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Release Their 4th Studio Album
"The Walk"
Irish Release April 27,2007
On Cooking Vinyl (Distributed By Pinnacle)

MCD Presents HANSON Live in THE VILLAGE, Dublin
Friday April 13, 2007 - details on www.mcd.ie

Bono called their music ‘genius’. Hip producers like the Dust Brothers and Stephen Lironi worked with them early on, even before millions of fans screamed their names and critics applauded them. But for Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson, it's always been about the music, and there's always been a message in the music for those who were really listening.

On HANSON's fourth studio album, The Walk, the messages are more direct. “It's the first record in a decade that we made completely from scratch as an indie”, Taylor says. “We've stepped it up a notch creatively, writing songs that connect to really personal experiences and recording them live ‘from the floor’” (playing together in the studio as they would in front of an audience). It’s a further exploration of the sound that prompted New York's ‘Village Voice’ to proclaim Hanson as simply “the best straight-up rock band in America, now sowing sonic oats as independents”. And it’s the independence in the approach to both recording and releasing their music that fans and critics alike will appreciate about The Walk.

Recorded at their Tulsa studio, The Walk builds on the success of HANSON's last album, “Underneath”, which debuted on the Billboard Independent Chart at #1 and on Billboard's Top 200 at #25, making it one of the most successful self-released albums in history. Taking the reins both artistically and as entrepreneurs, the band came up with an innovative approach to rolling out their new CD. Each week leading up to the album's release date, HANSON will podcast an episode of a docu-series they've titled “Taking The Walk”. Fans will be treated to an inside look at the making of the album and the building of an independent label. “The docu-series lets people inside the process of writing, producing and releasing music in a way that has never been possible in the past. Now we can give people more than just a music video, this is TV for the ipod generation”, Taylor says.

To kick off the series, the band released their documentary “Strong Enough To Break” on iTunes -- for free. The critically acclaimed film chronicles their departure from a major label and the founding of their own label, 3CG. “We wanted to give everyone a chance to watch the documentary and see where we’ve been, before we show them where we’re going with ‘Taking The Walk,’” Taylor says.

For a band that's always written, sung and played nearly everything themselves, the freedom of having no major label ties was a tremendous creative boon, particularly for Zac, the youngest HANSON brother. For the first time, Zac takes the lead vocals on two of the album’s lead singles, the moving ballad “Go” and the ebullient “Running Man”, with its party chatter intro and handclaps. “I've hit more of my stride as a writer and have been able to bring more to the table because of that”, he says. “I pushed myself beyond the plateau. You have to do that as an instrumentalist to find progressions that are going to be unique, and to dig deeper into your emotions as a lyricist”.

The Walk expands upon the more introspective song writing that the band began to delve into on Underneath. And for HANSON, looking inward means looking outward as well, at the state of the music industry and at their community. “The Walk is the walk of life”, Zac says. “People make decisions to go for dreams, to do something difficult, or they decide to be part of the crowd that watches. You have to make those decisions by yourself.”

Nowhere is that more evident than on the download-only release of “Great Divide”. Released in November in honor of World AIDS Day, the song opens with Isaac's funky guitar riffing and the poignant sound of an African children's choir, recorded during a trip the band took to Mozambique and South Africa.

“The watershed moment that sparked our journey to Africa came when friends of ours from a Tulsa medical firm were donating technology to a South African hospital to help fight the spread of HIV/AIDS”, Isaac says. “We were so moved by their example that we were compelled to take action.”

HANSON took off for South Africa and Mozambique, bringing with them a handful of songs for the upcoming album and some bare bones recording gear. They stayed at an orphanage in Mozambique and were awed by the overwhelming sense of optimism of the people they met, despite being surrounded by disease and poverty. “We began planning our trip to Africa right as we were finishing a song about hope called “Great Divide”. Certainly the AIDS crisis was in the forefront of our minds, but I think it was the message of hope that led us to Africa”, Taylor says.

The group strung up some mics in the orphanage cafeteria to record the children's choir onto a laptop. After playing a few songs for the kids and a teacher who helped translate, they found a handful of phrases that worked for the songs. “On “Great Divide”, they're singing ‘ngi ne themba’ which essentially means ‘I have hope’”, Isaac says. “I got chills when I heard that.”

HANSON decided to put the recording to good use by helping those who are already doing the most important work – all proceeds from downloading “Great Divide” will go to the Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU) at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, South Africa. “We felt like we left Africa with a message we could relate to others – the understanding that you already possess something that can help in the fight against AIDS”, Taylor says. “It can be as simple as spending .99¢ on a song, or buying formula for an infant so she won't contract AIDS from her mother. It doesn’t mean we must all go to Africa. It means we all have a role to play. We should be asking ‘Are we doing all we can?’.”

The Walk, however, is more than just the story of three brothers whose interest and compassion led them halfway around the world. It's one more step in a journey that began when HANSON extricated itself from a major label. “Our last album was a three and a half year process of writing, recording and moving labels”, Taylor says. “It was half major, half indie. On the new album, we took a different approach – everything was done from the ground up.”

