Alter The Press!


Interview: Taking Back Sunday - 19/04/09

Jon managed to sit down with Eddie Reyes and Matt Fazzi from Taking Back Sunday, prior to their headlining set at this years Give It A Name.

The guys spoke to Alter The Press about their fourth studio record 'New Again', what they have in store for the release, the transition of where the band are today, the departure of former guitarist Fred Mascherino, re-occuring themes on every record, the explanation behind why the band tend to not play older material and more.

We are pleased to present one of our most informative interviews to date.

Alter The Press: You're back in the UK just weeks before the release of your new record. The anticipation is very high!
Matt Fazzi: It's exciting and nervous at the same time. It's a good thing that people are so open to the band changing again. I think we managed to come up with a really cool record, and anyone who is willing to stick with us through the change is going to be stoked.

ATP: How does 'New Again' differ from 'Louder Now'?
Eddie Reyes: We took a chance on a lot of stuff. Fazzi is our new member who I guess pushed us to try new things.

MF: We tried some time signature stuff which is new for the band. I get to play a lot of jazz influence chords, that's pretty clear on the new record, which leaves a lot of space for Matt (Rubano - bassist) who has a lot of amazing bass parts that come out on the new record; like he has a little cool bass solo on 'Carpathia'. We've incorporated three part harmonies, and I feel like there are a lot of new elements to the band, but we've managed not to abandon things that made Taking Back Sunday what it is.

ATP: Adam (Lazarra - vocalist) said that the new record would sound like old Taking Back Sunday, like 'Tell All Your Friends' (debut LP).
ER: I think because at the time when 'Tell All Your Friends' came out we were trying to do something different and with this record we are trying to do something different again.

MF: I think the energy is the same but musically it isn't. When people hear the songs and expect to hear 'Tell All Your Friends', that's not the case; it's the excitement and energy, which hadn't really existed since the first record. We want to make that clear: it's the energy and excitement from 'Tell All Your Friends', not the music.

ER: You can't keep writing the same first record.

ATP: Where did the title 'New Again' originate from?
MF: It was a theme which kept representing itself throughout, since I joined, and through the recording process. It was a lot of rebirth for everyone individually; for their personal lives and for the band.

ER: It's about being alive again.

MF: The record sort of named itself about all things that were going on personally, musically and as a band.

ATP: What can we expect from the new record?
ER: Straight up balls rock, energy and good tunes.

MF: Like the first record, a lot of people will recognize we put a lot of time into the songs and were trying to write the best songs we could. We tried to do the best we could to push the band forward and the energy is a lot more organic. It's like this new song, 'Lonely, Lonely', which is two and half minutes long- that's straight, balls out, two and a half minute freight train song. It's got a lot of attitude and songs like that speak for where the band is.

ER: Personally, I think it's one of the heaviest records we've done. There is a lot of heavy shit on there and I'm really excited. There were a lot of weird chords that I had to learn how to play but I'm getting there.

MF: I think Adam lyrically on this record is more candid then anything in the past. He has a tendency to be very cryptic with his words but this time round it's very honest and blunt. I think it's the best lyrics he's ever done, part of that has to do with that he simplified them but, in a way, it's still his style. People will recognize where he's coming from, not having to sit there going through certain words and trying to figure what he is saying. It's more forward in a move universal way. It's still very much Adam.

ATP: What are your favorites from the record?
MF: I love 'Carpathia', I like the three part harmonies and it has a lot of attitude. There is a part of the second chorus where it has a really nice turn.

ER: I'm stuck between 'Everything Must Go' and 'Catholic Knees'.

ATP: 'Sink Into Me'; was there a reason why it was chosen for the first single?
MF: Mainly because it was the most kind of 'big exciting pop song' but also that we get to go through a lot of different time signatures. It was sort of more of picking a song that is going to be a bold statement, that people will be going, 'Whoa! Is that Taking Back Sunday?' and still be pumped on it. It was showing that the band is doing something a little bit different, and also has the energy to show people that we are still around.

ER: You can't get rid of us.

ATP: Who came up with the idea to give away the track 'Carpathia' with the Christmas holiday card-pack set?
ER: It was a pretty unanimous decision from the whole band.

MF: Before I joined, Taking Back Sunday was doing holiday cards for charity for the last few years and at the time, the song was ready to be put out. I love that song, it's also the same with 'Sink Into Me.' We wanted to make another statement with it and give the fans something to be stoked about. It's a nice introduction to what Taking Back Sunday is now and shows the change in the band.

ATP: What was it like recording without Fred Mascherino? (former lead guitarist
ER: It feels awesome; I love Fazzi and he's a really great guitar player. I don't feel the pressure and it feels like it just flows.

ATP: When you got in the studio, did it feel weird at all that he wasn't with you?
ER: Honestly, Fazzi and I just moved into Brooklyn together, we saw him walking up the block and honestly it felt like we just met up together after tour. I was worried about that, in a sense, that, I wasn't going to be able to find that groove with someone else. But when I called Fazzi up, and we got in the studio, it was all natural. It was five friends all stoked to do this record. I feel like I'm not under pressure to change who I am, and now I feel like I can be myself.

