Taking Back Sunday singer Adam Lazzara wasn't sure he wanted to do an entire tour dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the band's breakthrough album "Tell All Your Friends."
After all, the Rockville Centre-based band has never been too interested in looking back. "I was definitely the last one to think it was a good idea," Lazzara says, calling from a tour stop in Fort Lauderdale. "I didn't want it to be a nostalgia thing -- which it is, but not in a bad way . . . It's been surprisingly awesome."
It only seems fitting that the surprises connected with Taking Back Sunday's debut album continue 10 years later. "I know it is a big deal," Lazzara says. "This album changed the course of my life. To not celebrate that would be a shame."
"Tell All Your Friends" was released on March 26, 2002, on Victory Records with almost no fanfare at all. It didn't sound like much else on the small, Chicago-based indie label or like much else on any label, for that matter. Lazzara and guitarist-singer John Nolan traded vocals -- and screams -- while guitarist Eddie Reyes, bassist Shaun Cooper and drummer Mark O'Connell laid down a bed of tuneful but aggressive punk. Lazzara delivered the songs in a way that didn't suggest that he wore his heart on his sleeve as much as he had ripped his heart out of his chest and was holding it up for you to see.
That kind of intensity takes its toll -- the band's multiple lineup changes began shortly after the album's release, ending only after Nolan and Cooper returned to the band in 2010. And it doesn't necessarily remain 10 years later. However, Lazzara says he's OK with that.
"There's definitely things that I would change now," Lazzara says. "Like when we started to do 'Blue Channel' again, I thought, 'Hmmm, that's what I decided to say there?' . . . But the songs now have a new meaning. It changes when we are in front of people. When it's just the five of us, we're like 'Cute Without the 'E'? Really? This one again? But the crowd gives it a new life."
And in many ways, "Tell All Your Friends" really has taken on a life of its own, one much larger than its certified gold status conveys.
Bayside frontman Anthony Raneri says that "Tell All Your Friends," along with Brand New's "Your Favorite Weapon," helped define the emo genre and helped launched the successful Long Island music scene in the early Aughts. "So many bands would not exist without that album," he says. "It's hard to say how important, how great that record was. It was inspirational. We watched it from right down the street when we were practicing in a basement in Islip. Long Island had a great scene for years, but no one really ever made it out. Then, this album happened."
The album also had a broader effect on popular culture. "It's the sound of being young, being bored, being up late, being touched by bands and not knowing anything about anything other than wanting to re-create that feeling again and again," Andy Greenwald writes of "Tell All Your Friends" in his book "Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers, and Emo." "Anyone can sing along with Taking Back Sunday because everyone can relate . . . Everyone here is speaking the same language."
Taking Back Sunday doesn't necessarily see it in the same way. "I think we're still coming to terms with that," Lazzara says. "I don't feel like we started anything. But doing these shows, when I'm looking out at the crowd and they know every word, I guess maybe we did change some minds. Maybe we helped spark a fire."
Lazzara says the band's distinctive writing on "Tell All Your Friends" wasn't really planned. "It was an organic thing," he says. "We weren't really trying to do anything specific. At the time, we were writing songs so we could play shows.
"Looking back, I guess we were part of something," Lazzara continues. "But I don't think that we were the thing. We were in the trenches at that time with a lot of bands like us."
With the "Tell All Your Friends" anniversary tour set to wind up this week, Taking Back Sunday is already looking ahead to its next project. The band will tour military bases overseas in January to play for American troops, and it plans to release two live albums from the current tour -- one acoustic version and a full rock version -- on their own label.
Lazzara says releasing the albums themselves is the band's way of seeing whether they want to sign with another label, now that their contract with Warner Bros. is complete, or do things on their own. The band is already working on some new material with producer Mike Sapone, who they first worked with when working on "Tell All Your Friends."
"I'm curious to see what comes next," Lazzara says. "It's both liberating and terrifying . . . I don't think we know how to do anything else, and music is such a huge part of who we are. We're just so happy to be able to keep doing it."
WHO Taking Back Sunday
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Wednesday, the Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington and 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Terminal 5, 610 W. 56th St., Manhattan
INFO Paramount: $27.50-$50, Terminal 5: $25; 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com