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Sunday School: Taking Back Sunday Exclusive Interview
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Sunday School: Taking Back Sunday Exclusive Interview

By - Posted Jul 31, 2006

New York’s Taking Back Sunday is about as hot as a rock band can get these days. They have a hit album under their collective studded belts, Louder Now (Warner Bros.), are constantly on MTV and Fuse, and are currently on an arena tour of the States that finds them playing to their biggest audiences yet. And one look at the long line of kids standing in line hours before they hit the stage at Long Beach Arena here in blisteringly hot California proves that their fans are hard-to-the-core.

G4 had a chance to jump on the band’s glamorous (and very air conditioned!) tour bus to chat with singer Adam Lazzara and bassist Matt Rubano about rock ‘n’ roll, videogames, Star Wars and the pros and cons of zombies onstage, and found them to be fun, funny guys who genuinely enjoy what they do and appreciate their success. They were even kind enough to offer me a microwaved hotdog (to which I had to refuse since hotdogs are made of pig lips and lamb ass).

So read on…if you have the balls… (which I’m sure you do, but I had to say something manly here on behalf of all of Adam, Matt and myself, since we sound like such geeks throughout the interview).

To download the podcast of the full, raw interview, click below:

Download the Podcast using iTunes

Download the RSS Podcast Feed

Click here for our exclusive photo gallery of Taking Back Sunday live at Long Beach Arena.

G4: The first time I came to Long Beach Arena was to see Iron Maiden back in the day and here you guys are at Long Beach Arena! So what can I expect in the way of gargantuan zombies and pyro?

Taking Back SundayADAM: Oh, well, Matt actually wears full makeup, and like, stilts, ‘cause he’s a tall guy, but not the tallest guy, so we put him on some stilts. It makes him about eight foot two.

MATT: But they’re concealed in my pants. Along with other things.

Oh, I get it! You meant a penis!

MATT: YES! Well, this tour is like the biggest tour and biggest production that we’ve done, so there's quite a bit of lights and fun things we do on stage, like set changes. The stage goes through three distinct setups. One of them is a piece of artwork by a friend of ours named James Reem Davis. One of them is a light wall, sort of like all these hanging light tubes that drops at a particular point. Another one is like a traditional old-style movie theater sort of thing, with red curtains, along with lots of lights and strobing to send you into epileptic shock.

Excellent. It’s always good in an arena show to get as many seizures as possible.

MATT: Certainly.

It must be kind of an amazing leap from all those crappy East Coast dives and punk rock clubs you must’ve played in the early days to these big arenas. How do you take a small-scale rock show and blow it up to play these large venues?

ADAM: We don’t really look at it like that. It just takes care of itself. Like, even though there IS the barricade, we’ve always tried to make it so there’s no division, no line drawn between what going on the stage and what’s going on in the crowd. You make it so everybody’s in this thing together, kind of like a party. So we just try to make everyone feel as included as we can and, of course you try to play to the whole room. And we do things like stopping the music and letting everyone sing and things like that. We try to do as much of that as possible.

Taking Back SundaySo, no zombies?

MATT: Don’t get us wrong, we WANTED to blow stuff up and pyro and go crazy at first, but now we’ve sort of settled into was more appropriate for us. And, uh, no one would let us blow stuff up.

It’s hard in this post-Great White world.

MATT: You’re not kidding. People are sensitive about it.  Very sensitive.

ADAM: Yeah, they ruined music, twice.

Yeah!

ADAM: We were going to bring in chandeliers, but this setup we have now works out really awesome. Like, I’ve had a lot of family come out on this tour and they’ve been really proud of our show ‘cause it is A SHOW now, it’s not just a band playing.

It’s a full production.

ADAM: Yeah. And like you said before, this isn’t the kind of thing a band can immediately jump into. Over the years we’ve gradually and naturally gotten to this point, from playing small places and then working our way up.

MATT: Medium, and then large, and then extra large places.

ADAM: Yeah, this will be an extra large-

MATT: This is a SUPERSIZED combo-

ADAM: Not that we’re any better at it!

Taking Back SundayJust more people with us to witness, um, whatever you guys do!

MATT: If the audience is hot and the world is cold, we’re sort of that, in between. We are warm water.

So, you’re like a lukewarm buffalo then?

ADAM: I’d like to consider myself a buffalo.

MATT: A vocal buffalo!

ADAM: I like that.

Okay, good. Well, buffalo is a terrific transition to video games, because we all know...

ADAM: Brilliant! There’s buffalos all over Oregon Trail.

Wow! In my head, I was like, “Not such a good transition,” but you just made a great one! Brilliant!

ADAM: Oregon Trail…I think they made us play that in elementary school. That and Number Munchers with the frog.

MATT: Yeah, and the one you program, that little thing, umm… It was a little turtle? It was just a triangle but they told you it was a turtle. And you would give it programmed directions to move around.

Taking Back SundayThat’s what I was gonna ask you, what were your favorite video games as kids?

