Taking Back Sunday (John)

Interviews | Feb 24th, 2005

Kat: What kind of guys were you back in high school?
John: Well I can’t speak for everybody, because to tell you the truth I didn’t know anybody in the band back in high school

Kat: Oh really? How did you meet?
John: We all met by chance, Eddie the other guitar player is the one who started the band. [He] Got the word out that he was starting a band, and it was all through friends of his friends that we all just ended up trying out. And we went through a lot of different line up changes the first year. Whenever someone would leave, we would just see who we could find. It would be through people we knew who knew other people that would try out. So none of us really met until we started playing in this band together.

Kat: So you auditioned for the band?
John: Pretty much. It wasn’t so technical but it was like a lot of times people would try and play with us for a couple of weeks and a couple shows for that first year, and they would kind of just leave because they weren’t too into it. It just wouldn’t work out. So we were letting people try it and see how it went for a while. Eventually we settled with the lineup and it just stuck.

Kat: Okay…so what kind of guy were you in high school?
John: (laughs) Me personally, I was a pretty big loser back in high school.

Kat: Why would you say that?
John: I went to a private school since first grade. So my highschool was a very, very small school so it was very, very sheltered. We didn’t honestly know too much about the world and about life. My graduating class was about twenty-two people, so all of my classes were small. When you’re in a school with so few people, [and] you’re in that small-secluded environment, it really has a strange effect on your upbringing. Like my upbringing is also very Christian so [there was] not a lot of TV watching, I never [even] had a TV until I was like twelve or thirteen. I was just a very kind of strange kid. I was very in my own reality and didn’t really know much about the world. I kind of just had my two or three friends…I didn’t have many friends, strange guy, strange upbringing, it wasn’t until after highschool I really started to realize what things were like in real life.

Kat: When did you decide to join the band?
John: That was one thing that I always did through high school That was [one of[ the only two things I was known for doing at all. I could draw and I could play the guitar, and that’s kind of a thing in high school You [have] got to do something. Usually its sports or something, and I could never play any sports really. So that was my thing and I always had bands with my two best friends, you know, nothing serious really. We had a couple different bands and joined a few different bands, so it was just something I did. Taking Back Sunday just kind of happened by chance. One of the bands I was in right before it, I was in [it] with a friend of mine who is friends with Ed. He got asked to sing and so that’s how I ended up in the band, through him. He got asked to sing for Taking Back Sunday and then he suggested I play guitar. It was just kind of by chance that just as that [other] band was breaking up Taking Back Sunday was starting and it just came about. And I’ve always wanted all those bands I was in to be something serious and [to be] something I was going to do. In Taking Back Sunday, everyone that was doing it was pretty like minded in that they wanted to be serious and I was pretty psyched about that because that’s what I wanted.

Kat: How has touring been like and what is your craziest memory from being on tour?
John: It’s been really good. Its been unbelievable to see the change from going through the beginning of touring playing to twenty or thirty kids and having been unknown, to less than a year later playing to a thousand kids and having them all know us. It’s just been amazing…so many amazing experiences. One of the best things so far, we got to play with Jimmy Eat World actually just on this last tour, which was definitely a highlight of any a thing that we have done on a tour. Just because it’s a band we’ve all listened to for a long time and it was very cool to get a chance to play with them.

Kat: Where is your favorite place to play shows, your favorite venue of all?
John: There’s a place called Club Laga in Pittsburgh, which is a really great place to play a show, we’ve played a lot of great shows there. [It’s a] Very cool place, everyone who works there is awesome the backstage area is awesome, [it’s] just really cool. And there’s a lot of places, so many really great places we’ve gotten a chance to play.

Kat: What albums are in your CD player right now?
John: I have quite a few. I have the new Sigurros album. They’re a band out of Sweden, or Iceland…and a really amazing band. I’ve been listening to the new Flaming Lips album a lot. A whole bunch of things, I’ve actually been listening to some old Pink Floyd CDs again, listening to a lot of stuff like that. Atmospheric, instrumental, long music. Those are my main things, and Radiohead is always somewhere in there too. I Love Radiohead, everything they’ve ever done. They’ve just gotten better and better through the years, one of the only bands I’ve seen do that in my lifetime. I’ve never seen a band just get continually better with every album and that’s just amazing to me. So they’re definitely always in there.