Co-produced with the legendary Danny Kortchmar (Billy Joel, James Taylor, The Eagles), the pace of making The Walk was quicker and the process unfolded more naturally. Rather than doing what is more common with many artists today, building up tracks by overdubbing individual instruments, the group chose to record many of the songs ‘live’ off the floor. It's an old-school approach that serves the new songs well, just as it did some of the early rock ‘n’ roll records that first interested the band when they began to play together.

“The first music you really fall in love with is more than just music”, Taylor says. “It's something that clicks in you beyond the song, it’s a message or image that causes you to jump in and not let go. For us it was Elvis, The Beach Boys, Stax/Volt records ...”

Those classic influences have remained the threads that run through HANSON's music, and on The Walk they're echoed on songs like “Been There Before”, which talks about Otis Redding, Johnny Cash and the roots of rock ‘n’ roll (embellished by another gorgeous sound byte from the African choir). “It’s rare for us to directly reference our influences like that”, Isaac says. “Ultimately, the whole world sings their songs.”

Starting out nearly 15 years ago in 1992 by releasing their first self-made albums, HANSON could not have predicted that one day the whole world would sing their song. Yet that's exactly what happened in 1997, when the band's sunny single “MmmBop”, a song about the ephemeral nature of most relationships, became a worldwide number one hit. Their pop-Motown flavored major label debut, Middle Of Nowhere, pierced the gray fog of 1990’s grunge and earned the band three Grammy nominations. The follow-up albums kept the hooks and the critical acclaim while revealing HANSON's evolution. Their sophomore effort, This Time Around, leaned toward rock, blues and gospel while 2004’s Underneath was a more richly textured and organic twist on the band's signature brand of pop-rock, as heard on the album’s lead single “Penny and Me”, which made it to #2 on the Billboard Singles Chart and notched the band a top 10 in the UK Singles Chart.

The Walk combines all three approaches as seamlessly as HANSON itself, drawn together by the tight performances that are the foundation of the album, with each member of the band bringing a distinct sensibility to the fold. Zac, understated and poetic, is the master of the sweeping and structured melody, audible on songs he initiated like the anthemic “Fire On The Mountain”. Taylor, forever in search of the perfect hook, adds the soulful pop punch of “Georgia” and the relentless drive of “Blue Sky”. Isaac, technically-minded and truthful, brings the groove, which you can hear on the album's opener, “Great Divide”, and the straight-to-the heart emotion of “Watch Over Me”, a song he co-wrote during one of HANSON's annual songwriter retreats.

“Every year we invite about 15 songwriter friends to Tulsa Oklahoma”, says Zac, who co-wrote “Go” and “Running Man” at the last retreat. “But it's less about what comes out of it and more about community building. It used to be that musicians would drop in on each other's recording sessions, and you'd have really big events like the ‘Concert for Bangladesh’, where everyone played together. That type of thing is far less common these days.”

Whether it's a trek to Africa motivated by hope, building a community of like-minded musicians or a vibrant community of online fans, HANSON's ‘from the ground up’ ethos is inspirational. The weekly podcasts of “Strong Enough To Break” and “Taking The Walk” will show that philosophy in action, connecting listeners to the notion that a small step can lead to anything from making music on your own terms, to helping in the fight against a deadly illness.

Even a great message, though, is lost without great songs, and writing great songs, as you'll hear on The Walk, is what HANSON does best. Each brother brings his own artistic inclinations into the studio, but their collective vision and extraordinary talent result in a band that's in it for the long haul.

The Walk full length album will be released in Ireland 27th April.

 
 
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In their 13 years as a band Hanson has earned many titles; Grammy nominees, pop phenomenon, and Carnegie Hall headliners. And now they can add to that list chart-topping independent group, having entered the Billboard Independent Chart at #1 in late April of 2004 with Underneath. The album, released Stateside on the trio’s own3CG Records, has quickly gone on to become one of the most successful self-released records in history.

Isaac Hanson, the elder of the three brothers at 24, says that of all the band’s achievements, the newest one ranks right near the top for him. “We set as a goal to have a top five debut and it debuted number one. You can’t ask for much more than that,” Isaac says proudly.

The success of Underneath, the trio’s first album in four years, has been significant for Isaac, Taylor (21), and Zac (19) for a number of reasons. For starters, in the disposable world of pop culture where four years between albums might as well be measured in dog years, the fact that fans have so embraced Underneath, which also debuted at #25 on the Billboard Top 200, and spawned a number two single in the utterly engaging lead track “Penny And Me,” is a testament to the impact the brothers have had on pop music. But the #1 debut on the Independent charts is most meaningful because it speaks to where Hanson is at this point in their career. “Hanson is a real indie-rock band. It wrote, recorded, produced and issued its own disc. And it's touring on its own dime,” said Denver’s Westword paper.

It ain’t bragging if you can back it up as the old saying says. And Hanson has backed up their claims of independence by releasing Underneath on their own 3CG Records and completely financing the recording and marketing in the U.S. In addition, the group has entered into a number of licensing deals internationally with leading independents like Cooking Vinyl (UK/EU), JVC (Japan) and Univision (Mexico). And just to prove they’re open-minded, the trio even has a deal with Sony to release their recordings in Southeast Asia (where the band recently had a number one single) and Latin America.

