INTERVIEW: Taking Back Sunday

“Base your opinions of us solely on what you actually think and feel about our music and don’t base it on what anybody tells you is good or bad about our band.”

Almost ten years later and the quote still stands. While TAKING BACK SUNDAY’S fifth studio effort isn’t identical to one of the Long Island outfit’s older releases, it still has the capability to be a record that changes a teenager’s life or inspires artists to create. After recently confessing about their history, vocalist Adam Lazzara opened up a bit more to us about the group’s self-titled release, the lost art of “the record” and why he, along with the band, won’t ever stop moving forward.

Which is more important: continuity and stability or change?

I think equal parts both. Too much of anything is a bad thing.
It is arguable you would want to maintain stability, and to do that you would have to have control collectively as a group. As that’s been an issue with the band over the course of several albums, how have the five of you resolved it over the past few months?

I think one of the biggest things, which is something that hasn’t happened with the band in a long time whether it be during a writing process or something like that, is that everyone seems to really trust the other person such as knowing where their strong points are. In a certain way we’re all really relying on one another, and that’s a really important thing to have.
And you’d say that now there’s a cohesive group again, everyone feels safe and comfortable being able to do that?

Yeah, and when you’re in that environment, and I know for me personally playing with these guys when you’re in there, you’ll be surprised at what you can do when everybody is behind you. I really think that aspect itself made for a great record this time.
Do the lyrics reflect the struggles and challenges you’ve faced?

Not so much stuff that we’ve faced as a group, but there’s a lot of things that we kind of dealt with individually that are starting to show on the record.

Each song is something unique within itself. If you just kind of look at the songs that are on there, is starts out with “El Paso”, which is the heaviest song we’ve ever written. The last song is called “Call Me In The Morning” which is more of a ballad-y, gentle song. I think it all just spans the spectrum.

Continuous learning is really important. If you get to a point where you stop learning, or get stagnant, that’s when you stop moving forward and I really don’t ever want to stop moving forward..”

Is there a specific part of the album that grabs you personally?

The thing is that each time I listen to the record it changes for me. There’s a song called “Sad Saviour” and every time that song would come on, I would always end up repeating it as soon as it was done. I couldn’t get enough. Now there’s another song called “Who Are You Anyway?”; it just changes every time I listen, depending on my mood or something. I’m not really sure…
Those in anticipation hope it will grab them in a way Tell All Your Friends did. Do you hope they see it, as you just described, to be a dynamic album that says something different each time you listen to it?

Yeah, my hope is people will have a similar experience when listening to it. I saw on the Internet recently that a bunch of people are expecting the sequel to Tell All Your Friends, but I honestly don’t think anybody really wants that (laughs). That’s something we as a band wouldn’t be able to do. Especially considering how much we’ve developed both as a band and individually over the past year. That album was a very specific time in all of our lives.
The record seems to be more detailed by the band as for example, you put the songs in a specific order. Does that mean you want people to view the album as a whole instead of just 11 tracks?

Yeah, we actually had this conversation as we were trying to figure out the sequencing of the album. The way that I’ve always looked at it as if it were an actual record, with a Side A and a Side B, then half-way through you have the song that concludes the first half of the record and then it starts back over again. When we were talking about it, we were trying to figure out if anybody still listens to albums like as a whole album.

I do, and I know the guys in the band do, but when you look at the trends with iTunes and stuff like that, you’ll find that there are certain people who just preview two or three songs and grab the ones that they’re familiar with. The rest of the songs on the album then end up falling through the cracks. That’s something we really hope wont happen with this record. We put each song in the order that it’s in because it’s meant to be listened to as a whole piece of work, not just like one song here and one song there kind of thing.
Going back to what you were saying before about the age of downloading, there’s new tools like the lovely “Shuffle” feature on the iPod. Do you think that sort of detracts from what you’re trying to create?

Well, in certain cases, yeah. It used to be that, at least I know for me, one of the best things about that whole process of buying a record – going to the store and all that – was finally getting home and being able to take it in. Maybe it’s just this nostalgic part of me that gets a little bummed knowing that people don’t do that anymore.

Even stuff like physical cover art – you’re not getting that from downloads.

There’s nothing you can hold. I remember getting the first Foo Fighters record. I was pretty young but I remember the way the paper felt, I remember the way the record felt. It was a big deal. Now it seems like the majority of the population doesn’t experience their music that way.
Do you think this puts more pressure on each song individually because its more of an experience with an individual song as opposed to the feel of the album and the sound of it from start to finish? Or is it still the same?

That’s actually a really interesting point. Because even if there’s certain songs that a listener won’t spend that much time with right now, you can go through and make sure that every song can stand on its own, as well as fit in with the rest of the songs on the album.
I guess there’s now more pressure to pack more into each three-and-a-half minute representation of your band.

Yeah, seriously (laughs).
As men and musicians, you’ve learned a lot of lessons. Is there anything you have yet to learn or hope to personally accomplish or understand?

Continuous learning is really important. If you get to a point where you stop learning, or get stagnant, that’s when you stop moving forward and I don’t ever want to stop moving forward. As far as specifically, I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head. I’ve found in my experience that whenever you learn something or have a revelation, I normally just tend to stumble across it.

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