Taking Back Sunday formed at a time when indie acts had to book their own tours and couldn’t rely on the internet to disseminate their music. Mind Over Matter guitarist Eddie Reyes founded the group nearly 20 years ago, and though it’s been through numerous lineup changes, the current lineup has been stable for about the past decade.
The current tour celebrates the group’s 20th anniversary and finds the band playing its debut album Tell All Your Friends
in its entirety. When the band plays on Monday and Tuesday of next week at House of Blues
, each set will include two albums, and the group will use a specially designed coin to determine whether it plays either Where You Want To Be
or Louder Now
in addition to Tell All Your Friends
“It’s been a crazy ride,” says guitarist John Nolan via phone from an Orlando tour stop. “We’ve gone all over the world. Starting in January, we went to Australia and all over Asia and Alaska and Hawaii. We played South America and Europe. We did the West Coast of the U.S. Since we were doing two nights in every city, that was the length of a whole tour even though it just covered half of the country. It’s been amazing that we’re able to do a tour like this and have people so excited to see us.”
The band's debut came out in 2002, and the group has had to revisit its past and learn to play songs that might not have regularly made it into its sets.
“There are a bunch of songs we never played together before,” says Nolan. “We played at least half of each of the albums. We had to learn about nine or ten songs that we hardly ever played together or had never played together. It’s interesting because in the early days, [those songs from Tell All Your Friends
] were all the songs we had. We would play all those songs every night. One thing that’s interesting is how they come back to you. The reaction that album still gets after all this time is absurd. It just keeps growing, and the love for that album seems to get more intense.”
The tour also coincides with the recent release of Twenty
, a career-spanning compilation featuring two new songs.
“For a long time, our set list has had a balance of songs we liked the most and ones that got the best reaction from the crowd,” says Nolan when asked about Twenty
. “We took the same approach as we would have if we put a setlist together for a show that would include songs from our entire catalog. The singles were the obvious choices, and from there, it was the songs that got the best reactions over the years.”
The disc's new songs "All Ready To Go" and "A Song For Dan” hold up well next to old favorites. The poppy "All Ready To Go" features rapid-fire vocals and layers of guitars while the power ballad "A Song For Dan" relies on a tender piano riff and upper-register vocals.
“For both of those [new songs], we got together to write some songs to be included on Twenty
,” says Nolan. “That was exciting to get back in the studio. It had been about a year since Tidal Wave
. ‘A Song for Dan’ was one that [drummer] Mark [O'Connell] had worked on for a long time. He had perfected this instrumental demo and he brought that to the band. We put lyrics and melody over it. It’s a really different song for Taking Back, but we could make it still sound and feel like a Taking Back Sunday song. 'All Ready To Go' was more in the tradition of what you’d expect, especially considering what we’d done on the last album. That kind of rock song is where we’re at right now.”
With its atmospheric interludes and more polished approach, Tidal Wave
, the band's most recent studio album,
represents a real maturation in sound for the group, something that’s not lost on Nolan as he reflects on the group's evolution over the past two decades.
“I think something that’s interesting to me is that even with the changes in members and changes in styles, [the band has] felt like a natural progression from start to finish,” says Nolan. “[It helps that] we’ve been fortunate to have a consistent fanbase that’s been so supportive and there for us. We started touring small and built it organically, not from a record label trying to sell people on a band.”
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