Interview: Taking Back Sunday

Taking Back Sunday

We’ll start off with the dreaded question, how’d you get the name?

John: I suppose I’ll have to answer this one. Do you want the real answer or the fun answer?


John [Fake Answer]: It was a reference to a Smith’s single that was a b-side to “How Soon Is Now?”

Eddie: Taking Back Sunday is just a name that we came up with that was a song by a friend’s band. We used to go see them all the time but they broke up.

John: Derek from The Reunion Show was in the band.

What’s your song creation process?

Kent [Grade’s guitarist]: Basically I do their make-up and write all their songs, I’m the sixth member.

John: Usually one of us comes up with a riff and then we each write our own parts and then perfect them together. Once all the music is done, Adam and I go and take out our little emo notebooks and collaborate.

Sean: They write about their feelings.

John: Yeah, we express our feelings and cry together.

What are some of the things Victory is planning to promote the album?

Mark: They’re going a video that will be on MTV2 and Much Music, soon hopefully. There’s already a commercial on MTV2 that’s awesome.

John: They’ve done a lot of magazine ads and supposedly we’re going to have one in Spin, which would make me very happy.

Eddie: On the record I just want to say that John is a Douche Bag.

John: He’s just mad because I told some German interviewer that his name was Douche Bag and the guy believed me. It was only because he was yelling at me during the interview.

Did any other labels offer to sign you before Victory?

John: Yes.

Mark: None of them were nearly as serious as Victory though.

John: Triple Crown was interested in us for a little while but they didn’t really show any serious interest. Drive-Thru expressed some interest too. When it came to actually signing a deal, Victory was the only option. They were like “Let’s do this and let’s get you into the studio in two weeks and get your album out there.”

How have people responded to you so far on this tour?

Mark: Pretty damn good.

John: On this tour especially a lot of kids are out to see the other bands because we were added last minute so people might not even know we’re on the tour. Everyone seems to enjoy it though which is nice.

How has your music changed since the band formed and how do you think it will continue to change as you progress in your career?

John: It changed a lot in the beginning because obviously we had a different singer. Once we got this line up and Adam and I started writing the songs everything just came together. There used to be a lot of struggle but once the five of us came together everything just fell into place. [Begins talking in a Scottish accent] I liked what we were doing but I wasn’t totally happy with it and once we started doing it with this line up I liked everything a lot better.

If you had to pick a favorite song off the album, what would each of you pick?

John: That’s hard.

Eddie: Mine is “Great Romances [Of The 20th Century]” because it’s the first song that we wrote with the new line-up. So, I love that song.

John: Mine would be “Cute Without The ‘E’ (Cut From The Team).”

Mark: “Timberwolves At New Jersey” is definitely my favorite song on the record.

Sean: Mine’s “There’s No ‘I’ In Team.”

John [Impersonating Adam]: Yeah, um, my favorite song is, uh, “Cut From The Team.”

Eddie: No, no, no. I’ll do an Adam. [Impersonating Adam]. My…my…my…my favorite song is…uh…uh…”Cut From The Team.”

Why did you guys choose to use lyrics from a Brand New song (“Seventy Times 7”) in “There’s No ‘I’ In Team”?

John: Well, it’s a long story. Basically the story behind that is a situation, which involved myself and Jesse from Brand New. While the songs were released at different times, they were both written around the same time about the same situation. Both songs are directly related “Seventy Times 7” is Jesse’s point of view and “There’s No ‘I’ In Team” is mine. They’re not necessarily opposing points of view, just from our personal perspective. The words “best friends means friends forever” from “Seventy Times 7” was originally from our song so then we took the line from their song. It was a little devious on our part, I’d admit. We all think Brand New is an awesome band and we love them, it was a personal situation between me and Jesse and the songs just happened to result from it.

Have you guys ever had any studio mishaps?

Eddie: We showed up to record without a drum set! The studio is like “You have no fucking drum set?” We figured they would have one because the places we had recorded before did.

