How did you know it was the right time to graduate to a major label?
We wanted to keep growing as a band. An example is that we wanted to use Eric Valentine (Queens Of The Stone Age, Third Eye Blind) as our producer for the last record, but we couldn’t get him. He was our first choice for this album and we got to use him. God bless the man, he is a genius. And he is the son of a rocket scientist, and he is a funny, brilliant guy that plays every instrument really well and knows how to make a loud, loud record.
Why was making a loud record such a priority for Taking Back Sunday?
It just felt like the right thing to do. That was the challenge we put on ourselves, to make the craziest rock record that we can.
How did you guys rebound from losing members with such relative ease?
Well, if you think about it, we could have just as easily failed as succeeded. We could have come out with a record that everyone hated. It was a lot to pull off for all five of us. We could have given up and buried our heads in the sand and gone away. But we said no to that, we knew we could do this, and I feel especially happy that we did, especially after this new record, because of how it came out. I’ve been comparing the record to the other albums and I feel like Tell All Your Friends had so many kids connect with it, because the band had a unified vision and they had been playing together and they knew what they wanted and they pulled it off.
On the second record, we all brought what we had to the table but we didn’t spend as much time playing together in order to do exactly what we wanted because some of us were new. But now, we’ve been playing together for three years and we know each other’s playing. We know what we want and don’t want. This record is the full vision of this lineup becoming a band. That’s a big deal to us.
What’s new? What’s different about Louder Now? Did you crank the amps?
For one thing, the album is appropriately titled, because from the very start, it’s a full on rock record. The song ‘What’s It Feel Like To Be A Ghost’ is total rock. It just charges forward. It never lets up and fully rocks the entire time. The record is much like that. It’s a very intense record. Some songs will surprise people, like ‘Liar (It Takes One To Know One)’ and ‘Spin,’ which are the fastest songs the band has ever played.
Mark, our drummer, has worked his ass off this year and he plays better than he ever has, and he rips it on this new record. It’s kind of like ‘The Union’ from the last album. The song ‘Spin’ is this album’s ‘The Union,’ but on steroids. We threw on as much rock as we could fit. The song ‘Miami’ was totally produced differently than anything in our genre. We put the drums in the smallest room in the studio and that gave it an ’80s, tight sound, not a ‘big room’ sound. For the guitars on the choruses, we wanted it to sound as much like The Cure as possible, so it’s all clean guitars. [Writer’s Note: It definitely sounds like The Cure.] It’s different for us. Adam’s lyrics, though, are still very much like us.
I agree, the record rocks and has some of the loudest, rowdiest TBS songs I’ve ever heard. You’re trying to steer clear of that ‘emo’ tag, huh?
That genre is going to fade away and those bands will fade too, and we wanted to do new stuff to grow and go beyond our genre and the way you do that is by writing good songs. You can have the sound, but you have to have the songs underneath, and that is what makes you last. We spent a long time writing and recording this record because we knew what we needed to do and we wanted to be happy with it.
You’re happy, but will the legions of TBS fans be happy?
Our hope is that the fans will grow along with us. We didn’t want to just come out with a new sound and get new fans and not keep our old fan. Not at all. We love the people who listen to our band and want to keep them with us forever. There is a song called ‘Make Damn Sure’ and it’s a classic Taking Back Sunday song. It sounds just like us, or so we feel. We want the fans to grow with us but we’re not going to take away what people like about us. We just want to add to what they already like! Some bands are crazy like that and hate the people who listen to our music. Not us. We love hanging out and meeting our fans after the shows. That’s always been our thing. The people who listen to us are the coolest people out there.
Give me a juicy piece of info about you or the band, something even your most psychotically obsessed fans won’t know.
We’re all down home, family guys. At the end of the summer, we had the Taking Back Sunday family picnic! Like the company picnic for the band! It was the five of us in my backyard and Eddie was cooking hot dogs and hamburgers. I have two little kids and Eddie just had a kid! So we’re dads! It’s crazy.
What are you most looking forward to about Bamboozle, the big New Jersey fest that you’re co-headlining?
Now that I have been living in New Jersey, I look forward to playing near my house at such a big show! It’s also fun to watch the other bands, too. Since we haven’t been on tour for the past year, we’ve been writing and I look forward to kicking off a big fest with a bunch of bands we’re friends with. It’s a nice way to get back into touring.