Taking Back Sunday on getting the band back together, their new album and the struggles of picking a setlist
Long Island pop-punk veterans Taking Back Sunday have always had somewhat of a revolving-door lineup, with only guitarist Eddie Reyes serving as the sole constant throughout their 18-year lifespan.
Hell, for a time there you could even buy official t-shirts from the band with “I USED TO BE IN TAKING BACK SUNDAY” written in big block letters across it. This added to the initial surprise, then, when guitarist John Nolan and bassist Shaun Cooper rejoined the band in 2010 and effectively re-established the quote-unquote 'classic' lineup of the band that recorded their seminal 2002 debut Tell All Your Friends. “I didn't see it coming at all,” confesses lead singer Adam Lazzara.
“It was a long-shot. It was the brainchild of our drummer, Mark [O'Connell]. We'd gotten to a point where things weren't working with the band, and something had to be done. Mark was like, 'We could make something work if we had these guys again.' Things snowballed from there, and I'm honestly glad that they did. One thing that we brought up in conversation, and here we are, years later, and I'm on the phone to Australia talking about it.” Including Tell All Your Friends, this Taking Back Sunday lineup have now recorded four studio albums. The most recent of these is Tidal Wave, the band's seventh overall, which came out in September of last year to a surprisingly strong critical reaction. The album, which many perceived to be a late-game curveball on account of its more straight-up and old-school rock approach, has settled well into the band's live show – something that is entirely satisfying to Lazzara after putting a lot on the line with writing the album.
“The reception has been really great,” he says. “You never know what to expect – you go into releasing new albums wary, wondering if people are going to be into it or not. Thankfully, it's been a lot of fun.
“We've been able to switch new songs in and out of the setlist, and they've all gotten such a great response. We've even been able to play Tidal Wave in full, which was pretty incredible. Personally, I really love the whole record; I'm really happy that people have gotten behind these songs and reacted to them in such a positive way when we're playing them live.” With seven albums to pick from, Lazzara knows all too well about the difficulty that comes with curating a show that takes in all aspects of the band's time together. Nevertheless, he and the band still resolve to balance it out to the best of their abilities. “We try and change it up as much as we can,” he says. “I do have to say, it's a good problem to have when you're trying to fit everything in. We're very lucky to be in this position, and we don't want to disappoint anyone. We've got a lot of room to play with, and a lot of songs to do it with; it's good to keep things interesting. Not just for the people that come to see us, but for us in the band as well.”
Taking Back Sunday are back in Australia and New Zealand for the first time in three years to tour in support of Tidal Wave, bringing along reunited fellow countrymen Acceptance along for the ride. It's the first time the two bands have toured together, although there has been some degree of crossover in the past. “It's funny – we've crossed paths with them a good few times over the years before they broke up,” says Lazzara.
“Christian [McAlhaney], their guitarist, ended up in Anberlin; so we ended up getting super close with him and the rest of the band. I didn't end up getting to meet the rest of the guys until we ended up playing together at a holiday show we put on in New Jersey. They're the sweetest guys. We're going to have to really step it up every night that we're playing with them – they're a really, really good live band.”
By David James Young
Taking Back Sunday will take over 170 Russell on Sunday March 19 and Tuesday March 21 with Acceptance and Endless Heights.