"The songs from this record leave you feeling naked" – hmv.com talks to Taking Back Sunday
As they prepare to release their new album Happiness Is, Taking Back Sunday's Adam Lazarra and John Nolan talk us through the album's long gestation, why this album is a much more personal record and how much they're enjoying things since their original line-up reunited in 2010.
Your new album Happiness Is comes out on Monday, are you nervous ahead of release? Or are you past feeling nervous at this stage of your career?
Adam (Lazarra, vocals): "We're so excited. And nervous. All at the same time. We just hope people like it as much as we do. The time leading up to a record is always the most nerve-wracking."
John (Nolan, guitar/vocals): "It doesn't really matter how many albums you release in your career, you still get nervous before a record comes out."
So when did you actually finish the album off?
Adam: "We finished recording a good while ago, but we spent a while on the sequencing and finishing it up, so maybe the end of October?"
John: "The recording's been done since the end of August, so we've been ready for a while."
When did you start the writing process for this album?
Adam: "Not long after our self-titled record came out, we all live in different part of the US, so we try and find a central location and work together. We'd get off tour, have a week at home and then meet up and write, so it was all written over the course of about two years."
You worked with two producers on the record? How did that work out?
Adam: "That's right, we did a stint with Marc Hudson, then we took a month off, and then we did the rest with Mike Sapone."
John: "I really enjoyed having the month off, it made a real difference to the recording. You can get lost in the making of a record and make confusing decisions about your direction, it was great to be able to step back."
Did you always plan to work with two different producers?
Adam: "No, it just worked out like that. We had done a round of demos at Hudson's place and then a round of demos at Sapone's so when it came to do the record we just thought we may as well do the record in the places where we made the demos."
John: "Before we did the demos, we thought we might get someone else into produce, but after we did them, we thought 'That was good, let's just do them here', so we did."
Adam: "We were a little bit worried that the record might not be cohesive, but now when I go back and listen, I can't tell who worked on what."
This is the second record you've made since Shaun (Cooper, bass guitar) and yourself John rejoined the band, how did it compare to the recording of your self-titled record?
Adam: "Last time out we were still feeling each other out, but after touring and spending all that time together our relationships got much stronger and it made writing this record that much easier."
John: "When you're playing live together, you get a much better sense of how to work with people, it made recording feel much more natural."
You did some anniversary shows for your debut record 'Tell All Your Friends' last year, did you capture anything from those shows that made it through to recording?
Adam: "No, that tour and the making of the record felt very much like two separate things, aside from playing live together more, which obviously helps how you work."
You've said that this record is a much more personal and direct album in terms of lyrics…
Adam: "I think so. It's a lot more literal than my past records. A lot of the songs get straight to the point, the songs from this record do leave you feeling a little more naked, but I think it's worth it."
How hard is it to pick your live setlist now?
Adam: "It's hard, we just try to play what we think people want to hear, but we can switch stuff in and out a lot."
John: "It's hard to find a balance between what we want to play, which is mainly newer stuff, and the stuff we know people want to hear, mainly older stuff. You can't go too far either way."
What's the plan for after the album comes out?
Adam: "We're solidifying it now, but a lot of touring. Hopefully we'll be back in the UK again, it didn't really work out on the last cycle, but we really want it to this time."
Taking Back Sunday's new album Happiness Is comes out on Monday (March 17th). You can check out the rest of their back catalogue here and preview the record by clicking on the icon on the right hand side of the page.