Today we split the crowd open,” says Taking Back Sunday guitarist Eddie Reyes, checking in from a Warped Tour stop in Vancouver. “We were like, ‘When we start the song, do fucking Brave-heart.‘ You had 2,000 kids on one side and 2,000 kids on another running into each other. It was insanity.” The incident is typical for the five Amityville, New York, rockers: Not only does their raucous punk attack frequently result in minor injuries to the band members, they’ve got a strong hold on their rabid and expanding audience, having sold more than 350,000 copies of their debut, Tell All Your Friends, with little radio or TV airplay.
“When we were recording the first record,” says singer Adam Lazzara, “we said, ‘If we could just sell 300 records, that’d be awesome.’ Now, talking to the kids that understand it, it just blows my mind.” Lazzara’s wounded crooning, good looks and ability to inspire Dashboard Confessional-like singalongs have certainly helped younger audiences understand, though the band also credits much of its adrenalized sound to Reyes, who has been dubbed “mayor of the Warped Tour.”
After Reyes founded Taking Back Sunday four years ago, the band suffered an almost comic series of lineup changes in 2003 that included the defection of covocalist John Nolan. “The press made us out to be horrible people,” Reyes says. “They don’t know who we are. We don’t bother nobody!” Having weathered intraband fighting that nearly killed their new album, Where You Want to Be, Taking Back Sunday are just trying to stay sane on what seems like one endless tour. “We started a kickball league,” says Lazzara. “Us and [New Jersey emo punks] Thursday are on a team. Taking Back Thursday are going to run away with the championship.”
This story is from the August 19, 2004 issue of Rolling Stone.