Taking Back Sunday Twenty Interview
2019 marks the 20th anniversary of the forming of emo heavyweights Taking Back Sunday.
And, to celebrate, the band are recapping their finest moments with Twenty, a collection of all their biggest hits.
We spoke to frontman Adam Lazarra about why the band decided the time was to do a Greatest Hits collection, their extensive touring plans and the band’s future...
When did you decide that a ‘Greatest Hits’ collection was something you wanted to do?
“At first, I wasn’t too into the idea. I was worried it’d be looked at as a nostalgic thing, putting the band in the bracket of just looking back and we still have so much in us. I want us to keep moving forward. But we all talked about it and our manager put it in a new light, that it’s not a trip down memory lane, it’s a celebration of everything we’ve accomplished.”
How did you decide which tracks made the cut? Some pick themselves, but with others, there’s a bit more personal choice?
“We went back and forth a lot, just to make sure it was right. If I had my way, it would have been everything we’d ever done, but you can’t do that. We’re quite a democratic band and it took us a while, but we got to a tracklisting that everyone could get behind.”
The line-up of the band has changed over the years and there are tracks that the guys who are with you now haven’t played on. John Nolan and Shaun Cooper weren’t around for a long time and you’ve had a number of guitarists come and go.
How did that affect things? It must be harder to objective about your own songs?
“With John and Shaun coming back to the band, we knew there would be songs they’d have to learn that they hadn’t played on. They both did a great job of getting up to speed with those songs and it really breathed new life into those songs live, just because they’re different players. It’s never really been a sore point for us.”
In terms of what you’re doing live, your plans already look pretty extensive. What’s your set going to be like? At this point in your career, it must be basically a ‘Greatest Hits’ anyway?
“On this tour, we’re going to be doing two nights in a lot of cities. One of those nights we’ll play two of the records in full and then try as many other songs as we can. Then on the other night, we’ll play two different records and as many others as we can. If we’re only there for one night, we’ll flip a coin and we actually had these coins made…”
Your own coins?
“Yeah, it’s a really fun thing. We’ll use them before the show. We’ll play the first record and then the coin will help us decide whether to play the second or third record in full.”
Your guitarist Eddie Reyes left you in 2018, meaning you're now a four-piece rather than five, has that changed how you will set up your live show?
“We’ve had a buddy of ours, a guy named Nathan Cogan, he’s been an auxiliary player with us for about 10 years now. He was set up by our drummer with his keyboards and guitars and now we’ve brought him to the front of the stage. The sound hasn’t changed really. We’re tighter and more accurate now, it’s added to the live show.”
Obviously touring this will take up the bulk of your time, but have you had the chance to give much thought to the next record? Are you writing?
“It’s always ongoing. There are two new songs on this album and we came together to do them. Those two were picked from a pile of ideas we had. There are ideas kicking around, but two of us live in North Carolina and two of us live in New York. So we tend to hoard ideas until we can all come together and sift through it.”
But no studio time is booked...
“There’s no plan. But as we tour we will have a lot of time to bounce ideas off each other, but we haven’t got any plans to go into the studio.”
Are you able to write on tour? Plenty of bands we speak to just say it’s a no go and they can’t do it?
“We can work on things, but it is hard to get an idea fully realised on tour. We all have families now and you end up having one foot back at home and one foot where you are. There is a lot of down time though and we can talk through ideas.”
Are you booked to tour throughout this year?
“It’s pretty much all the way through 2019. Which is a big feat for us. We tend to work in three-month segments and we don’t plan too far ahead. So to be booked for the whole year is a nice feeling. We’ve spent the last 20 years flying by the seat of our pants and it’s nice to still be wanted.”
Taking Back Sunday’s new collection Twenty is out now.