There aren’t many people in the emo music scene that don’t know the name Taking Back Sunday, unless you’ve been living under a rock! Taking Back Sunday have been heavyweights in the industry for 20 years now, and charismatic frontman Adam Lazzara gave us his time to talk about the bands history, and their upcoming tour of Australia.
As our interview begins Adam is catching up on some episodes of Saturday Night Live, which is full of “political fodder” at the moment as Adam put is, and I first asked him about the 20 Year Anniversary album that they’ve just announced. “I’m very excited, but I’m also in a bit of disbelief. It’s hard to imagine that that much times has passed.” Adam also says “It wasn’t until we were putting this together and deciding songs and going back through old videos and recordings and these keepsake boxes that I have at my house. To look back we get to really realise just how lucky we are.”
Taking Back Sunday are heading out on their 20th Anniversary Tour next year, and I asked Adam how he and his bandmates we’re feeling about it. “I’m excited to go around the world and to be kicking it off with you guys in Australia. To see this thing we started as kids and to still go around the world and celebrate together it’s pretty awesome.”
There’s also a 20th Anniversary album coming in January, and I asked how the tracklist was chosen. “It was pretty difficult because at first we’re like, let’s just put every song that we have out!” Pausing to chuckle, Adam continued on to say “we based it a lot around just through the years and playing songs that the crowd responded to the most. We started from there and then expanded a little bit.” I asked if there were any disagreements between the band on the tracks. “We didn’t so much argue, there were songs that we didn’t agree on, but we also managed to find some common ground.” Adam finished up the album talks with this. “We’re also doing a special release when you pre-order and it’s called artists picks and it’s everyone’s favourite songs that didn’t make the 20 song track list. It was a good way to find a compromise.”
Alongside the 18 tracks from TBS’ extensive back catalogue, there are two new tracks. One of these tracks in the tear jerker ‘A Song For Dan’ and I asked Adam about it. “That song Mark (O’Connell) our drummer wrote, and he over the years has got very good at sampling and things like that so a lot of the time when we’re travelling you’ll see him on his phone and he’s always working on stuff.” Going into more detail about the track, Adam went on to say “He’s been working on it since we started touring for ‘Tidal Wave’, so when it came time to write new songs for this record we were going back and forth and right when everyone heard that one it was an instant yes and then was just a matter of putting words to it.”
Taking Back Sunday are heading back to Australia in January, and I asked Adam if he was excited to be returning to our shores. “Yes, of course. We seem to be fortunate and every time we’re down there it’s the dead of winter here, and the middle of summer there so it’s kinda like we’re chasing this nice weather.” He also went on to say “For us anytime we get that phone call, it takes a minute to sort of process that we’re going to go all the way to the other side of the world and there’s people that feel the same way about the music as we do. We kinda wish we could come out there more often.”
TBS are headling Day 2 of Unify in January, and I asked Adam how they felt about being asked to take that headline spot. “We’re the luckiest guys you’ll ever meet and so that’s of proof of that. We’re still a little apprehensive and like ‘are you sure you’ve got the right guys’? Ever so humble! Whilst on their anniversary tour, TBS are planning on playing 2 albums in full, and I asked Adam how the setlist was going to be planned. “That we’re still working out, trying to work out the best way to do it. We’re learning and re-learning a lot of songs that we haven’t played in a very long time. Earlier today I was trying to relearn one of our acoustic songs. It’s funny how much muscle memory is involved, so we’ve been more focussed on that.” I then asked Adam if whilst re-learning some of the bands songs, he had had an ‘A-Ha!’ moment. “Almost every single one! There were some songs that I was like ‘I forget we even wrote this, I love this song! So that’s been nice too.”
Next, I asked Adam if he had any tour stories from the last 20 years of Taking Back Sunday. “For me the things that stand out most are our firsts, like the first time we came to Australia, or the first time we did a late night television show.” Was his initial answer, but he then told us this story of playing Soundwave Festival. “I think we were going to Sydney and there was a lot of cancelled flights, we finally got there and there was crazy traffic going to the festival and we literally got there and Sunny Day Real Estate’s playing, they’re one of my favourite bands, and were scrambling to set up all of our gear. We literally plugged the last amp in and played straight away. Mark’s parents were there on vacation and they were kinda waiting for us like where are they? They were meant to be here hours ago!”
Recently, an album was put out full of cover songs called ‘Songs That Saved My Life’. Taking Back Sunday contributed to this collection a cover of Bullet With Butterfly Wings by The Smashing Pumpkins, and I asked Adam why they chose that song. “We’re all kind of the same age, like I’m the youngest but we were all going through similar things and it was just a song that resonated with all of us. We wanted to do it justice as well, we didn’t want to just sort of dial in.” It’s a fantastic cover so if you haven’t heard it, do yourself a favour and have a listen.
I asked Adam next about his thoughts on being a band for 20 years. “It’s crazy that saying, time flies when you’re having fun. I’m just really proud of what we’ve accomplished. There’s so many bands that we came up with that aren’t playing anymore. Being in a position where you can play and write songs and still have people interested. We just feel really lucky.”
Finally, Adam left me with this message for Taking Back Sunday fans. “I just want them to know how grateful we are for them. One of my things with music, even before I was in the band, there was always this thing of bands and music that I love that helped me feel like I wasn’t alone in things I was going through. To think that we’ve done that for someone else and they’ve let us into their lives in that way, we could never thank them enough for that.”
Get your tickets to see Taking Back Sunday on their 20 Year Anniversary Tour HERE!