The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Q&A: Isaac Hanson talks about ‘Walk’ and new music

Sarah Nolan and Ben Koopferstock walk with the KPNI banner at the walk on Sunday afternoon
Stuart Palley
Sarah Nolan and Ben Koopferstock walk with the KPNI banner at the walk on Sunday afternoon

Sarah Nolan and Ben Koopferstock walk with the KPNI banner at the walk on Sunday afternoon (Stuart Palley)

1. What initially inspired you to take the walk and start the tour?  Did someone introduce it to you?  Did you feel compelled by something/someone in your life?

It came from a number of things. The initial interest came from friends from Tulsa. They had developed a new medical technology that facilitated communication between doctors and their patients in remote areas where doctors are hard to get to. Basically, it’s a cell phone-like device with a program that sends vital communication from doctors to their patients who don’t have readily accessible communication tools like the Internet or telephone. People in areas like Africa have to travel long distances to get to their doctors and many trips can be avoided with this technology. Actually, the devices are already in use. The amazing thing that really inspired us, is that they gave it away. They understood the huge impact that it could have on the people’s lives, and gave this technology and the devices to people in South Africa to help set up an infrastructure to aid HIV/AIDS victims. Money is now being raised to help pay for the cost of communication like SMS messages. The company is named DOCVIA and is based in Oklahoma.

2. How would you describe the walk so far?  Has it turned out to be what you thought it would?  Are people as responsive as you thought they’d be?

The direction of the tour has changed as it’s gone on. It’s called ‘The Walk Around the World Tour.’ The idea is getting people involved by walking with us 24,902 miles, the distance around the earth. What’s really awesome is that we’ve already accomplished this goal on the last several legs of the tour. Now, we’ve changed it to the goal of having 24, 902 people walk with us. The way we make a difference is by taking the names of everyone who is involved and walks with us, and donating a dollar for each person. So, it’s always important to get everyone’s name down that comes. Further, the walkers can choose one of five issues that’s important to them. We were worried that people might choose one cause more than others, but there seems to be a pretty evenly distributed amount of money that has been donated to each of the five causes. We have teamed up with TOM’s shoes and they have already donated $50,000 to the South Africans in need. The goal was to represent the complex issues Africa is dealing with and I think we’ve done that. We have also published a book and come out with a new album both titled, ‘The Walk’ that will be aiding in the campaign raising money and awareness.

3. What type of people do you see coming out to do the walk?

All types of people are coming out to the walk, really. However, the majority of people of people are in their late teens and early twenties. I think a college student in that age range would feel most comfortable at our walk. They seem to be the group that is most present at our walks.

4. What is one thing you want to walk away with or for your fans to walk away with after this tour?

The one thing I would like people to walk away with is the recognition that we are a unique generation that has access to technology that empowers us with information. We have access to things that no other generation before us did. It is our responsibility to use that power to make a difference. You know, the difference between normalcy and greatness is action. That’s what we want people to do; take action. All of us have a profound capacity to act. We want people to realize that. The issues in Africa are publicized from time to time, but it becomes a Hollywood fad then fades out again. Often, people express that the ‘Africa thing’ is a tired issue that is overplayed. I disagree. It may be brought up again and again, but that’s because the issues aren’t going away. This is our generation’s opportunity for greatness. More and more African children are becoming orphaned because of this issue and the problem is getting worse.

It’s not about us, it’s all about the cause. I just feel like this is what we should be doing.

How is this music different from previous albums?

You’ll be surprised if you only know about our first single, ‘MMMbop.’ It’s not going to completely?freak you out if you know our music. Our music has evolved since then. This album is more organic sounding than the first two records, there is still?a very strong awareness of trying to have a clear hook (chorus) in our songs. ‘Great Divide,’ which is the anthem or our tour, has a guitar rift and a gospel-like infused chorus. ‘Running Man’ has a late 60s early 70s pop influenced sound. It has some of the ?qualities of Elton John and early Billy Joel, it’s hard to put a finger on. ‘Watch Over Me’ has the quality of Neil Diamond or Bruce Springstein. ‘Tearing it Down’ has elements of my favorite songs of our first album, Middle of Nowhere, ‘Look at You’ and ‘Speechless.’

What is your favorite song off the album?  Why?

Probably ‘Great Divide,’ because of the message we are sending.

How was the recording process different from previous works?

We’ve always recorded in LA, even our first Indie release, Underneath, was recorded there. For this record, we made a change. This is the first record we did from top to bottom in Tulsa, Okla. It freed up the creative process a little bit more. We had more ?flexibility and over the years our home studio has gotten a little more robust. We did the record live; a direction we were specifically taking. We redid some vocal tracks, but all the instruments are live, which feels more authentic. In the past, we have focused a little more on isolated songs, as opposed?to focusing on the overall sound of the album.? We had set out to make an album with tracks that were very similar to each other. However, it turned out to be a lot more eclectic than we thought it would be. We wanted it to be a ?little bit more of the same, but the record became so diverse. It’s different. I enjoy making records, period.  It’s about what you’re doing it for. I feel really good about ‘The Walk’ record.

Will you record your next album in Tulsa as well?

I’m not sure if we’ll do it strictly here again. We got to work with a lot of the same people from previous records that worked on Underneath and Middle of Nowhere. We have this writing thing we do every year here in Oklahoma and have a group of us just sit down and write. We get a lot of our songs from this ‘retreat.’

What does your fan base look like now? Has it changed in the past ten years?

We’re older, so I imagine a lot of them are too. I’m 27 now. I think we have fans of all age groups.

Do you ever see yourselves moving into another area of music?

I think collaborating with other artists is in my future.

Have any of you dabbled in going solo?

Flying solo sounds glamorous, but I feel like I’m doing my own thing already. I’m just doing it with my brothers. It is really hard to be the only guy up there. It’s just incredibly grueling. The thought of doing it all on my own is scary. I can’t say I’ll never do it, but I do think we are more likely to collaborate with other artists first.

If everyone in the whole world could hear one song that you’ve recorded, what would it be and why?

I’ve never been asked that question before. That’s a hard one. I would have to say ‘Great Divide;’ it’s been the anthem of these walks. It talks about conquering your fears despite insurmountable odds. I think an extreme side of life, but there’s something applicable for everybody.

Taylor Hanson talks to the crowd via megaphone in front of Dallas Hall on Sunday. (Stuart Palley)

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