MATT: The turtle one, obviously. My next door neighbor, a girl I had a crush on, had an Atari 2600 and I think the first thing I saw was probably Pac-Man, and then Pong, which was the most simple video game of all time. Basically, tennis for people with Atari 2600.  Those were the first, and then as you grew older, you get into Mario Bros. and Tetris and all the sort of classic stuff like that, and then arcade games too.

ADAM: We’d have Tetris competitions.

On the GameBoy?

ADAM: No, the NES. Not to see who could get the furthest, but just to see who could get the most points. I remember one Christmas, I had these two cousins and they got the Nintendo system for Christmas one year - this was in the ‘80s. I remember being soooo jealous of them. It came with Duck Hunt and Super Mario Bros. and I remember wanting to play it the whole Christmas, but…

They wouldn’t let you?

ADAM: No, not like they wouldn’t let me, but almost like I was being stubborn…

MATT: “I’m not playing their stupid Nintendo!”

ADAM: …In protest of the fact that I wanted one so bad.

MATT: I was one of the last kids to get one. My parents were sooo against it, and then we got it it was already kinda like…

Taking Back SundayOn the decline?

MATT: Yeah, but we were still stoked.

ADAM: Same with me. And when I finally DID get it, my dad ends up playing it more then I do!

MATT: All of a sudden he’s going on these living room Duck Hunting missions.

I remember ripping it open and being so excited to get it and saying, “I wonder what game it comes with!!! Duck Hunt?! What a let down!”

MATT: I thought Duck Hunt was awesome. But I never really played it more then 2 inches from the screen. ‘Cause I hate losing!

I think I just couldn’t relate to duck hunting. I was like, “duck hunting? Dude, I live in the big city!”

MATT: I did like the dog that went and got your ducks after you shot them, then he did that little dance.

ADAM: I got the Power Pack.

MATT: With the pad where you run and…

ADAM: We used to cheat with that because we’d get on the ground and pound the hell out of it. (BAM BAM BAM!) We figured that out pretty quick.

Taking Back SundayThen, later on, you start figuring out all the cheats and stuff.

MATT: Contra had like that super one that everybody knows. There was a way in Mario Bros. to go right to the last level.

ADAM: Warp zones?

MATT: Yeah!

ADAM: That, and Super Mario Bros. 3. Actually, last Christmas I got a GameBoy from my dad, ‘cause he asked what I wanted, and that’s what I wanted…-

Like, 10 years too late!

ADAM: It’s one of those flip up ones and the only game I have for it is Super Mario Bros 3, and I can’t get past that frickin’ ice world. I know where all the warp zones are, but that’s sooo easy. I was trying to go board for board and do it right, play everything, but I’m stuck on Level 6.

MATT: I remember pumping about ten dollars into a Double Dragon machine once when I was younger. My dad had given me ten dollars for doing a bunch of stuff around the house, or maybe it was my birthday, or maybe cause he forgot and gave me some money, and I came home and asked me where I had been and if I still had any of the money left. I told him and he was like, “You played the game 40 times? Forty? You put ten dollars into it?” This was, like, 20 years ago, probably, and I had to tell him, “Yes, but I beat Double Dragon, dad!” But he had NO comprehension of why that was important to me.

Taking Back SundayYeah, he didn’t understand the significance of beating the Double Dragon.

MATT: And still probably doesn’t now.

ADAM: Teenage Ninja Turtles had an arcade game-

MATT: Sick. Totally sick!

ADAM: But it wasn’t the first one, it was one of the sequels, and the graphics at the time were the COOLEST ever.

MATT: They were like cartoon, almost.

ADAM: Yeah, there was a miniature golf place by my house and every Saturday you could pay a certain amount, like eight bucks or something, and you could play as much miniature golf and they’d give you a certain amount of tokens. The whole time, I would just play that and this one racing game. It felt like, “I know I can’t drive, I’m too young. I know I’m not a turtle! I’m not a ninja. I’m not a ninja turtle, but in a way, I am!”

That’s beautiful. So what’s the Madden game you guys are involved in?

MATT: It’s the new one, Madden ’07.

Taking Back SundayIs it an album track or a track you guys did for the game?

MATT: It’s a song called Spin off our album Louder Now, and is the most appropriate to be on a football soundtrack of any of our songs. And I say that very lightly, because I don’t think any of our music is exactly “football music!” But yeah, it’s a pretty aggressive track.

I kinda wish you guys had written an Madden song.

MATT & ADAM: (singing) Maaaaadden!  Football! F**k yeah!

MATT: We were gonna do that with Fantastic Four, where the song was gonna be, "Fantastic...FOUR!!" But that sounded really bad.

Who stopped you?

MATT: Some rat fink-

ADAM: I think we stopped ourselves!

MATT: We woke up one morning and said, “Wait, that’s a really BAD idea!”

ADAM: Most of our ideas are like explosions. It’s like, we have an idea, and it PEAKS, and then we just realize it’s not so good.

Taking Back SundayAre you PS2 or Xbox guys? Do you play them on the bus?

ADAM: We have a dressing room case, and we have an Xbox in there. And I tried to play Black.

MATT: Black’s awesome.

