All grown up

Jinae West

COURTESY Ken Philips Publicity Group

Credit: Jason Hall

It’s hard to believe 10 years have passed since “MMMBop” became a commercialized number-one hit that dominated radio airwaves and pervaded its way into every teenybopper’s glittery prepubescent heart. The dreamy long-haired trio swept teenage America off its feet in the late ’90s with surprisingly infectious lyrics and good looks.

But Hanson grew up. And so did its fans.

After the breakout release of Middle of Nowhere in 1997, Hanson received a lukewarm response to follow-up This Time Around three years later. Critics applauded the band’s more grown-up sound that, admittedly and purposefully, lacked any sticky, sugarcoated bubblegum flavor, but the album’s sales suffered.

In 2001, Hanson left Island Def Jam Records to pursue greater creative control. The band released Underneath in 2004 under its own independent label, 3CG Records, to great success, debuting at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Independent Albums.

Still, the three brothers, Isaac, Taylor and Zac, have yet to reach the amount of listeners they once did with “MMMBop.”

But Taylor Hanson, 24, said he is happy with the band’s progression.

“I am glad to be where we are musically,” Taylor said. “I think it’s really about putting our feet down and firmly placing where we’re going to be for the next 10 years and what this band is going to represent.”

For many people, Hanson continues to be written off as another hit-and-miss boy band, whose vaguely familiar faces were once plastered to every square inch of a Tiger Beat magazine cover. Taylor said members of the group have their work cut out to change that image.

“I think we have a lot of reeducating, but that’s what happens,” he said. “It’s so rare to reach so many people that we reached with our first debut. It’s going to be difficult to reach every single person with something completely different than what they know, but we maintain a lot of fans and respect from our peers.”

He said he wants people to see Hanson as “three guys who are passionate writers and performers with music that is organic and driven by great rock ‘n’ roll music,” adding that the band puts passion first and foremost.

“I always tell people about being a musician, that it’s got to be something you can’t not do. It’s a 24/7 kind of job,” Taylor said. “I wouldn’t trade it for my life.”

Contact all correspondent Jinae West at [email protected].