Since forming at the turn of the 21st century, Taking Back Sunday
has steadily been building their profile, taking their pop-tinged hardcore punk to the masses through sheer hard work and non stop touring. The fruits of their labour, saw two independent releases via the Victory label, their debut Tell All Your Friends in 2002 and its follow-up, Where You Want To Be two years later, awarded Gold status. In the wake of this success, they inked a deal last year with major label Warner Bros. via which the group's third outing Louder Now will surface in late April, 2006.
On the band's first ever visit to Australia, where Taking Back Sunday played to sold-out shows nationwide, Joe Matera jumped aboard the band's tour entourage in Melbourne to speak to the band's guitarists Fred Mascherino
and Eddie Reyes
for this exclusive interview for UG.
JM: With the album Louder Now not out until late April, the album's lead off single Make Damn Sure is currently saturating the airwaves. Is it very much indicative of the whole album?
It is very close to what we've been writing but there are also a few very heavy songs on there too. We've gone to some places where we haven't gone before on this album.
With Louder Now which is your major label debut [on Warner Bros.], how was the process of making this album different compared to that of your previous efforts on an independent label?
|"We've gone to some places where we haven't gone before on this album."|
We turned it up to eleven! (laughs)
The difference was we just had a bit more time. We actually demo-ed this record on our own as we have our own home studio, so demoed the whole thing first which was about 14 or 15 songs. Then we went to Los Angeles with the producer Eric Valentine (Queens of the Stone Age, Third Eye Blind) who had been working with us on the demos. We re-demoed everything and by the time we recorded it the third time round, all the changes and transitions were in stone. All we had to concentrate then on were the sounds themselves. We didn't have to fuss with stuff like maybe we should shorten this part or whatever
as it was already pre-figured out.
I don't want to sugar coat it, but even the first and second albums had its moments where it was a hard process. But we all kind of collectively put in our ideas and somehow we all worked it out and it fit in perfectly. So sometimes it did and sometimes it didn't. But this record was done just like the first two records where it was basically us getting together using Fred's ideas, my ideas and Adam's ideas and the others.
Are you worried with the fact that now you're on a major label, they'll be some fans calling you sell-outs?
Selling out is someone who I guess compromises what they write. On this record we haven't changed anything.
The recording process itself other than having more time was basically done the same way as we recorded the last record. We went in with the producer, finished off the writing and produced the record with Eric. There were no major label people looking over our shoulders. I mean, they would stop by once in a blue moon but it was a good thing though as they were just showing us support and letting us know that they were digging what we were doing. You know that last record, we actually paid for it on own dime, we went it and recorded and paid for it and just did it with what we had. This time round we went in and Warner helped us. And it was a good thing because Eric actually was our first choice in producer and I don't think we would have got him without the support of Warners.
As a producer, what did Eric bring to the whole recording process?
He really knows how to make loud rock records. And I think he's as good and as better as any one else. He just has - especially when it comes to drums - he just knows how to make them so much louder than any other drums I've heard. And it's not a phoney sampling thing that a lot of producers are using today. He's strictly doing it by getting the right mics on the drums and using compression.
Our recording actually went to tape and it's a mix of analog and Pro Tools. We recorded it on Pro Tools and then we sent that over to tape and mixed it on tape. Eric is just one of those guys that when we sat down with him to talk about making this record, we were like 'we want to make a rock album, we don't want to sound too over polished but we want it to sound like we do live
'. And he was basically, 'oh I can do that
Compared to your previous efforts, Louder Now seems to capture more of that live energy you have onstage.
|"Selling out is someone who I guess compromises what they write. On this record we haven't changed anything."|
That is right. That is something we felt we haven't done in the past.
We've always had a lot of people telling us 'you guys are great live but on record, though it's great, it's just not you guys live, it's not the same energy
'. I think we've finally captured that energy on this record.
b>Did you do a lot of experimentation with sounds in the studio?
Eric made me go through an old tape delay which had like an echo pedal through an old British made Burman amp. I pretty much recorded a whole song with just holding an end part of a microphone, the metal piece, on like a string so that it made like an echoing sound, and it was amazing. That was one of the things I experimented with in the studio.
On the song Miami we kind of did an unusual treatment that is nothing like any of our other songs. We kind of got this Cure sounding chorus thing happening on the choruses. Then on the verses, I had some chords I was playing and we really wanted to get an Eighties sound, but more like an Eighties pop sound like the Cars. So rather than play the chords, I split up the notes into single notes so we could put the chord on different tracks, each note per track. We split it up and did it that way.
