Interview: Taking Back Sunday

interview by james wright

With passion, emotion and conviction, Victory Records Taking Back Sunday have taken the emo/hardcore scene by storm. After releasing their debut, “Tell All Your Friends”, to rave reviews, it was a matter of months before the band has headlining tours and registering on Billboard’s Top 200.

Modern Fix managed to catch up with guitarist/vocalist John to talk with emo’s hottest band about life on the road, friends, family, Weezer and why it’s necessary to take it easy on the booze every once and a while, when you’re on the road.

James Wright: How did the band come together in the beginning?
John: In the beginning it was Ed our guitar player who started things up. He’s been in a lot of bands in the Long Island area over the years. So when he started this project, it was kind of a word of mouth thing that he was starting a band and some friends told me about it, which is how I tried out. In the beginning it was a totally different group than it is now, besides me and Ed. It was kind of trial and error with the people we’ve had in the band, until we ended up with who we have in the band now and we’ve been together for two years.

So in the beginning was it just friends coming together to jam?
Well, when we started we had the mindset that this was going to be a serious band and that we’d all be committed to it. That was also why we had so many line-up changes in the beginning, because we were always looking for people with that same mindset of, “This is what I wanna be doing for the rest of my life.” We made sure when putting this band together that they we’re just as committed to the band as we were.

Did you ever have any inclination that the record and band would blow up this big?
I never thought it would be this big. I knew once we got together with this line-up, that we were going to do well. I knew it was just a matter of time before we’d get picked up by a label and they’d put out our record. At that point though, my idea of doing well would have been selling 20,000 records for our debut. I never thought it would get as big as it has.

Well this year you’re on the main stage of the Warped tour.
Yea and all this happened in such a short period of time too. It’s barely been a year since our record’s been released and so much has happened, it’s crazy.

Do you ever get caught up in the fact that things are happening so quickly?
In a certain way I do cause at times it feels like it’s flying by, but then there is so much touring, that time seems to go by really slow as well. It’s just surreal to me, that’s the word I use to describe things.

It seems like relationships and women have inspired quite a bit of the lyrics on this record?
That would definitely be true. Well all the lyrics are a collaboration between Adam and myself, so a lot of the songs are a combination of both our experiences. Some of the songs deal with girls and others deal with friends, but most of the lyrics are just us putting into words what was going on with all the people in our lives at the time. That’s pretty much all it is.

So is it safe to assume that this record is kind of like a painting of where you were emotionally and as people at the time?
I would definitely say that. I think that just about anytime someone puts out a record, it’s kind of a snapshot of where they are emotionally at that time and that’s definitely true for us. A lot of the things that were said on the record aren’t necessarily there anymore, but at that time they were very much real to us because that’s what was going on.

Friends come up in the record quite a bit, I’m just wondering what it means to be a friend now for you, since you’re on the road so much?
It’s definitely harder to maintain friendships or relationships since we’re on the road as much as we are. Friendships especially because it’s so hard to keep in touch over the phone, which is usually what we have to do. When we get home from touring, there are so many people that you haven’t seen in such a long time and it’s almost like you have to prioritize your relationships. Since you’re at home for such a short time, you only get to spend time with the people that are really important to you because you don’t have time to spend with everyone. Girlfriends are another story, as it’s a very difficult situation for both parties. There are trust issues and things like that, that comes up quite often.

So are these things that will influence the way the next record comes out?
I’m sure they will. I think there’s going to be less songs about relationships and more songs about us stating opinions and ideas about what’s going on around us, as opposed to an emotional reaction. I think the next record will be a little bit more thoughtful, rather than emotional like this first record is.