MF: I feel like our guitar sounds are so different that they compliment each other. In the simplest way, Eddie and I occupy frequency spaces that never clash with each other and it makes a nice relationship. I take a play of less distorted and richer chords and we make a nice space for each other that works well together.

ATP: Do you keep in contact?
ER: No.

ATP: How did it feel stepping in the place of Fred, Matt?
MF: I was nervous as the band has a lot of history and success. I wanted to come in and try to put my own spin on things, help the band move forward in some sort of way. Eddie and I have been friends for so long, the transition was so easy.

ER: I honestly believe the kids accepted him a lot faster than anybody else.

MF: The kids have been so great. The transition for me joining, the writing process, living together has all been positive and all love.

ATP: When playing live, is there a reason why you tend not to play a lot of old material, including fan favorites?
ER: Honestly, I would love to, but I don't even know how to play those songs anymore. I sat at my house before this tour with my iPod listening to every single song but it came to a point where I said, 'I don't want to play Timberwolves At New Jersey anymore'. We were thinking of bringing that song back, but there are some songs we want to put away when they are done. One day we will start playing those songs again though. Adam lyrically feels like he is past that, in a mature way, so to him, singing, those songs are personal and they don't feel the same; they just don't have any feeling anymore.

ATP: You'll always be playing 'Cute Without The E' though for sure.
ER: Of course. That song made us who we are today. If it weren't for those songs, and the kids getting into it, we would be nothing.

ATP: It's amazing that still, till this date, you keep the re-occurring theme of the number '152' on every album.
ER: That meant a lot to us when we were this tiny little band. It was always the exit (Highway exit in the US) we got off at when we needed to eat, or sleep, to meet up with Adam's dad. It will always be important.

MF: The CD for the new album is going to be an odometer, and it's going to be on 152.

ATP: As well as running the same theme on every album, the album title will be mentioned in a song like, 'Tell All Your Friends' has the chorus for 'Cute Without The E'; 'Where You Want To Be' has 'Set Phasers To Stun' and 'Louder Now' has 'What It Feels Like To Be A Ghost'. Which song on the new record continues this?
MF: This time we have the title track, 'New Again'. We recognized the band had never had a title track and we felt that song spoke for where the band was musically. That's why it's the opening song and title track of the record.

ATP: How does it feel to be back on the road after all this time?
MF: Exciting, just because we spent so much time writing, recording and waiting for a release date from the label, it's so exciting to have the date. I'm so exciting to be touring places that I've never been to but the other guys have.

ER: I love touring but it's hard because I miss my kids.

ATP: Will 'Tell All Your Friends' be repressed on vinyl?
ER: No idea. I don't see any reason to touch it.

ATP: Will you be doing any special packages with the new album?
MF: Yes. It'll be released on vinyl but with the CD we will be doing a bunch of different packages. You can get just the CD with the 11 tracks, something else, or this car kit, where you get a mini version of the car seen in the artwork, a Taking Back Sunday member drivers licence, dice, air freshener and a few different options. I don't know what's happening with the vinyl, maybe a shirt or something else.

ER: We will do some 7"'s.

ATP: Are these all your ideas?
MF: Some of them are from our managers, some from us. It's collaborated because we are so busy with the music and they just ask us what we think of these different ideas and we tell them what we think.

ER: I really hope when bands keep doing this, it brings vinyl back.

MF: Vinyl will always survive.

ER: I'm buying a really expensive record player, which is perfect. You can hook it up to your computer as well. I need to start collecting more vinyl. When I was broke, I had to sell all of my vinyl, before we were signed, trying to pay rent.

ATP: How do you feel that eventually, because of how the state of the industry is, the new record will leak?
MF: It happens. You just have to hope it's as close to the record release as possible. It's inevitable and sucks. In reality, records leak before they come out. I hope people that love the band will download it, then support us by buying it when it comes out or by coming out to one of our shows.

ER: Personally, everyone downloads music, but like Fazzi said, if you respect the band enough, you would support them by buying the record. I always used to go down to the mall to the bootleg store and buy bootleg records, t-shirts but when the record came out I used to go and buy it.

ATP: What do you want people to take away from this record?
MF: I hope people will take the band seriously and people will recognize that Taking Back Sunday write good songs.

ER: There's this music genre we're associated with, with all these bands that have no soul, and we don't want to be lumped into that. I hope people can see how we've matured.

MF: There is so much fluff out in the world and bands imitating other bands. We just want to leave an impression, which is original to us.

ATP: When can we expect to see you back in the UK?
MF: We are back at the Sonisphere Festival and possibly late July. If not then, some headlining dates after that. Nothing is confirmed but it would be amazing to do Reading and Leeds Festival.

ATP: Anything else you would like to add?
MF: Pick up the record June 1st.

ER: Keep coming out to the shows and say hi to us.

'New Again' is released June 1st on Warner Bros.

Alter The Press!