Taking Back Sunday


Pete: So, in terms of Taking Back Sunday, last year was a really big year for you guys. What would you say the highlights of that were, other than Leeds and Reading? (Before the interview officially began, Matt had commented on how much he enjoyed the last time he was in Leeds for the Carling Weekend.)

Matt: I think the highlight for me was working on “Where You Want To Be,” and putting it out and the response that it got. I spent the first few months of my time in Taking Back Sunday playing the songs from “Tell All Your Friends,” which I loved, but it felt really good to actually now have written and contributed to, and felt really good about it, and our listeners were praising it, they weren’t sort of turned off by it, it could have gone one of two ways. Putting out that record could have been great, or it could have been nearly in the end. I was really proud of the way it went. For me that was the highlight. We’ve got to do a lot of amazing things through the year, playing and stuff like that, but the record was special for me.

Pete: And how do you think the aftermath varied from putting out this record to the last for the band in general?

Matt: I think the most important thing about this record, is that no matter how much people say it changed, it did change, and I think for any artist, every artist really, record to record, you’ve got to evolve, you’ve got to change because you can get stuck… especially Taking Back Sunday, with a successful and well loved first record, you could stuck trying to make that first record over and over again. That’s a death trap.

Pete: I think that’s what a lot of bands do, and lose popularity…

Matt: Inevitably it was going to be different, having me and Fred in the band. I think our next record hopefully will make a similar jump. The trick is to keep the sound of the band in tact, so that it sounds like Taking Back Sunday upon first hearing it, and then have it evolve and develop a little bit…

Pete: What would you say the major developments were on this album?

Matt: I think “Tell All Your Friends” goes by at a really fast pace, you know, 10 songs, and they’re all really great and they’re all really dramatic, excitable, fast songs. I think this record diversifies a little bit, it has like “American Classic” on it, which whether people want to hear that sort of thing, we’re capable of doing it, and we like doing it. We like to be able to do different things. So I think it’s a much more diverse record, I think it matured a bit, because if some people could say it’s an emo record or an emo hardcore record like “Tell All Your Friends” – this record is probably just a rock record. That’s what the main changes were. They put that record out 3 years ago, when they were 18? So they’ve grown up, literally grown up.

Pete: ‘Where You Want To Be’ is split into two parts, why was that decision made?

Matt: The side one, side two thing? We did that, one, to sort of echo the way it was when people bought LP’s, and also to promote different songs on the record, right next to one and other, like “The Union” and “New American Classic” which I think are probably as two different type tracks as you can get on that record. I think it was just something we wanted to do to make it a little more interesting than, “here’s eleven songs, here’s how they go…”

Pete: Do you guys read Alternative Press? Did you see the reader’s poll results?

Matt: I’ve heard about them, I didn’t get to read all of them.

Pete: You guys got voted artist of the year, second best album behind Green Day and fourth worst album as well…

Matt: I think someone in the statistics department is slacking a bit… erm…

Pete: It seems obvious to me there was a lot of people out there who really liked the record, but also a lot of people who must have really disliked it…

Matt: Well that was something I was prepared to take from the beginning. People that are interested in stuff being “cool” are usually concerned with old things. It’s cool to say, “I liked the bands old material.” – I was prepared to take that as well, that was just something that was going to happen. So be it. There’s going to be changes all the time. As far as the poll vote is concerned, there’s got to be downs. Anything that’s really… and I don’t mean to sound arrogant but I heard that Rick Rubin says about the Mars Volta where he started producing that record, that he would play the demos to his friends, he said “half the people I played it for loved it, and half the people hated it, like literally stopped the tape. That’s how when I’m working with an artist I know I’ve got something special, because whether it evokes pleasure or boredom, it’s definitely something that has a strong appeal one way or the other. That’s the important thing.” – I don’t want to split our listeners down the middle, and say you guys like it, you guys don’t. But it’s like the Green Day record, that records got Grammy nominations now… but there’s a bunch of people I know, as well as yourself that don’t like it and think it’s the greatest thing ever… So I think that’s just the reality of it, I think it’s funny that a band like our band could be in those two categories.

Pete: What albums would you have voted for?

Matt: I would only speak for myself, I think the Muse album “Absolution” is one, it’s amazing – on a lot of levels, not just that they’re a great band live, they’re great song writers too. Did the Mars Volta record come out this year? I would put that record in there because it’s an important album and it’s important because it shows how you can still become that involved with your songs.

Pete: What did you think of the Green Day record?

Matt: I think it’s cool, I think it’s cool when any artist makes a record that’s relevant. If somebody was to tell you last year, that Green Day would put out a politically orientated record, you would laugh your ass off! Or you’d be prepared to think that it’s going to be something very strange. But I think they did it their own way and I think they did it rather appropriately for themselves, and there’s great songs on there…

Pete: I think they got a lot of criticism for doing a politically motivated record…

Matt: I think they did it in a way that wasn’t too heavy, there’s no photos of George Bush under cross fire like I’ve seen on other peoples! Even I’ve got a t-shirt with that on it… but yeah, they did it their way, which was cool.