The desire to declare their independence stemmed from the friction the band felt with former label Island/Def Jam. After trying to make the relationship work despite their differences, the threesome decided it was time to move on. “After a certain point, we said, ‘We can’t do this anymore. This is not productive and we know where we need to go with this,’” Isaac recalls. “We said, ‘Look, the only way that we can have a career in music is to go with our gut, as we always have’” adds drummer Zac.

As it has in the past, the collective gut of Hanson didn’t let the trio down. The same instincts and talent that led them to create “MMMBop,” the work recently hailed as genius by Bono to CD:UK, that led the trio to Grammy nominations in 1998 for Best New Artist, Record of The Year, and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals, has led Hanson to its most accomplished and mature album yet with Underneath.

Influential alternative weekly paper “The Village Voice” surmised prophetically of Underneath, “This perfectly pitched record reveals that these hardworking brothers valiant quest for independence shall be rewarded.” “The New York Post” said in its review of Underneath, “Hanson has established itself as a credible rock band whose best years and music are still to come.” And “Billboard” said, “Underneath spotlights a more mature, melodic pop/rock Hanson…This newest effort is the group’s most endearing.”

Underneath is indeed all of those things, and then some. Heralded by the mid-tempo gentle ease of the harmonious lead single, “Penny And Me,” and the sing-song energy of the infectious opener “Strong Enough to Break,” Underneath showcases all of the trio’s formidable songwriting prowess.

The title track is an acoustic beauty co-written with veteran pop craftsman Matthew Sweet, while the band gets soulful on the piano-heavy closing ballad, “Believe.” But there’s plenty of high-octane music on Underneath, as well. The pop/rocker “Lost Without Each Other,” co-written with the New Radicals’ Gregg Alexander, dances and shimmies out of the speakers, as does the rocking “Get Up And Go,” a shot of pure adrenaline.

“We were writing songs with a definite flavor,” says Taylor. “We wanted that to survive to the final mix.” “Our goal was that every part that was played had a clear purpose in order to make this album more dynamic,” adds Zac. “This leaves the music feeling complete without overwhelming the listener.”

As much as critics have embraced the new album, Hanson’s fans, both new and old, have been right there with them. And that, along with themselves, is ultimately who Hanson makes music for. Since launching their Internet site, www.hanson.net, around the release of Middle of Nowhere in 1997, Hanson has been one of music’s most gregarious groups in interacting with their fans around the world.

“There are so many people for us to re-reach again or re-touch base with, but every fan that we grab is one that we want to value more than we have ever before,” keyboardist Taylor says. "We have an opportunity not only to build a direct relationship with our fans around the world and fuel them in times of drought, but also allow them to communicate with each other and create a powerful community of music fans. Our currency with our fans has always been trust and passion, and that relationship is also our future." Zac said in a recent interview with Reuters.

All three of the brothers believe that that is the best way to resuscitate an ailing music industry. “When I look at the music industry the tipping point for reenergizing the excitement in music is so close, because we’ve reached such a low point, that all we can do is go up. Out of the ashes is gonna come the passion, excitement, and reinvigoration. It all starts with connecting with a generation and having it be their own again,” Taylor says. “We want to bring people back to believing it’s worth it to get invested again in music and artists.”

Hanson not only talk the talk, they walk the walk. The band recently concluded a whirlwind world tour that had the band performing live in 25 cities across 13 countries in just over four weeks, including Indonesia for the first time in seven years, and the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Denmark for the first time ever. Of the band’s sold out show at London’s famed Shephard’s Bush Empire, the London Times declared that Hanson, “are about to be big all over again. Only this time, it’s with good old-fashioned rock.” Isaac admits, “About two and a half weeks ago I was more tired than I’ve ever been in my life.” But all the traveling was made worth it by the response Isaac, Taylor, and Zac received wherever they went. “What we’ve been able to do with this album is affirm the successes that we’ve had over the years with the music, and lay a new foundation for this music and records to come” Isaac says.

The four years in-between albums might not have been an easy stretch for Isaac, Taylor, and Zac, but as another old saying goes: “That which does not kill you makes you stronger.” “We’re liberated musically more so than we’ve ever been,” Isaac believes. “We’re stronger as a unit now than ever,” adds Zac.

If anything, the turbulent years leading up to Underneath and the album’s subsequent success have made the band even more resolute that it is on the right path. “A lot of groups would have collapsed or fallen apart and for us to have done all that we have done, just in the last four years, and still be able to have success around the world and be moving forward, yeah, you do appreciate it in a different way. And every success is that much sweeter,” Taylor says.

And now the band plans to take that steely resolve into a very long future. “We’re hopefully just at the beginning of the race,” Taylor says. “We’ve been a band for 13 years now, but we want to be having these conversations as old men, talking about the past 30 years. It all comes back to that simple thing of saying, ‘What is it we’re really doing?’ We’re just three guys who love to make music.”

 
 
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