Taking Back Sunday lost out to 30 Seconds To Mars for the MTV2
award at the MTV Video Music Awards in New York, but they also talked about ...a Lifebeat benefit. Keywords: Tell All
Your Friends, Louder Now, Louder Now, Jared Leto, Adam Lazzara
Adam Lazzara vocals
Fred Mascherino guitar, vocals
Eddie Reyes guitar
Mark OConnell drum
Matt Rubano bass
From the high-octane drumming and blazing syncopated riffs that
rain down on "Whats It Feel Like to Be a Ghost" - the opening
track on Taking Back Sunday's latest CD Louder Now - it's clear that the
album's title couldn't be more fitting. Faster, darker and harder than
its 2004 predecessor, the best-selling Where You Want To Be - Louder Now
is the album that bottles the lightning that this powerful, melodic
hardcore band generates whenever they hit the stage.
"We love our first two albums (Where You Want To Be and the 2002
debut Tell All Your Friends), but we were always told that our live show
had more energy than the records," says guitarist-vocalist Fred
Mascherino. "Our intention with Louder Now was to capture that
energy. Keeping that in mind the whole time we made our record, we got
some really intense results." "It's the record we have always
wanted to make," declares lead singer Adam Lazzara. "We
brought in every element from every influence weve ever had. It
completes the spectrum."
Louder Now's intensity was propelled by producer Eric Valentine (Queens
Of The Stone Age, Third Eye Blind) pushing Taking Back Sunday to be
better at every turn. "Eric brings to the table the rare ability to
take a band thats been playing for years to an entirely higher
level," says Mascherino. "He is a master of his craft,"
adds Lazzara. "He hears and sees things that are nearly impossible
to notice being so close to the songs. He pushed us to edge of our
abilities and then a little further." The band members knew they
wanted to musically exceed their previous tracks, which were filled with
pop-tinged hardcore anthems. "It was important to us when recording
Louder Now that we give fans a full listening experience."
Mascherino says. "One of the ways we tried to accomplish that was
to experiment with new and different sounds for songs."
One example is the rollicking "Miami." The drum kit was set up
in the smallest room in the studio, giving Mark O'Connell's drumming a
tight '80s sound, complementing Matt Rubano's basslines and further
topped with Cure-like guitar tones, and a scorching guitar solo. The end
result is unlike anything the band has recorded to date.
The album's first single "MakeDamnSure" relies on classic
Taking Back Sunday Influence, with singer Adam Lazzara's yowling vocals
mixed with Eddie Reyes' and Mascherino's slashing guitars. The twin
guitar assault and emotional point/counterpoint lyrics are still the
lynchpin of their sound. The lyrics illuminate Louder Now's overall
themes of discontent and uncertainty. "A good example is 'Whats It
Feel Like To Be A Ghost?'" mentions Lazzara. "It touches on
feeling like an apparition no matter what it is I try or do or where I
find myself at any given moment. Simply being withdrawn to the point
where the line between what is and is not real gets blurred. The album
is about struggling to figure out where the hell we all fit in," he
adds. "It's like a pre pre-midlife crisis."
After releasing Where You Want To Be, the band played around "a
bazillion" shows, by Mascherino's reckoning ("You seriously
forget your address and home phone number"), including the 2004
Warped Tour, British rock festivals Reading and Leeds, and a sold-out
headlining tour. Things did not let up in 2005 when they did a
co-headlining arena tour of North America with Jimmy Eat World and
performed two sold-out shows in June at Britain's Milton Keynes National
Bowl with Green Day, each band playing to the biggest audiences of their
Continuously inspired during life on the road, Taking Back Sunday wrote
and recorded pieces of songs with gear stored on the bus. "It can
be damaging to live like thisbeing away from home," Mascherino
admits. "The space and distance affects us so much it even seeps
into the music. I feel like Louder Now is a much darker record than
Where You Want to Be, especially on tracks like 'Liar (It Takes One to
Know One).' The overall tone, mood, and lyrics give you a deeper
feeling." But Lazzara has come to feel more at home on the road.
"It's when I'm home that I start to feel like a stranger in my own
skin," he says, adding "but it's worth it. Being able to put
out records period, is a dream come true."
The relentless touring paid off with sold-out arena tours and delirious
fan support. Combined, Tell All Your Friends and Where You Want to Be
have scanned more than 1.4 million copies and the latter debuted at
Number Three on the Billboard Top 200, selling more than 163,000 copies
its first week of release in July 2004. It has sold over 700,000 copies
to date. Effusive praise in Rolling Stone, Spin, and Entertainment
Weekly soon followed, and Taking Back Sunday appeared on the cover of
Alternative Press for the third time.
