When Taking Back Sunday dropped Tell All Your Friends 15 years ago, few people realized they’d go on to become one of the biggest rock bands in the world. But even beyond their commercial and critical accolades, one of the band’s biggest successes has been remaining remarkably consistent. While many other groups from their original scene are reuniting or performing 10-year anniversary shows for their popular albums, Taking Back Sunday has continued to evolve as a band, dropping new records every two-to-three years — each one showing changes and expanding upon the one before.
With their seventh record — last year’s Tidal Wave — now as much a staple of their discography as classics like Where You Want to Be and Louder Now, singer Adam Lazzara and the rest of the guys in Taking Back Sunday are already looking ahead to the future with a performance at the big Strange '80s charity show at the Fonda Theater in Los Angeles this weekend, a pair of festivals after that and a summer tour booked with Every Time I Die.
Just weeks after returning from their most recent Australian tour (and the nonstop festival circuit), we chatted with the mic-swinging frontman about the upcoming shows, Taking Back Sunday’s evolution, and the key to keeping a band together while everyone else is breaking up.
PUREVOLUME: Taking Back Sunday is playing the Strange '80s charity concert this weekend with a lot of big names both in music and comedy. What’re you most looking forward to about that?
Adam Lazzara: For us, just looking at the lineup is pretty great. There’s Tenacious D and Weird Al, so just the opportunity to be on the bill with those two is great for us. They both have such a sense of comedy in their music that we’ve been following them for years — and Weird Al since we were kids — so those will be some highlights. But there’s also going to be some Goldfinger guys there, Sarah Silverman, and then the Fonda Theater is great. As much as we enjoy playing our own shows and all that, this is something that’s very out of the ordinary for us and unlike things we’ve done in the past. We’re definitely looking forward to it on that end too.
PV: How does it feel to see a lot of the bands who came up with Taking Back Sunday reuniting again while you guys have been together all along?
AL: It’s always great when we can see some friends doing what they love again. For us, it’s kind of a crazy thing to watch because we’ve been active ever since we started. It’s just nice to see some of those familiar faces around again.
PV: Alright, then what’s been the key to keeping a band together among all of the regular turmoil and chaos over the years?
AL: I think it’s just kind of blind perseverance and also that we don’t know how to do anything else. When we all started playing and made the decision that we wanted to try to make this our living, we put all of our eggs in that basket. It’s all we’ve wanted to do since we were kids, so the fact that we were able to do it and have been able to do it for this amount of time, I think that makes us some of the luckiest guys you’ll meet.
PV: When you look back on those early Taking Back Sunday records, do they still hold true for you or does it feel like looking at an outdated photo of yourself?
AL: It’s a strange mixture of both sides. There are things looking back where a lot of those songs have taken on a new life. Playing them over all these years as you’re growing, they start to take on a new meaning. It’s the same as anything you’d listen to in that as you get older, it might mean something different to you. For myself, the lyric writing is one of my main roles in the band, so it’s funny how things that were written however long ago — almost like when I was this completely different person — I can relate to now, just in a different way.
PV: How different is life in a band now that you have kids as opposed to back when you were pretty much a kid?
AL: It’s completely different. I would say now I appreciate it a lot more, and I can say that for the rest of the guys too. It’s easier to take it for granted when you’re younger and on this rollercoaster of touring and making records. Now, being able to look back on everything with a bird’s eye view, it helps us really appreciate where we are now.
PV: What’s it like to see the success and reunions of so many of the bands that came out of the same Long Island scene as Taking Back Sunday?
AL: There was just something in the water at that time, I guess. That was a lot of the reason I moved up there was because I had the opportunity to be a part of that. It’s nice to see those familiar faces, because coming from knowing these people for so long, you know just how bad they want it. To see it happening is pretty incredible.
PV: There probably aren’t too many crossover fans between Taking Back Sunday and Every Time I Die, but what do you think your upcoming tour together will be like?
AL: I think it’ll be really great. There’s something I really love about the juxtaposition between Taking Back Sunday and Every Time I Die. Bringing those two bands together for a tour seems like a really good fit, and it reminds me of our earlier days of touring where we’d play with anybody we could play with. I’m sure it’s the same thing for them. It’s just going to be a great time.