Taking Back Sunday gave their fourth LP a fitting title: New Again. As frontman Adam Lazzara told Rolling Stone when we visited the Long Island rockers in a New York recording studio last fall, the addition of guitarist Matt Fazzi last spring has given the five-piece a wildly fresh perspective.
"The idea that we've really embraced on this record is that it's up to us to decide what Taking Back Sunday sounds like," bassist Matt Rubano tells RS. "We always want to be redefining what that means, and there's stuff on this record I think in the past we would have stayed away from." Rubano says the "sassy" "Cut Me Up Jenny" has a hint of Phoenix and Bloc Party, while "Lonely, Lonely" was inspired by Queens of the Stone Age and became "a freight train of rock & roll."
The band wrote New Again, due June 2nd in Brooklyn's notorious hip Williamsburg neighborhood, where "We stuck out on the street because we were so loud," Rubano says. But inside their practice space, their sound was growing tighter. In fact, Lazzara says he can't even bear to listen to 2002's Tell All Your Friends anymore. "I hadn't hit puberty yet," he jokes. "We've just grown as musicians [since then]; it's so fun to sing these songs now because there's things I can add to those tunes I couldn't do then."
Still, the band hasn't abandoned older songs that still strike a chord with fans. They've added a version of "Cute Without the E" to their set list that's inspired by the mono-note melodies of Interpol and Joy Division ("We put on thousand-dollar suits and look really handsome and intense," Lazzara deadpans) and recently paid a visit to rock vocal coach Melissa Cross. Cross, who normally assists harder bands like Underoath, Thursday and Andrew W.K., spent four hours with the band helping them work on singing techniques. "If our music got in a fight with their music, our music would be running home to call his friends," Lazzara and Rubano say of Cross' usual clients.
Before heading out to open for Blink-182 and Weezer over the summer, Taking Back Sunday are debuting the new record on a U.S. club tour. "We're excited to have the new songs reach people's ears, but also nervous," Lazzara says, notes the band is rehearsing more than ever. Adds Rubano, "If you're not anxious for people to hear your new record, then you've done something wrong."