Taking Back Sunday’s Adam Lazzara and John Nolan guide us through the making of their new album ‘152’, out now via Fantasy Records.
Plus, you still have time to pick up your exclusive cassette copy of the record along with a hand-signed art card from the band.
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Read Taking Back Sunday, ‘152’ | The Album Story below:
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Incredibly, it has been seven years since we last heard a new full-length record from Taking Back Sunday. A period of reflection and change for the whole planet, that time gave TBS the opportunity to hit the reset button and focus on what they really wanted to prioritize, musically.
“I think all of us came out the other side of the pandemic as somewhat changed people in probably different ways for all of us” says guitarist John Nolan. “I had never taken the time to really stop and think about myself and my life. Being forced to stop and then take stock of everything was really, in a lot of ways, a very positive thing.”
“We wouldn’t have taken a break like that on our own,” adds vocalist and frontman Adam Lazzara. “It forced us to just sit still and stay in one place and through that, we were able to get some distance. I feel like that distance was extremely helpful for us as a group, not only personally, between our relationships, but also just so we could take stock of where we had been and where we’d like to go.”
As they prepare to release ‘152’ into the world, Adam and John talk building back the band, finding the space they needed and writing, arguably, some of their finest and most accomplished music to date.
“As we’ve been fortunate enough to be around for the amount of time that we have, there’s a lot of people who have a preconceived notion of what Taking Back Sunday sounds like,” says Adam. “For us, it’s very difficult, or I know it is for me, to be just pigeon holed like that. We’re constantly growing, you know, both personally and musically or professionally. ‘152’ is kind of a leap forward for us because we approached it with this mindset of anything we do is going to sound like us because it’s the four of us playing. So let’s make something that represents not the people we were or the people we have been, but the people we are right now.”
Opener ‘Amphetamine Smiles’ immediately hits the listener with a softer, anthemic-vibe that builds up slowly into something heavier and more ferocious – an effective new element of the TBS sound that hasn’t been previously explored in great detail.
“We had a lot of back and forth when we were sequencing the record,” Adam explains. “But that one, just everyone agreed, this has to be the first song. I think about how that is executed, I’m just so proud of it, because it’s this explosion. I still think we’re coming out swinging, but there’s this extra tension that’s being built which makes it just so much more powerful.”
“I feel like Taking Back Sunday has had acoustic songs and rock songs and heavier, faster rock songs. But as far as I can remember, I don’t think we’ve ever had a song that’s a blend of everything, all in one song like that” adds John. “It’s something that we’ve never done before and I think that starting the record with that is a real statement. It gets your attention.”
First single ‘The One’ meanwhile wears its heart on its sleeve with a subtle, almost U2-esque build that carries the listener away on its chorus.
“We’re so close to all the songs you know, and then it’s oftentimes hard for us to choose things like that,” says Adam on how it came to be the first taster of the album for fans. “That’s one of the only times I think we’re open to suggestions. Before then, everybody leaves us alone.”
“I felt like in the writing process, that was one of the first songs that really clicked and felt like ‘Oh, hey, we’re onto something now’” adds John. “That’s how I remember it. I don’t know if that is true or not. But that also makes some sense as a first single.”
When recording sessions began, the band enlisted the help of producer Tushar Apte who they had first met when collaborating with DJ Steve Aoki on the song ‘Just Us Two’
“As we come from these two separate worlds, it’s kind of like we took our sensibilities and then mix that with Tushar’s sensibilities” Adam explains. “That’s the thing we’ve been looking for. He’s coming from more of like this electronic kind of pop world. And I mean, you know, we’re just a rock and roll band. So I like the combination and those two ingredients were both surprising and exactly what we needed.”
“He was someone who had no idea what our band was about or what we usually sound like” John adds. “I think almost every rock producer at this point, their approach is kind of like, ‘I’m going to bring what I see as my version of Taking Back Sunday’, you know, like ‘I’m going to bring my twist on what Taking Back Sunday does’. But they all come to it with this starting point, you know, and he didn’t have that. I don’t think he was really that interested in what Taking Back Sunday does. He’s interested in making good songs. And that was all he cared about, you know, and we really needed that.”
