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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014

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In Music Commentary

After an extended break-up, the members of Taking Back Sunday are back together. (PHOTO: Phillip Graybill)

In Music Commentary

In addition to their new self-titled album, the band is touring worldwide and working on new music. (PHOTO: Phillip Graybill)

The members of Taking Back Sunday rejoin forces


It's been quite a long time since the original lineup of Taking Back Sunday was together, but for fans of the emo-alternative rock band, they have reunited and seem to have not missed a beat.

The band received a nice welcome into the music industry in 2002 with a gold-certified debut album called "Tell All Your Friends," but with the success came a rift in the band that led guitarist John Nolan and bassist Shaun Cooper to leave and begin working on solo music, starting another band called Straylight Run.

Without John and Shaun, the band would go on to release a second independent album that would get them another gold record and the opportunity to move from Victory Records to Warner Brothers. Their Warner Brothers debut would also achieve gold status and their follow-up to that album managed to do a respectable level of sales in a falling economy and amidst the further failing of record labels due to internet piracy.

Straylight Run was relatively popular in the underground but though they had a good following and good music, as a band they would never reach the commercial success that Taking Back Sunday had.

After the relationships of Taking Back Sunday began to sour once again, the end was potentially in sight for the group, but after an idea to bring the original lineup back together and old friends began reaching out to each other, the reformation of those present at the band's origin looked promising and entirely possible.

Nolan credits the maturation everyone underwent during the years apart.

"The biggest thing that changed is, because of the amount of time that's gone by and the different experiences we've all had, everybody is more mature, everybody is adults now. I think we know how to handle conflict better and we know how to talk to each other in a way that's I think more constructive and positive.

"When we reunited, one of the first things that we did when we all got back together is just sit down and hang out and talk. We were all together for about a week in a studio called Sonic Ranch in El Paso and we started writing and kind of getting things going for the first time down there. After that first night of talking, there were a lot of other nights that we all just kind of sat around and got things off our chest and just discussed things and really ever since then everything has been behind us."

That clearing of the air between former friends that could become friends anew also translated into their ability to tap back into the original chemistry they had with each other.

"I think there's a way that we work together when we make music and write, there's just a chemistry we have and the way we play off each other and bring things out in each other that is exactly the same as it was in the early days."

That chemistry was enriched and enhanced by enlisting Eric Valentine, the producer of Taking Back Sunday's arguably best album, "Louder Now," which helped the original lineup to match that magic on the new self-titled album.

"There's a natural chemistry between the five of us and then with Eric Valentine working with that, we really felt like it was the best possible scenario," says Nolan. "We'd like to continue to work with him on everything and hopefully we'll be able to, but there really was just something I think about the way we worked together, what he brought to what we did as a group that was just perfect."

With everybody back together and the producer they wanted on board, they felt this was the perfect time to release a self-titled project, signifying that this is a fresh start for everyone involved, Nolan explains.

"We felt that this was kind of a new start for the band and we also looked at this as a definitive album for the band; the sound, the record is Taking Back Sunday. I think this is a starting point of a new chapter in the band's history."

However, due to the bitterness of the break-up, Nolan admits that he stayed far away from the music that Taking Back Sunday was doing while he was focused on Straylight Run. So, when he rejoined the band and started digging into their catalog he was surprised by the diversity of their music.

"When I left the band I actually didn't really follow what they did. It was a bad split and I just did my best to just stay away from listening to what they were doing. And then, as the years went on and before we got back together, I started to listen a little more and then once we got back together then I really went back and listened. There's a lot of songs that I like a lot. They did a lot of really good stuff.

"It's a lot of material there to go through, there's some of it that I like more than others, but going back and listening after I was back in the band, I was surprised but a lot of the songs. They were a lot more diverse than I thought they would've been over the years. They've tried a lot more things than I realized that they tried stylistically."

As with any relationship that feels new, a fresh charge of energy is present within all of the acting parties and Nolan sees that translating to their stage show.

"Now that we're back together and playing live, I think that part of the chemistry that we have is that it translates into a greater energy in the live performance. It's interesting, I think that even with Adam, our singer, with this group of people I think there's a motivation and excitement that gets him kind of in this place where he takes more risks on stage, and is more animated and exciting to watch as a performer. I think that was something that the band was missing probably for a while, that level of excitement that's there now."

Even the songwriting process is back to how it used to be for Nolan and his bandmates, however the tension of who gets to sing what and the struggle over whose input is more important is gone.

"There's always been a working relationship that me and Adam have had that we work on all the songs together, the lyrics and melodies, and it kind of is the way it was then and the way it is now. It just really doesn't matter to me how much I end up singing on of what's been written. It's always kind of about what's going to be best for the song. There's like no tension with that whatsoever where maybe back in the day there was a little bit of the times where I believed I could have sung a part. But generally that's not been the way it works. There's something really nice about just letting go and letting things work out in the best way for the song."

There's even more good news for Taking Back Sunday fans worldwide as they continue to hit the road with their new energy-packed show: there could be some new music on the horizon, as Nolan and everybody else in TBS seems to be dedicated to it continuing to move forward.

"Right now the plan with Taking Back Sunday is to stay out on the road and touring as much as we can and hopefully the tours will keep coming. Hopefully in the winter, we're going to go to South America for the first time and tour down there and then after that we'll hopefully be coming back and doing some kind of touring back in America. And really, the idea is to keep going with that and then basically get right back into writing and recording the next record once the touring slows down. For me in that time, however the schedule works out, I'm always kind of still working on ideas for solo stuff and will probably play shows here and there when times allows. That's basically my plan, but Taking Back Sunday is the priority right now and hopefully it's going to keep being a priority. It's really just a matter of there being an opportunity for the band to keep going and doing things."

Taking Back Sunday plays the Eagle's Ballroom on Oct. 14 with The Maine and Bad Rabbits.


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