Interview with Shaun Cooper from Taking Back Sunday: New Reliance

Maybe time apart was exactly what the doctor ordered in the case of Long Island’s Taking Back Sunday. To kick off the summer, the band released their fifth studio album, a self-titled release that also marked the new beginning for the original line-up on their Tell All Your Friends album. So how has the line-up that hasn’t been together for almost eight years doing? They’re having the time of their lives.

Back from a short run of radio tours after a five-week tour in support of the new album, bassist Shaun Cooper sounded relaxed and excited about everything that’s been going on. It’s as though the grueling tour schedule and new record for him, singer Adam Lazzara, guitarists Eddie Reyes and John Nolan and drummer Mark O’Connell had all been the band’s first. One actual first for the band will be an upcoming tour in South America, which Cooper is looking forward to alongside the long future he foresees for the band.

Also on the agenda for TBS during the holiday season, is spreading the word on their new poster, the proceeds of which will be going to charity. Something Cooper admits alongside talking about new music and the past year.

Is it more stressful being on the road during the holidays than any other time?

Not really. Fortunately, [over] the 10 years of touring, I’ve always been home for Christmas. My dad’s birthday is on Christmas, so it’s always been pretty important. But a lot of Thanksgivings were spent on the road. Like one time I had salmon in a crappy hotel restaurant in Wyoming, just passing through on tour.

How do you cope being on the road now that you all are married and have families?

It’s a lot easier than when we first started touring and not everyone had a cell phone. So it’s gotten much easier to stay in contact. I really like FaceTime and Skype. It’s great to see my wife’s face when I’m out on the road for like eight weeks straight.

What piece of technology is most welcomed on tour that wasn’t available eight years ago?

Wireless Internet connections were nowhere to be found when we first started touring. You may have been able to get dial-up or something at a hotel, someone had to plug it in their computer and then you had to take turns. I remember I had just gotten a cell phone when we first started touring and the bills were so expensive because there wasn’t the free long distance. So the iPhone is a wonderful invention and you can put all your music on it.

Looking back on the year, how has it been treating you?

It’s been fantastic. It was just crazy because we had to wait awhile for mixes of our record to come back and then every day felt like a month. When the record came out, it was all a crazy whirlwind. We started touring at the beginning of June and got home in early August on a Monday, I got married on a Friday and then left for a tour of Europe. We came home for about a week and a half and then started another five-week run and we’re just still recovering from that. It’s been great just being back together with the original Tell All Your Friends line-up of Taking Back Sunday. We’re just really enjoying each other’s company.

It seems every time I hear you guys talk about how it feels to be back together, it’s always so positive. Are you guys always happy then?

We are constantly bickering and making fun of each other, but we keep the mood light and address when someone’s acting like a jerk right away. Years ago we didn’t really know how to cope with that. Right now, Adam has a thing, if you’re having a bad day or someone is acting out of sorts, he’ll just sing them “Happy Birthday,” because it’s hard to stay mad at someone singing “Happy Birthday” to you.

Your new video for “You Got Me” just came out. Where did the idea come from and how did you decide who got to dance?

Well that was the beauty of it. We had all known Eddie was a fantastic dancer, literally. We all have enjoyed his dancing for years. It’s kind of his secret. Back before we even started touring, we’d go out to clubs on Long Island together and Eddie would be tearing up the dance floor. It was actually the brainchild of our tour manager, so once he brought up this idea, we were like ‘That’s a fantastic idea’ and I really liked it because I didn’t have to do too much, but Eddie is by far the best dancer of the band.

Your Holiday Charity Item this year is a live shot poster. Why did you decide on that?

We always try and do something different and last year was snow globes that we thought were cool as the whole ‘hell freezing over,’ because we’re back together. We liked the idea of the poster because we have some really good live shots that friends had and we picked the best one. We just try to do something interesting that people will like and can get behind it.

What is the most important charity to you?

It’s hard to say. We do a lot of stuff with cancer and we got involved with the USO, so we’re going to be expanding on that, which I think is a very important thing. We have a lot of friends who have fought in the wars overseas and are coming home, so anything we can do to help out those guys. We’ve been so fortunate that we have a chance to help out the men and women in the armed forces.

Is there any new music being worked on?

After the last tour, we spent three days writing and working out a bunch of new ideas. We’re always working on new ideas. We just started to get motivated again—we got the creative juices flowing. We were just so depleted towards the end of writing for the last record in the studio, so it’s nice to have that feeling again. I’m excited for what the future holds.

So there’s definitely a new album to come.

For sure. We want to do this till we’re a lot older and grayer than we already are. That’s the plan to do this as long as humanly possible.

Where do you see the sound going, will you be trying anything new?

We’re messing around with different time signatures, which can be a terrible mistake because none of us are classically trained at our instruments. We learned to play our instruments at like punk rock shows and basements and seedy dive bars around Long Island. So we’re trying to expand on what we do and still maintain that energy and that sense of urgency that we think the five of us have together.

When you got back together to write the new album, did you notice the guys doing anything new or different?

All around everyone has gotten better at playing and writing songs. The way we originally started writing was the five of us just be in a room together and kick around ideas. Now we have better way of communicating with each other and relying on each other instead of forcing each other to play something. A lot of times Eddie would be like ‘Listen, I know that’s the chord progression, I need to do my own thing over it.’ So instead of trying to force him to play one thing, he’ll go and do his own thing that’s way more cool and unique that any of us could imagine.

I remember you commenting that you wanted this album to be a traditional sounding rock album. What would you consider the top rock albums of all time?

I always get put on the spot with this and then I feel I can never think straight. Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys, Sgt. Pepper by The Beatles, Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen—there’s just so many great, influential records. …And Out Come The Wolves by Rancid—it’s a punk rock record, but I love that record, and I grew up on it.

With current music, what are you listening?

The Menzingers have a new record coming out and I just saw they put a new song up. I’m looking forward to listening to that, but I’ve been on the phone for a while today, so I haven’t been able to yet. Their last album, Chamberlain Waits, was just one of my favorite records of all time. Also, Dave Hause has a solo record and it just blows my mind and I think I’ve listened to that record probably more than any other record this year.

Are you making any resolutions for the New Year?

No, I tend to stay away from any form of resolution. I just try to improve on a daily basis everything. I’m always bad at sticking to anything I’ve ever tried over the last decade or so. It’s just a constant quest for self-improvement.


Taking Back Sunday will perform at the Paramount Theater in Huntington, NY, on Dec. 27, House Of Blues in Atlantic City on Dec. 29 and Crocodile Rock in Allentown, PA, on Dec. 30. For more information, go to