Queen City Nerve

Charlotte's Cultural Pulse

Taking Back Sunday Celebrates 20 Years with Two Fillmore Shows
Looking back on two decades

By Ryan Pitkin

October 1, 2019

Taking Back Sunday (from left): Shaun Cooper, John Nolan, Mark O’Connell and Adam Lazarra. (Photo by Natalie Escobedo)

As the only member of Taking Back Sunday still living in Charlotte, guitarist John Nolan couldn’t think of a better place to kick off the second leg of the band’s North American tour; not just because it’s Charlotte, but because it’s The Fillmore. 

Playing the Music Factory venue, as the band will do for two consecutive nights on Oct. 3 and Oct. 4, is a change in perspective for Nolan. He’s seen countless shows there with TBS singer Adam Lazarra, who lived in Charlotte until he moved to Raleigh earlier this year. 

“It’s a great thing to be able to start off a tour where you live, that’s just always a fun thing to do,” said Nolan, who still resides in the NoDa neighborhood. “We love playing The Fillmore. It’s been good to us. We’ve got to see a lot of shows there, as well, since we’ve lived there, so that always makes it cool to go to a venue where you’ve seen a lot of bands you love. You think a little more about the company that you’re in when you play a place like that.” 

The foursome is also in great company when it comes to longevity, as all year they’ve been celebrating the 20th anniversary of the band’s formation, allowing them to accurately say their career together not only spans decades, but has touched on two different centuries — millennia even. 

For each of this week’s Charlotte shows, the band will perform two albums in their entirety, although which albums get played on which night is yet to be determined. While each performance will include a full performance of the band’s 2002 debut Tell All Your Friends, they’ve created a special coin to flip on Thursday night to help them decide on which night they will follow up with 2004’s Where You Want To Be and which night they’ll end with 2006’s Louder Now.

At the Oct. 4 show, the band will release a remastered vinyl reissue of Tell All Your Friends. Though the LP will be available as a wide release, a special edition pressed on iridescent color-morphing green vinyl and limited to 1,000 copies will be for sale exclusively on the band’s website and on tour.

‘Twenty’ cover art

In January, Taking Back Sunday released Twenty, a compilation album featuring selections from albums including Tell All Your Friends, Where You Want To Be, Louder Now, 2009’s New Again, 2011’s Taking Back Sunday, 2014’s Happiness Is and 2016’s Tidal Wave.

The band also recorded two new songs for Twenty, titled “All Ready To Go” and “A Song for Dan,” the recording process for which was different than anything the band had done before, Nolan says. First, Lazarra engineered both and the band produced them, rather than hire someone for each role as they had in the past, but another major difference involved the fact that members of the band were hundreds of miles apart while they worked on the songs. 

While drummer Mark O’Connell and bassist Shaun Cooper got things started in Long Island, New York, where they live, Nolan and Lazarra finished things up in Charlotte. 

Lazarra explains how “All Ready To Go” was recorded from different locations: “It was an idea Mark and Shaun laid the bones down for in New York and then sent them down to Charlotte, where John and I continued to arrange and add our individual contributions. This made for a great demo and a fair amount of time for everyone to sit with it before we all were able to get in the studio together and hash out the different parts and details with one another.

“It sounds like a lot when I say it like that, but the process itself was a cohesive and relatively quick one,” he continues. “Having the space to live and breathe with the idea before all coming together to shape it, and knowing where we can lean on one another as the song progresses is both insightful and exciting to all of us. It’s one of my favorite parts of being in Taking Back Sunday.”

According to Nolan, some separately recorded parts of the song made it on to the finalized version, which was a first in the band’s 20 years. 

“We’ve done some writing and demoing like that, this was the first time I think we actually used the tracks that were recorded separately for the finished product,” Nolan says. “Because it was just two songs, you know, if we were doing a whole album, we wouldn’t go through the whole thing like that, but we decided to try it out.” 

Lazarra believes the band’s ability to record in such a piecemeal manner is a sign of how the members have developed a shared mind over 20 years. 

“This song is a great example of how in tune we have become with one another, our collective musical instincts,” he says.

For Nolan, those 20 years have come and gone in the blink of an eye, but also feel like forever. He calls it “surreal” and “hard to believe” that the band has been together for two decades, even if in some ways it seems even longer. 

“In a lot of ways it doesn’t seem like that long, but it’s one of those things where you think about certain things and it seems like a lifetime ago, and then other things from 15 or 20 years ago seem like yesterday,” he says. “It’s very hard to really grasp that it’s actually been that long in reality.”

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