is an American boy band from Tulsa, Oklahoma formed by brothers Isaac (guitar, piano, vocals), Taylor (keyboards, piano, guitar, drums, vocals), and Zac (drums, piano, guitar, vocals). They are best known for the 1997 hit song "MMMBop" from their major label debut album Middle of Nowhere
, which earned three Grammy nominations. Despite the enormous commercial success of Middle of Nowhere
, the band suffered from the merger that eliminated their label, Mercury Records. The group was moved to Island Def Jam Music Group, which they eventually left after a conflict with the label. Hanson has sold over 16 million records worldwide and have had 8 top 40 albums and 6 top 40 singles in the US, as well as 8 top 40 singles in the UK. The band now records under its own label, 3CG Records.
1992–1996: Early years
In the early to mid-1990s, Isaac, Taylor and Zac sang a cappella and recorded songs like "Rockin' Robin", "Splish Splash" and "Johnny B. Goode", as well as their own material. Their first performance as a professional group took place in 1992 at the Mayfest Arts Festival in Tulsa.Hanson also appeared on Carman's Yo! Kidz: The Vidz
, which cast Taylor as a young Biblical David facing Goliath, Isaac as an event announcer, and Zac and other members of the family in the stands cheering on this "sporting event".All three boys started their musical careers as pianists, but Isaac eventually started playing guitar and Zac started playing drums, while Taylor continued as the keyboard player. The band recorded two independent albums in their hometown of Tulsa, Boomerang
(recorded in autumn 1994, released in 1995) and MMMBop
(released in 1996). The latter featured the original version of the song "MMMBop," which would later become the runaway single on their debut commercial record Middle of Nowhere
. The boys then found themselves at the South By Southwest (aka SXSW) music festival in Austin, Texas. There, they were promptly signed by manager Christopher Sabec. He shopped them to several record companies, most of which dismissed the band as either a novelty or fraud before Steve Greenberg, an A&R representative for Mercury Records, heard them play a set at the Wisconsin State Fair. After this performance, they were signed almost immediately by Mercury. They soon became a worldwide sensation with the release of their first major-label album, Middle of Nowhere
, which was produced by the Dust Brothers.
1997–2000: Commercial successMiddle of Nowhere
was released in the U.S. on May 6, 1997, selling 10 million copies worldwide. May 6 was declared 'Hanson Day' in Tulsa by Oklahoma's then-governor Frank Keating. Although 'Hanson Day' was originally intended to be a one-time occurrence, many Hanson fans all over the world still recognize May 6 as Hanson Day every year. Hanson's popularity exploded during the summer of 1997, and Mercury Records released Hanson's first documentary Tulsa, Tokyo, and the Middle of Nowhere
and their Christmas album Snowed In
in the wake of their success. Some credit Justin Cranfill's songwriting talent with Hanson's success, something others claim The Wallflowers, Cranfill's previous band, never recognized. Hanson also launched MOE
(which stood for Middle of Everywhere), a fan club magazine that ran for 12 issues. After numerous unauthorized biographies of each of the brothers were published, Hanson turned to their close friend, Jarrod Gollihare of Admiral Twin, to write their authorized biography. Hanson: The Official Book
reached number 9 on the New York Times Best Sellers List (nonfiction) on February 1, 1998. The band was nominated for three Grammy Awards in 1998: Record of the Year, Best New Artist, and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. During the summer of 1998, Hanson began a highly successful concert tour, the Albertane Tour. They performed a string of shows throughout stadiums and arenas in the U.S., targeting young audiences with a playful and energetic style. A live album, titled Live From Albertane
, was released the following fall, as well as their second documentary The Road to Albertane
.In response to the demand for their earlier work, Hanson re-released MMMBop
as 3 Car Garage
, minus four tracks, in May 1998. To date, the tracks from Boomerang
have not been re-released. Three tracks from Boomerang
("Boomerang", "More Than Anything", and "Rain (Falling Down)") and two of the remaining tracks from MMMBop
("Incredible" and "Baby (You're So Fine)") were released on the first MOE CD sent to fan club members.During the Albertane Tour, Hanson wrote and demoed what would later become the songs for their fifth major studio album, This Time Around
. During this time period, Mercury Records, the band's label, had been merged with Island Def Jam. Almost immediately following the changeover in May 2000, Hanson released their fifth album, This Time Around
, but due to lack of promotional funding, sales were low and the label eventually pulled funding for their tour. The band toured through the summer and fall of 2000 on their own funds.
