Back in late 2001, Taking Back Sunday's founding member Eddie Reyes could only imagine what his life would be like just 3 short years later. With new bass player Adam Lazzara moved up from North Carolina to sleep on his couch and share the Top Ramen, the world was theirs for the taking. After finalizing the initial line-up and moving Adam to lead vocals the band recorded a few demos and begged anyone and everyone to have a listen. A record deal with Victory Records followed after their demo circulated to an east coast rep of the label.
Their debut album recorded a few short months later, Taking Back Sunday's TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS hit stores at the end of March 2002. The album sold over 2,300 copies in it's first week after the band had barely done more than hit up the local Long Island touring circuit, played a few weeks with indie favorites Rival Schools and spent a few weeks as the opener on a multi-band packaging of the Victory Records tour.
From there it just started to pick up momentum. "We played our first shows in California and one was at a venue called Chain Reaction in Anaheim. We're suddenly 3,000 miles from home and there are like 150 kids singing all of the words to our songs. That was when it hit us. What could really happen," recalls Reyes.
Before they knew it, a sold out summer tour showed them and the indie label public the force they were about to become. Soon fans were singing along so fervently that it was sometimes hard to hear the stage sound. They continued touring and started getting dates and shows with more national acts, including Boxcar Racer, The Used and Jimmy Eat World. The cover of Alternative Press and features in Rolling Stone and Spin soon followed.
A spring 2003 headlining tour, aptly titled "The Takeover Tour" found the band selling out larger venues in places they had never been. Their show in Toronto, the first time ever in eastern Canada, was moved to the bigger Kool Haus venue and sold 2,300 tickets, selling the club out in advance. They were invited to join the 2003 Warped Tour and started booking television shows, their first European run, summer festivals, etc. Then, a slight change of plans took center stage. Two members decided to leave the band, leaving the future of Taking Back Sunday up in the air.
"I didn't know if Taking Back Sunday could go on," remembers drummer Mark O'Connell. After canceling most of their plans and leaving a dim unanswered feeling of despair over their rabid fan base, they got the call they needed. Fred Mascherino, a friend and member of one of the bands who opened some of the dates on their last tour was also an extremely skilled guitarist/vocalist and eagerly applied for the opening. Soon Mark's childhood friend and seasoned bass player Matt Rubano (best known for playing on multiple tracks on the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album) filled up the last vacant position and Taking Back Sunday was happy to announce that they would be replacing members and continuing on, quashing rumors of a possible break-up.
When asked now about the bump in the road, all answers certainly make what could have been the worst thing that happened to the band just the opposite. Rubano explains, "Not many bands make it through a line-up change, let alone on the heels of a huge debut and before their second record. Taking Back Sunday has not only survived but seems very strong." Guitarist Reyes adds "since getting Matt and Fred, and considering how easy everything has been with touring and making the second record, I honestly can't remember too much of the past."
After a few weeks of rehearsal the band hit up the last three shows of the Warped Tour to let their fans know they were back at it. They began writing new songs and making up some missed shows, including re-scheduling their network television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live that September. An appearance on Last Call with Carson Daly and a North American tour with Saves the Day in the Fall of 2003 allowed the quintet to see, feel and touch their fans from coast to coast and reassure them that the band was back. It also gave fans a taste of the new material. In December, after debuting one of their new songs on a third visit to Fuse TV's live audience show IMX, they locked themselves away and spent the next few months crafting what would become their highly anticipated and equally scrutinized sophomore effort.
Taking Back Sunday enlisted veteran producer Lou Giordano (Sugar, Goo Goo Dolls, Sunny Day Real Estate) to come in and take five valid musical opinions and craft them into one cohesive album. "The songs really are written by all five of us. They may start with a part or an idea but it's the five of us that make it the song it ends up being," states Fred. 'It's fantastic," recalls Lou "because they've grown so much and added such great musicianship, yet it's still very much Taking Back Sunday. I was honored to be a part of this record."
Recorded during most of March and April, the 11-song album, titled WHERE YOU WANT TO BE, was released on July 27th on Victory Records. Filled with their trademark dual vocals and hook-filled, guitar driven songs of love, hate, blame, greed and non-apologetic calling out, this album has already connect with their audience much in the same way as their debut which has already scanned over 400,000 copies. "We didn't quite know what we were going to come out of the studio with," remembered Adam. "The second we all heard it finished, I just can't describe the look on everyone's face...I can only explain it as shock; it was exactly what we wanted. I personally could not be happier to be a part of this record."
The tracks range from solid opener "Set Phasers To Stun," an urgent Police-like tune, to the hardcore finger-pointing song "The Union." Acoustic string-laden "New American Classic" showcases the level of songwriting capabilities combined with the softer singing voices of the two vocalists while "One-Eighty By Summer" showcases much of their vocal range and repeats the unanswerable question we all pose "Why can't you just be happy?" The albums' first single was chosen immediately by the band, which sees it as a song that reflects all sides of Taking Back Sunday, musically and lyrically. Aptly titled "A Decade Under The Influence," it's a biting number that starts out soft while telling an opposite tale, eventually confidently whispering and repeating the anthem "to hell with you and all your friends." Add in a few more expertly crafted pop sounding songs and the album is complete with the trademark Taking Back Sunday curves that sometimes come back around and sometimes leave you off a different road. "It would be next to impossible to play anyone half of the album and still get a sense of the entire thing. We all have different favorite songs, it's a great problem to have," recalls Mark. "There's a depth to this record that you always hope for when you start. Now that it's finished I hear more every time I listen" adds Fred.
With the often agonizing sophomore album complete and out of their hands, Adam, Matt, Eddie, Mark and Fred will not have much time to ponder its impact. "In 2004 we are not going to be home at all, and that's exactly what I want," states Adam. The band finished mixing just in time to start a month of May North American dates with Blink 182, finding time to make a stop at the HFStival in Washington, DC. Then they headed out for their first trip overseas to play the Donnington Download festival (with headliners Metallica) and then headline their own sold out shows including their virgin London gig in the legendary 2,000 capacity Astoria.
They returned from that to play KROCK-NY's Dysfunctional Family Picnic with the Beastie Boys, The Strokes and a bunch of others in the band's hometown backyard amphitheater, Jones Beach. "We're in surreal pretend land," exclaims Matt. With no rest in sight, they immediately flew to Texas to begin their run as one of the headliners on the 2004 Vans Warped Tour, and then back to the UK for a main stage stint on the infamous Reading and Leeds Carling weekend.
Prior to the albums' release, Taking Back Sunday released an album track titled "This Photograph is Proof (I Know You Know)" on the hugely successful Spider-man 2 Soundtrack. August 2004 found them on another Alternative Press cover, Rolling Stone's 'Hot Band' and Launch's Emerging Artist just as their video for "A Decade Under The Influence" was declared Buzzworthy on MTV and M2. On August 2, WHERE YOU WANT TO BE debuted in the #3 spot on the Billboard Top 200 Chart with 163,000 units in sales for the first week, making them the highest selling rock band in the United States for the week. It's hard not to imagine that this is exactly where they WOULD want to be. Matt puts it best; "the band has focused all of its energy on the present and future...we're ready for anything."
--- from the official Taking Back Sunday website