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Seventeen Article
August 1997

If you're one of the hundreds of thousands of people who've bought Hanson's CD, Middle of Nowhere, or caught the homemade vibes of the video for "MMMbop," you've probably added brothers Isaac(a.k.a. Ike, 16), Taylor(14) and Zac Hanson(11) to a list of cutie pies that already includes Brad and Gavin. But whatever you do, don't call Hanson cute-at least not to their faces. At seventeen's photo shoot in New York City's Central Park, the band bristled at the idea of posing by a swing set. Their dad, Walker Hanson, says his sons also refused another photographer's request to pose with stuffed animals. Hanson does not see itself as a kiddie show. Listen to the music, it'll speak for itself," says Taylor. Zac has an even better suggestion: "Think of us as old people with high voices." Hanson's Middle of Nowhere, a disc whose brand of soulful pop is fun, relaxed and totally infectious, is apparently providing the perfect antidote to '90s angst. The CD debuted in Billboard's Top 10, and the first single "MMMBop," zipped to No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 in a matter of weeks. With stats like these, it's obvious that Hanson fever is not just a teen-girl thing. The fecer has infected the entire country-this kind of hot family act hasn't been seen since the Jackson 5. Before their CD was even released, a Hanson appearance at a mall in Paramus, New Jersey, drew more than 6,000 screaming fans. Adults are getting on the band's wagon, too. The blond, sweet-looking threesome has charmed big-time celebs like David Letterman, Rosie O'Donnell, Regis and Kathie Lee, and Jenny McCarthy. When Letterman said, "Someone should get these kids their own TV show," the brothers H weren't all that psyched. "We don't want to be the next Partridge Family," says Isaac. "Right now we're focusing on the music." The brothers got their start five years ago performing a cappella versions of rock'n'roll classics, like "Johnny B. Goode" and Summertime Blues," that they had learned from listening to a Time/Life series on '50s rock. With their parents' support, Hanson's first gigs took place at fairs and elementary schools in their hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. In no time, they had to set up a hot line for their fans. "Every time we picked up the phone we heard screaming girls," Ike says. A few years later, the guys decided to abandon their vocals-only sound in favor of something more electric. Ike picked up a beat-up guitar at a local pawn shop, Taylor borrowed keyboards from a friend, and Zac discovered a drum set in a friend's attic. Mom got gigs for the guys and Dad unloaded their equipment at shows. A year later, the Hanson boys made a couple of discs on their own in Tulsa, and their fan base kept growing. Although Hanson calls Tulsa home, their dad's job as an international financier for an oil company meant many relocations; the family, which includes two younger sisters (Jessica, 8, Avery, 6) and another brother (Mackenzie, 3), has lived in Ecuador, Venezuela and Trinidad. Because the Hanson's have always been on the move, they've been home-schooled by their mom and have never attended regular school. "We love home-schooling," Ike says. "It lets you focus on things you enjoy." Adds Taylor, "We'll read about Notre Dame and then go to Paris to see it." Despite all the time they spend living and working together, the brothers get along really well. "We're basically best friends," says the moody, introspective Taylor. Maybe that's because they're so different. Ike is the goofy, sensitive brother who "is the kind of guy who thought he was gonna get married in the third grade," says Taylor. As for the third Hanson, little Zac is just as hyper in person as he is in the "MMMBop" video. But he's also supercreative and quirky (he collects miniature shampoo bottles from around the world). He's also a budding cartoonist, who's created characters called Superguys. You can check out his work on Hanson's Web Site at www.hansonline.com, which is getting over a million hits per month. "We've gone from getting five e-mails a week to more than 700," says Ike. Do they have a favorite song from Middle of Nowhere? They say it's impossible to choose. "I cannot betray a song," says Zac, in a typical moment of underage genius. "They are too valuable." Several producers had a hand in the success of Middle of Nowhere, among them the Dust Brothers-a two guy team that produce Beck's Grammy-award winner, Odelay. For "MMMBop," the DBs added hip-hop-style scratching and a soul vibe. The track was produced at the Dust Brothers' laid-back studio, complete with swimming pool. "Zac played the drums soaking wet on one song," says Taylor. This summer, the guys are promoting the album in Europe and shooting the video for "Where's the Love" in London. Best part is, they're psyched about the meteoric rise they've experienced since we last caught up with them in May's issue of seventeen. Says Ike,"You should interview us more often."We'd love to."