Making teen-idol impact with their song, “MMMBop,” and album, Middle Of Nowhere, Zac, Taylor and Isaac Hanson hit the national music scene in 1997. Collectively known as Hanson, the sibling trio released its latest album, Shout It Out, last year. It’s another pop-soul production of the kind that made the Hanson brothers famous when they were just 11, 13 and 16 years old.
Written, produced and mostly played by Hanson, Shout It Out nevertheless features a few special guest stars. The brothers tap directly into the classic recordings that inspired them through Jerry Hey, horn arranger for Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones and many others, and Bob Babbitt, a bassist who put the bottom in Motown hits.
“It was a blessing to get Jerry Hey and Bob Babbitt on the record,” singer-guitarist-bassist Isaac Hanson said from the band’s hometown and home base, Tulsa, Okla. “Bob laid down some really great bass parts. He has the softest touch of anybody I’ve seen play bass. He gently hops around the strings but his tone is so full and so clear and he plays so melodically. I learned a lot watching him play.”
Hanson fans have the option of hearing the complete Shout It Out album during the trio’s Musical Ride Tour. They can vote online at the group’s website for which of Hanson’s albums is performed in its entirety at each tour stop. In addition to a full-length album performance, the brothers play their recording career highlights.
“We think this is an interesting way to engage the fans and find out about favorite songs,” Isaac Hanson said.
Of course, many fans prefer the music that introduced them to Hanson.
“We had an initial breakout hit and album plus the hits from that album that followed,” Hanson said. “They made a lasting impact on our fan base. That’s a great thing, something every band always wants.”
Even so, Hanson and his brothers are grateful that fans also respond to the records that followed Middle Of Nowhere and “MMMBop.”
“We’ve stayed connected to the audience in a way that’s kept things fresh and sustained for 10-plus years,” Hanson said.
The group’s fans stayed loyal despite long delays between the group’s albums. Hanson attributes the lengthy breaks to corporate merges and shakeups.
“Two large record conglomerates came together,” he recalled. “We lost everybody who was involved in our early success. It made it difficult for us. A lot of friends of ours suffered through that as well.”
Through it all, Hanson and his brothers, exceptionally young though they were at the beginning, maintained creative charge of their music.
“Whether it’s our first record or our latest record, we’ve always been involved in what goes on,” he said. “We’ve always focused on the quality of the music and not settling for songwriting that’s just passable. That allows us to be proud of every record we’ve done.
“And half of the songs on every record could be interchanged with one another and you wouldn’t feel like there was a particular difference. It’s nice to have that, to have that emotional honesty in what we do, from beginning to end.”