In 2009, Adam Schlesinger from Fountains of Wayne, James Iha of the Smashing Pumpkins, Bun E. Carlos of Cheap Trick, and Taylor Hanson founded the supergroup Tinted Windows — and while some skeptics might have assumed that this combination would not work, the result was in fact pure skinny-tie sugar-pop bliss. Tinted Windows released only one album, but two years ago, when Taylor visited Yahoo Entertainment with his brothers to promote the Hanson band’s String Theory LP, the conversation shifted to the then-looming 10th anniversary of Tinted Windows and the possibility of commemorating that occasion by recording a new single. It was a prospect that so excited Taylor that he whipped out his phone right then and there and texted Schlesinger, as seen in the flashback video above.
But tragically, new Tinted Windows music was not in the cards, as Schlesinger died of coronavirus complications on April 1, 2020. However, Taylor recently revealed to Yahoo Entertainment’s Lyndsey Parker on the SiriusXM Volume radio show Volume West that a Tinted Windows reunion had been in the talking stages, if only the four band members could finally figure out how to coordinate their busy schedules.
“I began volleying around song ideas, and I’d run into them each individually over that span. We hadn’t gotten a session together in that year and a half, but yeah, we were throwing them back and forth,” Taylor told Parker. “You were one of the folks that came to mind immediately when he passed, because I had told you when we last talked, I’d said, ‘You know what? We’re about to hit 10 years, and let’s do something special.’ And I had genuinely been in that pitch process with the guys and everybody was into it, like, ‘Let’s do it, let’s do it! … The potential lost is really the heartbreak, of course, with someone that’s a friend or a creator. It’s like, ‘Oh my God, what could have been done?’
“That hit me so, so, so hard,” Taylor continued, referring to Schlesinger’s death at age 52. (Side note: While elder Hanson brother Isaac recently came under fire for comments — for which he later apologized — that the government was trying to “cancel” Christmas because of COVID-19, Taylor told SiriusXM Volume that he and his family “absolutely have things we don’t agree on” and he “can’t speak for everything” when it comes to his brothers’ “somewhat taken out of context” opinions.) “I know many people have lost friends this past year because of the virus or contributing factors. So, so many people have gone through that. Personally, Adam’s passing is the closest it’s come to me. It just feels like an absolute crime to lose somebody obviously that you love, but also to the music world — what he had given in his life, like the amount of great work he had done. It’s just really, really devastating.”
Schlesinger and Taylor first met in 1996 (when they were ages 29 and 13, respectively) to potentially write together for the first Hanson album; although nothing came of those sessions, they stayed in touch. “I remember jokingly, five years later when we ran into each other, [Adam told me] his manager kept calling him and saying, ‘Are you sure you weren’t in the room when “MMMbop” was being written?’” Taylor laughed. Taylor recalled how Schlesinger took him seriously, even back then, when most snobs were writing Hanson off as some novelty kiddie act. “We became friends because of music,” he said. “Music brings people together beyond their age. I mean, I think there’s enough ‘isms’ out there that I’m not going to add one to it, really, but ageism is definitely a thing. I think our culture has really kind of trained us to not listen to the real, authentic voices of people until they hit that 18 mark, or until they turn 21. So, that’s how it started. The love of that craft is kind of where [Adam and I] started.”
Eleven years later, Taylor received an initial phone call from Schlesinger pitching him the Tinted Windows project, with the plan to cast Taylor in the band’s Robin Zander frontman role. “He said, ‘Would you just be the guy that singer guy, no instruments, no keyboards, just loud guitars and a big vocal and pure melodies? Let’s just make that essential powerpop record.’ And it was just a joy, honestly,” Taylor said of the album, for which Schlesinger served as co-producer (with Iha) and composed most of the tracks. “It was so much fun to do it. And the fact that we called the perfect drummer, Bun E. Carlos from Cheap Trick, and Bun said, ‘I would love to be in this’ and became a part of our band? I mean, this group was like something out of the rock ‘n’ roll wishlist! You literally had three generations. Adam and James, who were enough years ahead of me, a whole wave ahead. And then me — not a kid anymore, but, the ‘kid in the room’ compared to them. And then you had Bun E. Carlos of Cheap Trick — heroes of ours, Cheap Trick having been this incredible pop/rock band. All of us in one band, jamming together and being a unit. That was such a cool thing.”
While Tinted Windows didn’t rack up the sales figures or chart positions of any of the members’ more famous full-time groups, “It was very well-received among anybody that was really a music listener, like the critics and the nerds. It didn’t blow up with tons and tons of records, but definitely had a lot of love,” said Taylor. “The legacy of that will live on past 2009. I want to make sure it does something, if nothing else, for Adam’s career and legacy.”
Obviously, that hoped-for Tinted Windows reunion discussed at Yahoo never happened. “I would say that’s the closest thing I know there were songs that Adam had in mind that didn’t make the cut [for the 2009 album], that weren’t recorded, really. I know there were songs of mine and other songs of James’s that were sort of envisioned as a possible Tinted Windows songs,” Taylor explained. But Hanson are doing an all-request live stream concert from Tulsa’s Cain’s Ballroom on Friday, Jan. 8, so hardcore “Fansons” might want to get their requests in for “Nothing to Me,” the one Tinted Windows track solely penned by Taylor, or “Take Me Back,” which Taylor co-wrote with Schlesinger and recently performed solo on his Instagram page. “Hmm, Tinted Windows into the Hanson world? That would be cool,” Taylor said of that idea.
However, Taylor did hint at an official Tinted Windows tribute one day. “I’ll just say this: I definitely want to make sure that we celebrate that and [Adam] in my future,” he declared. “And so, if I have anything to do with it, it’s never going to be Tinted Windows again — because Tinted Windows is four guys — but it’ll go forward somehow. And I’ll make sure people hear it.”