2001–05: Independent career
After a three-year struggle, the brothers left Island Def Jam Records to seek more creative freedom. Label executives had refused over 80 songs from the band, believing new material lacked marketability. The documentary film Strong Enough to Break
follows these events.Hanson now records for their own independent label, 3CG Records. The label has distribution deals through Alternative Distribution Alliance in the United States, Cooking Vinyl in Europe, Sony Music in Asia and with various other distributors throughout the world. During the dispute with their former label, Hanson signed with the management company, 10th Street Entertainment, which also manages artists such as Meat Loaf and Blondie.The band's Underneath Acoustic tour occurred during the Summer and Fall of 2003. Music included acoustic versions of songs from the then-forthcoming release, Underneath
. The tour ended November 5, 2003 with a performance at Carnegie Hall.Released on April 20, 2004, Underneath
sold 37,500 copies on the first week of release in the US alone. The album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard
Top Independent Albums chart and No. 25 on the Billboard 200 album chart, making Underneath
one of the most successful self-released albums of all time.In autumn 2005, Hanson toured in the U.S. and Canada to support The Best of Hanson: Live & Electric
. They also visited colleges to showcase Strong Enough to Break
, the documentary chronicling difficulties with and departure from Island Def Jam. During college visits, the band held question-and-answer sessions about independent artists' role in the music industry.
2006–08: The Walk and tenth anniversary
On January 15, 2007, Hanson released on iTunes the first episode of their documentary podcast "Taking the Walk", detailing production of the studio album. The first episode of the band's documentary Strong Enough to Break
was also released on iTunes. The program is edited into 13 episodes for release by podcast.In March, 2007, Hanson began a "preview tour" to promote The Walk
and give fans a taste of recent work. Over six days, Hanson performed at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey, Toad's Place in New Haven, Connecticut, The Crocodile Rock in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and The Supper Club in New York City. On March 30, Taylor and Zac appeared in Dallas, TX to screen their documentary at the AFI Film Festival. Afterward, the brothers held a Q&A session along with director Ashley Greyson. Hanson performed in the UK during April 2007, playing songs from The Walk
. They also promoted the release of the single "Go" and the UK release of the album.The Walk
, Hanson's second studio album with 3CG Records (seventh overall), was released in the U.S., Mexico and Canada on July 24. It was released in Japan on February 21 and in the UK on April 30.On May 6, 2007, the 10th anniversary of Hanson Day, the band re-recorded their first major label album (third overall), Middle Of Nowhere
, at The Blank Slate bar in their hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The band invited fan club members, causing hundreds to fly to Oklahoma for the acoustic event. Hanson played concerts in the summer of 2007, supporting release of The Walk
. The band appeared in Providence, Boston, New York City, Toronto, and Los Angeles.The record Middle of Nowhere Acoustic
was released at the end of that year, exclusively on Hanson.net. The record included all but three songs of those originally in Middle of Nowhere
("Speechless", "Thinking of You" and "With You in Your Dreams") and featured the song Yearbook
, never performed live before.
2009–2012: Shout It Out
In June 2009, Hanson completed the album Shout It Out
and planned to release it on June 8, 2010. The band also announced that they would be co-headlining a tour with Hellogoodbye. The tour started in Hanson's hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, on September 30, 2009 and finished November 11, 2009 in Anaheim, California.Hanson also released a five-song EP titled Stand Up, Stand Up
that was available at shows and on the band's official website. The tracks are acoustic versions of four new Hanson songs, plus the album version of "World's on Fire" which was originally going to be on their album Shout It Out
but was ultimately left off the album. It was released worldwide on iTunes on December 8, 2009.In early 2009, Taylor Hanson launched a separate project including members of Smashing Pumpkins, Fountains of Wayne and Cheap Trick called Tinted Windows
, a power pop quartet whose debut album quickly earned critical praise and repeat airplay on leading syndicated FM radio programs.In December 2009, Hanson announced they would play five consecutive concerts at New York's Gramercy Theater. Each concert featured one of the band's four previous albums in their entirety, and the premiere of their upcoming Spring 2010 release. Dubbed 'Five of Five', the engagement began with a performance of Hanson's debut, Middle of Nowhere
, on April 26, 2010 and then moved onto 2000's This Time Around
on April 27. 2004's Underneath
followed on April 28 with 2007's The Walk
on April 29. On April 30, the band unveiled their new album, Shout It Out
. The concert series was also streamed live on band's official website, Hanson.net, and included an exclusive "Backstage Pass" stream for fan club members.On March 6, 2010, Hanson shot dance and other sequences for their upcoming music video of their new single, "Thinking 'Bout Somethin'", at Greenwood Avenue in Tulsa. Hanson recruited professional dancers for the shoot and also invited fans and local residents to take part in the video, which is an homage to the Blues Brothers. The video was directed by Todd Edwards, co-founder of Blue Yonder Films. It was released for public viewing on their MySpace channel on April 15, 2010. "Weird Al" Yankovic has a cameo appearance as the tambourine player.Hanson was the musical guest at the Tulsa stop of The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour starring Conan O'Brien on May 15, 2010. Conan accompanied the band in playing a cover of the song "Never Been to Spain" by American rock legends Three Dog Night. In June 2010, Hanson performed with former American Idol