Kat: Was there some kind of accident at a recent show that left your main vocalist injured?
John: Yeah that was a while ago, about four months ago actually. We were playing a tour and Adam Barsinger was on stage while they were playing. He was just kind of singing with them and kind of hyping up the crowd and he fell off the front of the stage and got stitches in his head.

Kat: Did he just loose his balance or was he jumping?
John: He didn’t even mean to jump, he just slipped and fell.

Kat: He went to the hospital and everything?
John: No he didn’t have to have a cast because nothing was broken. All they had to do was pop it back in place and then he had a lot of nerve damage and muscle damage. That’s just a matter of that healing up again and he couldn’t really walk on it for about a month. So that put us out of commission for that tour and then when he came back he was actually on a cane.

Kat: Is he feeling better now?
John: Yeah he’s back to normal. He’s all good now.

Kat: Okay that’s good. You sing about guns and triggers a lot in the lyrics of your songs. What’s up with that?
John: (laughs) Well it seems to me, in writing the lyrics, [it’s] just a symbol of somebody being in control or having power over somebody else. It’s a good way of showing [that if] somebody’s got a gun, [or] somebody’s holding a gun to you, [that] they are in control, [and] they have the power in the situation. It’s kind of like a metaphor or whatever for relationships and fighting and control.

Kat: What other metaphors do you use?
John: We didn’t use, I don’t think, too many others ones. Everything else I think is pretty straightforward. For the most part whatever we say is exactly what we mean. That was probably the only case where we’re saying something and it doesn’t mean exactly literally a gun.

Kat: So you’re basically straightforward with the lyrics most of the time?
John: Yeah I would say so. I would say there’s not to many hidden meanings. It’s pretty much what you see is what you get.

Kat: Some people have a problem with this word, what is your opinion towards the credibility of the word “emo”?
John: I think it’s a silly word. I think it’s a silly term. [It’s] A style of music, when every kind of music is emotional. I think its silly to conform and say this kind of music is emotional. It’s kind of funny more than anything you know, the term has been around for a long time but nobody really took it seriously until recently. I don’t think no one [haha John, we caught you using a double negative!] was really proud of that term until recently. Now kids are very calling themselves emo and listening to emo music. I just think it’s kind of funny and I mean I won’t get too upset about it. It’s okay if that means that all the bands that are called emo are given more attention, and kids are going to discover new bands that they otherwise wouldn’t listen to except now there’s this thing called “emo” that makes it cool. I guess that better than having these bands be unheard of. It’s a very trendy thing.

Kat: Do you think it’s going to stay or is it just a fad?
John: I personally don’t know. I don’t think it will last, and any trend is just that, it can’t stay forever. I think the term will be around forever, I think kids will be calling themselves emo for a long time. I don’t think its going to be as popular as it is now though. I think it will be where it comes and the bands that are called emo get a lot of exposure, and then it wears itself out. Like anything else. I always just think of [it] like in the way of [how] the whole grunge thing was. I think it’s kind of similar to that. It just kind of killed itself after a while and I think the whole emo thing will do the same.

Kat: How has Victory Records been treating you?
John: They’ve treated us very well. When we signed with them, we were completely unknown, and I think they did a really good job with getting the word out about our album and getting our record in stores. They helped out a lot with that. Getting us to where we are right now. We’re very happy with them.

Kat: If you weren’t doing the whole music thing right now, where do you think you would be right now at this moment?
John: Well personally, and probably for everybody else in the band [as well], there’s really nothing else that I do. Before I was playing in this band, what I was doing for a living was repairing car upholstery. It was kind of just a job where I could make money and still have enough time to play music. I never really had anything going for me as far as a career. I think most of us would be pretty screwed if it weren’t for music and if it wasn’t for this band. There’s not much else we could do.

Kat: If you could be any celebrity, who would it be and why?
John: [long pause] I think I would like to be Angelina Jolie, if I could be anybody. I would just stay home and look at myself naked in the mirror, and hang around and not leave the house all day. That might be who I would have to go with.

