The brothers are back

By Ashley Berger

13 long years ago, three brothers came together to form what would become arguably one of the most remembered boy-bands of the 90s. This band is Hanson. 

Born and raised in the Tulsa, Okla. area, Hanson, named for the three brothers’ surname, consists of Isaac, Taylor, and Zac. As young kids, the boys sang a cappella and recorded basic versions of well-known songs. The brothers all have significant musical training. All three play piano, but for the purposes of the band, Isaac is featured on guitar, Zac picked up the drums, and Taylor would become the keyboard player. During their early teenage years, the boys recorded simple studio albums before being signed by Mercury Records.

Once signed, the boys experienced immense success with their first major-label album, “Middle of Nowhere.” Released in 1997, the debut sold 10 million copies internationally. The most famous song from the album and from Hanson’s career was “MMMBop.”

The inspiration for the song was the idea that friendships are short like an “MMMBop,” and the song’s lyrics instruct listeners that one should try to hold on to the friendships that matter the most in life. The single reached number one in 27 countries and is still the band’s most successful single. As of today, “MMMBop” ranks number 20 on VH1’s “100 Greatest Songs of the 90s.”

“MMMBop” was also nominated for three Grammy Awards in 1998, making youngest brother Zac one of the youngest people to be nominated for a Grammy in history.

Following “MMMBop’s” success, a documentary featuring the band titled “Tulsa, Tokyo, and the Middle of Nowhere” was released. Hanson also officially hired writer Jarrod Gollihare to author their official biography.

After Hanson’s initial success, their popularity declined with the decline of interest in 90s pop music. In the early 2000s, Hanson switched record labels, leaving Island Def Jam Records and turning to their own independent label, 3CG Records.

In 2004, Hanson released “Underneath,” their fourth official studio record. The record debuted at number one on Billboard’s Top Independent Albums chart, proving Hanson still had staying power and popularity, as well as ambition, independence, and maturity.

For their 10th anniversary, the brothers re-recorded “Middle of Nowhere” in Tulsa. By the end of 2007, the brothers had released “Middle of Nowhere Acoustic,” featuring songs which appeared on the original album a decade prior, as well as one new bonus track.

This June, the brothers released their eighth studio album, “Shout It Out.” The album has an R&B twist, and the band collaborated with special guests such as Bob Babbitt and Jerry Hey to craft the album’s sound. While not reaching the commercial success of previous works, “Shout it Out” still debuted on the Billboard Top 200 at  number 30.

The first single off the newest Hanson installment, “Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’,”, is based on putting a girl in her place. The tune features brass and big band instruments, as well as providing a soulful feel.

In the 13 years Hanson has been in listeners’ and critics’ minds, the brothers have also had very distinct, individual lives. Taylor toured as the front man for Tinted Windows, a group which consisted of Smashing Pumpkins’ guitarist James Iha, Adam Schlesinger from Fountains of Wayne on bass, and Bun E. Carlos of Cheap Trick. In 2007, Isaac underwent emergency surgery for a pulmonary embolism. Youngest brother Zac is focused on raising a young family.

A unique aspect of Hanson is not that they are a young band of brothers who have managed to make popular music for the last thirteen years, but their dedication to various charities. In 2006, Hanson traveled to South Africa to produce a song with a South African school choir to raise funds to donate to the prevention of AIDS in Africa. In late 2007, the brothers also joined forces with TOMS Shoes to donate shoes to African children. Since then, the band has been actively involved in the fight against AIDS and poverty in Africa.

Hanson will play in Northampton at the Calvin Theatre at 8:00 p.m on Monday, Nov. 15. Tickets are available for $29.50 or $39.50.

Ashley Berger can be reached at [email protected].