Taking Back Sunday Is Crashing Down With Tidal Waves


Thirteen years ago, I was snooping around my sister’s bedroom. I wanted to be just like her, always in awe of the studded belts and crazy colored Adidas Sneakers she wore. When I spotted her bright blue iPod Nano she got for her birthday, I had the urge to look through her secret music collection. (Pretty sure I was still sporting my electric blue Sony Walkman with limited selection of U2 CDs my Dad insisted I buy.) I thumbed the iPod wheel, put in her earbuds and pressed play. “You’re So Last Summer” starts blaring by Taking Back Sunday from the Tell All Your Friends Album (2002). And I just remember Adam Lazzara’s vocals ripping through my pre-pubescent head, “Maybe I should hate you for this, never really did ever quite get that far.” The lyrics, matched with hardcore sound and pop components, has blessed my playlists ever since.

So you thought, “Thirteen years ago and they don’t have anything new out?” WRONG! They are crashing down with their 7th studio album,  Tidal Wave, on September 16. I got the opportunity to interview John Nolan, current guitarist and co-lead vocalist of Taking Back Sunday. We touched on the upcoming album, old quotes and a beef from the past!


Alyssa Cavallo (Motif): How has your sound grown the last couple of years?

John Nolan: [We didn’t] fall back on the standard choice, and [we] challenged ourselves for this album.

AC: Some people think your sound has gotten more of an Americana vibe.

JN: That’s probably true. Not something we made an effort to do.

AC: “Everyone was calling us an emo band, and for us we didn’t want to be that because in our minds, we were more than that. And we wanted to be more than that.” – Adam Lazzara (2006)

How do you feel about this quote, 10 years later?

JN: We feel the same way; go back to 2002 you will find similar quote. The emo scene, whatever that means, never really meant that much to us. We always kinda felt like we were doing our own thing. We played off and influenced each other, but ultimately we felt like we were our own band doing our our own thing and we never felt that connected to what people were describing as the emo scene.

AC: Any horror stories creating Tidal Wave?

JN: Horror stories? We committed to re-work songs at any point. There were times we were literally on our 8th version and it seemed like it was completely falling apart and worse than it was when we started. Fortunately we kept pushing and we always had a breakthrough. It’s part of the process, but it was not negative. But there were moments when it would get scary.

AC: Are there any songs with that same emotion tied to it?

JN: For the first song of the album, “Death Wolf,” we went thru multiple bridges. At one point, [there were] no drums, no anything, just strings sounds and all this pretty stuff happened, which is completely opposite of what it ended up being. Getting this bridge part right was probably a week of different attempts and approaches, and we finally had the breakthrough. The coolest parts of the album took a while to get there.

AC: Is there one person who writes or do you all write songs together?

JN: Usually one person has the basic idea for the song, like the guitar part. On this album, our drummer, Mark, would make these songs in Garage Band that were kind of electronic, but they were these cool looped songs. He would take them to the band and we would make them more organic. There’s always someone bringing an idea to the group. We hash it out as we’re recording. Somebody will have a vision and that person will take the reins and steer and someone else will step up.

AC: What is the influence behind Tidal Wave? Can you talk about the cover art?

JN: There are references in our songs to tidal waves. The cover image we really like; the picture was taken by Adam’s wife, Meesha, in Florida and it is of their son standing at the edge of the ocean. We really liked the image; it felt like a good fit. The picture is pretty calm and serene, and as if there’s something on the horizon. I like that.

AC: Can you name some musical idols that inspire?

JN: Everybody has different ones, and it’s part of what helps with the sound. Mark, I think you can hear it, but Keith Moon from The Who. I think he has been following that influence more and more the last couple of records. Adam is a big Tom Petty fan and that’s starting to show. For me, Pearl Jam and Nirvana got me started playing guitar. Those bands from the ‘90s stick with me as the most influential.

AC: Can I bring up something unusual? Can I make you a little uncomfortable?

JN: *giggles* Yeah, sure.

AC: Is there a fiery feud with you and the band Brand New?

JN: Noooo. That’s something people have fueled on their own for a very long time. I think it’s something people really want there to be more than it is. We don’t cross paths with them much; we ran into them here and there at festivals the past few years. The whole thing goes back to some songs from 2002, and there was actual fighting between bands and personal issues. We’re going back like 16 years…

AC: Didn’t Adam steal someone’s girlfriend?

JN: There are different versions of what happened. We talked about some of the realities of what happened, but nobody really cares. People want this big story that someone stole this person’s girlfriend. It was really much less than that.

AC: You have a tour coming up! See you at The Met?

JN: Yes we are there on October 1. It’s exciting to be on tour with the album out.

There you have it! Make sure you get your ears around Tidal Wave when it’s available on September 16; I can’t stop listening to “You Can’t Look Back,” a single from the album. Now that we’re done with iPods, you can stream all their music on Spotify (one innovation I’m glad for — iPhone 7 NOT so much) and it’s available for purchase on iTunes.