Ten years in the same job is an accomplishment by anyone’s standards. Now consider starting that job the ages of just eleven, nine and six. Add on the fact that it’s a job that has put their entire family in the limelight, often against their wishes, and come with any number of struggles and difficulties, including but not limited to facing a changing music business that didn’t know what to make of your band.If you can imagine all of that, you’re part of the way toward understanding why the year 2007 is such a milestone year for a humble little band called Hanson.
Allow me to introduce you. Eldest brother Isaac on guitar, his talented girlfriend Alli often joining the band onstage for an emotional duet. Second eldest Mark—keyboards and lead vocals. A natural showman, but always willing to share the spotlight. Lastly, Zac on drums, earning the nickname Animal.
If you haven’t kept up with Hanson over the years, you’re forgiven. They went indie a few years ago, after a long and hard fought battle with their record label. In spite of everything they’ve been through, though, these boys aren’t giving up. They’re going stronger than ever, in fact, and are just as dedicated to giving back to their fans as they always have been. That’s why they made sure to hit all forty eight of the contiguous United States on the summer tour for their newest album, The Walk, and I was there to document every single minute of it.
I expected this to mean being little more than an observer, however keen of one being a journalist requires me to be. Watching the action from the sidelines, as it were. This was, as I soon found out, not to be.
The tour began simply enough, weaving its way easily down the east coast until we reached Atlanta. It was there that we discovered the opening act would be leaving the tour due to a family emergency. With few other options on such short notice, I was forced to step up to bat, along with one lesser known, somewhat mysterious member of the Hanson clan.
Many people don’t realize that Isaac, Mark and Zac have other siblings. In fact, Mark has a twin brother Taylor, who you would be hard pressed to tell apart from him by sight alone. The two couldn’t be more different in personality, however, a fact that was highlighted by the difference in their musical performances. Mark is a born for the spotlight, parading around the stage with ease when he’s not confined to his keyboard. Taylor is more subdued, preferring to sit with his guitar while he plays the few songs he has written and a smattering of covers, including even a few unreleased Hanson songs that drive the audience nuts. While Taylor assures me he has no desire to pursue a musical career any time soon, any fan who saw us during our two week stint as opening act would agree that he has the talent to do it. My own day job, I would say, is in no danger, either, but it was an enlightening opportunity to see things from both sides of the stage.
As for his own day job, Taylor is responsible for many of the photos in this article, aside from the one portrait of him I managed to sneak in. A Hanson tour is a family affair, and would be even if Taylor weren’t now employed by High Fidelity as staff photographer. And Hanson’s definition of family is a broad one, extending to their road crew, back-up band and the incredibly fanbase they have cultivated over the years.
Said fanbase followed them all along the tour, with family faces popping up in every city. Of course, that could have also been a side effect of the breakneck pace of the tour; I often had no clue what city we were actually in. Still, the band gave it their all no matter where we were or how many faces in the front row had been there the night before, too.
Our whirlwind trip around the country ended back in the Big Apple, with a charity Halloween concert at Radio City Music Hall to benefit UNAIDS. That sense of family knows no bounds, you see; the entire world is part of the Hanson family, as far as they are concerned. A more generous and giving band you’ll be hard pressed to find, which is an incredible feat considering how jaded the music business makes many.
But not Hanson. While I might have been jaded about them before this tour, I must admit they have turned me into a true believer—in more ways than one.
Everybody’s looking for a blue sky
Searching for an answer on a satellite
I know that there’s got to be a blue sky out there to see
A blue sky waiting for me
For the full photo diary of The Walk Tour, visit highfidelitymag.com.