Do you mean similar to the process Mutt Lange used with Def Leppard on Hysteria?
Exactly. You know we actually brought in some Def Leppard records while we were recording. Doing it that was very time consuming. Also keeping things well in tune when you're doing that is a little rough, but that was cool. And that song also has a pretty ripping solo on it too, where I used a pedal called a Fuzz Factory made by Zvex. It's a handmade pedal, very boutique. That thing is so ridiculous it'll make noises when you're not even playing.
Since we're touching on the topic of gear, what did you use for the recording?
|"Eric Valentine is as good and as better as any one else."|
I mainly used an old Orange amp and the Burman I mentioned earlier. I did a lot of my tracks with an old '72 Epiphone Casino and I also used a '72 Epiphone Crestwood which is a Japanese made model and which Eric really liked the heaviness of. As for effects, I used a lot of that tape delay and I didn't use any distortion pedals because the Orange had a perfect gain sound in itself when the volume was turned all the way up.
I mainly played my early '90s Gibson SG Special that I normally play live. I have five of those SGs - old and new - but I this particular one happens to be the lucky one. It has an amazing sound which is really warm and gives me my own sound. I normally go through a Marshall JCM800.
I have to add that the JCM800 is probably the greatest sounding heads I've ever heard in my life. I'm always thinking of ways from stealing that off Fred. (laughs)
We also used a Firebird if we needed a really tight sound, a Gretsch was used on the verses of the single Make Damn Sure because we wanted a sort of clean/dirty sound. There is also a Silvertone Jupiter, it's heard on the first song What's It Feel Like to Be a Ghost that opens the album, it's an old piece of crap but it has an amazing almost '50s-esque raunchy sound that is similar to a Danelectro.
Since Taking Back Sunday are fans of comics, was that the driving motivation with your contributions to both the Spider-Man 2 and Fantastic Four soundtracks?
Actually our singer Adam Lazzara is really into Daredevil comics heavily and a lot of the newer Dark Horse Batman comics.
I have got original Fantastic Four comics that I had from when I was a kid and we read through them trying to get lyrics out of there. So we have a pile of Fantastic Four comics to write from. The song Error Operator which appears on the Fantastic Four soundtrack is actually also on the new record, and we wrote that one from reading the fantastic four comics.
So since you're currently on tour here in Australia, what sort of stuff do you normally do while out on the road on in between the shows to help while away the hours?
|"I think we've finally captured our live energy on this record."|
I'm obsessed with horror, I love old horror flicks mostly George Romero and a lot of those old Italian Zombie movies. So I basically sit on the bus and make Fred watch these grotesque zombie flicks with me. And he loves it! You should see his facial expressions. (laughs) He screams, it's awesome and Fred is the greatest person to watch a horror flick with, he makes it all worth it.
Yeah it's just because I jump out of my seat. (laughs)
Now that would be something good to capture on a camcorder, do you ever record stuff like this with the intention that one day it might appear on a band DVD?
Yeah, we do have a camera that we take around though I don't think thus far we have taped anything really worthwhile. We usually just turn on the camera and film someone doing something silly. But having said that, earlier today we actually went to the Aquarium here in Melbourne and when we were done and waiting for a ride back to our hotel, our crew guys started saying 'hey, let's try and climb the lamp posts?
' So we did and then suddenly the Aquarium people came out and said to us, you guys obviously can't control your male egos. You have to leave here!
So we got kicked out of that place.
You've done shows with the likes of Metallica and Green Day, what were they like?
With Metallica we never got that close to them other than they were rehearsing in the tent next to where we were hanging out. Actually that same day we played right after Slayer and that was probably one of the greatest experience and also the scariest experience of my life ever. When the crowd is screaming for Slayer and they suddenly announce that Slayer aren't coming on yet but Taking Back Sunday will soon, and everyone is yelling 'damn Taking Back Sunday
' and that coming from diehard Slayer fans, it's very scary indeed. So we just waited until they [Slayer] showed up and played. After they finished we went out to play but the place had been totally destroyed and most of their fans had left the place.
As for Green Day, they were awesome and so down to earth. They actually came to our dressing room and asked us to hang out with them, which was cool. And some of the band actually knew our music and wanted to talk about it with us which was also great.
|Listen to Fred and Eddie (photo) greeting Ultimate-Guitar.com at this location.
Check out audio streams for "MakeDamnSure," the debut single from Louder Now:
Windows Media: Lo, Me
QuickTime: Lo, Me
Here is the unedited version of video for the single: QuickTime, Windows Media.
Find the band's current tour dates at this location.|