Kat: (laughs) That’d be a pretty pathetic existence.
John: Yeah I don’t think I’d get tired of that though. I think I’d be really psyched about that, I don’t know.

Kat: So your saying that if you had a super hot body you would just be entertained for days on end?
John: Yeah I would be. If I was in a woman’s body, and I could be in Angelina Jolie’s body…I would have to keep my brain though. It’d have to have my brain or I wouldn’t be too psyched about [it]. Hot girl… if I could have my brain in that body yeah that would be something. Plus, to be in movies and stuff.

Kat: Would you ever do that in the future if you were offered to be in movies?
John: Oh yeah definitely I would love to be in movies. I don’t know if I’d be good at it but I love movies. It’s definitely a cool thing. A lot of musicians get to the point where they get somehow involved with movies. So if I don’t get to be Angelina Jolie, maybe I can just do it myself.

Kat: Maybe you could co-star with her.
John: If I’m lucky.

Kat: What can you say in response to the rumors of this rivalry between Taking Back Sunday and Brand New?
John: Taking Back Sunday and Brand New…I don’t even know who Brand New is…

Kat: All right, somebody told me that…
John: No I was just joking.

Kat: Oh! I don’t know…
John: (laughs) At this point there’s no rivalry between the two bands. Jessie, the singer from Brand New, is my best friend. We’ve been best friends since fourth grade. For a while there we had a bit of a falling out, but it was just a personal thing between the two of us. It had nothing to do with the bands and it just got blown out of proportion. People just love to talk. There really was not much to tell, but we are friends again now. There was a time when we weren’t but you know it definitely got blown out of proportion. The bands themselves never had any problems with each other. I’ve always loved their music and loved their band. It was very silly how it got blown out of proportion.

Kat: How did you end up in different bands if you were friends with him for so long?
John: Jessie was one of my only friends when I was growing up in school, he came into the private school that I was going to in about fourth grade. So we were best friends all through high school and were in bands together. And I don’t know, at some point after high school we got into out own things and he actually started doing more punk rock. He was in a band called the Rookie Lot, and they sounded a lot like lifetime. He started getting more into that; the punk rock scene and the hardcore scene. At the time, I wasn’t so down with that. So he started to do his own thing, and I started to do my own thing, and we always just ended up coming along the same paths anyway even though we weren’t in the same bands.

Kat: Have you ever toured with them or would you?
John: We did actually, we toured with them in August. It was great, and I’m sure we’re going to do it again.

Kat: Is there any chance that we will be seeing any new releases in the near future? Your last album has been out for about a year right?
John: The album is coming close to a year. In March it will be a year. We’re just starting to work on new music now. And then we have a lot of touring booked after that. So hopefully we’ll get a chance to work on some new music before this summer, then do the warped tour, [and] then maybe get back in the studio again. So some time in the fall or winter of next year I would hope we could be looking at some new music coming out.

Kat: Who are you planning on touring with soon?
John: We’re doing a tour in April with From Autumn to Ashes and Recover. Then we’re probably going to Europe, and we’re not sure who with. Then we’re on the Warped Tour for the whole summer.

Kat: Did you do the Warped Tour before?
John: No, we’ve never done it before.

Kat: Are you excited about that?
John: Oh yeah, very excited. It’s gonna be great.

Kat: Who are you looking forward most to seeing this year at the Warped Tour, any other bands?
John: Honestly, I don’t even know whose on it, to tell you the truth. This year, I haven’t even seen the line up. I’ve heard that Rancid is on for some of it, and the Transplants. That’s about all I’ve heard. I don’t know, I mean I’m not even sure if Rancid really is on it. If Rancid is playing, then I’ll be pretty psyched to be on the tour with them. It’s pretty amazing. But I don’t even know who is on it this year.

Kat: If you could pick one band to come on the Warped Tour with you, who would it be?
John: There are so many. My absolute dream band to tour with would probably be Radiohead. As I was saying before, they’re my favorite band currently and to ever get the chance to tour with them, under any circumstances, would just be a dream come true.