“New” is supposed to be punctured with adjectives such as vibrant, fresh, and different. Some may call New Again a rebirth or a makeover, but as bassist Matt Rubano explains, its just Taking Back Sunday being themselves.
One thing that’s apparent on the new record is the energy is definitely similar to Tell All Your Friends. Was that how it was suppose to be related to your debut?
That’s interesting that you say that. It seems to be something that our fans are of mixed opinions about. To some it is a drastic departure, to others its back to the old sound. Its obviously a very subjective thing. New Again is not meant to be related to Tell All Your Friends in any way as for us, that would be going backwards. The “new” energy comes from having a revitalization of internal energy and excitement about creating music together. In addition, we have all been through significant experiences in our personal lives.
How did you guys determine what kind of sound you wanted to emit on New Again?
The mantra for writing New Again was “we will try anything”. We erased all the lines that we may have subconsciously worked inside of and stayed on the quest for a great song. We have all grown as musicians and writers and got to expand a lot on this album which is a natural thing for us. We don’t set out and say, “we’re going to make a _____ album or make it more _____”. We just go for it and use our instincts to decide what our new music will sound like. We became very empowered but the idea that it is up to us to decide what Taking Back Sunday sounds like and we will always be redefining what that is.
What kind of influence has your newest member Matt Fazzi had on the new material?
Matt brought a fearless inventiveness that spread to everyone else. Besides that, he is a tremendously talented multi-instrumentalist and one of my favorite human beings. We are all closer now than we have ever been. Spending time hanging out as a band is great and something that we haven’t done in a long time.
Did producers David Kahne and Matt Squire influence the heavier sound? What was it like working with them?
David and Matt are two very different types of producers. David is a very accomplished musician and producer who has worked with a who’s who of the music world from Fishbone to Paul McCartney. We wanted to work with David because he was really good at looking at us as we are and not how he thought we should be. He kept us focused, pushing the boundaries and making the songs special. We worked with Matt because there were two more songs we wanted to record for the record and David had already moved on to another project at that point. Matt gave us a different point of view but was also mostly concerned with making the songs great. Matt is closer to us in age while David has 30 years worth of experience on him so we got very different albeit valid perspectives on our music.
Is there a reason to why you guys switch producers for every record?
There are a few reasons, some as simple as the guy you want isn’t always available, or that you like a record that someone has done. Ultimately, besides working on the album together, we have learned lots of valuable lessons from the producers we have had the privilege of working with and used them to grow and develop. Its like having a music superhero join your band for a few months, then he leaves and goes back to his home planet bestowing upon you new super powers.
What artists and albums did you guys find yourself listening to a lot while making the album?
Personally, I don’t listen to much music at all while making an album. I like to really immerse myself in the songs. I certainly draw off my influences but I like to depart from them while writing and recording. I once thought I had come up with an incredible chord progression during the writing of Where You Want To Be and it turned out I had been listening to Muse’s Origin Of Symmetry too much and had stolen the chords from “New Born”.
One common theme that’s often overlooked is the soft yet raw Taking Back Sunday ballad on every record – “Ghost Man On Third”, “…Slowdance On The Inside”, “My Blue Heaven” and “Everything Must Go”. Is there a reason for the “theme” or is it an unconscious pattern?
Yeah there’s no conscious decision to write those kinds of songs. We just come up with lots of different kinds of songs and we feel that those kinds of songs give the album more of a dynamic.
Even with the new record, you guys still seem to be able to create insanely catchy songs; is it a skill that also seems to just happen or is it a TBS trademark?
To quote Popeye, “I ams what I am”. Our sensibility as a band is where the sound comes from. I feel like the sound of the band and Adam’s lyrics and melodies are where that comes from.
During the songwriting process, did everyone try to create music around the lyrics or was it the opposite? What was that like?
It varies. Most of the songs are music first and we shape the song together while Adam is working on his parts. Some of the songs were the other way around though, creating the band track around a vocal and chord progression that had already been written, for example “Where My Mouth Is”.
When fans hear the words “new Taking Back Sunday album”, they instantly pray for another TAYF. Will you guys ever make another record like that one?
It isn’t possible. That’s what people don’t realize. Not only is the band made up of different people now, but that was nearly 10 years ago. No artist in the world wants to be recreating works from their past. That is not the nature of creativity. We still play those songs live, but even if we wanted to do “another TAYF” it would probably be horrible. We are obviously aware of the connection that people have to that album but most of our fans have grown along with us over the years. I don’t dress like I did 10 years ago, I don’t listen to the same music, I don’t eat the same foods. We are proud of the way we have grown over the years and the way our fan base has grown with us.
Will you guys ever consider making a live album?
We are in the process of working on a Live From Bamboozle 09′ album. That show was our first tri-state show in a while. We closed our stage and 30,000 people stood out in the rain ALL day and night and made it and incredible show for us.
How does it feel to get out on the road and play shows as a new band?
Touring for us now is better than ever. We play music from all of our albums every night. We have a new energy on stage that our fans have been able to pick up on and that feels great because it means they are relating to what we are going through. The reactions to the new songs have been amazing and seem to grow and grow the longer we are on the road.
Do you have anything to say to fans who think you haven’t been the same since the first two records?
Like I said before, that is something that people are of mixed opinions on. I’ve heard it all, and really the best thing for us, is be Taking Back Sunday and concentrate on that. If we did what fans wanted us to do we would be chasing our tails because there is no way to please everyone. It is better to please ourselves with our music and use our instincts to do what we think is our music.