For Taking Back Sunday, the past year has been as non-stop as the music on their latest album, Louder Now. The New York-based melodic hardcore quintet's album was released on April 25, 2006 and skyrocketed to Number Two on Billboard's Top 200 chart a week later, scanning more than 157,000 copies. Now gold-certified, Louder Now has led to multiple sold out U.S. headlining arena tours, the headlining slot on the international Taste of Chaos tour in Australia, Japan and Europe, and an MTV Video Music award nomination (the MTV2 Viewer's Choice award) for the album's first single, "MakeDamnSure," which has received more than three million combined plays on AOL, Yahoo!, Fuse, and YouTube. The band did command performances on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, Late Night With Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and Last Call With Carson Daly, and got to play themselves in an upcoming episode of a favorite show, Degrassi: The Next Generation. Last June, the band scored their third cover of taste-making music monthly Alternative Press, and received effusive reviews from People Magazine and Entertainment Weekly. Indeed Kerrang! crowned Louder Now as the critics pick for "Album Of The Year!"
Taking Back Sunday band finished out 2006 with the December release of Louder Now: Partone -- a 90-minute DVD containing up close and personal band stories, behind-the-scenes footage in the studio and on the road, music videos for "MakeDamnSure" and the album's second single "Liar (It Takes One To Know One)," and no-holds barred clips of the band's performance at the Long Beach Arena. They also celebrated the holiday season's spirit of giving by creating a card that raised money for various cancer charities. The band ushered in 2007 with a headlining North American tour, including their first extended visit to Canada.
The hubbub surrounding Taking Back Sunday shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who's heard Louder Now. The high-octane drumming and blazing syncopated riffs that rain down on its opening track, "What's It Feel Like to Be a Ghost," make it clear that these guys meant business when they went into the studio with producer Eric Valentine (Queens Of The Stone Age, Third Eye Blind) to record the follow-up to their 2004 best-selling album Where You Want To Be. Their intention was to bottle the lightning that this powerful band generate whenever they hit the stage.
"We were always told that our live show had more energy than our records," says guitarist-vocalist Fred Mascherino. "On Louder Now we wanted to capture that energy." "It's the record we have always wanted to make," declares lead singer Adam Lazzara. "It completes the spectrum." The band members also knew they wanted to grow from the pop-tinged hardcore anthems that filled Where You Want To Be and their 2003 debut Tell All Your Friends. They decided to experiment with new and different sounds, such as on the rollicking "Miami, which, with its tight '80s drumming and Cure-like guitar tones, is unlike anything the band has recorded to date.
Then there's "MakeDamnSure," which is classic Taking Back Sunday, with singer Adam Lazzara's yowling vocals mixed with Eddie Reyes' and Mascherino's slashing guitars. The twin guitar assault and emotional point/counterpoint lyrics are still the lynchpin of their sound. The lyrics illuminate Louder Now's overall themes of discontent and uncertainty. "A good example is 'What's It Feel Like To Be A Ghost?'" says Lazzara. "It touches on feeling like an apparition no matter what it is I try or do or where I find myself at any given moment. Simply being withdrawn to the point where the line between what is and is not real gets blurred. The album is about struggling to figure out where the hell we all fit in," he adds. "It's like a pre pre-midlife crisis."
After releasing Where You Want To Be, the band played around "a bazillion" shows, by Mascherino's reckoning ("You seriously forget your address and home phone number"), including the 2004 Warped Tour, British rock festivals Reading and Leeds, and a sold-out headlining tour. Things did not let up in 2005 when they did a co-headlining arena tour of North America with Jimmy Eat World and performed two sold-out shows in June at Britain's Milton Keynes National Bowl with Green Day, each band playing to the biggest audiences of their careers.
Continuously inspired while on the road, Taking Back Sunday wrote and recorded pieces of songs with gear stored on their bus. "It can be damaging to live like this--being away from home," Mascherino admits. "The space and distance affects us so much it even seeps into the music. I feel like Louder Now is a much darker record than Where You Want to Be, especially on tracks like [second single] "Liar (It Takes One to Know One)." The overall tone, mood, and lyrics give you a deeper feeling." But Lazzara has come to feel more at home on the road. "It's when I'm home that I start to feel like a stranger in my own skin," he says, adding "but it's worth it. Being able to put out records is a dream come true."
The relentless touring paid off with sold-out arena tours and delirious fan support. Combined, Louder Now, Tell All Your Friends and Where You Want to Be have scanned more than 2.5 million copies and the latter debuted at Number Three on the Billboard Top 200, selling more than 163,000 copies its first week of release in July 2004. It has sold more than 745,000 copies to date and been effusively praised in Rolling Stone, Spin, and Entertainment Weekly.
The band has remained a staple on both MTV and Fuse; and in 2005, they were tapped to record a theme song for Reed Richards, the lead character in the video game and hit movie Fantastic Four. "Error Operator" appears in the game, on the film's soundtrack, and in revamped form on Louder Now.
Taking Back Sunday set out to "create something that we considered timeless," says Mascherino of Louder Now. "We didn't want something that people would listen to in 10 years and say, 'That's from 2006 when all the records sounded like that.' We wanted people to listen to it in 10 years and say, 'Hell, yeah, turn that up!'"
Adam Lazzara -- vocals
Fred Mascherino -- guitar, vocals
Eddie Reyes -- guitar
Mark O'Connell -- drums
Matt Rubano -- bass