Mark: I show up to the studio with no drum set, no sticks, no cymbals, nothing.

John: Then Tim [Gilles] was like [Impersonates Tim Gilles] “No major studio in America has their own set. You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me you douche bags.”

Eddie [Impersonating Tim Gilles]: Fucking douche bags!

What’s the significance on EXIT 152 (look on the album artwork)?

John: That’s an exit in North Carolina, that was all Adam.

Mark: A really good friend of ours named Emily lives in North Carolina.

John: There was a place where Adam lived that was about an hour away and that was the half-way point and they would always kinda stop there and meet up. They’d just get food or get gas there. It’s not extremely significant but it’s just a nice little place.

Make: Dude, let’s meet up and get some gas!

Tell us about the video for “Great Romances Of The 21st Century.”

Sean: Shot by a very good friend of ours named Christian Winters.

John: Works for Hi-Lo Films and he put up the money for it way before we were signed to Victory. It came out nicely and once we got signed we showed it to Victory and they loved it. He went back and re-edited it to the new version of the song and that’s the one you’ll see on MTV2.

Oklahoma Tim was telling me about a second video you’re planning to do…

John: Yeah, one for “Cute Without The ‘E’ (Cut From The Team”). That depends on how good we do. The video will be based on Fight Club and it’ll be absolutely amazing.

Are you guys ever going to re-record “Your Own Disaster”?

John: Definitely.

Mark: This time we’re gonna have real drums on it though. None of this drum machine shit.

John: Mark is very opposed to the drum machine on that. I think the drum machine sounded awesome on that song. Maybe we can use both next time. There has to be some kind of compromise. Linkin Park does it all the time so it has to be a good idea. Hopefully the next album we record will have a re-recorded version of the track on there. Based on the time and money constraints on this album, there was really no way for us to do it, so we decided to save it for next time.

What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to you guys while you were on the road?

John: Possibly Savannah, Georgia when the Legislative Branch of the government was at the club and then they all bought us drinks.

Mark: We staying in a stripper’s house once and I was in the shower and the stripper had diarrhea and kicked me out before I was done.

Sean: He’s just standing there in his boxer soaking wet and I just looked at him like “What the fuck are you doing?”

Mark: I was like “They kicked me out and they’re shitting in the bathroom.”

Eddie: There was the drunk guy in Mississippi in the cowboy hat who kept yelling “Yankees go home!” That was interesting.

John: This was all on the first tour we ever played. Let me tell you, this was the ghettoest tour ever.

Eddie: One time Adam came running down I-85 in his boxers in the rain because I locked him out of the tour bus, that was a lot of fun.

John: That was done out of boredom and for the amusement of everyone else in the van.

Being from Long Island, how did the events of September 11th affect your lives and did it have any effect on your music?

Mark: I can honestly say that it was the worst day ever, over 40 people from my town died.

John: For the most part we were all very blessed that no one really close to us died.

Eddie: I worked at a Deli and these two firemen that used to come in every morning and talk to me died. Luckily that was as close as it got, I don’t know what we’d do if we lost a family member.

Are there any up-and-coming bands that you think people need to watch out for?

Eddie: Northstar from Alabama.

Mark: Dearly Departed from Long Island.

John: The Good Will from Long Island. There are just so many bands. In New Jersey there’s a band called Armor For Sleep. A band called Coheed And Cambria out of upstate New York and they’re just amazing.

Eddie: The Getaway from Poughkeepsie, New York.

What CD is in each of your CD players right now?

Mark: The new Hatebreed.

John: Every week I have a new favorite album but this week it’s the new Hot Rod Circuit album. I have been playing the hell out of that album.

Eddie: New Hot Rod Circuit, new Piebald, new Coheed And Cambria. Oh, and Yanni.

How would you guys feel if one of your videos ended up on TRL?

Mark: I would think that was the best thing ever.

Eddie: I would join a gym and lose a couple pounds so I’d look good for our TRL appearance.

John: The way I feel, as long as the video was done the way we wanted it to be and we were happy with it, if it was on TRL then that is great. We would be thrilled.

