Who is Hanson? Hanson is three brothers, Isaac, Jordan, and Zachary. 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.”
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.
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.
Addresses: Record company —Mercury Records, 825 Eighth Ave., New York, NY 10019.
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 major label debut, 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.”
Middle of Nowhere, Mercury, 1997.
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.
"Hanson." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/hanson
"Hanson." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved September 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/hanson
Members: Clarke Isaac Taylor, guitar, vocals (born Tulsa, Oklahoma, 17 November 1980); Jordan Taylor, singer, keyboards (born Tulsa, Oklahoma, 14 March 1983); Zachary Walker Taylor, drums, vocals (born Tulsa, Oklahoma, 22 October 1985).
Genre: Rock, Pop
Best-selling album since 1990: Middle of Nowhere (1997)
Hit songs since 1990: "MMMBop," "Weird"
Before the pop sensations Britney Spears, *NSYNC, the Backstreet Boys, and Christina Aguilera, there was Hanson. The trio of brothers from Tulsa, Oklahoma, unwittingly opened the floodgates for the teen pop revolution in 1996 with their irresistible pop confection, "MMMBop," setting the stage for the resurgence of bubble-gum pop in the late 1990s.
The home-schooled Hanson boys began harmonizing as children around their family dinner table in Tulsa, graduating to writing and performing their original songs at local venues in the early 1990s. On the road in places such as Trinidad and Venezuela with their father, Walker, then an international financier for an oil-drilling concern, the young boys listened to a well-worn Time/Life collection of classic pop hits from 1957–1969 featuring the likes of Bobby Darin, the Beach Boys, Otis Redding, and Chuck Berry. The music and their feeling of being "in the middle of nowhere" became their template, as the boys developed a style that fused the boyish harmonies of the Jackson 5 with the milk-fed image of the Osmonds and the Partridge Family.
Sensing that they were destined for greater success than local school functions, the brothers and their parents approached the music attorney Christopher Sabec in 1992 in hopes of procuring a recording contract. Sabec signed on as the trio's manager and shopped them around to music labels, five of which passed on the Hanson brothers between 1992 and 1995. Frustrated, Hanson independently released a pair of records locally, including Boomerang (1995), which hinted at their radio-ready pop sound. Around this time the Hanson brothers began playing their own instruments and working on the song that later made them superstars, "MMMBop." When "MMMBop" finally caught the ears of the music industry in Los Angeles, their dreams of pop stardom seemed within reach.
Out of Nowhere
The pinup-handsome, blonde-haired thirteen-year-old Taylor was the singer/keyboardist, the sixteen-year-old "serious" Isaac was lead guitarist, and the high-energy eleven-year-old Zac played the drums. The act earned a contract with Mercury Records in 1996, by which time they had already amassed a catalog of 100 original songs.
The entire family moved to Hollywood in July 1996 as the trio recorded their debut, Middle of Nowhere, produced by the Dust Brothers (Beck, Beastie Boys) and Steve Lironi (Black Grape). All thirteen songs were written by the brothers, some with help from such renowned songwriters as Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, Desmond Child, and Mark Hudson.
Just six weeks after the release of the "MMMBop" single in March 1997, the song jumped to number one on the Billboard charts, setting the stage for the album's release in May. With its combination of classic pop, soul, gospel, and sunny lyrics, Middle of Nowhere was the antidote to the gloomy rock that had dominated the airwaves for so long. With a metronomic drumbeat, soaring three-part harmonies, turntable scratches, and a nonsense lyric in the chorus, "MMMBop" was the perfect summer hit. Middle of Nowhere beguiles with a mixture of joyous love songs ("Thinking of You," "Lucy"), torch songs ("Weird," "I Will Come to You"), and a healthy helping of funky Motown-style soul ("Speechless," "Where's the Love").
The boys became instant superstars, touring the world and appearing on countless magazine covers and television shows. Not taking any chances on the group losing heat, Mercury released a Christmas album in late 1997, Snowed In, followed by a reissue of the boy's early recordings, Three Car Garage: The Independent Recordings '95–'96 (1998), and, later that year, a live album, Live from Albertane (1998).
As Hanson regrouped to work on their second album, the Billboard charts exploded with teen pop acts of every stripe. By the time This Time Around was released in the spring of 2000, the trio had been nearly forgotten in favor of groups such as the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC. Not surprisingly, the album is a stab at maturity, with more soul-inflected vocals, guitar solos, rock-oriented arrangements, and noticeably lower-register vocals from Taylor, whose voice had deepened in between albums.
The album features guest guitar playing from the prodigy Jonny Lang, a harmonica solo from the Blues Traveler leader John Popper, string arrangements, and solo writing credits for the boys on all of the songs. The album gently steps away from the sound the trio perfected on their debut, instead going for the grittier, gospel-inspired blues-rock sound of such bands as the Black Crowes.
Though the first single of the album, "If Only," features the same mixture of poppy arrangement, turntable scratching, and a soaring, repetitive chorus, it was not as successful as "MMMBop." Taylor Hanson was sanguine about the group's prospects in an interview with MTV.com in 2001. "I think we're in a really weird place as a band because we are a band, and we always have been, but a lot of people don't realize that. I want people to hear the name Hanson and think credible, musical, creative music. That's what people should think 'cause that's what it is—it's just about the music."
The Hanson brothers began work on a third album in late 2001, tentatively titled Underneath, due in the spring of 2003. The singer/songwriter Michelle Branch was slated to appear on the song "Deeper." In 2002, nineteen-year-old Taylor Hanson married eighteen-year-old Natalie Anne Bryant, who gave birth to the couple's first son, Jordan Ezra Hanson, five months later.
With their combination of boyish good looks and prodigious songwriting talent, Hanson helped spark a pop music revolution in 1997. Though their subsequent efforts did not reach the pinnacle of their major-label debut, the brothers continued to hone their craft and attempted to achieve the hardest music business trick of all: maturing in the spotlight.
Spot Light: "MMMBop"
It was the shot heard round the world: "Mmm bop, ba duba dop / Ba du bop, ba duba dop." With those nonsense lyrics from their breakthrough 1996 hit "MMMBop," Hanson single-handedly launched the teen pop revolution in the United States. Released at a time when the predominant grunge rock sound was on the wane, the Hanson brothers' major-label debut, Middle of Nowhere, was issued after the debuts of fellow pop bands the Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys, but it was not until the smash success of "MMMBop" that the musical sea change began in earnest. With their squeaky clean, approachable good looks and relentlessly hooky songs, the Hanson boys were an antidote to the brooding imagery and dark music of the early 1990s. Within a year of its release, their debut was followed by smash albums from the Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, and, later, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and dozens of similar harmonizing boy and girl groups who never made it out of the starting gate.
Middle of Nowhere (Mercury, 1997); Snowed In (Mercury, 1997); Live from Albertane (Mercury, 1998); Three Car Garage: Indie Recordings '95–'96 (Mercury, 1998); This Time Around (Island, 2000).
"Hanson." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/hanson
"Hanson." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Retrieved September 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/hanson