today is taylor hanson’s thirtieth birthday.
if i had to name a handful of things people remember me for, being a hanson fan would make the list. often, it might be #2 or #3. the band is something that i felt my first intense passion for. i grew with their music, i was inspired and intrigued. i made some of my best friends through being a fan. i’ve dedicated hours, i’ve spent lots of hard earned dollars, i’ve memorized, danced, waited, waited, explored and faced some true obstacles all in the name of being a member of what was once named “the scream squad.”
i am a fanson, along with many other women. it’s really quite a strange experience, the things we’ve all been through together. from ages 12-28. just think of all the things that will transpire in your life anyway, yet we all sort of shaped our lives around this band. i think it’s a humbling moment when you witness so many others be influenced by something that you hold dear.
to this day i am a mama hen when it comes to these three boys and their talent. my chest puffs up and i supply information and facts about their history. i am fine tuned into the life of a fan, i understand the psychosis we all feel. i was talking to joe earlier, and said that i am “psychoed” for their next album. i meant to say psyched – he said “no, that sounds just about right.” it’s a bit psychotic but it makes sense to me. i became a fan in seclusion. it happened during what turned out to be a pivotal moment of my adolescence (and by “it” i mean hearing “mmmbop”) looking back i truly feel fortunate that younger me had their influence, it shaped who i’ve become. i tried as often as i could to learn and listen to hanson. sometimes i wonder what would have happened if i spent all my energy on something like, sports … hm.
i often get drenched in wonderment about how many other people feel this same feeling, although i know it’s all different and personal. i then think about music in general, my sensitivity for hanson makes me think of music in such an emotional, raw, way. their songs that are now seemingly juvenile still bring me to a place that i once was. their words have attached themselves to memories, love, desperate times, amazing times, freeing experiences, laughs, tears, stress, fear.
i spent a lot of time on the internet focusing on hanson (when the bordentown library first got internet i’d go there after school and print every single hanson picture i could find on their color printer. it was 10 cents a page and i knew the librarian wasn’t happy with me. i used a lot of ink! then i’d go home, and assemble them into a scrapbook.) once we got our own computer, heather and i ran an aol zine called “HANSON” and we were proudly the suppliers of rare and exciting hanson news, pictures, and songs. this connected me to SO many hanson fans, which i built friendships with that are still intact today. we reached such a vast amount of girls and all bonded over those boys. we’d also spend our time forming fanclubs (the “Okies”) and saving up money for concerts, taping every performance on VHS, trading hanson merch online with other fans, writing to tv stations to play them or even better, help us meet them. we were hardcore. at our highest point with the zine we had approx 8,000 “subbies” — we were constantly getting put on aol’s “white list” and i remember getting into a deviant mood whenever my dad was on the phone with aol, fighting for our account. don’t take away my aol! “yes, she mails out a newsletter about a band to a bunch of other people.” back then, it was unfathomable to aol. there is where began my love for online publishing. i got a serious thrill everything i’d hit “send” (although back then, screen names were always changing, people’s mailboxes were full, there was a lot of editing put into these zines!)
running the hanson zine, then moving onto other bands (the moffatts, LFO) i ended up creating my own “diary zine” which was called “ashley faye” – heather got on board as “heather lynn” — we tacked onto that a few variety zines, “piNK bANaNA” & “princess daily” and finally created a new world with the zines, forming the gibbah girls & on. around this time, i got involved in some chat room business. in the world of aol hanson fans, the private room “zac” was the place to be. at most times you could tune into that chatroom and find someone to talk to. during peak hours, you’d sometimes have to try over and over to gain admission. it was a fast moving, constant conversation, and this is where i sort of took control of my destiny as a fan. a bunch of these girls would hang outside hanson’s hotel in new york. there were always pictures curculating around the web and when someone would scan in new hanson pictures, it was a big deal. i wanted to be one of those people taking the pictures. to be in new york, where the action was.
i wrote my parents a letter explaining the desperate and dramatic reasons i needed to be excused from 10th grade and spend a few days in NYC with my friends from aol chatrooms to essentially stalk hanson at their hotel. the convincing wasn’t easy, but i luckily was born into a family that understands these sorts of urges and they let me go. what would have been 2 days of who-knows-what highschool, i ended up being in NYC for the first time on my own, with a bunch of girls who shared the same passion for something i did, and were really just trying to have a fun time. my dad actually took the train to new york with me, rode with me in a cab to columbus circle and made sure he met “Niki” – my friend from brooklyn. there were no cellphones then, what was done was done, it was what it was, and i really am thankful my parents trusted me in these situations. and even more-so, thankful i made it out alive. i had some guts! i have more anxiety as an adult without a phone then i did as a kid. go figure
being there, at the hotel, and knowing hanson was coming, or going, or just walking around central park or into times square, taking the subway by myself, making new friends, it was all so exciting. even now i get this strange and cutesy butterfly when i think about those days. the first time i ever actually met hanson was on may 6, 2000. if you are a hanson fan you know that that is HANSON DAY! so this was just fucking perfect for me. we had friends who were staying in the hotel, so we went swimming and guess who we ran into! taylor! just niki, him and i. it was one of those wow is happening moments for my 15 year old self. (he was shirtless!) — my last night in new york, before i headed to penn station, hanson went inside their hotel and then came back out to perform a special set for the fans that were there that week. they sang about 5 songs on the side of trump international, and literally as i type this i am listening to “i wish that i was there” from this time around, well they sang that. it was my first time hearing that song, i rode nj transit home in an absolute daze. i heard the song in my head as i faded in and out of consciousness (totally exhausted) and got off the train to meet my dad, feeling so happy.
as a band, they have been through their fair share of trials and tribulations. everyone seems to have something to say about hanson, formed by their impression of “mmmbop” – i love mmmbop, and i love so much of their other music. today i find myself reflecting on the journey i’ve taken with hanson, and their musical growth.
i feel blessed by everything that transpired over the years. i’m glad i got to know them as people, have actual conversations, exchange moments. it’s literally making my heart swell to put this into words. the best thing i gained from being a hanson fan is this part of me, and all the women i’ve met through this shared fascination.
i want to share some of my favorite pictures i’ve taken of taylor, or one’s of taylor and i in them. for a long time i was scared to approach them for pictures. i’d rather exchange a sentence or a handshake. in early shots its usually just me in the shot with them – as i grew older i’d try to get one picture with them every tour. as years have gone on, we don’t wait around to see them anymore. but looking through this shots, i think i *NEED* to get a picture next tour.
did i mention they are mixing their newest album? currently? well they are. get ready people!
ps- i’m in some way in every single pic up there. it’s like where’s waldo