There comes a point on the road as a band where there are a two options: to your left, you have all your past records and influences to take from; to your right, you can roll the die and see where it goes.
For Taking Back Sunday it was their seventh album that brought them to this crossroads: ‘Tidal Wave’ is their something new.
The title track is a dose of pitch perfect Americana: great on one hand, surprising on another – this is a new Taking Back Sunday, and one that would take some adjusting to.
“I guess for anybody who makes any kind of art, releasing it out into the world is always met with a lot of mixed emotions,” explains frontman Adam Lazzara. “You’re taking this thing and being like, ‘Hey, here’s this thing we made, I put all of myself into it and I hope you like this part of us’, and then we were really pleased, the response was really great.
“Another thing I think is really cool is that we released that song first and there’s no other song on the record that sounds like that. Hopefully for people, it’ll be exciting and something to look forward to, for everyone to hear the different dynamics on the record.”
He’s absolutely right. ‘Tidal Wave’ isn’t like the other songs on the album. They’re a mix of influences and styles that are a step away from the band’s usual territory, but the more you listen, the more you see Taking Back Sunday peeking through.
But why now? “For us, going into the writing process, we actually had mini conversations about that very same thing – we know of bands and different artists that by the time they get to their seventh record, they are pretty much set in what they do, the kind of songs they write and how they approach it.
“We had that on our minds, so any part or any song that we came up with, after it was written, we would sit back and listen to it and think, ‘If this is our typical approach, then how can we change it? How can we get it more in line with the things we are listening to or like the things that excite us outside of what people expect from the band?’ That was a lot of the moving force behind these new songs.”
“We wanted to make sure it wasn’t what people had come to expect,” Adam continues. “I think we were drawing from all of our influences over the years because as you grow, your musical tastes also grow. We were going from things we had been listening to for years, be it The Ramones or The Clash – which is very obvious from the track that we put out – and then anything from like that down to Steppenwolf or Joe Cocker or Pearl Jam or even different kinds of hip-hop.
“Rather than looking back at our own records and saying, ‘Well people like when we do this, let’s do that’, we wanted to make sure we were playing to our own full potential and acknowledging a lot of those influences that we had was the best place to start.
“If someone was to ask me what’s the best way to track the evolution of Taking Back Sunday as a band, I think the song ‘You Can’t Look Back’ is a great example – because there’s elements of the band that we have been in it but there’s also a lot of new ground that we haven’t really covered yet on it.”
When you leap into the unknown, a solid launching point is important; Taking Back Sunday have been around for many years, but it’s only now that they’ve hit three albums together with the same line-up. “It’s a funny thing to think we have been a band this long and to only now have made three consecutive records with the same line-up…” he muses. “But that helped a lot in terms of how comfortable everyone was with trying new things. It helped with each of us pushing one another to go as far as we could.”
The intention is clear: Taking Back Sunday are doing it for themselves as much as anyone. Their tastes, their talents and ambitions, it’s all on the table and being embraced to their max. “If I’m driving in the car, this is more in line with what I would put on to listen to. I think we were writing and playing for each other first and that just really made for a really strong finished product.”
It’s been a long road here with chops and changes in line-up aplenty. But they persevered. Taking Back Sunday have made it through from the noughties unscathed as a band. Why do they think they’ve stood so strongly in a scene where many around them fell to the wayside?
“Well we’re all very stubborn!” he laughs. “That helps. We also don’t really know how to do much else. I think that at the end of the day with all that – I think that we, each one of us, still has a whole lot more that we want to accomplish with music and there hasn’t come a point to where we thought, ‘Oh, we’re just done now.’ That’s what that I think has kept us going over the years.”
And it’s what will keep them going from here. There’s a fire under Taking Back Sunday – they’re pushing themselves to be the band they’d like themselves. They’ve got a lot to say, but as a final parting thought for their followers, it’s a simple one: “Well, as far as for people who are fans of our band, I’d like to say thank you and I hope that when they hear the new record they’re as happy with it as I am.”
Taking Back Sunday’s album ‘Tidal Wave’ is out 16th September.