OLD LYME, CONNECTICUT – MAY 2009: Way back in 1997, a circus rolled through town, and a seer charged $4.00 for accurate predictions of the future. You felt ripped off when she told you that twelve years hence, members of four disparate bands, Cheap Trick, Hanson, Smashing Pumpkins, and Fountains of Wayne, would form a “super-group” to deliver unambiguous power-pop in a genre that was in danger of losing its way. It was preposterous. What would those bands ever have to do with each other? As you left the tent in a huff, she repeated the words, “Tinted Windows,” over and over again in a quivering voice, which you chalked up to the ravings of a madwoman.
It was thus a tremendous shock to learn that Tinted Windows, its composition as predicted, would headline three sets at South by Southwest 2009, in addition to a whirlwind promotional tour. As Tinted Windows racked up rave reviews for their debut, self-titled album (S-Curve Records), the depth of the seer’s prediction sank in: Tinted Window’s brand of power-pop was indeed something special, a beacon of pure energy, raw emotion, and irrefutable hooks on an otherwise choppy power-pop sea.
Mike Fanuele (Dashboard Confessional, Fountains of Wayne) commanded the band’s sound (production manager, tour manager, FOH and monitors!) for their SXSW gigs and the subsequent two-week tour that hit New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, two television dates with Jimmy Fallon (NBC) and David Letterman (CBS), and the Bamboozle Festival in New Jersey. For fidelity and consistency from gig to gig, he assigned a Sennheiser e 935 cardioid vocal mic – the best live mic he could find – to every member of the group: Bun E. Carlos (drums, Cheap Trick), Taylor Hanson (vocals, Hanson), James Iha (guitar, Smashing Pumpkins), and Adam Schlesinger (bass, Fountains of Wayne). He also gave touring rhythm guitarist Josh Lattanzi an e 935.
The Sennheiser e 935 recommended itself on both sides of the wedges that the band self-consciously opted for over ear monitors. “The e 935 has a great sonic quality so that Taylor, and everyone else for that matter, can hear some nice hi-fi in the monitors,” said Fanuele. “Importantly, its tight pattern control gives me more gain before feedback then I’d get with most other live vocal mics. So we have nice, loud, clear vocals in the monitors, which fuels the energetic performance that these guys deliver.”
“It is of course equally important,” he continued, “that the mic sounds great for me out front. It has a smooth midrange with a bit of a presence peak that helps the vocals cut through without being annoying or harsh. Taylor’s vocal style is very dynamic, and when he moves on and off mic, the e 935’s frequency response changes very little. So with just a little compression, it’s easy to get a solid vocal that sits nicely in the mix no matter what’s happening on stage.” After a pause he added, “the e 935 looks cool on TV, too!”
But there’s much more to successful touring with high-profile artists than simply delivering hi-fi sound. Fanuele put things in perspective, “These guys are waking up at 7:00 am every day and heading down to the radio stations to do interviews. After that, they do phone interviews for a few hours. After a short lunch, it’s off to do more publicity, a photo shoot or public appearance. At the end of a long day, they show up for soundcheck and then deliver an hour-long, high-energy performance. They’re exhausting themselves eighteen hours a day.”
Fanuele also used Sennheiser mics on Bun E. Carlos’ drums, including an e 902 on bass and e 904s on toms and bottom snare, at Tinted Windows’ very first public performance – an unannounced warm-up show at a small club near their rehearsal space in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Perhaps someone was after their sound, because the next day, while Fanuele and the band were milling around their hotel lobby in Austin, a quick-handed thief made off with the bag containing all the Sennheiser mics – including the e 935 vocal mics!
“Sennheiser has always been there for me. Their global support – their support in general – is peerless,” said Fanuele. “At this point I have, on several occasions, contacted Sennheiser with a request, and the very next day someone shows up at the studio or the hotel lobby with the product. At some point you start to question it, ‘what did I do to deserve this royal treatment?’ Anyway, this circumstance was no exception. Sennheiser was right there with new mics so that the tour – including a number of television appearances – could go on as planned.”
ABOUT SENNHEISER Sennheiser is a world-leading manufacturer of microphones, headphones and wireless transmission systems. Established in 1945 in Wedemark, Germany, Sennheiser is now a global brand represented in 60 countries around the world with U.S. headquarters in Old Lyme, Connecticut. Sennheiser’s pioneering excellence in technology has rewarded the company with numerous awards and accolades including an Emmy, a Grammy, and the Scientific and Engineering Award of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
For more information, please visit www.sennheiserusa.com
PHOTO CAPTION Four top names from famous 90s bands team up to create “Tinted Windows” – a new super-group where all members are using Sennheiser evolution e 935 wired microphones. From left to right: James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins), Taylor Hanson (vocals, Hanson), Bun E. Carlos (drums, Cheap Trick), and Adam Schlesinger (bass, Fountains of Wayne). PHOTO CREDIT (c) 2009 AP Photo