Hanson still… Mmmbop-ing after all these years
Tuesday, Oct 2 2007
Top Stories and Living Arts and Music

Krista Perry
News Editor

The guys of Hanson know what it is like to walk without shoes, and it has nothing to do with their latest record sales. Isaac, Taylor, and Zac Hanson may be America’s most underrated band, but they are doing something far more vital than just making music.

TOM’s Shoes, a small company out of California, manufactures foot wear and apparel with one distinct quality: every time a pair is purchased, another pair will also go to a child without shoes in Africa. The stylish canvas shoes are known for their comfort and unique designs.

Hanson is helping TOM’s reach its goal of 50,000 pairs by literally walking a mile without shoes before every concert on their national tour. Hanson also brought TOM’s representatives on the tour, appropriately titled “The Walk Tour”.

“We were looking for companies that were putting their product to use and inspiring people to take action,” said Taylor Hanson. “We wanted to do something tangible. I found this company that made really cool shoes and reached out to them.”

The band sat down with the owner of TOM’s and brainstormed ways to reach out to others.
“The record is called the Walk and the idea of doing the walks in every city is just a way to motivate and encourage our fans and say, this about doing something very simple but very real,” he said. “We suggest that all the fans take off their shoes and see what it is really like to walk barefoot for one mile.”

Hanson said the concept of the walk came after contemplating the symbolism of shoes and the expression, “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes”. The walks before each concert are meant to give insight on understanding someone else’s plight.

“There is something about feeling the hot pavement on your feet for that one mile,” Hanson said.

“There are people who are fighting disease and poverty, and just giving someone a pair of shoes might make all the difference.”

During the walks before each show, the ever passionate and zealous Hanson fans have a chance to get up close and personal with the band. Rather than treating it like a massive meet-and-greet, the fans have been suggesting ways they can help out in their own cities.
“The message is bigger than Hanson or TOM’s shoes,” he said. “Nobody thinks they will single handedly stop a disease, but it shows that we as a generation can step up to the plat, and it can be as simple as walking.”

Becky Allen, a senior psychology major, attended both the walk and the Hanson concert in Hartford, Connecticut.

“I’ve spent ten years of my life going to their shows, and I’ve essentially grown up with Hanson,” she said. “Once I got to the arena, I saw that some girls had camped out on the sidewalk to ensure their spot in line. Not many bands have fans that do that.”
Allen said that about 30-40 people walked barefoot with the band.

“I think it’s great that Hanson is raising money for the children,” she said. “I bought my pair of TOMS last night. They’re cute shoes and the money goes to something well worth it.”
Hanson, a band that has been typecast ever since 1997’s “Mmmbop”, released their fourth studio album titled The Walk last July. The record debuted in the top 5 of Billboard’s Independent Music chart.

Exceptionally written and produced, the tracks on the Walk range from the warm melodies of “Georgia” to the rockin’ “Something Going Round”. The record is the band’s most timeless and mature work to date.

Hanson will be going to Africa in November to put the 50,000 pairs of TOM’s on the feet of children in need.

“We are lucky to have so many fans that support us,” Hanson said. “Right now is an important time in our band, especially with what we are doing with the shoes. You can’t do anything but plug away and make music you feel passionate about.”