ADAM: I tried to, but there’s too many buttons! There’s too many buttons in video games these days.

MATT: These kids, with their buttons!

ADAM: No, man, no! Cause it’s not even the up-down-left-right anymore, it’s these little--

MATT: Toggles.

ADAM: Right when I figure out Bond for Super Nintendo -- of course I’m way behind the times with everything -- they come out with these two little toggle switches and there’s like eight buttons here, and then four here. You only have so many fingers! I’m only one guy!

MATT: One man with two hands!

You just need a joystick and a red button.

ADAM: Yeah! I don’t want to have to use my toes when I’m a space adventurer, trying to fight off deadly aliens.

MATT: I had a really intense winter love affair with God of War, where I was staying inside a lot.

Awwww, that sounds so romantic.

MATT: Yeah, isn’t it?  It was one of the bad-assest games I’ve ever seen! Like, all the mythology and stuff. It has a really cool storyline, and it’s really well-designed. So I hope maybe there’s a sequel. The game ends as if there COULD be a sequel, so I’d be looking forward to that, and anything that ever involves Star Wars at all.

Taking Back SundayDo you like those sort of open ended games, where you have a whole universe, because some people get like…

MATT: Overwhelmed. I like it when it’s open, but I don’t like to wander around for four-and-a-half hours to find, like, a piece of a key, and then find eight more pieces of a key to put the key together to then look for the door to then go to the Never Ending Hallway. That sh*t is ridiculous!

So you want a mission of some sort?

MATT: I don’t need it to be easy. Like, make the fighting hard, but don’t make the finding ridiculous. I don’t want to move a rock to then turn a switch and a light comes on, to get the crystal and hold it in the light. That’s too much for me. But God of War was the right mixture of everything, and it had a sense of humor! I appreciate when there’s humor in a game.

What do you think is the funniest game of all time?

ADAM: Wasn’t there a game where you poured beers and slid them down a bar at somebody, like a saloon bar?

Yeah, Tapper.

ADAM: That’s why I’m an alcoholic!

Taking Back SundayThat was before they realized, “You know, maybe a pro-drinking game is not such a good idea for little kids.”

ADAM: But it was okay back then. (Doing kid voice) Beer is funny!

So you guys are Star Wars fans?

ADAM: LOVE Star Wars. I just love the way Lucas has been RAPING the public for all the money over the years! There’s certain things I could do without...?

Like?

ADAM: Like, oh, I dunno, let’s start with… frickin’ Jar Jar.

MATT: Yeah. But he’s an easy target though. George Lucas sure dropped the ball with that one.

ADAM: He dropped it a long time ago. There were some good early Star Wars games though, like the old school Empire Strikes Back game where you had to shoot the tow cable and drop the AT-AT.

MATT: But the movies got a little corny. Maybe I’m too old to care anymore.

ADAM: (imitating Darth Vader) Nooooooo!!

MATT: Come on, Darth Vader doesn’t scream “No” in dismay of his own actions!

Taking Back SundayThey got a little soap opera-y in those last few.

MATT: Yeah. I thought I was watching a commercial.

ADAM: Actually, you were. For Burger King.

MATT: Good times.

Taking Back Sunday Tour Dates:

Sunday, Oct 8                           Auckland, NZ
Tuesday, Oct 10                        Perth, AU
Thursday, Oct 12                       Adelaide, AU
Friday, Oct 13                           Melbourne, AU
Saturday, Oct 14                       Sydney, AU
Sunday, Oct 15                         Brisbane, AU
Thursday, Oct 19                       Osaka, JP
Friday, Oct 20                           Nagoya, JP
Sunday, Oct 22                         Tokyo, JP
Wednesday, Oct 25                   Barcelona, ES
Friday, Oct 27                           Bologna, IT
Saturday, Oct 28                       Winterhur, CH
Sunday, Oct 29                         Brussels, BE
Taking Back SundayMonday, Oct 30                         Paris, FR
Tuesday, Oct 31                        Tilburg, NL
Friday, Nov 3                             Bremen, DE
Saturday, Nov 4                         Berlin, DE
Sunday, Nov 5                           Munich, DE
Monday, Nov 6                           Neu-Isenburg, DE
Tuesday, Nov 7                          Bielefeld, DE
Wednesday, Nov 8                     Cologne, DE
Friday, Nov 10                           Birmingham, UK
Saturday, Nov 11                       Glasgow, UK
Sunday, Nov 12                         Manchester, UK
Monday, Nov 13                         Brighton, UK
Wednesday, Nov 15                   Dublin, IR
Friday, Nov 17                           Newcastle, UK
Saturday, Nov 18                       London, UK
Monday, Nov 20                         Doncaster, UK
Tuesday, Nov 21                        Cardiff, UK

Visit Taking Back Sunday on MySpace.

Live photos by Gerard Tieng & Wendy Phung

To download the podcast of the full, raw interview, click below:

Download the Podcast using iTunes

Download the RSS Podcast Feed

Click here for our exclusive photo gallery of Taking Back Sunday live at Long Beach Arena.

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