An amalgamation of 90’s music royalty, Tinted Windows is inserting catchy ballads and fun rhythms back into pop music. This new “super group” is a fusion of Taylor Hanson, James Iha from Smashing Pumpkins, Adam Schlesinger from Fountains of Wayne and, oddly enough, Bun E. Carlos from Cheap Trick. Though this collaboration of musicians may seem unexpected, Tinted Windows have produced an album full of charisma, generated by super pop and novelty. Taylor Hanson’s employment of effortless falsetto combined with Schlesinger’s song-writing capabilities make us question why said “super group” did not form sooner. The stylized coordination of these five musicians vault the band into a different realm – a realm that vacillates between sober ballads and blithe harmonies. While the band is ostensibly pert, this stylized exploit in fact, does make sense.


The construction of this band doesn’t seem as random as the names may portray. “James (Iha) and I knew each other first. I’ve known James since the early 90′s,” Schlesinger says. “I met Taylor in the mid-90’s, we were introduced by a record label. Since then, we stayed in touch and always talked about doing something. We came up with an idea for a band with loud guitars and everybody was into it. I started writing songs with that idea in mind and eventually we started talking about drummers. We wanted somebody that plays like Bun E. Carlos but weren’t exactly sure who to go after. Then we said, why don’t we just ask Bun E. Carlos. He said yes, and that’s the story from the beginning.”

While one may be inclined to blame their initial success on mere curiosity, the band wasn’t sure they would definitely emanate that across the varied audiences. “It started out as something we would enjoy doing, something we would actually pull off. There was a curiosity that the four of us would do something together and the response has been really good. We’ve all been positively surprised by it,” Hanson says. “There’s definitely a celebrity nature to it, and our bands have had a lot of great records independent of each other, and this is something we knew we would enjoy doing.”


With such distinct sounds and method hailing from bands like Hanson and Fountains of Wayne, it is surprising that manners don’t butt heads from time to time. However, the band manages to keep outside projects separate from Tinted Windows. Schlesinger plays in two other bands but insists that “Fountains of Wayne is musically influenced by a lot of similar stuff (to Tinted Windows). However, Fountains of Wayne lyrics are different, in that those lyrics are story telling and lyrics from an imaginary perspective.”

Contrastingly, Tinted Windows attempt to deliver “straightforward pop songs about girls and relationships. We’re trying to keep it intentionally catchy. There’s a different kind of mindset to write a song. With this new band, we are more about the energy than about the story or trying to be too clever with the lyrics,” Schlesinger says.


Despite a concentration on catchy grooves and carefree lyrics, the music stands up on its own. However, there is no reinvention of the wheel for these guys or groundbreaking shift in the formation of their songs. “[With] any kind of music, even if it is clever, your first reaction to it is emotional and instinctive and it’s not, at least at first, an intellectual process. With any kind of music, the first reaction is the energy vibe and emotion of it. This music is supposed to be loud and fun,” Schlesinger says. “We sort of knew that people would attempt to dub it. We’re not trying to be pretentious or hit people over the head. We’re not trying to sneak in themes because doing that takes away from the whole attitude. We try and not be too overly eccentric and poetic,” Hanson continues.

As with any band touted as a “super group,” they are inevitably centered in the spotlight of critical perception. Used to critics, Tinted Windows seem to disregard media stereotypes. Being coined a “super group” “makes me want to wear a cape,” Hanson jokes. “That was never the idea behind doing this. Some of us actually are not that famous. It was more like myself and four musicians who we thought would make good music, coming together. We thought we had common influences. Part of playing music is playing with different people that you like. We didn’t think there was any built-in cache to the four names. We were doing it just as an idea,” Hanson adds.

Their enigmatic stage presence can be attributed to years of perfecting this grace independently of other members of Tinted Windows. However, performing is not a competition for them. “I have a great time (on stage). It’s almost a little too easy because I’m just singing. I’m always thinking ‘what else am I supposed to be doing?’ I take whatever that energy is and transfer the same amount of energy into the crowd. I haven’t played shows this size for years and it’s great. It’s not about big shows or small shows, it’s all about the music you’re making,” Hanson says.

Tinted Windows rejects any stereotypes that may linger from past or present membership of other bands and refuses to acknowledge the certain stigma that may attach itself to members. “It’s actually the coolest thing. Once you’ve been in a band where you have any fans at all, you never get to go back to the first show. You never get to start over. [There’s going to be] a certain amount of people that are singing your words or who know something about your group,” Hanson says. “It’s kind of an amazing thing to have a blank slate and walk out and say ‘we’re a new band and this is show one.’ We want to get our new audience invested, which is a whole other hurdle, because you have people that say ‘I’m a Cheap Trick fan’ or ‘I’m a Hanson fan.’ For me though, this is day one and I get t just put on a different act and enjoy it for the music and try not to over think it,” he adds.

The inspiration spawns from “a certain kind of power pop, pop punk and early new wave,” Schlesinger says.
Like their transitory lyrics, Tinted Windows does not know if there will be future records, but is by no means discounting the possibility. “We’re taking it day by day. If it goes well and we want to do another, we will do another one,” Hanson explains. “Writing and producing and working for other people is what I love doing. So it was so clear what this band was and that I needed to do it. It evolved, and it did work. I love the idea of working with other people.”

–Eliza K. Johnston

  1. His name is not “Buddy”
    it is Bun E. Carlos


  2. that was a quick edit. thanks for fixing that! :)


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