Article: Hanson seeing through Tinted Windows

By | August 27, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO — What was it like having the No. 1 single in 30 countries simultaneously?

The mania, says Taylor Hanson — who achieved the feat with “MMMBop,” the 1997 smash from his sibling trio Hanson — was “almost like being under fire” everywhere the band went.

Hanson says, “In Indonesia, there were 3,000 fans left outside of what was supposed to be a little promo event at a Hard Rock Café. They practically rioted and we had to escape through the kitchen.”

But the kids surrounded the tour bus. “The whole van was pounding and shaking, until it felt like we were caught in a riptide.”

Hanson, now a 26-year-old father of four, managed to survive those years.

He maintained his band and started taking risks, like forming his own label, 3CG Records, and pushing himself artistically, as he does on the eponymous new CD from power-pop supergroup Tinted Windows, playing in San Francisco next week.

He sees it as a no-brainer, getting together as vocalist for a one-off band with Fountains of Wayne bassist/guitarist Adam Schlesinger, Smashing Pumpkins axeman James Iha and Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos.

“But it was a stretch for me,” he admits. “Because I had to sing these songs differently, a lot more nasally and straight-ahead.”

He and Schlesinger met years ago, says Hanson, who usually anchors keyboards. They bounced around the idea of a side project, but it didn’t materialize until recently.

“When Adam and I first sat down to write together, it was an experiment of ‘Will the two forces collide?’” he recalls.

“But the first song we wrote was “Take Me Back,” which sounded like what we’d been talking about.” Iha liked what he heard and began contributing. Percussionist Carlos was only a phone call away.

The self-titled “Tinted Windows” album turned out jaw-droppingly clever. The first single, Schlesinger’s infectious “Kind of a Girl,” sounds like a sly sideways reconfiguration of an obscurity from Australia’s Hard-Ons, “Girl in the Sweater.”

Was it? “Well, I’m positive Adam knows that song,” Hanson says. “So there was a huge music-geek quality that went into the writing of the record.”

What if Hanson’s own children announce the formation of a family band some day? He says, “Well, my oldest is six and my youngest is seven months, and they already hear harmonies the way I did when I was little. So whatever that thing is, it’s there. And I’ll support them if that’s what they want to do.”

Tinted Windows

Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., S.F.
When: 9 p.m. Sept. 4
Tickets: $26


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