Taking Back Sunday’s secret to success
Alternative staple plans to stick around for another decade, at least.
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: The Blue Note
Picture your first-grade-self morphing into a high school grad. That’s how long Taking Back Sunday has ruled the alternative music scene.
For the Long Island band to boast 12 years of staying power and a resume including appearing in teen drama "Degrassi: The Next Generation," chart-scaling VH1’s "Top 20 Music Video Countdown," singing about pets on Nick Jr.’s "Yo Gabba Gabba!" and headlining music festival Bamboozle 2011, it must be doing something right.
Maybe it’s from working with industry legends to concoct the band’s slightly bizarre, slightly bemusing music videos. One recent release titled “Faith (When I Let You Down) OMGWTFTBS Cat” centers on a walking, talking, kitty sell-out.
“We thought it was hysterical,” bassist Shaun Cooper says. “That was the brainchild of our evil mastermind director, Chris Marrs Piliero.”
Piliero, as in Britney Spears video director Piliero.
Plus, it doesn’t hurt to tackle the music world as a team. Although Cooper and guitarist John Nolan were on Taking Back Sunday’s initial 1999 roster, the two left the band in 2003 but returned last year. Now reinstated, the original lineup, also including frontman Adam Lazzara, guitarist Eddie Reyes and drummer Mark O’Connell, is as close-knit as ever.
“We weren’t sure how it would work out when we met up in El Paso, Texas, for the first time," Cooper says. "All five of us hadn’t been in the same room together for seven years. A couple hours into it, it felt like no time had passed. We’ve all had so many ups and downs in life we’ve really learned about life and that we kind of need each other to be successful.”
Equipped with such solid camaraderie, the band is currently undertaking a schedule that would make a triple-major cringe. After covering Europe and major United States cities this past summer and planning radio, holiday and South American performances this winter, they’re eagerly focusing on smaller spots like Columbia at the moment.
“It feels really cool to be in these towns,” Cooper says. “I feel like the crowds are a little more grateful that you’re there.”
The Columbia show has been confirmed for more than two months, Blue Note talent buyer Pete McDevitt says.
“People will start lining up for that one probably five or six hours before doors open,” McDevitt says.
One particular admirer of Taking Back Sunday is its own publicist assistant Mallory Jackson.
“I saw Taking Back Sunday in concert as a teenager and met Eddie," Jackson says. "The band definitely sparked my interest in working in the music industry. I never would haven imagined 10 years later I would be helping to promote their tour and record."
Such fan enthusiasm points to perhaps another reason for Taking Back Sunday’s longevity: the members’ casual acceptance of genre labeling. Although decreed by iTunes Almighty as an alternative group, the band sees beyond that tag.
“I’m so bad with genres and classifying things," Cooper says. "It all blends together for me. We want to be a band like Pearl Jam. We want to be a band like Nirvana. If those bands are considered alternative, then we love the title.”
That said, listeners of all kinds should still find the June-released fifth album "Taking Back Sunday" appealing.
“It’s more succinct," Cooper says. "There’s some good pop sensibility, some good hard rocker stuff. It’s the record the band’s most proud of right now.”
So perhaps it’s Option E. Taking Back Sunday’s success stems from all of the above — their talking cats, their brofederacy, their fandom, their tunes and their mindset.
“When we’re out there, when we’re playing shows, we’re having the best time of our lives," Cooper says, "It’s a party, and it’s a celebration. If we’re still doing this in another 10 years, I’ll be a very happy man.”