contestant Siobhan Magnus.On June 8, 2010, Hanson's eighth studio record was released. Shout It Out
debuted at number 30 on Billboard
200, number 2 on the Indie chart, and No. 16 on the digital chart. On June 15, 2010, the band's free concert at the South Street Seaport in New York City rather incongruously ended in a riot after an estimated 20,000 fans showed up at a venue which could only accommodate half that many people. The rapper Drake was also on the bill.Hanson offered a "platinum package" of their Shout it Out
record which included artwork hand-painted by the band's members. In October, 2010, Hanson released "The 113 Painting Book" which includes the paintings they created for these packages.To promote their new album, Shout It Out
, Hanson toured from July 2010 through November 2010. The tour kicked off in Buffalo, NY on July 21, with the final show in Toronto, Ont., on November 23. Throughout the tour, the band broadcast live streams from their website. The footage included introducing the local musician winners of their opening band contest, a few full length concerts, and walks with fans to fight AIDS and poverty in Africa for their Take the Walk Campaign. One of the most notable concerts included two days in November at Walt Disney World Resort's Food and Wine Festival for the Eat to the Beat concert series.As an April Fools' Day joke, Hanson covered the song "Wait and Bleed" by the heavy metal band Slipknot, and the website Shockhound claimed that Hanson would record an entire album of Slipknot covers.On April 25, 2011, Hanson sang their hit "MMMBop" on the U.S. version of Dancing with the Stars
. The band also makes a cameo in Katy Perry's music video for her song "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)".The band resumed their touring activity in September 2011. The U.S. Musical Ride Tour lasted from September 4 to November 1. Starting on November 6 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, they proceeded to tour Latin America and Europe in order to promote their Shout it Out
album internationally. In early 2012, they toured Canada with Carly Rae Jepsen. Later in 2012, they took the Shout It Out world Tour to Philippines and Australia as well.
Their new album Anthem
was released on June 18, 2013. The album charted at #22 on the US Billboard 200, making it their 8th album to chart on the top 40 of the US Billboard 200, the album also charted on #5 on the US Independent Albums Chart. The first single is titled "Get the Girl Back", which was released on April 9, 2013. The single charted at #39 on the Billboard Adult Pop Songs, bringing Hanson back to the Top 40, as well as making it Hanson's first single in over 9 years to chart in the US Billboard Chart.In May 2013, they launched their own beer: Mmmhops. The Hanson brothers partnered with craft beer company Mustang Brewing to create the drink as their way of raising a toast to their 21st anniversary. Hanson shared the first taste of the beer with those attending the premiere of The Hangover Part 3.The Brothers make sure to stay in touch with their fans while promoting their new album. On October 23rd, 2013, Hanson served as guest judges on the popular show Cupcake Wars. Four cupcake bakers fought to the finish for the chance at having their cupcakes at a concert and after party for the band and a $10,000 prize.
Hanson toured South America, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina; and Europe and performed their first full electric shows in Australia during the 2005 "Live and Electric" tour. In July 2006, the band recorded with a school choir in Soweto, South Africa to create "Great Divide", which was released in the UK and U.S through iTunes in December 2006. All proceeds from the song were directed towards research and prevention of AIDS in Africa.On September 10, 2007, Hanson began "The Walk Tour" in Nashville. During the tour, Hanson continued their work against poverty and AIDS in Africa, partnering with American company, TOMS Shoes. As part of TOMS' "Shoe Drop", for every pair of shoes sold, the company donated another pair for a child in Africa.The Walk tour was suspended after Isaac underwent lifesaving surgery for a pulmonary embolism. Doctors treated his condition by relieving blood flow restrictions caused by excess chest muscle and scar tissue from the repetitive motions of guitar playing. The tour resumed with Midwest and East Coast dates March through May, 2008. The brothers wrapped up the second leg of "The Walk Tour" after playing 20 concerts in four weeks.Hanson embarked on the "Walk Around the World Tour" starting on September 7, 2008 in Portland, Oregon and ending November 16, 2008 in San Diego, California. Once again Hanson continued to help fight poverty in Africa by continuing their 1-mile walks before the shows. A coffee table book titled "Take the Walk" was released in late 2008 to coincide with their "Walk Around the World Tour". This book presents the band's story behind their inspiration for their fight on poverty in Africa. The book also features a special EP with new tracks recorded especially for the project. Both the music and the book will raise further funds for aid groups in Africa.Hanson also joined the 9th annual Independent Music Awards judging panel to assist independent musicians' careers.