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Members include brothers Isaac Hanson (born Nov. 17, 1980, in Tulsa, OK), guitar, vocals; Taylor Hanson (born March 14, 1983, in Tulsa, OK), keyboards, vocals; and Zachary Hanson (born Oct. 22, 1985, in Tulsa OK), drums, vocals. Addresses: Record company--Mercury Records, 825 Eighth Ave., New York, NY 10019.
Who is Hanson? Hanson is three brothers, Clarke Isaac, 16, Jordan Taylor, 14, and Zachary Walker, 11, and one of the hottest bands of the summer of 1997. The trio is multi-talented--writing and playing their own music. They follow in the footsteps of a long tradition of young pop stars like Brenda Lee and Frankie Lymon in the 1950s, the Jackson 5 and the Osmonds in the 1970s, and country's LeAnn Rimes in the 1990s. The Hanson family is from Tulsa, OK and also includes two younger sisters, Jessie and Avie, and one younger brother, Mac, all who are between the ages of three and eight. "We're willing to let them in the band," Zac said. "We've asked them before. But I think they really want to do their own thing."
They started in music by actually singing at the dinner table, and then went on to perform around the local Tulsa area and at various functions and parties. Each learned to play the piano and other instruments. Isaac plays guitar, Taylor plays the keyboards, and Zac plays the drums. They went on to perform regionally until 1992 and went through 12 rejections by record labels until Mercury Records signed them in 1996. Their first record was released locally in Tulsa in 1995 called "Boomerang." In May of 1996, they released "MMMBop," that was also recorded in Tulsa. The group, with their parents, moved to Hollywood in July of 1996 to produce their "Middle of Nowhere" album, which contains "MMMBop." "Middle of Nowhere" was produced by The Dust Brothers (Beck's Odelay) and by Steve Lironi (Black Grape). The album features 13 original pop songs written by the brothers themselves. The entire Hanson family stayed in Hollywood through November of 1996.
The "MMMBop" video was produced in Los Angeles in February, 1997. The video was about friends, and the group's ideas for the video were polished by Director Tamara Davis, who has also done videos for Sonic Youth, AMP, and Luscious Jackson. The single "MMMBop was released on March 24, 1997, debuting at No.49 on the radio and records chart, but after just six short weeks it stood at No. 1 on Billboard. The song became Mercury Records's first number one single in seven years. It is said to be reminiscent of "Walking on Sunshine," the 1983 classic sung by Katrina and the Waves. The video for "MMMBop" debuted at No. 16 on the MTV Top 20, and was No. 5 in of July 1997. Their debut album, Middle of Nowhere, was released in the United States on May 6, 1997, and was released worldwide in June 1997. It is a combination of pop, modern rock, 1970s soul, with a gospel influence that has gained the appeal of an audience twice the boys' ages, all without any hint of grunge flare.
Since 1992, the brothers have recorded two self-distributed CDS, written over 100 original songs, and performed in public hundreds of times. Walker and Diana Hanson are the proud parents of the three brothers, and they travel with their sons when they are on tour. The boys have performed over 200 concerts, and all are interested in acting and producing music for other groups. All of them are home-schooled and none have current girlfriends. "Zac just got over the 'I hate girls' phase. But he's not girl crazy. He's more into burping all the time. He talks and burps."
Isaac "Ike" Hanson is the oldest of the Hansons, and is also said to be the most "sensitive." He received his driver's license in November 1996, and is a tenth grader. He enjoys basketball, speed hockey, and roller-blading, and wears clear braces. Taylor "Tay" Hanson is the middle child of the three band members and is an eighth grader. He enjoys drawing in his spare time. Zachary "Zac" Hanson is the youngest of the three band members and he likes to relax in his backyard tree-house in his spare time.
