Taking Back Sunday goes original

Starting members back on board with new CD, tour




If you go

What: Taking Back Sunday, in concert.

When: 8 p.m. Oct. 19.

Where: McMenamins Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W. Burnside St., Portland.

Cost: $23 through Cascade Tickets, 800-514-3849 or cascadetickets.com.

Information: mcmenamins.com or 503-225-0047.

A couple of years ago, Shaun Cooper thought his music career was over.

His band, Straylight Run, was falling apart, and the other musician with whom he had formed that group, guitarist/vocalist John Nolan, was working on a solo album and seemed intent to following that path.

Cooper posted in a blog to fans announcing that he would be hanging up his bass and retiring from touring.

"I'm not the type of guy that can float from band to band, and do this and be totally happy," Cooper said. "I need to be creating music that I love with people that I love, too. And so that just didn't seem like a viable option at that point.

"I had a lot of friends in bands that I cared about and were making great music, but weren't also paying the bills, too. So I needed all of those things to come together," he said. "So really, if one of those needs isn't being met, I just have to stay home and figure out another job, which I have no idea what that might be."

Fortunately for Cooper, he never had to figure out what other job he might be able to do.

Around that time, singer Adam Lazzara, guitarist Eddie Reyes and drummer Mark O'Connell were unhappy with life in Taking Back Sunday, the band those three musicians started in 2001 with Cooper and Nolan.

Nolan and Cooper had left Taking Back Sunday in 2003 and started Straylight Run, a band that had decent success with its 2004 self-titled debut album but had seen its popularity wane before deciding at the start of 2010 to go on an indefinite hiatus.

It was at that point that O'Connell, who had remained good friends with both Nolan and Cooper even as Taking Back Sunday continued with Fred Mascherino (followed by Matt Fazzi) taking over for Nolan and Matt Rubano replacing Cooper, went into action.

He reached out (with the approval of Reyes and Lazzara, as well as Taking Back Sunday's management) to Nolan about rejoining.

"I was like, 'I have a question for you: Are you ready for this?'" O'Connell recalled. "'If we were to ask you to come back into Taking Back Sunday, hypothetically, what would you say?'

"And he was like, 'You know man, yeah, I'd come back and do a reunion show or something like that.' I was like, 'No, no, … come back into the band, be a member of the band, with an album, tour, the whole thing.'"

Nolan said he'd be interested in talking about that, O'Connell said.

After that, getting Cooper back into the fold was a no-brainer. This restored the lineup that made the 2002 debut CD, "Tell All Your Friends," the CD that established Taking Back Sunday as a band to watch on the alternative rock scene, with the band selling more than 300,000 copies.

The departures of Nolan and Cooper, though, didn't derail Taking Back Sunday, which has gone on to make three more studio CDs -- "Where You Want to Be," "Louder Now" and "New Again" — while retaining its popularity.

But after firing Rubano and Fazzi in spring 2010 and welcoming Nolan and Cooper back, the reunited lineup quickly clicked, and the band released a self-titled studio CD in 2011.

The album suggests that this lineup of Taking Back Sunday still meshes musically. The songs, by and large, are hard hitting and delivered with verve. Tunes such as "Faith (When I Let You Down)," "Sad Savior" and "You Got Me" pack a both a punch and immediately grabby guitar hooks. While some key stylistic signatures — such as the blend of sung and screamed vocals, and guitar parts that combine aggressive riffing and ringing tones — remain, "Taking Back Sunday" sounds like a step forward for the band, not an attempt to return to the "Tell All Your Friends" era.

That said, the band will take a look back this fall, marking the 10th anniversary of "Tell All Your Friends" with a tour in which it will play that debut album in its entirety.

"The record is just so important to us," Cooper said. "We wouldn't be here without it. We can't believe that 10 years ago we put out this record. When we recorded that record, and we wrote those songs, all of our dreams were accomplished when we signed the deal with Victory Records and that record was in stores. That was the end of the dream for us. We thought that was as good as it could get.

"So now 10 years later, being able to play those songs, people still want to hear those songs. A lot of people want to hear them, surprisingly enough to us, and we're just so grateful we can do it."