Pete: So you’re not a fan of Bush?

Matt: I wouldn’t say I’m a fan, put it this way I didn’t vote for him! I don’t know anyone who did!

Pete: He still won! So, moving on… You mentioned Muse before, what other bands did you check out at Leeds and Reading?

Matt: I saw The Darkness…

Pete: Oh god, what did you think of them?

Matt: I think they’re cool! They’ve got some good poppy kind of songs, it’s not something I’d buy the record of, it’s not something I’m really into.. I don’t think I even watched the whole gig, I sort of wandered off, I didn’t think their whole show was that strong if hadn’t been for what they are… whether its parody or serious. I think they had enough lights and fireworks combined with two or three good songs that were out at the time… it’s a bit of entertainment. It’s funny because Fred and I and our merch guy Mike, we headed away from the stage to go back down to the bus, when we get back down to the bus, security guys were running after us, waving their arms about like ‘don’t go down there’. When we get to our bus we realise that 20 yards away or so is the fenced off area where all the fireworks were gonna be shot off from… and they’re like “you can’t go over there,” and we’re already by our bus, and it started going off, it felt like we were under attack, so all the fireworks were going up and we were sat there for like half an hour watching it. Who else did we see…? Ash put on a great show, Goldie Lookin’ Chain!

Pete: Ha Ha Ha – What did you think of them?

Matt: I wasn’t sure what the hell was going on! I’d never heard of them before! We woke up and we walked up to the main stage, and there’s a whole bunch of guys up there hanging out by the stage, and I thought they were just some dudes hanging out! And the stage manager was like “right are you guys ready?” and then the flag went down and these 12 guys or whatever ran out onto the stage! The beat starts and they were all there doing their thing…it was funny, I guess that’s all I can really say.

Pete: Well you know MTV Jackass? A couple of guys in GLC do the British version of that. People love it.

Matt: Yeah, I think I saw some of that… it’s funny, someone like 50 Cent who is a legitimate rapper, got bottled off the stage and Goldie Lookin’ Chain got a pretty good reception. I don’t know what kind of scale it would be judged on, but I guess Goldie Lookin’ Chain have a place in everyone’s heart.

* At this point the TBS tour manager turns up and tells me I have five minutes left…

Pete: Ok, a couple of quick questions from the readers… What do you think of Fightstar?

Matt: Erm, They’re cool. I met Charlie very briefly; I didn’t get to hang out with them very much…

Pete: So you know all the fuddle about Busted?

Matt: Yeah, I know contextually, people have said they were somewhere between N-Sync and Blink 182 for the Avril kids. I know he’s quit that band; he seemed like a cool guy. We’re playing another show with them next week…

Pete: Ok next one, why “Sunday” and not “Tuesday” for example?

Matt: Because Sunday is the Lords day! That’s a joke. It’s lyrically borrowed from another song from a band on Long Island.

Pete: What’s the idea behind the album art work?

Matt: I think it’s kind of symbolic. It wasn’t something we created, it was something somebody showed us, and we all sort of agreed on and its not often we agree on anything. I think it’s greatly symbolic of the last record, which is a shot of the road going by really fast, and being all blurry, and this was the sort of starting over point in a way, and I think a naked baby at the beginning of a seemingly endless road speaks for itself I guess.

Pete: When will you be touring Australia again?

Matt: We were supposed to be going there after this, but we’re gonna put it off a while so we can start writing, but we will definitely be coming to Australia this year.

Pete: And what are the plans for the next album and also the DVD?

Matt: I want to make a DVD with no music on it. Just us fucking around, because I have video footage from the Blink tour, and maybe even before the Blink tour, maybe even I think on the Saves The Day tour. I have a bunch of tapes of really bizarre things, from like us picking each other up from our homes to take each other to the airport, to fooling around in the airport, backstage at gigs, and all this different stuff…it all cracks me up, maybe it’s just a case that it’s only funny for me but we’re gonna try and edit some things together and maybe some live things. We definitely wanna put out a DVD and the new record we’re gonna start writing it as soon as possible and have it out sometime in 2005, but it depends if we can do that, but that’s what I want.

Pete: When are you coming back to the U.K? Any festivals?

Matt: Yeah we’ll definitely do that at the very least in the summer time, and there’s talk of one or two shows with a big, big, big, big band that we’ve mentioned in this interview so far, but I can’t name them, but they’re coming over who we’ll do some shows with…we’ll be back. At this point with our third trip over, we’ve solidly decided and have for a while that from this tour the UK is going to be a fairly regular stopping point. Everyone’s been so great, and we’ve had a great time and I can’t wait to get the new music out.

Pete: Can you give us anymore on the band you’re supporting?

Matt: It’s going to be a one off show…

Pete: The Green Day gig?

Matt: I don’t know.

Pete: Ok, lastly, where do you see yourselves in five years time?

Matt: Hopefully put out 2 or 3 more records, still touring, either on a bigger or smaller record, whichever is fine and still being able to do it, just being able to do it is quite the pay off so as long as we’re still doing it that will be pretty great.

By Pete Weeks

Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]