20 years ago, a little known trio of fair haired brothers named Hanson took the world by storm with their debut single MMMBop. Reaching number 1 in 27 countries, the band went on to sell 16 million records and MMMBop became one of the defining pop songs of its era.
That’s right, that was 20 years ago. How old are we?
The band made up of brothers Isaac, Taylor and Zac, started playing together in 1992, singing 1950s covers and playing at local music festivals when drummer Zac was only six years old. With MMMBop‘s release in 1996 however, they rocketed to super stardom.
Now 20 years later (as we all shuffle ever closer to our graves) the band and others involved in the song’s recording and release have reminisced about that time, with Broadly running an oral feature on the iconic anthem.
Featuring insight not only from Isaac, Taylor and Zac, but also their first manager Christopher Sabec, the CEO of Mercury Records at the time Danny Goldberg and others, the article touches on everything from the band’s youth to the how Hanson were rooted in the alternative rock scene.
“We grew up around music in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We got turned on to rock and roll and R&B, and very quickly that spark happened. Zac was really young when we first started,” says Taylor, with Isaac adding that “You were four, Zac!” reminding us all just how shockingly young they were when they started out.
Sabec, their first manager, tells an amazing story of how he discovered the band at SXSW when “Taylor asked if they could perform for me and I said, “Sure.”
“They sang “MMMBop” for me a capella. When I heard them sing that song, I knew they had huge potential. I pursued them to get a management contract,” he said.
As for “building street cred” Executive Producer of Middle Of Nowehere – their debut album – Steve Greenberg explained why it was so important at the time. “We were coming out of this alternative rock moment, and everything was about alternative cred,” he said.
Hiring the Dust Brothers (The Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique, Beck – Odelay ) to produce, David Campbell (Green Day, Alanis Morissette) to do the arrangements and even getting Tamara Davis (Sonic Youth, The Lemonheads) the shoot the video for MMMBop, it’s kind of crazy looking back how much this was the moment grunge got eaten by the mainstream.
As Greenberg explains, “I’d been looking for a “Hanson” before I knew that they were Hanson. In 1996, you were coming out of the grunge period. The world had been dominated by dark, alternative music. I had this notion that kids in America weren’t really as pessimistic as all that.”
Read the whole article here, and reminisce of a simpler time with the video here below.
Watch: Hanson – MMMBop