Bigger arenas, same old broken heart songs

Over the years, Taking Back Sunday has gone through a lot of changes, from a revolving door of band members to signing to a major label.,Five years since Taking Back Sunday’s debut album, Tell All Your Friends, the quintet of emo boys from Long Island is about to kick off a North American headlining tour to promote its 2006 album, Louder Now, and its first DVD, Louder Now: Part One.

Over the years, Taking Back Sunday has gone through a lot of changes, from a revolving door of band members to signing to a major label. Early in its career, the band included Jesse Lacey, who left and started the band Brand New, as well as co-lyricist and guitarist John Nolan and bassist Shaun Cooper, who started their own band, Straylight Run. The band regrouped with additions Matt Rubano (bass) and Fred Mascherino (guitar/vocals), who joined the core of Adam Lazzara (vocals), Eddie Reyes (guitar) and Mark O’Connell (drums).

Fortunately, one thing that has never changed is the band’s passion. Unlike some bands that pick up whatever sound is topping the charts, Rubano assures us that Taking Back Sunday is all about the music.

“The sound of our band has changed, but it has nothing to do with success,” he said in a phone interview with The Beacon. “Really, the only thing you can be thinking about is being creative and being true to what you’re doing.”

With some of the most hopelessly romantic lines of all time (“and with my one last gasping breath / I’d apologize for bleeding on your shirt”), the band developed a sound that’s both welcoming and rough.

Tell All Your Friends was driven by upbeat melodies, while the sophomore album, Where You Want to Be, had a very different feel.

Although it still had tracks reminiscent of the first album, many of the songs were slower and more melodic.

The latest, Louder Now, has gone straight to the top while harping back to the band’s earlier stuff and throwing in more of a rock vibe. Songs like “MakeDamnSure” and “Liar (It Takes One to Know One)” have dominated the MTV, VH1 and Fuse television networks and radio since the album’s release.

Luckily, the band did not have to deal with the same overnight stardom that bands like Panic! at the Disco have had to put up with. Taking Back Sunday’s transition was steady, so the leap from smaller venues to major arenas was not very hard for the guys.

“I’ve witnessed it with some other bands where they just sort of have this booming explosion and all of a sudden they’re doing a stadium tour or an arena tour,” Rubano said. “That would be really shocking for me I think. It’s a very different kind of performance than it is when you’re playing to a couple hundred people who are right on top of you.”

Taking Back Sunday has handled the transition beautifully and plays major venues as if it were still at home.

Even with crowds full of sweaty 16-year-olds screaming along to every song, frontman Lazzara performs like a madman.

Attendees of a Taking Back Sunday show bear

witness to his antics, such as throwing the mic around his neck between screams or climbing up anything he can get his hands on. It’s hard to tell if the audience should be worried for his health or in awe of his insanity.

The band has developed a pre-show ritual to help focus before going on stage.

“We’d take a couple minutes and just do the pre-show huddle, where we just kinda all stand there facing one another and it’s everything from moments of silence to just goofing around and talking about what we all did that day,” Rubano said. “Then we just hit the stage with a little bit more of a collective consciousness rather than looking for Mark five minutes before we go on.”

Following in the footsteps of bands like Green Day that have shown support for political causes, Taking Back Sunday is now working with the Stop Global Warming campaign.

“We are trying to use our Web site and use any appearances or any sort of opportunities we have to direct people to [the campaign] so that they can find out about this thing that’s happening to our collective world,” Rubano said.

The band will be kicking off its arena tour on Feb. 22 in University Park, Penn., and will play the Mullins Center at UMass Amherst April 5 and the Tsongas Arena in Lowell on April 6.

Underoath and Armor for Sleep will support both dates.