Taking Back Sunday wsg The Used
The Orbit Room, Grand Rapids
Sept. 12, 6 p.m.
$30 advance, $35 DOS
For melodic punk veterans Taking Back Sunday, second time's the charm. The group’s standards of success have risen dramatically with the release of their latest album, Happiness Is. This time, however, artistic freedom was more accessible than ever.
“We really had no label pressure while we were writing the album,” said Lead Vocalist Adam Lazzara, referring to Hopeless Records, an independent label based in Los Angeles. “It was just whatever the five of us wanted to do, which was a nice departure for us. ”
The album, which marks the second release since the band's founding members reunited, broke into the Billboard 200 top ten in the weeks following its March debut.
“We were surprised to know that people still buy complete albums,” said Lazzara. “You can’t really think about where the album’s going to land when you’re working on it, but obviously, we did something right."
The reunion's impact still comes as a surprise to Lazzara after Lead Guitarist John Nolan and Bassist Shaun Cooper departed in 2003.
“No one was getting along—it was kind of like driving a car with five people trying to steer,” Lazzara said. “Getting John and Shawn back started out as an experiment to see if the chemistry was still there, and it was.”
The band’s members write their song parts on their own time, making everything come together smoothly once it was time to begin recording.
“One of us comes into the studio with a basic guitar part and we build a song around that," Lazzara said. "The lyrics are up to John and me. It’s a system of checks and balances."
The cover of Happiness Is pays tribute to the longevity of the band's musical connection. A weathered panther amid a background of bold red may puzzle the casual fan, but the panther has become a band emblem.
“We wanted the cover to feel timeless," Lazzara said. "[Rhythm Guitarist] Eddie Reyes has a massive panther tattoo on his arm, and we all ended up eventually getting panther tattoos."
Currently, TBS is touring the country en route to the Orbit Room.
“When we perform live, we want to facilitate a nice escape for people, because life ain’t easy,” Lazzara said.