Walker Hanson, the boys' father, took the family to Trinidad, Venezuela, and Ecuador when he sought employment there during his international financier travels for an oil-drilling company. Mom home-schools the boys. Zac stated, "Our parents aren't stage parents, but they're behind us all the way." "Our parents didn't push us into this. This was our thing. But they helped us with it. They said, 'I'm going to drive you to where you want to go and get you what you need.'" The boys started listening to Chuck Berry, Bobby Darin, the Beach Boys, Johnnie Taylor, Otis Redding, and Aretha Franklin on their Time/Life compilation records and gained an early influence from these songs. While traveling with their father, they felt like they were in the "Middle of Nowhere," and there weren't many songs playing on the radio that were in English. Now, they pattern themselves after The Jackson 5 and the Osmonds.
Not everyone at first believed what they heard when the band was trying to gain credibility. "I got this tape and loved it, but I was convinced it was a fake," stated Steve Greenberg, who signed the band with Mercury Records. "I was sure there was some adult pulling the strings or the vocals were manipulated and they weren't really playing their instruments. I wasn't going to do it, but then I saw them at a county fair in Kansas, and they played and sang just as well as they did on the record. There wasn't an adult in sight-except their dad, who was loading up the equipment, and their mom, who was selling T-shirts."
The band has gained the attention of teenage girls nationwide, packing audiences at shopping malls, live concerts, and promotional activities. "It's like the Beatles revived," said Kris Nikosey, 42, who took her 13-year old son, a drummer, to see the band. The brothers have already appeared on the David Letterman and Rosie O'Donnell shows, and an estimated 6,000 fans showed up at a Paramus, N.J. mall appearance. Greenberg stated, "I personally have never seen a reaction like this to anything. More than any thing this reminds me of the films that I've seen of the Beatles landing at Kennedy Airport having their famous press conference and having the screaming girls everywhere.... But I almost dare not say it. It's such a precocious comparison to make, so I don't want to make it, but that's the only thing I can think of that reminds me of this." When asked about being compared to the Beatles, Isaac stated, "Don't go there."
Puberty might be the biggest stumbling block for the boys. While recording the album "Middle of Nowhere," Taylor's voice changed during the recording, sounding more like his older brother Isaac, 16. "It wasn't problematic. Now his voice and mine sound even more alike. It's really cool when we harmonize." Hits managing editor David Adelson says that young fans can soon outgrow "bubblegum bands," but it's too early to say that Hanson is a one-hit blunder. "If you look past the surface, there are quality lyrics. The record is getting critical praise."
by Bill Bennett
Started singing at their dinner table; followed father who traveled internationally; received their early music influences by listening to the music of Chuck Berry, Bobby Darin, the Beach Boys, Johnnie Taylor, Otis Redding, and Aretha Franklin; the single "MMMBop" became Billboard No. 1 hit after only six weeks. Since 1992, the brothers have recorded and sold two self- distributed CDS; written over 100 original songs; appeared on David Letterman and Rosie O'Donnell shows.
- Selective Works
- Boomerang, 1995.
- MMMbop, 1996.
- Middle of Nowhere, Mercury, 1997.
January 18, 2005: Hanson's album, Lost Without Each Other, was released. Source: Billboard.com, www.billboard.com/bb/releases/week_5/index.jsp, January 19, 2005.
April 19, 2005: Group member Taylor Hanson and his wife, Natalie, welcomed the birth of their daughter, Penelope Anne. They also have a son, Ezra, who is two. Source: People, May 9, 2005, p. 195.
- Chicago Sun Times, May 25, 1997.
- Entertainment Weekly, May 9, 1997; June 6, 1997.
- Interview, July 1997.
- Los Angeles Times, May 13, 1997.
- Musician, July 1997.
- New York Times, May 7, 1997 Rolling Stone, June 26, 1997.
- Spin, July 1997.
- USA Today, May 22, 1997.
- Village Voice, June 24, 1997.
- Washington Post, May 18, 1997.
- Additional information obtained from publicity materials provided by Mercury records.
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