When Taking Back Sunday got news that their last album, Where You Want to Be, had debuted at #3 on the Billboard albums chart, it was the tail end of the 2004 Warped Tour and they were on a bus somewhere between Detroit and Milwaukee. As such, they could only muster a modest celebration.
"We could only have a tiny party in the front of our bus," bassist Matt Rubano said. "We didn't break anything, nothing caught on fire. There wasn't any screaming or nudity. Basically we just realized that we were really lucky. And we wanted to continue to work hard to stay lucky."
They did just that, spending the next 12 months touring with Green Day and Jimmy Eat World (see "Monsters Of Emo: Jimmy Eat World, Taking Back Sunday To Tour In April"), making videos with former Blink-182 guitarist Tom DeLonge (see "Blink-182's DeLonge Directs Video For Taking Back Sunday") and popping up on soundtracks for movies and video games (see "Taking Back Sunday Donate Song To 'Fantastic Four' Game").
In September they headed out to Los Angeles to begin work on a new album with Good Charlotte and Queens of the Stone Age producer Eric Valentine (see "Taking Back Sunday Record New Album, Duck Crazy People In Los Angeles"). They finished up those sessions New Year's Day. And now, almost 21 months since Where You Want to Be sold an astonishing 163,000 copies in its first week of release, Taking Back Sunday return with Louder Now, a big, ballsy, monster of a rock record that could make them superstars.
And the funny thing is, no matter where Louder Now debuts on the chart (it should be pretty high, although it will be up against Rihanna's A Girl Like Me, Bruce Springsteen's We Shall Overcome — The Seeger Sessions and Godsmack's IV), it's a safe bet the guys in TBS will celebrate in much the same way they did on that tour bus: with modesty.
"Honestly, we don't think about numbers or anything like that — unless it's like a time signature or something like that. And as far as the where the last album debuted, that was cool, but I'm more concerned with playing these new songs live," frontman Adam Lazzarra said. "It could debut at #800 or negative four and I wouldn't care. We just want people to like it."
"The way we've done everything up until this point has been really natural, and we've always equated really hard work with success," Rubano added. "And at this point, to start looking at things any other way would be bad, because we do things in a very grass-roots way. It's all been very steady and gradual, so we're just going to stay working hard and playing shows. And I think we're ready for anything."
They should be. Because when Louder Now hits stores April 25, it carries with it not just the expectations of a major label (it's the band's first effort for Warner Bros.) but of TBS's thousands of diehard fans. And while the former may be happy with what they hear on the album — big, swaggering chops, complex loud/soft dynamics and a killer first single ("MakeDamnSure") — the latter may feel somewhat alienated by the band Taking Back Sunday have become.
"We've had all the creative freedom to do exactly what we want to do with this album ... and we're really happy with the results. It's definitely the most important thing we've ever done," Rubano said. "We just want to put our heads down and play, but we acknowledge the fact that some people might not want to come along with us. But hopefully we'll be able to win those people over."
"The only expectations we were aware of were our own. We live in our own little Taking Back Sunday bubble," Lazzarra added. "We keep getting these questions about 'feeling the pressure' and to be honest, the only pressure we felt was from Eric to make the best record possible. And we didn't put much stock in anything else."
With the video for "MakeDamnSure" about to hit the airwaves and a full-scale North American tour slated to kick off Friday (see "Taking Back Sunday Announce First Tour As Major-Label Artists"), the future looks bright for TBS. But no matter how big they get, they've pledged to never forget where they came from. It's a pretty clichéd thing to say, but you get the feeling Taking Back Sunday mean it: for proof, you need only look at the covers of each of their albums ... at the three little numbers they've included in the artwork.
"Each of our albums have the number '152' on them, because on Highway 40 in North Carolina, going between Chapel Hill and High Point, the area I'm from, there's exit 152. My friends and I would make the trip from High Point to Chapel Hill to see shows, and we'd always stop at that exit," Lazzarra said. "And we keep it in the artwork to help us remember where we came from and to let everybody at home know that they're all still on our minds."
Track list for Taking Back Sunday's Louder Now, according to Warner Bros.:
- "What's It Feel Like to Be a Ghost?"
- "Liar (It Takes One to Know One)"
- "Up Against (Blackout)"
- "My Blue Heaven"
- Twenty-Twenty Surgery"
- "Divine Intervention"
- "Error Operator"
- "I'll Let You Live"