In an era of re-touched photos, reworked passages, and re-recorded discographies, Taking Back Sunday has no re-grets in leaving Tell All Your Friends alone. The debut album from the alt-rock/punk band turns 20 in 2022, and to celebrate, the group – John Nolan, Adam Lazzara, Mark O’Connell, and Shaun Cooper – released a special reissue of the album, including four previously unreleased demos. While some bands might take this anniversary as a chance to give the songs a fresh coat of paint, John Nolan tells HollywoodLife that “we’ve never had any interest in doing that.”
“I think the flaws and imperfections in the album are part of what gives the album character and has drawn people to it,” he says in an EXCLUSIVE interview. “Also, recording new music is much more fun and exciting than re-recording old songs.”
When asked about why Tell All Your Friends continues to endure two decades later, John said he wasn’t sure why this album continues to resonate with fans both old and young. “We’re amazed and grateful that the album still means so much to people,” he says, “but it’s hard to know exactly why it does. I think it’s better left to people not in the band to offer explanations.”
John does explain why the band chose which demos it did, who’d they’d like to cover songs on TAYF, and the difference between “nostalgia” and “celebration.” The band is also wrapping up its tour with Third Eye Blind. The remaining dates can be found below.
HollywoodLife: The Tell All Your Friends demos are integral to the Taking Back Sunday story. Why did you pick these four – “Great Romances of the 20th Century,” “The Blue Channel,” “Bike Scene,” and “Mutual Head Club” – for the 20th-anniversary edition of TAYF?
John Nolan: We chose those four songs because they were the first ones written and recorded after the five of us became Taking Back Sunday. Even before we played them live, we knew we were on to something special. And once we did play them live, the reaction was amazing. They were the songs that started it all for us.
Adam once said that “with the Tell All Your Friends 10-year shows, there was a great deal of nostalgia happening,” but the recent 20-year shows have been more of a “celebration.” What do you think is the difference between nostalgia and celebration?
I think nostalgia involves some longing for the past and that’s just never been where our heads are at. It’s good to acknowledge milestones and celebrate them, but we’ve always done that while continuing to look to the future. Then and now, we’re much more interested in what comes next.
Why do you think this music has endured over the past two decades? It may be awkward to toot your own horn on this, but it’s clear that Tell All Your Friends touched upon something. Why do these songs still excite people to this day?
I honestly am not sure. We’re amazed and grateful that the album still means so much to people, but it’s hard to know exactly why it does. I think it’s better left to people not in the band to offer explanations.
Was there any temptation to tweak any of these songs, to record them in a 2022 lens? Do a ‘TBS’s Version’ of the album with twenty years’ added experience and proficiencies?
We’ve never had any interest in doing that. I think the flaws and imperfections in the album are part of what gives the album character and has drawn people to it. Also, recording new music is much more fun and exciting than re-recording old songs.
While these anniversary projects often ask, “how has the band changed/grown since then?” here’s a flip on the question: what is one thing that has remained constant with Taking Back Sunday since the first recording and release of Tell All Your Friends?
We’ve always followed our gut instincts. When you’re creating something or making decisions as a band, there’s a feeling of excitement or a feeling that something is off. Those feelings don’t always correspond with what makes sense logically, but we’ve always followed that over logic.
One of those recent anniversary projects was Metallica’s The Black Album, which included an edition that featured 53 artists covering songs from the record. While not excessive, if you could pick 2-3 bands to give Tell All Your Friends the “blacklist” treatment, which bands would you have cover what songs?
I’d like to hear some bands that are very different from us and not necessarily fans do covers. Like The Flaming Lips or Liars or someone like that. Bands that could make completely new versions of the songs. Maybe an instrumental cover by Explosions In The Sky. That would be cool.
Finally, how closer are you to the perfect song?
Taking Back Sunday’s Tour Dates (with Third Eye Blind)
7/29 – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
7/30 – Del Valle, TX @ Germania Insurance Amphitheater
7/31 – Irving, TX @ The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory
8/1 – Oklahoma City, OK @ The Zoo Amphitheatre
8/4 – Phoenix, AZ @ Arizona Federal Theatre
8/5 – Inglewood, CA @ YouTube Theater
8/11 – San Diego, CA @ Cal Coast Credit Union Amphitheater
8/12 – Las Vegas, NV @ Virgin Hotels Las Vegas
8/13 – Irvine, CA @ FivePoint Amphitheatre