Taking Back Sunday is looking more like Turning Back Sunday these days. After myriad personnel changes and growing discontent within the band, it was time for a fresh start. Now the Long Island natives, led by singer Adam Lazzara, have returned with a stripped-down self-titled album created by a lineup that had spent seven years apart.
Not long after Taking Back Sunday released its mighty 2002 full-length debut, Tell All Your Friends, guitarist John Nolan and bassist Shaun Cooper left and formed the more staid, Americana-based Straylight Run. But after two albums and a handful of EPs, the band broke up in late 2009, and free agents Nolan and Cooper were eventually invited to reteam with Lazzara and company.
"I think all of us felt reinvigorated," Cooper says. "We've had so many ups and downs separately that getting back together and feeling that energy again was a great thing. We all get along now, which is nice. [A decade ago], we were thrust into living like sardines in our van for two years straight, and that can really freak you out."
Taking Back Sunda
Taking Back Sunday: With Jason Mraz, MGMT, Cee-Lo Green, Neon Trees, Gregg Allman, and others as part of SunFest 2011. Thursday, April 28, through Sunday, May 1, at SunFest Grounds, Flagler Drive, West Palm Beach waterfront. Gates open at 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and noon Saturday and Sunday. Taking Back Sunday performs Friday, April 29, at 9:30 p.m. on SunFest's Bank of America stage. Adult passes cost $34 to $66; 561-659-5980; sunfest.com.
Band discussions began early last year, and the official re-formation was announced in April 2010. In the fall, Taking Back Sunday convened to record in Los Angeles and spent several months with studio wizard Eric Valentine, who produced 2006's Louder Now.
"Hopefully, it will be a phenomenal-sounding record," Cooper says. "We were pulling at least ten-hour days, as the days wore on for months and months and months. But we couldn't be happier with how it turned out."
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Set for release in late June, the album features one of the band's most explosive blasts, "El Paso." It also showcases "Faith (When I Let You Down)," a meticulously crafted pop-punk anthem. Cooper says the latter's lyrics and melodies were reworked about ten times by Lazzara and Nolan and owe a great debt to one of the group's favorite artists, Tom Petty.
"Adam and John have been really studying [Petty], and 'Faith' is a prime example. [He's] been so prolific over the past 40 years, and he keeps putting out great singles. That's the type of career we'd like to achieve."
On Taking Back Sunday's current tour, which includes Friday's performance at SunFest with pals Anberlin and Circa Survive, expect to hear songs from every era of the band's existence.
"If we all had our way, we'd just play the new songs," Cooper says. "We love them so much and we're so proud of them and we worked so hard. But we know a whole evening of new shit that they don't care about is not what people want to hear. We're not trying to fix what isn't broken."