Hanson makes a movie -- The former boy band talks about their new documentary ''Strong Enough to Break''

By Whitney Pastorek
Updated December 16, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST
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Hey, music-business students: You might want to add a little ”MMMBop” to your course work. Thanks to its up-close portrayal of what happens when art and commerce collide, a new Hanson doc, Strong Enough to Break, is part of the curriculum at USC and NYU. How did the former pop moppets’ fairy tale turn into a cautionary tale? It began when director Ash Greyson, a longtime videographer for the Oklahoma trio (Isaac, 25; Taylor, 22; and Zac, 20), suggested he chronicle the making of their third album. ”People don’t realize the dynamic in the studio and just how talented they are,” he says. But after months of negative label feedback, adds Taylor, ”we knew the story was going to be the struggle.”

The result is a kind of Gen-Y version of Wilco’s 2002 band-versus-label film, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, documenting two years of nitpicky studio sessions, legal powwows, and phone calls with unsatisfied label execs. From January 2001 to April 2003, Hanson labored to find a viable single for Island/Def Jam. The trio cranked out songs with Matthew Sweet, were sent to songwriting camp in France to work with Carole King, and recorded with countless producers. Along the way, says Taylor, ”we realized, Wow — this is gonna be worse than we thought.” Hanson finally fled their I/DJ contract to launch 3CG Records and self-release Underneath. It landed at No. 1 on Billboard’s independent chart in April 2004.

The ever-polite Hanson boys insist that Strong Enough to Break, which they plan to release through 3CG in 2006, is less of a kiss-off to Island/Def Jam than a plea for the industry to right itself. ”This is not us saying ‘Screw the man,”’ explains Isaac. ”This is us saying ‘Man, fix the problem.’ Leave music to the musicians.”

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