- The Washington Times - Friday, July 31, 2009

When I spoke with Adam Schlesinger last summer, the songwriter was juggling several projects. New material needed to be written for Ivy and Fountains of Wayne, his two main bands since the 1990s.

Meetings needed to be scheduled with comedy writer David Javerbaum, who had agreed to co-write holiday music for “The Colbert Report’s” upcoming Christmas special. Dashboard Confessional’s sixth album needed to be mastered, and someone needed to answer a phone ringing in the other room.

One project stood out from the pack, although Mr. Schlesinger held his tongue when pressed for details.

“There’s definitely something in the works,” he admitted, “but I can’t talk about it to the press just yet.”

Several months later, a national press release announced the formation of Tinted Windows, a multigenerational supergroup featuring Mr. Schlesinger, former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha, Cheap Trick percussionist Bun E. Carlos and Hanson vocalist Taylor Hanson.


Tinted Windows’ lineup sounded somewhat incongruent. A former teen idol working alongside one of the most celebrated guitars in grunge? A ‘70s icon lending his help to an upstart band?

No wonder Mr. Schlesinger was wary of promoting the project before any music could be released.

Tinted Windows’ music speaks for itself, however. Released in April 2009, the band’s self-titled debut brims with fizzy, muscled rock ‘n’ roll. It’s the perfect summertime record, one that begs to blast forth from car speakers and poolside stereos.

Apparently, the seemingly dissimilar band knew what it was doing all along.

“I think the reason this works is because we came into the project with clear, conscious ideas,” says Mr. Hanson, 26, who serves as the band’s frontman and youngest member.

“We said, ‘Hey, let’s do a power-pop record with loud guitars, and let’s focus on writing ruthlessly melodic songs without being overly snarky about it.’”

The singer modified his voice for the album, replacing the bluesy inflections of Hanson’s material with a raspy, pop-minded croon. Meanwhile, Mr. Schlesinger abandoned the dry lyrical wit that fuels Fountains of Wayne’s songs, writing straightforward odes to girls instead.

“I try and separate church and state with Tinted Windows and Hanson,” says the singer, “but bouncing between both bands has been interesting for me. The whole concept of doing Tinted Windows was that it would always be in addition to our regular bands. For me, this has given me perspective on what Hanson’s sound really is. You realize that every band has its own personality and dynamic when you do something distinctly different.”

Tinted Windows’ activity hasn’t had an adverse effect on the members’ other bands. The Hanson brothers recently recorded a new album, which they plan to promote with a tour this fall. Cheap Trick is currently canvassing the country alongside Def Leppard and Poison. Fountains of Wayne toured earlier this year, playing acoustic versions of songs that will likely comprise the band’s next record.

Before returning to their day jobs, however, the members of Tinted Windows will tour the East Coast in early August, concluding the run with a performance at the Black Cat on Wednesday.

“We have a great time with the live show,” Mr. Hanson enthuses, although he misses playing the piano used in most Hanson shows. “When you perform for 15 years, you reach the middle of the show and you just wanna walk over to something and hit it with your fingers. It’s like, ‘Just give me a drumstick!’

“But I enjoy it, and you just have to realize which project you’re doing at the moment. My job is to go out there, have a good time and connect with the audience. I love it. This is what I’m doing; this is my gig.”

Tinted Windows visits the Black Cat on Wednesday.US Royalty opens the show. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20.

The Everyday Visuals

Although based in Boston, the Everyday Visuals recently found themselves in California, where the independent band played several shows before heading back East.

“We’re really good at budgeting ourselves,” frontman Christopher Pappas explained from a Los Angeles diner. “We run a tight ship and spend money wisely, which affords us the luxury of splurging on a trip to the West Coast once a year.”

Since 2002, the Everyday Visuals have waltzed a fine line between indie credibility and mainstream expectations. The musicians play pop music drenched in harmonies and quirky melodies, recalling the Beach Boys one minute and the Shins the next. Such vocal ability stems from the band’s collective resume, which includes everything from high school choirs to Mr. Pappas’ bachelor’s degree in music education.

“I got my degree in being a choir conductor, basically. Harmonies slowly worked their way into our music, and now we really pride ourselves on that. There’s nothing like singing with a group of people.”

The Everyday Visuals’ latest album, a self-titled effort released in March, pitches the musicians’ voices against backdrops of summery rock ‘n’ roll, rainy day pop and the occasional hint of folk. To support the project, the band recently launched the largest promotional push of its career.

“We loaded the cannon with this album. We’re trying to shoot it as far as we can and break out of the regional market, right onto the national stage.”

The Everyday Visuals play The Red & The Black on Wednesday. Tickets are $6.

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