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Hanson Growing Up With Its Music

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The three Hanson brothers have grown up -- and not just physically.

Guitarist Isaac Hanson says that after the success of "Great Divide," the socially conscious single, inspired by a trips to Africa and Mozambique, from the trio's 2007 album, "The Walk," Hanson hopes to become more topical and even more political on its next album.

"You're always trying to do new things," explains Hanson, 27, who came to fame with younger brothers Taylor and Zac with the 1996 hit "Mmmbop." "We're actively writing for our next album, and the issues of poverty and Africa in generally have really opened an opportunity to even more actively write music that is more sensitive to those kinds of stories.

"It's always important that you write a song that's got a good hook; we have no qualms about that. But certainly these next few years will definitely expose further more of the 'Great Divide' type of things, some of those types of messages throughout our music."

Hanson is keeping its socially conscious feet forward -- literally -- while on tour. After donating proceeds from "Great Divide" to AIDS treatment and research in South Africa, the trio is holding one-mile barefoot walks at each of its tour stops, encouraging fans to join them. Besides raising awareness, the walks are also promoting an initiative by TOMS shoes to donate one pair of shoes to African youths each time a pair is purchased in the U.S.

"It's ironic that we discovered (TOMS) in the process of promoting an album called, 'The Walk,' " says Hanson, whose wife is expecting the couple's second child. "It's an incredible example of what art and entrepreneurial spirit can do together. They're doing very well as a for-profit company but doing very tangible, valuable work for kids in countries around the world.

"So I encourage people to take a look at themselves and ask, 'What is the next TOMS, and how can I be part of something like that?' If people do that it's not just paying lip service to change and making things better, you know?"

Hanson, Stephen Kellog & the Sixers and Kate Voegele perform at 8 p.m. Saturday (April 19) at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St. Tickets are $32 in advance, $35 day of show. Call (248) 399-2980 or visit www.royaloakmusictheatre.com.

Web Site: www.royaloakmusictheatre.com

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