In 1992, three brothers Zac, Taylor, and Isaac formed a band with their family surname, Hanson. Five years later, they released an album called Middle Of Nowhere which contained "MMMBop", the song that would launch them into stardom. First discovered by Mercury Records at the 1994 Kansas State Fair, Hanson remain a popular attraction today. VOA's Larry London caught up with the brothers when their current tour came to Washington, D.C.
Before adding instruments and writing music, Hanson started singing a cappella songs from the '50s.
"Like anybody, you have influences. The first things you hear are the things that get you into music. We heard rock and roll - '50s and '60s music," recalls Jordan 'Taylor' Hanson. "Even songs like 'MMMBop,' which was the song that really broke out there, was really inspired by classic doo-wop and vocal groups. It was the first thing that got us going, got us into music and writing and wanting to produce and play music."
The new CD is called The Walk. Taylor feels there are many different influences that created the songs. It's been 10 years since their last major success.
"One thing that we've always said about this band is that everybody writes, plays, and sings," says Taylor. "Everybody brings together a different set of influences. Sometimes that's what makes a record so eclectic, honestly."
Fifteen years is a long time to keep a family act going, adds Taylor. "It goes way beyond the sibling thing. A lot of times people will ask, 'How are you in a band with your brothers?' Those people would not be in a group with their brothers or their family.
"I think with us, we were always connected by music and then every once in a while it's like, 'Oh yeah, we are brothers,'" he continues. "We are at Thanksgiving together, and we have the same parents. We hang out in the family environment, but we run a business (record company) together, and we have been a band together. Honestly, I think the music has always been the thing that has kept us connected. It's continually a passion."
"There is a rich history of brothers in bands," notes 'Zac' Walker Hanson. "That's because there is something about the way - when you get guys who are from the same genes and they have grown up together. They have learned how to play music together and learned how to play off each other."
Hanson's new single is called "Great Divide." They recorded the song with a children's choir while in Africa.
"The time there really inspired us for the needs that are there, especially with relation to AIDS and HIV," says Taylor. "If you buy that song on iTunes, all the proceeds from the downloads of "Great Divide" go directly to a hospital in South Africa, where their whole focus is mother-to-child transmission of AIDS."
Hanson is not only popular in the U.S. Their shows continue to sell out around the world. "To get back through Internationally is really hard as a band," says Taylor. "We have definitely had a chance to not only get a little glimpse, but to go back over and over to Latin America, China, Japan, all throughout Southeast Asia, Australia. It still blows me away."
Hanson is one band that is using its fame for a good cause. Describing the tour, Taylor says, "I don't want to be too heavy, but one of the things we are doing with our tour that is really cool is to continue our efforts with "Great Divide." We also have partnered with a really awesome company called Tom's Shoes. When you buy a pair of their shoes, they give a pair of shoes to a kid in Africa. We plan to go back to Africa to literally put them on their feet," he adds.
Hanson also hosts barefoot charity walks so that people can feel what its like to not have shoes on your feet. For now Taylor, Zac, and Isaac remain on tour for their new CD, The Walk.