They remained a staple on both MTV and Fuse; and in 2005, the band was
tapped to record a theme song for Reed Richards, the lead character for
the video game and hit movie Fantastic Four. "Error Operator"
appears in the game, on the films soundtrack and a revamped version is
also on Louder Now.
Determined to get their new album right, "we set out to create
something that we considered timeless," says Mascherino. "We
didn't want something that people would listen to in 10 years and say, 'Thats
from 2006 when all the records sounded like that.' We wanted people to
listen to it in 10 years and say, 'Hell, yeah, turn that up!"
Island's Taking Back Sunday. Drummer Mark O'Connnell, second
from left, grew up in Baldwin.
attending South Side High School, MarkO'Connell's heart always
belonged to music.
before graduating in 1999, O'Connell, who originally grew up in
Baldwin, was very involved in the local music scene, playing in local
hardcore outfits such as the Posers and Stone's Point. "Music was
my main thing," he said. "It was my main priority all the
Then, a week after graduating from high school, he was asked to join
Taking Back Sunday as its new drummer. "In high school, I always
wanted to do something with music," he said. "It was always
a question of would I be able to? I needed to find the right people to
do it with and be successful with it."
Since joining the group, after releasing a couple of self-released
demo albums, the group has released three major label albums - 2002's
Tell All Your Friends and 2004's Where You Want to Be, both on Victory
Records, and this spring's Louder Now, released by Warner Bros.
Records. It's been a steady road to success for the group, as both
Victory albums were gold records, and their recent foray seems to be
on the same path. Where You Want to Be hit #3 on the Billboard charts,
with the group outdoing themself on Louder Now, which reached #2.
O'Connell said the group's sound has changed over the years, but that
it's a gradual change that comes with age and experience. This change
in sound, though, is not significant enough to alienate the group's
fans; if anything, it just attracts more. "The production and the
sound [on Louder Now] is way better than first two," he said.
"But we're still the same band. We still write the same kind of
The group has also traveled all over the world, and has headlined Vans
Warped Tour, but this summer saw them headlining their first national
tour. They even made a stop at Nassau Coliseum. "We've moved
up," O'Connell said. "We used to play small tiny little
clubs all over the island, like Da Funky Phish [in Bay Shore,] the
Massapequa Bowling Alley and even basement shows. It's a really good
feeling to be able to [play at Nassau Coliseum now.]"
It hasn't been an entirely smooth road for the group, however. The
group went through several line-up changes. They lost bassist Jesse
Lacey, who went on to become the lead singer and guitarist for Long
Island group Brand New, in 2001, and after replacing him, they also
lost singer/guitarist John Nolan and Lacey's replacement, bassist
Shaun Cooper, in 2003. The two went on to form Straylight Run. From
there, there were many rumors of feuds between Taking Back Sunday,
Straylight Run and Brand New.
But it seems as though that's all over now, as the guys get older. In
fact, O'Connell said that Cooper is one of his best friends, and even
saw him recently. "We have no problem with anybody," he
said. "We're very happy with everybody's success and hope they
all get bigger. We've grown up. We're over all those problems."
Still, the group's future was in question when Nolan and Cooper left
the group after the release of Tell All Your Friends. "It was a
hit at first," O'Connell said. "It was an unexpected thing.
But we regrouped, thought of what do and [found replacements.] Right
away, we were very confident and knew we would be ok. We had our stuff
together and knew we would be fine."
They quickly found replacements, guitarist/vocalist Fred Mascherino
and bassist Matt Rubano, to make up what O'Connell says is the final
line-up. "I don't think its possible to have another
line-up," he said. "This has to be it." This version of
the group has been together for nearly four years now and has been
Now, as they prepare for yet another fall world tour that will take
them to Australia, Japan and all of Europe, the guys know not to let
the fame and success go to their head. "It's totally
unbelievable," O'Connell said. "No one expected what we have
now. We were at the [Video Music Awards] the other day and crazy stuff
like that. It's very surreal, but awesome.We don't take for granted at
After long stretches of touring, the group still loves coming home to
Long Island, where their musical roots are deeply entrenched.
O'Connell said he even keeps on
top of the scene and all the newer bands in it. "I still think of
us as being part of the Long Island scene," he said. "We
played those small shows for years and years, but I don't think we're
out of there. [Those fans] still listen to us. They're still a big
part of who we are, what we're about and what we will be in the
O'Connell added that while he grew up listening to punk rock music,
which is very different from the average Rockville Centre native, he
"love[s] living on Long Island."
"I'm happy I grew up in Rockville Centre," he said. "I
worked at Gino's and Paradiso's. I'm a Rockville Centre kid. That's
how I grew up."