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Taylor Hanson’s New Power-Pop Supergroup

Forms Tinted Windows with members of Cheap Trick, Smashing Pumpkins

Jun 21, 2009

A few years ago, Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger had an idea for a band: Pair the sugary pop vocals of longtime friend Taylor Hanson with a bunch of loud guitars and classic power-pop tunes. “I was like, ”˜That’s the best idea ever,’ ” says Schlesinger’s friend and former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha. Now, -Schlesinger’s unlikely supergroup, Tinted Windows, which features Iha, Schlesinger and Hanson along with Cheap Trick drummer Bun E Carlos, is a reality: Their debut, Tinted Windows, came out April 21. “The whole album is a love letter to power pop ”“ everything from Weezer to the Knack to Big Star ”“ and to simple, guitar-driven songs,” says Hanson.

Schlesinger first tested out his idea three years ago, on a trip to the Hanson brothers’ Tulsa, Oklahoma, compound. There, during a one-day writing session, they sketched out Tinted Windows’ first tune, ”˜Take Me Back,’ a plea for forgiveness with big, ringing riffs supported by a muscular beat and lots of tambourine. “I was like, ”˜Wow, this is cool. We’re doing exactly what we were talking about,’ ” says Hanson.

The trio recorded whenever they could find time, keeping the music simple and direct. “We decided right at the beginning, no keyboards,” says Schlesinger. “It was tough, because Taylor and I both play keyboards, but it’s one of those decisions that automatically created a palette we were going to stick to.” Adds Iha, “We wanted to keep it really raw.”

When it came to the sound of the drums, they all agreed they needed to find someone with what Hanson calls “that Bun E Carlos kind of swagger.” And then they thought, “Why not just get Bun E Carlos himself?”

“They called me and I said, ”˜Lemme hear the songs,’ ” says Carlos, 57, who routinely does session work with young musicians near his home in Rockford, Illinois. “It’s $100 a song, and if I like it, it’s $50 a song. When this Tinted Windows thing came up, my wife said, ”˜You’re kind of busy.’ But if this record came out and I hadn’t been on it, I would be kicking myself in the ass.”

The foursome will play a quick tour in late April, and they’ll try to add more dates between Cheap Trick’s summer tour and the rest of the band’s recording projects. “Playing with other musicians just keeps you excited about making music,” says Schlesinger. “That’s really the whole reason we’re doing this ”“ because it seemed like a fun idea, and so far, it has been.”