Ten Years On: Taking Back Sunday - Tell All Your Friends
Ten years later and five albums now under their belts, we caught up with front man Adam Lazzara and bassist Shaun Cooper to take a retrospective look back at the band's career since the release of 'Tell All Your Friends' and what the future holds next for the Long Island five-piece.
Alter The Press: We're nearly at the 10 years mark since the release of 'Tell All Your Friends.' What comes to mind when looking back?
Adam Lazzara (vocals): We're just really lucky to still be able to do this. Back then, we were working crappy/nowhere jobs, and all we cared about was going on tour. To have things take off was pretty insane.
Shaun Cooper (bass): For me, and I say it a lot, but all I wanted was to have our record in stores. Just signing a deal with a record label and having that CD in a store, then we did that. We then started touring, said we'd do it for about a year, and then go back to college. Ten years later, we're still here. It's shocking. Like Adam said, we're lucky being able to do this. It's the best job ever.
ATP: If you could go back and change something about the record, what would you have done differently, and why?
Adam: This one piano intro to one of the songs. Originally John [Nolan, guitar/keys/vocals], played it real slow and real haunting. Then somewhere in post-production, they sped it up to match the tempo of the song; so it sounds like this crazy classical piece. I'm pretty unhappy with that.
Shaun: There are so many things we could think about; if we did the record to a click-track, that probably would have been a smart thing, and made things easier. But Mark [O'Connell] had never done that before, and the producer was like, "We shouldn't try that now!", so we didn't do it, and Mark was apparently able to adapt to it easily when he first tried. But, I think there's a certain energy the record has, although it sounds sloppy as hell. There's a special thing because there's no click-track, it's wild and sloppy mess. I think about those things in hindsight but I wouldn't change anything except for that piano part.
ATP: Do you regret signing with Victory from the get go?
Adam: No. They did a lot of great stuff for us, although there were times when they made it very frustrating.
Shaun: You get that with every label too. We were so lucky Thursday were doing such great things, that Victory were able to piggyback us onto them; they were able to test the water by doing all these different kinds of things, like when they did those MTV2 commercials. I didn't even have that channel when it started, it was added to my cable as Thursday was blowing up and I'd see them on it. I remember when recording 'TAYF’ saying, "I'd like to be where these guys are, that'd be the coolest thing ever!" Victory were able to test the water with all those things, and use them to great effect with us. No regrets there. I don't think we would have gotten as big as we did, as quickly, on any other label; and I think we needed to as we imploded so quickly.
ATP: The album formed fan favorite singles, 'Cute Without The E', 'You're So Last Summer' and 'Timberwolves Over New Jersey'. What do these songs mean to you now when playing them?
Adam: The thing with 'Cute Without The E', when looking back, you can really tell our age then, like it really blares through all those songs really loud. I feel like now, it's more everyone else's song, than ours.
ATP: Adam, for years you vowed to never play 'There's No 'I' In Team' ever again. What made you cave-in and reintroduce it to the live show?
Adam: Just with John and Shaun coming back, a lot of the past being in the past, and people asking at the shows to play it and I always said no. The time just felt right and it's the same really with 'Cute Without The E', it's really the fans' song now.
ATP: When was the last time you listened to 'TAYF' cover-to-cover?
Adam: We played it cover-to-cover at Bamboozle 2010 if that counts, but I don't remember the last time I just sat down and listened to the whole thing.
Shaun: I think, when we were getting ready to tour again, I listened to the album so I could remember how to play the songs after seven years of not playing. That was the last time. June 2010.
ATP: What is your favorite Taking Back Sunday record and why?
Adam: 'Louder Now,' and of course the new one; but looking back, that time in my life, on every level, was an awesome time.
Shaun: Mine's the new one, but I think the next one is going to take it home. I have a good feeling. I'm very excited.
ATP: [To Shaun] What was your take on the musical direction the band went, after you left?
Shaun: I heard 'Where You Want To Be' when it first came out. I illegally downloaded it because I wanted to see how everything was going. I listened to it and that was that. I didn't hear 'Louder Now' until fairly recently, within the last three years or so. But I remember being in a bar when Taking Back Sunday was playing Jimmy Kimmel, and I heard 'MakeDamnSure' for the first time and I said, "They did it! That song is a hit!" It instantly clicked, and on 'Where You Want To Be', there was nothing on there that did that for me.
ATP: You must love playing that song live then.
Shaun: It's awesome. People really love that song and hearing the crowd sing those lyrics so loud, is great.
ATP: When you started Taking Back Sunday was there a goal you set out to accomplish, and do you think you achieved it?
Adam: Just wanting to have a record in the stores, which we did. We really weren't looking that far into the future, and I don't think a lot of people are at that age.
Shaun: I think the goals keep changing. After you get the record in the store, wanting to tour all the time, you fall ass backwards into this career. I just wanted to keep it going forever because we were at a good place and we're happy; that was my goal. I'd love to be a band like Bad Religion who are still doing it, older now and still great songwriters. That's the type of career I want, to follow Tom Petty or the Foo Fighters, bands like that. I don't think we'll be able to accomplish that until we're 55-60.
ATP: If you weren't in Taking Back Sunday, what would you be doing?
Adam: I don't know, hopefully making some kind of music or art, but I can't think of anything else.
Shaun: Probably something geeky with computers. That's what I went to college for, but I would need to go back as the technology has changed so much since the ten years we've been doing this.
ATP: What's kept the band going so strong since 1999?
Adam: Just everyone wanted it so bad.
Shaun: That's why John and I had to leave, we didn't have that same ambition at the time, but now things have changed. We're pretty likeminded again.
ATP: Do you have any plans to commemorate the release of 'TAYF'?
Adam: We've been kicking around some ideas, but haven't really solidified anything yet. We tend to do things really last minute, so probably a month before it comes up, we'll figure something out. There will be something.
ATP: At least a tweet!
Shaun: We might tweet "Happy birthday, Tell All Your Friends!"
ATP: What's planned for 2012?
Adam: Our first trip to South America.
Shaun: A good amount of touring, but we're still trying to figure out logistics.
ATP: Do you have plans to start recording a new album yet?
Adam: We have already demoed five new tunes, so the next chance we get, we'll do another round of writing. I know we'll have some time off in the spring, so I think a chunk of that will be writing, and when touring winds down towards the end of the year, we'll be in a place to go back into the studio.
ATP: Will the next one be with Warner Bros?
Adam: We'll see.
Shaun: This one was a separate deal with John and I coming back, so I don't know how many records that was for, but I think it was a "wait and see" kind of thing. We are definitely a Warner Bros band.
- Jon Ableson