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The old-new Taking Back Sunday

Adam Lazzara, singer of the Long Island band

Adam Lazzara, singer of the Long Island band Taking Back Sunday, performs at Bamboozle, a three-day music festival at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J. (April 30, 2011) Credit: Agaton Strom

Taking Back Sunday's Adam Lazzara and John Nolan are in The Fishbowl performing space at SiriusXM headquarters in midtown Manhattan, working their way through a Tom Petty cover.

"I think I should play that with a pick," Nolan says, looking around for one.

"Or you could just play it like a man," Lazzara responds, smiling.

When they try a new acoustic arrangement for their current single, "Faith (When I Let You Down)," and then come to a complete stop, Nolan asks, "Is that weird?"

"No, it's awesome," Lazzara says. "I'm just -- -- bad."

Afterward, Lazzara tells the control room at Sirius' "Alt Nation," "I've been swearing a lot, I apologize."

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"I've been meaning to talk to you about that," Nolan says, before they both exchange a look and break out laughing.

For those wondering about the new/old Taking Back Sunday lineup and its new album -- the first featuring Lazzara, Nolan, guitarist Eddie Reyes, drummer Mark O'Connell and bassist Shaun Cooper since the band's breakthrough "Tell All Your Friends" in 2002 -- the laughter is real.

And if this unlikely reunion of old friends and band mates is going to succeed beyond the current tour and the new "Taking Back Sunday" (Warner Bros.) album in stores Tuesday, laughter will be essential for the Rockville Centre-based band. So far, so good.

"When we first got back in the same room together, we just laughed," Lazzara says. "It was so crazy. We didn't think in a million years that we'd be there."

Lazzara and Nolan say they have rarely gone two days without texting or talking on the phone since they decided to bury the hatchet and meet again last spring after going years without speaking.

"We're still like teenage girls in a lot of ways," Nolan jokes later.

Not teens anymore

In a lot of ways, they're also a lifetime away from the teenage boys they were when they first joined Taking Back Sunday in Amityville.

They are both married now -- Lazzara living in North Carolina and Nolan living in Kansas with their families -- as are O'Connell and Reyes. Their concerns are far broader than the post-high-school issues of "Tell All Your Friends."

When told that the songs on "Taking Back Sunday" are far deeper than their previous work together, Lazzara says, "Well, I would hope so," before quickly adding, "Thanks!"

Nolan says the band worked hard to make "Taking Back Sunday" a well-rounded record that represented where all five of them are musically.

"I don't think we could've written 'Tell All Your Friends II'," says Nolan. "I just don't think it was in us to do that."

"I don't even know what 'Tell All Your Friends II' would sound like," Lazzara adds. "But there is a certain energy that's in 'Tell All Your Friends,' and when I listen to the new record, I have that same kind of feeling."

They do acknowledge that the new song "Best Places To Be a Mom" comes closest musically to the style the band helped pioneer almost a decade ago, but even that wasn't a conscious decision.

"That was one of the first songs we wrote after getting back together," Lazzara says. "And it is strikingly similar to 'You Know How I Do.' "

"I think we kind of had to start in familiar territory before we could explore other types of writing and different styles of songs," Nolan adds. "I think that was a good place to start."

They ended up with the diverse, well-rounded album they wanted.

"Taking Back Sunday" opens with what Lazzara says may be the band's hardest-rocking song, "El Paso," followed by one of its poppiest, "Faith (When I Let You Down)."

There's even a ballad, "Call Me in the Morning," that was being considered for inclusion in the upcoming "Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon" movie, though both Lazzara and Nolan agree that it might be a bit too quiet for a Michael Bay movie.

"We thought there might be a sad scene with a crying robot and Shia LaBeouf looking all pouty-faced where it would work," Lazzara says.

"Or maybe someone breaks up in the movie and they could use it while she transforms into a giant robot," adds Nolan.

Song makes a soundtrack

Jokes aside, they laughed about even the possibility of being in a blockbuster. "We were thinking, 'Isn't it ridiculous that we're sad about the song being on the soundtrack and not the movie?' " Lazzara says. "If my 17-year-old self knew we would be on the soundtrack, he'd be freaking out." (In the end, "Faith" ended up being on the soundtrack instead of "Call Me in the Morning.")

It's that kind of connection that Lazzara says made it clear that this lineup of Taking Back Sunday made the right decision in getting back together.

"We knew each other before things got weird," says Lazzara, adding that the band would probably have broken up if Nolan and Cooper didn't return.

"I think that's a big deal," adds Nolan. "Because we knew each other before things took off, before that whole insane year when things really skyrocketed, I feel like there's this connection. I feel like we understand each other in a way that no one else can."

Nolan says he now understands why O'Connell was so adamant when brokering the peace that led to the reunion -- that it was an all-or-nothing offer.

"He didn't want it to be gimmicky," Nolan says. "He didn't want it to be a 'Make some money and go our separate ways' kind of thing. He was right."

Lazzara and Nolan say they are looking forward to putting "Taking Back Sunday" out and getting to the point where the reunion takes a backseat to the music again. But regardless of what happens next in the band's history, they are happy now with how things have turned out.

"I'm just happy to have my friend back," Lazzara says.



WHEN | WHERE "Taking Back Sunday" is in stores Tuesday on Warner Bros. Records. Read a review in Tuesday's Explore LI.

WHO Taking Back Sunday

WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m. July 17, Best Buy Theatre, 1515 Broadway, Manhattan INFO $35; 800-745- 3000,



A band scorecard


After a whole lot of lineup changes, Taking Back Sunday is back to the band that launched the Rockville Centre-based band and, in part, the Long Island scene. Here's a look at how it happened:

2002 -- Long Island scene veteran guitarist Eddie Reyes jells with singer Adam Lazzara, guitarist-singer John Nolan, drummer Mark O'Connell and bassist Shaun Cooper. The band signs with Victory Records and releases its debut, "Tell All Your Friends," which helps define the emo genre and puts the area on the musical map.

2003 -- Citing personal differences, Nolan and Cooper leave the band to form Straylight Run. They are replaced by Breaking Pangea guitarist-singer Fred Mascherino and bassist Matt Rubano.

2004 -- The new lineup releases "Where You Want To Be," which brings their first radio hit, "A Decade Under the Influence."

2006 -- The same lineup releases "Louder Now," which includes their biggest single to date, "Make Damn Sure."

2007 -- Mascherino leaves the band as relations become increasingly stormy and launches his own project, The Color Fred. Facing New York guitarist-singer Matt Fazzi replaces him.

2009 -- The new lineup releases "New Again," including the hit "Sink Into Me: and the swipe at Mascherino, "Capital M-E."

2010 -- Straylight Run breaks up after they struggle with their major-label deal. Taking Back Sunday decides to bring back Nolan and Cooper, while pushing out Fazzi and Rubano.

2011 -- The new/old lineup releases "Taking Back Sunday."

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