, there was no escaping "MMMBop". Hanson, three talented young brothers from Tulsa, Oklahoma played their own music, triumphed, and threw the boy band stereotype for a loop.

From 1997 to 2000 Hanson, in the lime light, released two studio albums, toured, appeared on multiple TV shows, and released a documentary. The band broke away from their label, Island Def Jam Records, in 2001 and went unheard until the release of Underneath in 2004 on their independent label, 3 Car Garage (3CG).
Since then, another documentary, Strong Enough to Break, was released. It focused on their struggle with their record label and a tour in 2005 promoting The Best of Hanson: Live & Electric. Hanson still exists, and not just to the fans that have supported them since 1997.

Isaac (guitar and vocals), 26, Taylor (keyboards and lead vocals), 24, and Zac (drums and vocals), 21, all married now, released The Walk on 3CG in late July. The album that awakens old-school rock 'n' roll debuted in the top five on Billboard's Independent Chart.

"This is Hanson in its rawest, truest, and quite possibly most complete form," said Isaac Hanson about the new album in a phone interview late last month. "You hear the rock tendency, R&B tendency, and you hear the more mellow introspective qualities. I think it (the album) shows that in a relatively cohesive way."
According to a press release, The Walk was partly inspired by the band's trip to Africa in late 2006. Hanson recorded the opening track, "The Great Divide," in South Africa with a choir they formed from the local orphanage, who are also heard throughout the album.

"An overlying theme of this album is hope and finding hope in desperate and dire conditions. I think we accidentally discovered that in the making and completion of the album," said Isaac.

Hanson opened their arms to help bring hope to Africa. Proceeds of the song "The Great Divide" are donated to the AIDS relief in Africa. The band joined with TOMS Shoes in efforts to fight against poverty in Africa.

The Walk Tour, which launched in Nashville last week, promotes and sells TOMS Shoes at each venue. For every pair purchased, a pair will be sent to a child in need. The press release states a symbolic mile walk with the band will be staged at each stop. Participants are then allowed into the concert first.

The Walk Tour shook the House of Blues in Atlantic City last Thursday night. The audience was primarily girls, but not a swarm of teeny-boppers like 10 years ago.
Adam DiPerna, 26, of Philadelphia, P.a. brought attention to himself by dancing before the show. Although he seemed overly excited, DiPerna claimed he was only there for the openers but then confessed his past enjoyment of "MMMBop" and curious if "they (Hanson) can rock out now."

After the opening band, Locksley, Hanson conquered the stage starting with the soulful song, "The Great Divide." The crowd was a sea of hands and shrieks that only stopped when the band encouraged a sing-along, which happened often.

Taylor, behind a large piano, belted out every note of his distinctive and gentle voice. He was not confined to the piano bench.

"When Taylor plays the piano his little bird legs stomp to the music," said Christina Dsouza, 20, Education major at Rowan University and acclaimed inventor of the term for a Hanson fan, "Fanson."

Isaac, who changed guitars frequently, rocked several stimulating solos that really showcased his passion. He said his goal is to be playing music until he's 60 years old.

Zac's jamming drums and harmonizing voice were heard but he wasn't easily seen in the back without a spotlight. The band's music has matured in various levels but they surprisingly still hit high harmonious notes together.

A main highlight of the show was a three-song acoustic set including "MMMBop." The set list was dominated by songs from their new album like "Running Man," "Blue Sky," and "Been There Before."

Isaac said "Been There Before" is a song that "really encapsulates our influences as a band" with direct references to Otis Redding and Johnny Cash. "The song musically and lyrically describes where we come from as songwriters and as musicians … It's like that song that I always wanted to play," said Isaac.

Along with various favorites from Underneath like "Penny and Me" and "Hey," Hanson played covers including Smokey Robinson's "You've Really Got a Hold of Me" and Three Dog Night's "Never Been to Spain." This was a rock show.

Hanson was called back on stage for an encore, as they did, and ended the show with "Rock 'n' Roll Razorblade" from the Live & Electric album. It was a final bow and special thanks to the fans that participated on the walk along the boardwalk earlier in the day.

Long time "Fanson" Amanda Tolbert, 21, of Glenside, Pa. said the show was "freaking amazing as always ... best show yet!" This was her second show on the tour and fourth time seeing them overall. She was one of about 40 people that participated in the one mile barefoot walk down the Atlantic City Boardwalk to combat poverty in Africa. Tolbert said she has a 10-minute speech prepared for anyone that "hates on her" for being a fan.

"Unintentionally, we have found ourselves evolving in a very linear way, like rock 'n' roll evolved. That's always what we wanted to be and I think it's reflected in our current music," said Isaac.

Hanson's The Walk Tour will be at Philadelphia's Electric Factory on September 26, 2007. For more information about Hanson, their tour, or TOMS Shoes visit www.hanson.net.