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Tears Before Bedtime: HANGING WITH HANSON

It's not all eating chocolate and being chased by adoring fans when you and your brothers are in a famous pop band, y'know! Sometimes there's tears, hard work and trips to the dentist too!


On the tenth floor of the Holiday Inn, Cologne, Germany, three blond Hanson heads are sleeping soundly under the watchful eye of their father. They're oblivious to the rest of their team who are sitting downstairs in the bar sipping away at large tumblers of v strong shandy booze and discussing the hairy trio's astounding leap to fame. "I'm amazed how they cope with it all!" says Eva, Hanson's record company bod who also acts as all-round looker-afterer and second mum to the boys when they're feeling a little homesick. "I wonder what's going on in Zac's mind when he sees all those girls chasing him?!"


Girls seem to be the last thing on Zac's mind when he bounces downstairs for breakfast with Isaac and Taylor the next morning - there's showbiz biz to be done. The boys are in Germany for just a couple of days in order to appear on Geld oder Liebe - a TV show which is absolutely huge in Germany. It will ensure that MMMBop is transmitted live to nearly every Herr and Frau in the country! It's a relatively small Hanson family turnout compared to usual trips; no Mommy Hanson, and sisters Jessica and Avary and baby bro' Mackie are also absent. "We left the rest of the family behind," says Taylor, muching on a piece of rubbery-looking cheese. "We miss them when they're not with us, but this is only a short trip so it's not too bad." "It's brilliant when we're all on the road," says Zac. "We have like, this gigantoid bus with 12 bunks..." "...and a living room!" adds Taylor. "...yeah, and a kitchen and a movie room in the back!" enthuses Isaac. "Last time we were in it, in Oklahoma, we cranked up the music and we were all dancing inside..." "...yeah, and the bus was bouncing from side to side. It was cool!" says Zac. "It was like, eeeeh uuuuh, dum dum dum."


Welcome to life according to Hanson, where most things are 'cool' and describing things involves finishing off each other's sentences, making wild hand gestures and strange sounds just to make sure the listener knows what you're on about. A couple of hours later, the guys have experienced something even more 'cool' to interrupt each other about...

ZAC: "We've just been to this chocolate factory and..."
TAYLOR: "Yeah, and it was brilliant and there's like, this chocolate fountain and there's like, chocolate everywhere, a bit like Willy Wonka's place..."
ISAAC: "And there's, like, these wafers to dip into the chocolate, so we did that for a while!"
ZAC: "Like, I'll have one of those in my house, thank you. Yum, yum, yummmmmmmm."

A chocolate filled Hanson prepare to set off to the TV studios, half-an-hour's drive away, but first, Eva's task is to put them in their car safely before the fans who are waiting in the hotel lobby and in the car park can besiege them. "The fans are cool," says hurried Isaac while being bustled through a sneaky back door, "but when there are a lot of them they get a bit excited and it can be a bit scary!"


Even scarier is the fact that most of the fans look like Hanson themselves - the girls and even a few boys seem to have long, shoulder-length blond hair! Spooky! Hanson are greeted by enthustiastic TV people as soon as they reach the studio and whisked off to a dressing room filled with chocolate bars, chicken legs, crisps and further calorie-laden goodies but, before they have so much as a nibble, they're bustled into a studio to do photo shoots and endless questions for two German magazines. After a couple of hours of press duties the boys are STILL in high spirits.

"We've learnt a lot about interviews in recent months," anounces Taylor. "If they ask uus stuff that we don't really want to talk about then we just casually change the subject!" says Zac like an old pro. "Yeah, we don't want to go on about our ages all the time - the fact that we're kids isn't the point - we're a band who just happen to be kids," adds Taylor. "And we don't let anyone talk down to us cos we're kids. If that happens we just beat 'em up!" finishes Zac, beating up a nearby cushion to make his point!

