SXSW 2009: Meet Tinted Windows, the Taylor Hanson, James Iha, Cheap Trick, Fountains of Wayne “Super”-Group


Right now, Tinted Windows are sitting on the couch across from me at the Driskoll Hotel lobby. Tinted Windows?!? Yes, Tinted Windows: the mind-boggling “super”-group of Taylor Hanson, James Iha, Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schleslinger, and Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos. I am here pilfering free WiFi and they are here answering questions from a barrage of interviewers. We are not equals.

Watching these reportorial transactions–and that’s what they are–are hilarious. So far, we’ve had a blonde television reporter spend her 15 minutes leading up to the investigative gem, “So have you guys had the chance to catch any shows while you’re in town?” All smooshed together on a couch, they grin uncomfortably. Taylor answers something to the effect of Ah, nah, we’ve sort of been in our own world.

Next? Taylor and Adam, the best talkers, are then paired off with a slouched-over, middle-aged/middle-America writer (no camera, only a notebook, Tim Allen haircut) who’s comparing Tinted Windows to the Traveling Wilburys (not quite) and Bad English (more like it). “It is sort of interesting that you say that,” says Taylor, clearly wanting to be perceived as a Traveling Wilbury. Adam Schleslinger proceeds to explain that there’s no real master plan behind this band. “Dude, it’s just some guys that like each other and want to make some music.” They also concede that Tinted Windows is a “joke name,” purposefully pretentious–because they are not. And for what it’s worth, Taylor Hanson seems like a pretty sincerely nice dude, at least from across a hotel lobby.

Next? Derek from the Tripwire, who asks James Iha if Billy Corgan’s gone crazy. There is laughter.

No clue how Tinted Windows ended up in room together, nevermind a band, though I’m sure someone here will ask. The age spectrum alone is baffling: Bun E. Carlos is 57, Taylor Hanson just turned 26 one week ago from today. For the record, I just had to Google that secretly in a reduced-size browser because these dudes are literally standing behind me and getting caught with their faces on my monitor would be, to me, the seventh ring of hell. No such shame for the woman on the adjacent couch who just leaned over and bellowed at me, “Is that the kid from Hanson?” Aw, geez.

All of this is much more interesting than Tinted Windows’ first publicized show, which took place yesterday early evening at the Fader Fort. Taylor Hanson wore red pants, a white shirt, and a tie. “We just walked in here, a brand-new band,” he noted. Yup. They then proceeded to play pop music that sounded like melted butter pours, with lyrics a 13 year old girl would play-act while kissing her pillow: “She’s the kind of a girl you can’t get enough of/Whoa Whoa/She’s the kind of a girl you need to feel the touch of/Whoa Whoa.” That tune is called “Kind of a Girl” and you can behold its majesty here. There were other songs, but they followed the same line of inspiration: “Oh c’mon c’mon you’ve been messing with my head for oh so long/It’s oh so wrong.” This is music for little girls made by grown men. It makes me queasy.

So it was naturally baffling when a thick-necked dude to my right pumped his fist and growled like James Hetfield’s anus during the “Whoa Whoa!” portion of “Kind of a Girl.” His name was John and he was here to see James Iha. “I’m from Chicago,” he explained. His assessment? “I think if the lead singer dressed a little differently, they’d come off a little better.” He paused. “But I love them.” Whoa.