Newly-formed power pop supergroup Tinted Windows have set an April 21 release date for their debut self-titled album, due via S-Curve. As previously reported, the band comprises singer Taylor Hanson of Hanson, guitarist James Iha of Smashing Pumpkins, bassist Adam Schlesinger of Ivy and Fountains of Wayne and drummer Bun E. Carlos from Cheap Trick. The group will play its first major show at Billboard's South by Southwest showcase onMarch 20 at Pangaea in Austin, Texas.
"Even though it seems really sudden to everybody else, we've been working on making this happen for a while," Schlesinger tells Billboard.com. "Taylor and I have been friends forever and started talking about it seriously about it three years ago. Two years ago, James was in on it."
The three were already writing material as they pondered who to add as a drummer. "We kept trying to brainstorm who could play like Bun E. Carlos of Cheap Trick," Schlesinger continues. "But then it just seemed obvious we should at least try Bun E. Carlos." They sent the veteran drummer some demo tracks and, to their surprise, "he was into it. Fountains of Wayne had opened for Cheap Trick a couple of times, but this was the first time any of us had really worked with him."
The biggest struggle for the band was trying to make time where everybody could be together in the same room to record. Hanson lives in Tulsa, Schlesinger and Iha in New York and Carlos outside of Chicago. Between touring, recording and writing with all their other groups, Tinted Windows were able to eke out a month total of recording time early last year at Stratosphere Sound Studios in New York, which Iha and Schlesinger co-own with Ivy's Andy Chase.
The result is a combination of mostly '70s rock and power-pop, with Hanson's powerhouse vocals leading the way on songs like "Kind of a Girl" and "Messing with My Head." Schlesinger wrote the bulk of the 11-track "Tinted Windows," while he and Iha produced the majority of it.
"For me personally as a writer, this was much more straight-forward musically and lyrically. Lyrically, these aren't meant to be ironic, not trying to be clever. They're just pop songs," Schlesinger says. "When I write a song, I'm always thinking about who's going to be singing it. We have Taylor with this incredible voice so I had the idea of doing something with a lot of energy. It's a shame that when people think of Hanson, they think of Taylor as a teenager. But he's a grown man, and he's capable of doing so much."
According to Schlesinger, the band is currently plotting club shows for April and May and is contemplating a summer tour. Tinted Windows is already confirmed for performances at this year's South By Southwest Music & Media Conference in March and says they will appear at the Bamboozle music festival in East Rutherford, N.J., over the weekend of May 2-3.
While it is unclear whether this opportunity is a one-off or a career-long collaboration for the four musicians, Schlesinger says nobody has the intention of quitting their other, main projects.
"This is just a great project all of us can be proud to be in," he says. "The one thing that surprised me was how we had this idea in our heads but had no idea that it would work. It could all look good on paper, but we didn't really know until we got to the studio. But it came together really quickly and very naturally."