Although the day has been non-stop so far, the boys are still bursting with energy. "Today's like a medium day in the work stakes." says Taylor. "I mean, we do loads more than this somedays." "Today is pretty relaxed," adds Isaac. "Sometimes it goes bonkers and we're rushing around non-stop." "Yeah, that's why we drink cola all the time," giggles Zac, "cos sometimes it's wacky, it's crazy, it's TOTALLY INSANE!" Just as Zac begins to squiggle about the dressing room floor pretending to be an insane person, Daddy Hanson pops his head round the dressing room door and suggests we all pop out for ice creams before it's time for the boys to go on stage. Good idea!


"I wonder what the food's like in Asia?" ponders Taylor out loud, with his mouth full of chocolate chip. "It'll be a total culture shock when we go there next month. The food here is pretty similar to the US but like, in Asia I dunno..." adds Isaac licking his vanilla ice. "Yeah, like, we have Chinese food back home in Tulsa but in Asia it won't be like Americanized Chinese food it'll be, like, HARDCORE Chinese food!" gasps Zac.

But there's no more time for culinary wonderment, it's time to prepare to appear live on Geld oder Liebe! The boys whizz back to the studios to wait in the wings while watching the presenter make the whole audience laugh. "I wish I could speak German," whispers a curious Isaac. "It's a craaazy TV show!" explains a behind-the-scenes TV lady in almost perfect English. " You see, zair are sree boys and sree girls..." Too late for explanations, Missus. The boys are hurried behind the silver screen, the screen lifts and there they are, belting out MMMBop live to Germany.

Live TV means you have to keep your own cool when things go wrong. So when Zac drops one of his drumsticks, he keeps on drumming with the other one until the camera swoops away from him. Then he gets up from his tiny druumkit and runs off to pick it up. A true professional! "Zac knew what he was doing," says Isaac proudly, after their song has gone down as storm. "Yeah, but I was panicking inside," admits Zac. That's not the only trauma for Zac though - on the way to their car, he runs out of the studio ahead of his minder much to his manager's annoyance. "You don't know what's out there Zac, you could have been shot!" says manager, Chris, which is enough to reduce Zac into tears. "I shouldn't have said that," says Chris later, "but I worry about them. Poor Zac, he must be really tired." To top off the evening, Taylor opens his mouth to reveal he's whacked front tooth on his microphone and chipped a piece off! Oh dear - it's been a long day.


Back at the hotel, Eva ushers the boys safely upstairs to bed. Meanwhile, Daddy Hanson is in the hotel lobby frantically looking for the number of a dentist in Cologne. Suddenly he is accosted by another famous dad - Daddy Kelly. The Kelly Family are huuuuge in Germany, also have long hair and write their own songs but that, according to the Hansons, is where the similarities end. Mr. Kelly has been waiting in the hotel all day to speak to Mr Hanson and give him some advice about running a family band. Mr Hanson politely puts him off and scuttles off to check his middle son's teeth.


Taylor shows off his fixed tooth the very next day. "It was a nice dentist," he grins through pearly white gnashers, chewing confidently on a large slice of Margherita pizza. The guys are chilling out on the bed eating, drawing and joking around with Eva while their dad is rushing around packing things together ready for their flight back to the US. "I'd say the travel is the only real way our lives has changed," says Isaac. "We're flying around the world doing interviews and stuff now." "But the cool thing is that when we go home everything's the same - we're back in our nice quiet town and we can be normal kids again. It's good to go home, it's not like New York and LA where we get mobbed and stuff," grins Taylor. But it's not in New York and LA that there is an official Hanson Day, it's in the boys' home state of Oklahoma... "It's cool," says Zac, "May 6 is officially Hanson Day...""It's just like the state saying, 'We support you guys!" interrupts Isaac.

"...It's not a holiday or anything, but if it was up to us we'd make sure everybody was off school on Hanson Day and that everyone would move to Oklahoma so they could have a day off!" says Zac rebelliously.

The boys may say their lives haven't changed but a pop star devil-may-care attitude is definitely in the air. "Listen to this then..." whispers Zac. "The night we left for Europe we were up until three in the morning drawing!" "Yeah, we go to bed whenever we want now!" says Taylor, with a quick glance at Eva and his dad standing not too far away. Eva wearily rolls her eyes and helps Daddy Hanson with the packing while the three pop stars lie back on the bed grinning. Not bad this pop star lark, is it?

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