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Interview: John Nolan from Taking Back Sunday

John Nolan singing

Taking Back Sunday are known by most as one of the longest-serving leaders of the American emo-punk movement of the 2000s. Six studio albums deep, they’re set to release their new album ‘Tidal Wave‘ in September, and have plans to hit Aussie shores in March 2017. We spoke to guitarist John Nolan and talked about their new album, road-trips, the upcoming tour, and 4am screaming matches in a sketchy NSW backpacker’s lodge.

For those reading who may have been living under a rock, what inspired the name Taking Back Sunday?

The name Taking Back Sunday? Wow, man, (laughs) I haven’t been asked that question since like, the first five years of the band! It was a band called The Waiting Process from Long Island and when we played shows with them when we first started out. They have a song called Taking Back Sunday and our guitarist Eddie (Reyes) really liked it and liked how the name sounded and what it meant to him.

You have a new album ‘Tidal Wave’ coming out in September, what can fans of the band expect from this record?

I think they can expect a record that they’re really going to like!

Can you tell me about the recording process? Was there anything different or unique about this album compared to previous ones?

Well, I think it was generally along the same lines of what we were doing. One of the things that was different was we got do it in Charlotte (North Carolina), which is where Adam, the singer, and I live right now. So we got to do a lot of the record in our home town, which was nice. We recorded in a studio about a 10 minute drive from where we live, where the last few we’ve done we’ve travelled, so it was a new experience to do it close to home.

Man, I remember listening to Cute Without The E catching the bus to school back when I was a kid, and have heard how the band has evolved over the years with songs like MakeDamnSure and now Tidal Wave and You Can’t Look Back. Was the musical progression over the years natural, or do you go in to each record consciously writing a certain way?

I think it’s natural… y’know? It’s natural in the sense that we don’t get together and say “look, this is the direction we’re gonna go in right now” and like, plan it. But with each record I think there are different things that become sort of unnatural, but you don’t realise it at the time. You make a decision or you’re thinking you want to do something in a certain way but you don’t realise it. But it always feels natural, we never go in wanting to do things for any particular reason. I think with this album everything really clicked in a way that hadn’t before, just as far as what everyone wanted to do.

Are there any standout tracks that fans might be surprised by?

I think there’s definitely going to be a few, there’s a song called Coming Home that I think is one of the more happier Taking Back Sunday songs that’s ever been written. Its acoustic-based but not a typical slow acoustic song…it’s kinda mid-tempo, full band, but acoustic driven song. It’s a bit different for the band and will definitely surprise people. There’s a lot of things throughout the album that are gonna surprise people, but that’s the first one that really comes to mind.

You guys have an Aussie tour coming up next year, are you excited to get back to Australian shores?

Yeah, we are! We’re very excited, it’s been too long since we’ve been there. I was surprised because I looked back on it and I don’t think we’ve been there since 2014, so we’re real excited to come back!

Awesome man! How do the crowds in Australia compare to back home or Europe?

You know what, I would say similar to the US! The attitude at shows reminds me of home. Europe definitely has different places and vibes, you know, but UK, Australia, and American crowds are [similar]… in the middle of a show it all feels the same and a similar vibe to me.

Do you have a favourite Australian city to hang out in?

I really like Sydney, man…we go there every tour we’ve been on so far. This one time a few years back I stayed there a few days after the tour was done to hang out and stuff, took a road-trip down the coast to Wollongong and that whole area, and that holds a real special place in my heart.

What can fans expect from this upcoming tour?

We’re still working on the set-list, and I think’s going to depend on where things go with this new album. We just did a very long US tour that just felt like we reached a new level as a live act, and I’m very excited to come back to Australia to have people see where we’re at. I think I can say it without being too conceded or anything that the band has really progressed in our live show, and so I think that whatever the set-list is and whatever we do I’m just really excited and think we’re at a level we weren’t at last time.

Speaking of the progression and reaching new levels, you guys have been kicking around since the early 2000s, what’s the secret to keeping together? So many bands from that era have broken up and Taking Back Sunday keep going from strength to strength, how do you do it?

Honestly, one element is definitely luck. Lots of luck involved, there is no way around that! Another thing is that every single person in Taking Back Sunday agrees that doing this is all we ever wanted to do and all we were ever cut out for. No one ever really had a backup plan and I think when you get five guys that are all like that it helps with your longevity!

Final question, you guys have toured Australia a number of times, do you have a ridiculous or funny memory from Australia?

Oh man, put me on the spot! Well, like I said I did the road-trip where my wife flew out and met me towards the end of the tour and we road-tripped together after it was over. The thing is, we rented a campervan and neither of us had ever driven in Australia before, so one of the big things was (laughs) actually being able to drive on the other side of the road and get used to the steering wheel being on the wrong side.

The other big thing was I’d never driven stick before and of course the campervan was stick shift. So I was getting used to the Australian driving and also the stick shift. I was almost in an accident…multiple accidents…too many times…more than anyone ever should!

Oh man, I thought of another thing! Maybe I shouldn’t go into all the detail… we stayed in a small beach town hotel that I can’t remember the name of and the hotel was…okay. A little sketchy backpacker’s maybe. We got woken by this pounding and screaming in the room next door. People just yelling and screaming and fighting, it was crazy! We were freaking out, it was like four in the morning or something like that. It was getting super violent and we wanted to call the emergency services but we didn’t know what number to call! We only knew 911 ’cause we’re American! (laughs).

Eventually the police did come and escorted the people out of the hotel… I don’t know what the scenario exactly was but people were arrested and something very violent and illegal was definitely going on next door to us. I remember thinking “at least no one has a gun” (laughs)… or at least most likely! We weren’t in America so we knew we weren’t gonna get shot!

Check out the music video for Tidal Wave and the upcoming Australian tour dates below!

Taking Back Sunday 2016 Australian Tour

Enmore Theatre, Sydney
The Triffid, Brisbane
170 Russell, Melbourne
The Gov, Adelaide
THU 23 Mar
Metro City, Perth

Get Tickets HERE

TBS tour poster