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Tulsa World Article-Hanson Comes Home


Hanson comes home
By RICK HAMMER World Staff Writer 
7/5/98

Hanson has gone from the middle of nowhere to the middle of everywhere -- and back again.

Hometown pop-rock musical group Hanson -- a trio that became international superstars following the release of its 1997 album "Middle of Nowhere" -- is playing for the hometown crowd Wednesday at Mabee Center.

Fans are reaching out to Hanson through the fan club Middle Of Everywhere -- commonly dubbed MOE -- according to band-member Isaac Hanson.

"Hanson plays music that is very much a part of everything," Isaac said, by telephone from his tour bus.

Isaac Hanson, the oldest of the three brothers at 18, plays guitar, piano and sings. Frontman, keyboardist and main vocalist Taylor Hanson is 15. Twelve-year-old Zachary ``Zac'' Hanson hammers away on the drums and adds his high, clear vocals to the brotherly harmony.

"(Our music) is a collaborative effort where everyone of us is thoroughly involved in every song that we have written," Isaac said.

They are promoting their original compositions -- self- produced and recorded in Tulsa -- through the re-release of "3- Car Garage: The Indie Recordings '95 Through '96." The Tulsa-born trio has ended its European tour, and is entering the second leg of its North American tour -- which swings through Tulsa this week, and ends in Denver July 21.

"I don't think anything has really changed now that we have been across the world," Zac said. "The music does sound different when you write it in different places, and after you've seen different things. I think we just love making music."

Hanson's parents, Walker and Diana Hanson (married a year after they graduated from Nathan Hale High School in 1972), encouraged their sons' singing at home, carefully guiding them through their first public performances and then helped launch them on the road to stardom. The couple also credits homeschooling with helping to create the boys' close relationship. And of course, homeschooling provides the perfect solution for an on-the- road education.

"It's cool because you get to learn about stuff in every place," Zac said. "That is part of our homeschooling. We go to different places, and find out about different libraries. Like earlier today, we saw the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library in Boston. That was cool."

Zac said he whiles away his down time on the bus with drawing -- "Put it this way, they're not realistic" -- and his Nintendo 64. He wished he had brought his dirt bike, which is waiting for him back home in Tulsa.

Back home is where their parents coached the three to sing "amen" in harmony after saying grace around the family diner table. Their singing soon grew into doo-wopping a capella at happy hour shows at the Blue Rose Cafe parking lot. Their first professional appearance was at Tulsa's Mayfest in 1992.

The blond young men won that most prized goal of all musicians -- a recording contract -- after pounding the streets of Austin during the 1996 South by Southwest music convention, playing their home-produced recording for anyone who would listen. The soulful sounds of future heartthrobs caught the ear of one manager who carried their sound to Mercury.

The result -- worldwide popularity and adulation that has been compared to Beatlemania -- is something Zac has had to learn to live with, he said.

"A lot of times it's really cool because you get to meet different people," Zac said. "They send us tons of letters, and we get to talk to them about songs we like. It's really cool."

Isaac recognizes that as much fun as touring can be, it is hard work that keeps the family going.

"There are definitely ups and downs, but it's enjoyable at the same time," Isaac said. "It all comes with its balances -- checks and balances."

The secret is working together as a creative team to solve problems together Isaac said.

"Sometimes a chord on a guitar will somehow spur some thought in your head, and you will write a song about it," Isaac said. "I will say something to Taylor -- then he will say something to Zac -- and we'll all go -- you know that's not so great -- or we'll all get really into it."

And really ``getting into their music'' is the one thing in common among the Hansons' varied musical models.

"People often ask us if we had direct influences. Honestly, just a lot of different music -- not necessarily individual people. We listen to anything from Bob Dylan to Massive Attack to Aerosmith to En Vogue. We very much enjoy all that music," Isaac said.

But the young lads have discovered the mixed blessing of success.

"When you live in a cookie-cutter world / being different is a sin / So you don't stand out / and you don't fit in -- weird," reads the lyric from their song "Weird" on the album "Middle of Nowhere."

"Everybody feels up sometimes, they feel down sometimes, sometimes they feel sideways, sometimes they feel weird," Isaac said.

"And the beauty of music is you can express all those different feelings, in all the different songs you write. And hopefully people can identify with those,'' Isaac said. ``That's what makes songwriting fun. (We don't just sing) `Where's the Love' or `MMMBop' -- there's `Weird,' there's `I Will Come to You' or `Yearbook,' which is a very moody song -- even more so than `Weird.' It's very cool to get to write all those different things."

The Mercury bio credits Hanson with implanting "MMMBop" into "global cultural consciousness" and racking up more than 12 million in album sales for "Middle of Nowhere" and their holiday collection "Snowed In."

That official bio goes on to note that Hanson's initial releases received "rave reviews across the board, from Spin to Rolling Stone to the New York Times (and) earned the respect of their industry with three Grammy nominations . . ."

The boys ventures into other media include their 32-page quarterly magazine for the official Hanson fan club, MOE.

The magazine MOE is for the fan club, and Hanson writes a lot of the articles, according to Isaac.

"We try to make sure that everything that we do has a certain amount of a personal touch. First, we get all sorts of letters from MOE members and non- fan-club-members, and we try to put letters in there, so fans can read those letters. And also, we answer rumors and frequently asked questions. We also talk about what's going on with Hanson on the Web."

Of course, the official Hanson Web site -- www.hansonline.com -- and the Hanson Hotline number -- (918) 446-3979 -- are staying busy right now. But then, there's an awful lot going on.

You can reach the fan club by writing to HITZ List, P.O. Box 703136, Tulsa, OK 74170.


Courtesy: Tulsa World Online