Eddie: For a lot of people that’s a sell out thing, but a band isn’t selling out if people vote their video on there.

John: I mean Thursday could end up on TRL but you know it’ll be the same music so they’re not selling out. As long as you’re not compromising your self then who cares how successful you are?

Who’s idea was it originally to have Michelle (John’s sister, Adam’s girlfriend) sing on some songs?

John: I think it was my idea because that was before Adam and her were together. I think we were just in the studio and we were recording the vocals to “Bike Scene” and I just asked her if she wanted to go in and try some because I knew she had an amazing voice.

Eddie: It was a blessing.

Mark: My mom thinks that she should be the real singer.

John: Basically his mom thinks me and Adam should never sing anything ever. She’s like [Impersonates Mark’s mom] “I hate when that gruffy, scratchy voice comes in.”

Mark: My mom’s like 55 what do you expect?

John [Still as Mark’s mom]: What’s he yelling about now?

Mark: On the next album I get to do some screams, John said it last night.

John: Yes I did. You know what we’re all gonna sing on the next album, it’s gonna be group vocals. We’ll be the next *NSYNC. We’re gonna be a boy band.

Mark: We’re doing a Menudo cover, Edie is one of the founding members of Menudo.

[Members of Grade walk into the bathroom that has no toilet and announce they’re going to pee in the sink.]

John: Are you getting all of this? I need to state for the record that Grade loves to pee in the sink.

These two questions are related. When did you guys decide to give your songs abstract titles and whose idea was it to have the lyrics written as a story and not just the lyrics?

John: I think Kent (from Grade) can answer that question best.

Kent [in the most feminine voice he could muster up]: I think that, um, the titles are more abstract because we’re really large fans of art. Um, it’s all about the paintings and the pictures.

John: About half the titles are just from sitting around late at night watching TV and if you watch the channel that shows everything that’s on TV (TV Guide Channel) you can still see Great Romances Of The 20th Century sometimes, it’s about couples in history.

Eddie: The sample from “Great Romances [Of The 20th Century]” is from the movie Beautiful Girls since everybody always asks.

John: As for the lyrics reading like a story, I think it gives a little something extra. Me and Adam had an idea originally to have some of the lyrics written like a play where one line is the boy and the next line is the girl. We’ve never discussed it as a band but it’s something we’ve always thought would be cool. Sometimes when you read the lyrics it’s a little boring and it’s more interesting this way.

Eddie: I would personally really like them to write a song about Spanish culture and the struggles of my people.

Tell me the best story you guys have about Oklahoma Tim.

John: I will tell you all about Tim. I grew up with Oklahoma Tim. I went to High School with him. He moved out to Oklahoma for God knows what reason, after High School. This is one of the best stories ever but I wasn’t there when it happened. One night he went out to a club he went out dancing and went out dancing on the dance floor. He starts break dancing but obviously he doesn’t know how to break dance because he’s just some kid from Long Island. So, he is break dancing and he jumps up and throws his arms into the air and just vomits right there on the dance floor. They threw him out right out of the club. Another good one is when he was in college. He went on Spring Break somewhere in the South. He was driving his car around in the middle of the afternoon. The beach he was at allows you to drive your car on the beach. He’s drunk off his ass speeding down the coast at like 60 miles per hour and his car was in the water so he is spraying it all over. Everyone is just diving out of his way. Then to top it off he gets pulled over by a cop and the guy let him off without a ticket! He was only 20 when it happened too, so he was underage. Tim just has a way of never getting in trouble. I can’t believe the guy has never ended up in jail.

Eddie: Tim is a very unique individual.

Finally, if you could say one thing to someone who hasn’t heard your music yet, what would it be?

Eddie: Just give it a chance.

John: If you don’t like us, listen to the CD a few times and then give it to your friend because maybe they’ll like us.

[Adam finally shows up at the end.]

Dude, we’ve been making fun of you for almost 45 minutes.

Adam: That’s totally cool because I probably deserve it.

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