"We build our ivory towers to protect us from the flood/A fleet of vessels made of wood so they won't rust/But can we see the bottom of the bottle when we start to drink?/There's fire on the mountain fire and it's coming our way/Can we pick the pieces up?/We're mending Babylon/ Tryin' to right the wrong" —from "Fire on the Mountain"

In the spring and summer of 1997, a catchy bubblegum-pop song called "MMMBop" played every hour, all day long on radio stations across the globe. Naturally, it became a worldwide hit, generating album sales of four million copies for the album Middle of Nowhere in the US. The Oklahoma-bred Hanson brothers Isaac, Taylor, and Zac—only 16, 14, and 11 at the time—achieved international fame.

Despite the song's light-hearted sound and Hanson's rambunctious teenybopper image, the Grammy-nominated "MMMBop" actually was about the fleeting nature of relationships. But the subtle maturity of the band's songwriting was drowned out by the playful sound, a powerful marketing machine, and the subsequent backlash in reaction to 24/7 airplay.

Hanson's maturity became more apparent several years ago after clashing with former label Island/Def Jam Records over creative differences. The brothers fought to be released from their contract, and Island/Def Jam eventually relented. Freed from corporate control, Hanson released Underneath in 2004 through its own independent label, 3CG Records, and the album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Independent Album Chart.

Guitarist Isaac (now 27), keyboardist Taylor (24), and drummer Zac (22) grew up listening to their father's collection of classic '50s and '60s records. Each Hanson album has reflected these rock, R&B, blues, and gospel influences, including ...

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