Taking Back Sunday bassist Matt Rubano is loving life in Los Angeles. The sun is always shining, and the parties are plentiful. There's one thing he could do without, however, and it's not the traffic or the smog or anything like that. It's the Batman fans.
"The other day I was at Starbucks, getting a coffee, and I had just purchased the 'Batman Begins' DVD, and this dude comes up to me who looked like the Big Lebowski, and he asked me, 'Excuse me, do you work for Batman?' And he was so serious that the only thing I could think to say was 'Yeah, of course I do,' " Rubano laughed. "And I tried to make it a legitimate conversation, and I just told him how I had bought the DVD and said it was great, so he was like, 'Well, I'm sure it's great if you're in it.' So it got a little creepy, and I had to go. And since then, my friends have been IM'ing me being like, 'Hey Matt, it's Batman, I need you in the office at 3 o'clock today.' "
Don't get him wrong, it's not like Rubano's been buying coffee and ducking crazy people for the entire time he's been in L.A.: For the past two months, he and the rest of TBS have been working with producer Eric Valentine (Queens of the Stone Age, Good Charlotte) on their new album, which they hope to have in stores by the spring.
"We had most of the songs written before we got out here, so now bass, drums and rhythm guitars are done, and final guitars and vocals will be done over the next couple weeks," Rubano said. "There will probably be 10 or 11 songs on the album, and right now we've got 14 that we're going to have to whittle down. We knew exactly what we wanted to do this time around, so the whole process has gone really, really quickly."
For a clue to what the new TBS songs sound like, Rubano says look no further than the band's last bit of new material, the song "Error Operator," which they recorded for the soundtrack to the "Fantastic Four" video game (see "Taking Back Sunday Donate Song To 'Fantastic Four' Game").
"That's one of the extremes of the record," he said. "There's some fast and aggressive stuff, and then there's some quieter stuff. I think there's even going to be an acoustic song on this one.
"Each song on this record has a fairly unique quality," he added. "Just like we set out to write our last album [2004's breakthrough Where You Want to Be], we just set out to write the best songs we could and take the next step for this band."
It's easy to say that each album is just another step in Taking Back Sunday's musical journey, but the reality of the situation is that there's a whole lot riding on the band's new album. For starters, it's the first they'll make for Warner Bros., after spending the past five years toiling away on indie stalwart Victory (see "Taking Back Sunday: Road Warriors With No Champagne"). And the demoing/recording sessions in L.A. have been the most expensive thing TBS have ever been involved in. But despite all that, Rubano insists that the band isn't feeling any additional pressure to deliver the goods.
"Well, we felt the same amount of pressure last time as this time," he said. "That said, we are spending other people's money, and we are in a big-time studio this time out. But it's not like those things are bad at all. We can take more time to record the album and get it all right. A big budget doesn't mean that it's going to have strings and horns and stuff like that all over it. It's just going to be another Taking Back Sunday album."
He pauses for a moment, then adds, "Well, actually, we might put some strings on it."