When discussing the legacy of 2000s pop punk and emo, one would be remiss to forget the high-octane melodrama of New York band Taking Back Sunday. Founded in 1999, the four-piece would first break the Billboard charts with 2002’s Tell All Your Friends, a gut-punching collection of songs like “Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut From the Team)” and “You’re So Last Summer” — of which the 2003 video spotlighted a memorable lip-sync by fellow Long Islander and Public Enemy member Flavor Flav. Taking Back Sunday’s pop-conscious hooks and knotty, post-hardcore riffs would help provide a blueprint for many other melodic punk and hardcore groups over the next 20 years.
“We are fortunate to be having a 20th anniversary,” lead singer Adam Lazzara tells Rolling Stone. Adds bassist Shaun Cooper: “We came from a scene where most bands didn’t have much longevity. The four of us really love making music together and playing shows. We always kind of lived in fear that it could all go away at any minute.”
The band celebrates two decades under the influence this week with Twenty, a compilation of songs that span the band’s illustrious career, set for release January 11th via Craft Recordings. The album includes 19 essential tracks from all seven of their full-length albums, plus two newly minted studio recordings by the band’s core lineup since 2001 — comprised of Lazzara and Cooper, plus founding guitarist John Nolan and drummer Mark O’Connell. The new bonus tracks include the blazing 2018 single “All Ready to Go,” plus the heartrending piano ballad, “A Song for Dan.”
A sobering reflection on the guilt of surviving a loved one’s death, the sweeping orchestral lament was first kindled by drummer O’Connell, who sought to commemorate the passing of one of his dear friends and bandmates from his youth. “Mark and I had a good friend who tragically passed away during the recording of our  Tidal Wave record,” explains Cooper. “He taught Mark and I a ton about songwriting and guitar playing. After he passed, Mark was inspired and spent about a year working on the musical arrangement of the song.” Disquieting in its vulnerability, Lazarra’s voice quakes fiercely as he sings, “So many lessons left unlearned/All those warning signs you missed…/If I could reach you, I would.”
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Taking Back Sunday closed 2018 on a much higher note, after becoming the youngest inductees of the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. There they joined legends such as Mariah Carey, Billy Joel, Joan Jett and their friend Flavor Flav. “Public Enemy came up one town over from where Mark and I grew up,” says Cooper. “Knowing that they came from our neck of the woods was inspiring and gave us hope.”
After a smattering of shows in December, the quartet kicked off their 2019 world tour this month, which will last throughout the year and cover five continents. “One of the most striking things to me is looking out to the crowd and seeing people of all different ages,” says Lazzara. “To have people all at different phases of their life getting lost at the same time, in the same place, to the same thing, together. We have been fortunate enough to grow up together, over the years. That’s very special to me.”