“I remember when Tushar was like, ‘I’ve never heard of you guys’”,Adam says. “And we’re like ‘Oh, yes, this what we’ve been waiting for.’”
Perhaps the most striking title in the tracklist is the cryptic and self-aware ‘New Music Friday’. How exactly did that strange moniker come to be?
“John just said one day ‘wouldn’t it be funny if we named a song new music Friday?’” Adam reveals.
“That was way before we had to actually solidify any of the names of the songs” John clarifies. “So it wasn’t till months and months later that we had to be like, ‘this is definitely going to be the name of the song’. And basically, I really wouldn’t let the joke go. We have to follow through on this.”
Lyrically, Adam often collates together a wider list of ideas, finding the correct place for them as the music reveals itself to the band within the studio environment.
“I would have things I had written over time and then if there’s something I really liked, I would just try to shove it in wherever I could. But with this one, I wanted to approach it more from an instinctual standpoint. The sounds that I was receiving then would dictate where the melody was going to go and what the subject matter would be. I feel that is tapping into the subconscious a bit more. There’s a lot, constantly, that my subconscious is trying to tell me, I’m just not listening. That seemed like it would be a way to have things coming from a real, genuine place, and then also feel extremely cohesive with what musically we were making.”
“On every one of our records, there’s been an Exit 152 or similar – we’ve used it a lot in our art over the years” Adam notes. “And what it represents to us is this secret thing with our friends. Not like an inside joke but along those lines. We’re out here chasing this thing; we’re missing birthdays, or missing milestones or missing holidays. And the hope was that, anytime they saw that, they would know that you’re a huge part of me and they are a huge part of us and no matter how far we get, please don’t forget that.”
“So for years, that was like an inside thing with us and our people. And I also feel like for years, we were trying really hard to get into other people’s world. All the songs, we’re all so close to it that we figured why not invite people into our place, you know? We figured ‘152’ would be the perfect way to do that and have it be this invitation. Because now it’s no longer between just us and our close friends or family. It’s us and everyone.”
“We had talked before about it being sort of a reintroduction to the band,” adds John. “The album does really feel like that. So it seems like self-titled would be very appropriate, you know, in that situation. But we already used up that idea a long time ago.”
A simple shot of the band members in matching suits, the ‘152’ artwork continues to push forward this idea of community spirit, the outfits almost acting like a uniform for a club they all belong to.
“We’ve actually been wearing the suits onstage since the summer,” says John. “Your view on that is very correct because that’s how we saw it too. That’s how we feel, you know, you can’t fuck with us. It’s also the first time we’ve ever had our pictures in the record, let alone on the cover. The way I saw it for a long time was, with the internet and all that stuff, there was all this mystery being pulled away from rock and roll. That’s one of the things that that was so attractive to me when I was younger about it. We’re always kind of trying to chase that. But in the same spirit of this reintroduction, we just figured it was fun. That was Mark’s idea. Early on, he’s like, ‘Yo, like, our faces have to be on the cover’. I remember originally going ‘absolutely not’. But then as time went on, and I’m hearing the way we’re all feeling about it collectively, he was right. Now was the time to do it.”
With fans having waited seven years since ‘Tidal Wave’, the anticipation for ‘152’ seems higher than any previous record from the band in recent memory.
“It’s crazy how time moves, man” says Adam. “I remember a conversation where I was getting upset. I was on the phone with John and I said ‘man, why is everybody lumping us in with this category with these other fucking bands. I hate this shit.’ And John’s like, you gotta calm down. Because we haven’t put anything out in a long time. So no one else knows what we’ve done yet. It’s just an exciting time, I can’t wait for people to be able to sit with what we’ve made, because I’m very proud of it.”
“We all are hoping that there are people who discover our band from this album,” adds John. “People who’ve never paid attention to us because they haven’t been interested or because they’re younger, and, you know, they don’t know much about us. I think that’s a really exciting prospect that there might be people that are hearing us for the first time because of this album.”