Taking Back Sunday is headed back to New Jersey for their annual holiday concerts at Starland Ballroom — and for the fourth year in a row, fans will have the opportunity to mingle with the band and enjoy some festivities before the Saturday show. Not only will there be an acoustic set, but there will also be a pop-up shop where local vendors will be selling some goodies, and a Santa to take selfies with. Portions of proceeds will go to charity — and the $10 ticket includes an exclusive poster. Getting a chance to spend time with the Taking Back Sunday guys and the money goes to a good cause? It doesn’t get more joyful than that!
I had the chance to speak with frontman Adam Lazzara ahead of the New Jersey shows and we talked all things holiday…and Tom Petty.
What are your plans this holiday season?
Well, we’ll be headed up northeast for the shows at Starland Ballroom on the 15th and 16th. Other than that, we have some family in D.C. and Connecticut, so we’ll kind of use that time around the shows to visit them also. That’s kind of the plan.
What are you hoping Santa brings you this year?
You know what, I haven’t really thought about it. [Laughs] To be honest, we put up all of our Christmas decorations pretty much the day after Halloween. But as far as this year, we’ve been so busy around this time that I haven’t even sat down to think, “Oh, what would I like for Christmas?”
Now you’re going to have to think about it.
Yeah [laughs], you’ve given me something to think about.
Good. So what’s the difference between Christmas in Long Island and Christmas in Charlotte?
One big difference between Christmas down here in the south and up there is, you’re more likely to get a white Christmas up there, or at least a cold one. Whereas here, I think it was the year before last, we were home for Christmas and it was like 72 degrees, and I was just so angry. I woke up and had on a sweater and a coat, all that stuff, and it kind of felt like spring. So that’s always disappointing. I like the weather to match the whole holiday season. Winter, I want it to be cold and get all bundled up. And that’s something that’s kind of hit-or-miss down here in North Carolina, but it’s pretty much guaranteed up there.
By the time you guys get here, it’ll probably be snowing.
I hope so. There was one year that there was snow and it was just the greatest thing. Of course we were worried that people weren’t going to make it to the show because of the weather, but everybody made it out and it was fun. It just feels a bit more magical, you know?
Especially for the kids.
Yeah, oh my God, they love it.
Speaking of kids, you’ve already raised two boys — but soon you’ll be the father to a little girl. How are you preparing for that?
I don’t know. For me, I’m still getting my head around it, just the fact that our family is going to be growing. I have a little niece and she lives around the corner, so I’m happy for her too because she’ll have someone to play with. She doesn’t always want to be all rough and tumble with all the boys around her. But yeah…I don’t even know what to expect or any of that.
Do you and your wife have any names picked out?
Yeah, there’s a few we’ve been kicking around but we haven’t really nailed any down. It kind of changes from day-to-day. Even with the boys, we didn’t even solidify it until a day or two before they were born. We kind of knew what we were leaning towards, but we didn’t make the decision until that last minute.
This year Taking Back Sunday will be hosting the fourth annual pop up shop and acoustic show before your holiday concerts. Since I’ve never gotten a chance to go, tell me what I’ve been missing out on.
It’s pretty great actually. Starland opens during the day and a lot of local vendors will come in and set up around the venue. It gets going in the early afternoon and everyone just comes and hangs out, and we just wander around. Then John and I do a little acoustic show. We figured out some Christmas songs that are pretty funny, you know, you can’t help it.
There was a video that someone tweeted to me of us playing last year and we were playing that song from How The Grinch Stole Christmas. You know, “You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch.” And we’re laughing as we’re playing it because it’s impossible to sing that song without laughing or smiling. It’s just a good time, real laid-back. We just meander around and take photos and hang out with everybody. Then they get everything cleared out and it just transitions back into a rock ‘n’ roll club, which is pretty cool to see, just how it goes from how it looks during the day to how it looks at night.
That’s great that you guys do that for the fans. I’m sure there are a lot of people who are pumped to meet you.
We’re just glad that people can make it out. It’s all for a really great cause. We’re just happy for the opportunity to be able to do it. This will be our fourth year in a row. I remember when we first did it and we were like, “We should make this a yearly thing,” kind of hoping it would work out. And now, seeing it happen every year, it’s been pretty great.
Portions of proceeds will benefit cancer charities. Are there specific charities that you donate to?
There are certain ones that we go through every year. It’s something that has affected all of us in the band, you know with our families, so it was just an easy thing to agree on when deciding where to donate.
I thought of you this year when Tom Petty passed away because the last time we spoke, you told me that he was your favorite musician. I also saw your tribute to him on Instagram. What was it about his music that influenced you?
For me, the thing with him has always been, he had this way of covering big topics and big feelings very, very simply. I think that’s one of the hardest things to do: tackle big issues very simply to where a lot of people could understand it and a lot of people could get on board with it. His songwriting was always very straightforward. His work ethic too, over the years.
There was that Running Down A Dream documentary. Just seeing that, and his interviews, reading about him growing up, he just had this amazing work ethic. He was one of those guys where they would get done recording and he would be back at his house just trying to write more. Just always writing. That’s something that I always try to be better at, so it’s just something I’ve always admired about him…I just love the guy and I’m always going to love him.
I follow Richard Marx on Twitter because he’s pretty funny and he put out the best tweet a couple days after Tom Petty had passed away, that he found some kind of comfort knowing that Tom Petty was out there, somewhere, writing and singing songs. And that’s just kind of the way I feel about it too. I remember we were going on a summer tour and that was when Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers were on their 40th anniversary tour. I was at home before our tour on the computer and on my phone checking our dates, and their dates, and I’d look at flights, trying to work that out but I never got a chance to go. I’m pretty bummed I missed it.
You should cover one of his songs at your Starland shows. That’s a great way to honor him.
In a lot of acoustic shows, we sing “You’re So Bad,” but maybe we can work a new one in. When we were rehearsing for the summer tour, we were playing “Maryjane’s Last Dance,” but it never made it to the live show. It was just a fun thing to do. We covered “You Wreck Me” for a compilation around the time of New Again. We rehearsed it two or three times, but I don’t know if we’ll play it in front of people. We’ll have to feel it out.
What was your favorite part of 2017, professionally and personally?
It’s crazy because the year just kind of flew by. That summer tour we did with Every Time I Die was just so much fun because we’ve been trying to do a tour with them for years and it finally came together. Modern Chemistry was on the first half and then on the second half it was All Get Out, and I love both those bands, so that was a really fun time. Just that whole summer. 2017 was a really good summer.
With the year ending, what’s your New Year’s resolution?
I haven’t even thought about it. Every year, my go-to is just to be better in…whatever. Try to be a better player, try to be a better dad, try to be a better singer, you know, just be better.
Lastly, what can fans expect from Taking Back Sunday in 2018?
We’ll be starting to work on some new stuff between touring and stuff, so hopefully we can just get out and play as much as we can. That’s what we like to do. And in between that, try to work out some new ideas and make some new music.
Check out Taking Back Sunday in Sayreville at Starland Ballroom on Dec. 15 and 16.