Name aside, Taking Back Sunday is really all about going back. Two years ago, the melodic hardcore band reunited with members John Nolan (guitar) and Shaun Cooper (bass), the same lineup that debuted Tell All Your Friends in 2002.
Last year, they released an eponymous album to celebrate the real essence of Taking Back Sunday. (“Taking Back Sunday never really felt like Taking Back Sunday without the original five to me,” said drummer Mark O’Connell.) And this year, they’re playing the Vans Warped Tour again—but this time, headlining all the festival dates.
An interview with O’Connell and Cooper is full of “Auld Lang Syne” moments: They’re happy to go back on the Vans Warped Tour to hang out with old buddies, and they’re ever grateful that, despite the revolving cast of characters, their brand of catchy pop-rock songs has had a devoted following for over a decade.
Are you excited to be back on the Vans Warped Tour?
Shaun Cooper: Very excited! I like the camaraderie that comes from traveling with so many bands we’ve been friends with through the years. I also am a big fan of hot, steamy, stinky port-a-potties.
Mark O’Connell: One thing I like about the Warped Tour is being able to see bands that we have made friends with in the past, such as the Used and New Found Glory. It’s going to be a fun summer.
Shaun, you and John Nolan left the band around the time Taking Back Sunday was picking up. How easy (or hard) was it to get back together, make music and tour again?
Cooper: It was surprisingly easy. We just got in a room talked out our differences from the past then started writing songs again. It was cozy like putting on an old pair of granny panties.
O’Connell: Having them back in the band is the only reason that this band is still together. Being a member of Taking Back Sunday has never been more fun.
What brought about the personnel change?
Cooper: Well, John and I weren’t really doing anything and the band wasn’t really getting along I guess, so they asked us back. We all thought it was a splendid idea.
O’Connell: The band was (once again) going through a ton of personal and professional problems. I had remained friends with John and Shaun throughout the whole time they were out of the band. With the right timing in people’s lives, everybody agreed that having John and Shaun back was the right decision for everyone
Who are your favorite bands on the Warped Tour lineup now?
Cooper: All our old friends like Bayside, New Found Glory, the Used and Four Year Strong.
O’Connell: New Found Glory and the Used. We have toured with both those bands throughout the years. Good bands and people to be around.
Did you guys ever imagine you’d be around and making music for this long?
Cooper: NEVER! I really thought we’d release Tell All Your Friends tour through the summer (of 2002) then I’d go back to school and get a real job. This summer marks the 11th year we’ve been on the road. It is unbelievable.
O’Connell: I don’t think any of us thought about the future of the band or us getting older when we were younger. All of a sudden I remember thinking, “Hey, we’ve been around for a long time now.” We are truly blessed to still be a band making music and playing shows.
Are you working on new songs?
Cooper: Yes. We are constantly working on new ideas and demoing songs. We like to be as productive as we can.
Which pop songs are your guilty pleasures? (Like, say, “Call Me Maybe.”) Would you ever cover a pop song?
Cooper: I don’t feel guilty about any of them but I like old school pop hits like Avril Lavigne‘s “Complicated” and Kelly Clarkson‘s “Since You’ve Been Gone.” I feel like covering pop songs has been done to death, but it works pretty great as a quick attention grab especially if it’s a crappy song.
Adam [Lazzara, lead singer] and John have covered Kanye West’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothin’” but that is a great freakin’ song. It was done as an ode, not a “Look at me we’re covering this piece of shit pop song!”
O’Connell: I definitely like listening to some pop music. I can’t say that I really enjoy pop songs that are coming out as of right now. I’m a 31-year-old man, it would be creepy if I was into Katy Perry songs. But there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a catchy little ditty. As for us covering one, I can’t see that happening in the near future unless it was a classic.
Cooper: All old school bands who used to play, like Rancid, Bouncing Souls, Bad Religion, NOFX, The Lawrence Arms, Barry Manilow….
O’Connell: Rancid, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Descendents, Paul Simon, the Beatles, Social Distortion, the Pogues, Screeching Weasel, the Who, Led Zeppelin, Taking Back Sunday.
Can you share your five most memorable Warped Tour moments?
Cooper: We’ve only been on the tour for two days so this is tough:
1. Playing in Salt Lake City to an amazing crowd.
2. Playing in Denver to an amazing crowd.
3. Walking a mile uphill in sweltering heat with Adam for a booze run in Denver.
4. Eating pretty great catering with Mark and Hudson, our tour manager.
5. Hanging out on this bus for 20-plus hours en route to Vegas.
1. In 2004 Adam and I got the chance to meet Tim Armstrong.
2. In 1997 I played on the NY Warped show with a high school band I was in. It was very cool of Kevin to let us play.
3. Taking back Sunday’s second album Where You Want To Be came out while we were on the 2004 Warped Tour. It sold 163,000 albums the first week. I will never forget hearing that number and being confused. Ha-ha!
4. Playing Warped Tour?
5. Two members of NOFX coming on our bus for one of our parties. I’m a fan boy!
Planning on attending the Vans Warped Tour this year? Check out our Warped Tour archives.