Taking Back Sunday Interview

After a sweaty but joyous affair playing to a room of spellbound fans at 93 feet east in London, it’s clear that Taking Back Sunday were more than ready to wow the festival multitudes at the Carling festival on the weekend that would follow. In between these polar opposite events, Fred Mascherino talked to me about the band’s journey with current album ‘Louder Now’ amongst assorted other musings…

How did you find it playing smaller shows here this time around?
It was great. While we were actually on stage it was really reminiscent of the good old days, you know? I was playing that size of club my whole life until two years ago and now we’ve been playing these bigger places and I just really miss playing to small crowds with no barricade and being able to see everyone up close. It was much more intimate than we ever get to do now so we loved it. It was fun. Also, playing ‘Louder Now’ the whole way through… that was the first time we’d ever done it and we’re really proud of that record but we haven’t played all of them live before so it was really exciting for us and special. It was great.

Did you ever rehearse playing the album all the way through?

I guess you probably don’t actually listen to your own record that much either…
No… I haven’t listened to it ever. I haven’t heard the album straight through since it came out cos I just don’t listen to it, so it was neat to hear how it goes overall. It was real cool. Playing ‘I’ll Let You Live’ was a big step for us because it’s slower and it wouldn’t have ever gone on the last two records so we felt like when we did that song, the band had gotten to a new point in our writing. To play that one live was a real good moment.

What size of show do you prefer playing?
Festivals I don’t usually enjoy… Our first festival over here we had to play right after Slayer… we’ve had things like that happen. We’re always playing in between two bands that have nothing to do with our style and it’s always just a weird atmosphere for us. I would say two years ago at Reading and Leeds was probably the only good festival experience we’ve had so I have high hopes for this weekend. But we just finished a tour with Angels And Airwaves in the States and they were big shows – it was the biggest headlining tour we’d ever done. That kind of show holds its own sort of excitement, y’know? It’s such a massive excitement that you’re not really in control of it. It’s just sort of happening. I couldn’t really pick when comparing it with the smaller shows we played this week. The one is like being on a rollercoaster and the other one is maybe equivalent to… well it’s also like a rollercoaster… I don’t want to compare it to… just like driving a Porsche or something. So, they’re both fun but in different ways.

Do you think that it’s a difference between festivals here and in America, that acts on the bill tend to be more similar over there?
Yeah, I mean we don’t have festivals on the same scale as you guys. Warped Tour’s our big one but it’s biggest show is like 22,000 and over here it’s like 60 to 80,000 so that’s what was so exciting about Reading and Leeds. Just the sheer amount of people. It looked like ten Warped Tours.

And you’re playing Paris in between Reading and Leeds?
Yeah, and we’ve never been to Paris, or France at all so that’s exciting. We’re like kids and we just get excited to go to new places. We just went to Japan for the first time and that was like totally not of this world for us. It was as foreign as it could get. Especially with Osaka… Tokyo was kinda catered to the world but Osaka was strictly Japanese and it was neat. I went to a castle and there was this giant ten story pagoda with a moat around it. And they don’t have that… they don’t even have castles in the U.S. so it was neat.

Are you ready for some rain this weekend?
Errr. No, it’s not going to rain! Well, I’m not prepared. I only brought one pair of shoes on this trip so they’re going to get wet. And I’m out of socks, so…

Who’re the funnest bands you’ve shared a stage with?
We really enjoyed Jimmy Eat World. They were a great band. With the Angels and Airwaves tour we really befriended The Subways. They were really nice people and really family-oriented. So they were really pleasant to hang out with. Who else did I really enjoy…? We like the guys in Thursday. That’s always a fun band to tour with. They’re real nice guys. All the bands we make friends with but those are probably my favourites.

How would you describe your music to people that haven’t heard it before?
I would just describe it as really loud rock music that is a bit rough on the edges, especially live! And just energetic punk-based rock or something.

You said about some of the new album songs that you could’ve never written them in the past. How do you think you progressed with ‘Louder Now’?
We were really trying to do new things with this record. When we first got together to write we did five songs in about a week and we were enjoying them but it was kinda sounding a lot like what we had done before so none of those songs made it to the record except ‘What’s It Feel Like To Be A Ghost?’ and we totally changed that one around and put the guitar riff in it. I think we were just thinking in a different way. We were trying to push each other to do different things and kind of said ‘it isn’t going to be good enough to just make the same album over and over again. Let’s use everything we’ve got.’ We just wrote a lot and had 20 to 30 songs written and then we were able to pick from that the best stuff and it wound up being the more rock-based stuff and not so much melodic hardcore or emo. More rock.

It’s a very immediate kind of sound…
Yeah, and that’s something I think Mark and Adam bring to it. They understand more pop, like more short-attention-span kind of things. They’re the two that listen to the most rap… they also listen to Led Zeppelin and things like that but they’re more familiar with MTV let’s say whereas I’m listening to bad jazz records or like heavy metal. So, I kind of bring in the chords and things and they go ‘this part goes on too long, let’s cut it down’ and ‘you’re losing me on this’ so that the immediacy is definitely a lot of Adam’s doing, and Mark’s.

It’s also to do with the riffs I reckon.
Yeah, and the riff in ‘Ghost’ was actually something Adam had come up with and that was like his… He was picking it out for me and I kind of took it over and developed it a little bit but it was funny cos that was the first song we wrote that actually made it to the record. As soon as he played that riff I was like ‘This sounds like the beginning of a record. This is going to be the first song on the record.’ And they were like ‘But we haven’t heard the others!’ We just knew that that was going to be it and we continued to build the album from there.

How long did it take to write?
Well, we wrote the record for almost a year but the majority of it was done during summer 2005. We got together in a little tiny room in New York City and practiced every day and just took the train there every day and played as much as we could stand. It got gruelling, there was fighting, moments of disagreement, but we all knew what we had to do and that it had to be better than anything we had done in the past and that’s kind of just what we went by.

How do you feel being nominated for Best Album at the Kerrang! Awards?
Man, that probably means more to us than any other recognition we’ve gotten from the press. I mean, obviously we care that our listeners and our fans are still loving it but to get that nomination is something that we’re really proud of. We’re thankful and it feels good.

’Louder Now’ is out now on Warner. Catch Taking Back Sunday live on the Taste of Chaos tour in November.


Interview by Sarah Maynard

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