In the Studio with Taking Back Sunday
How booze, Buddy Holly, and James Bond inspired first new album in seven years from original lineup.
Six months ago and seemingly out of nowhere, Long Island rockers Taking Back Sunday patched up old wounds and reformed their classic lineup, with estranged guitarist John Nolan and bassist Shaun Cooper joining the band for the first time in seven years. After returning to the stage over the summer, the band has headed into the studio to complete a new album, due for an early 2011 release.
“I feel there’s this undeniable chemistry between the five of us,” frontman Adam Lazzara tells SPIN from Hollywood, where the quintet is still recording. “I can hear it in the songs. There’s an excitement or momentum embedded in the music and that’s something.”
The bulk of these new tracks were written in an El Paso, Texas, studio earlier this year, not long after the fivesome that recorded the band’s influential 2002 debut, Tell All Your Friends, sat together in a room for the first time in years. “No one said anything for a while and then we started laughing at each other,” Lazzara recalls. “We just sat on the porch and were like, ‘Whoa, this is really happening.’ And later that night, we all got in a room and from the second everyone strapped on instruments, ideas came out, like they’d been waiting.”
The first new song they wrote together, a jam tentatively titled “Best Places to Be a Mom,” came together in about 20 minutes, says Lazzara. “We had quite a bit to drink, so we went to see if we could play the old songs, which just went terribly,” he says. “So instead we tried a new song [the band had been exchanging ideas via email] and this was the first song we played all the way through — normally, our stuff just doesn’t come together that quickly.”
Another new song, currently called “El Paso,” is, in Lazzara’s mind, “probably the heaviest rock song we’ve ever written.”
“Once we got done with it, we ended up listening to it 15 or 16 times in a row, and we were all kind of like, ‘Holy shit,'” he says. “When everybody’s like ‘Holy shit’ about something, you’re onto something. It’s a total motorcycle-raging-down-the-highway kind of song.”
On “Sad Savior,” Nolan’s loose, emotional guitar work resulted in a ’50s-style, Buddy Holly-esque riff that provides the song’s foundation — although it “gets real dirty” in the end, says Lazzara. “It’s something that we’ve never tried before, and I’m really proud of it,” the singer explains. “There’s a big thing I missed about John’s guitar playing, especially coupled with Eddie [Reyes]’s.”
Nolan also plays a major role in another new song, tentatively called “Money.” “It really has this James Bond, kind of spy/surf-y vibe,” says Lazzara. “It’s really fuzzy, and John has a really cool surf-y solo.”
Lazzara also talked about two more mellow songs that the band’s working on: “Don’t Lose Your Faith in Me,” which marries a “huge, punishing” chorus with a gentler verse, and feels like a “roller coaster” to the singer; and “You Were Right,” another tentatively titled song that began with Nolan writing on an acoustic guitar.
As for a title, the band’s leaning toward… Taking Back Sunday. “We haven’t had [a self-titled album], and going back to the original lineup, it seems appropriate,” Lazzara says. “But who knows by the end of the recording process.”
Reporting by Kevin O’Donnell