Taking Back Sunday are a band whose legacy extends beyond their emo beginnings. Each album showed the band going from strength to strength (except for ‘Happiness Is’, that album is bollocks), and ‘Tidal Wave’ is another solid entry in their discography. As for the here and now, the band has a new record coming out soon, and an Aussie tour in March 2017 with Acceptance, so we got in touch with guitarist John Nolan. Suss it.
First things first, I’m interested to know is if there are two different meanings behind titling the album ‘Tidal Wave’ and titling the song that as well.
Well for the song, a tidal wave represents something you’re trying to outrun, something you want to get away from but something you’ll never be able to get away from. And then as an album title, I think there was a connection with the song but there’s the bigger connection of the themes of water and tides and floods and all the imagery of that made sense. With the title of the record, there’s a lot of themes on the album that also connect to it and I think that that title represents more than the song does itself.
And obviously, there’s that linkage with the album cover as well.
Oh yeah, of course. That’s actually a photo of Adam’s son that they took down by the ocean in Florida. And when they took it wasn’t meant to be for the album. It was just something that they took while they were having a family trip. But when we titled the album, we were looking for images that best represented the title and the feel of the album. I think everyone in the band has different reasons for why that picture represents the title but for me I felt like that image of the child on the water and everything’s peaceful and calling the album ‘Tidal Wave’, it gives you a sense that things aren’t as peaceful as they seem in the photo and I think that for me that was a big part of it. It also represents the album because there’s a lot of positivity in the album and things that are more pleasant feelings like the album cover gives but there’s also that undercurrent of some fear and regret and sadness.
When it came to writing this record, you guys have spoken about how freeing it was to get to write in the studio and demo there and be able to hear everything back sooner and work on it from there. The issue with that could be though that you could essentially write these songs forever and ever. You could forever be fixing little things and notes and you’d almost never get it done. So how did you guys control that endlessness if at all?
Well, that’s an interesting question and with this album, we really did just never stop. We never said the songs were done. We had a deadline because of budgeting and scheduling and that was set and that was what we said: none of these songs are done until that deadline. And like you said if we didn’t have that we could’ve kept working on the album for another three months but instead we had a deadline. We had that mentality though that the songs were never done until that deadline.
The other interesting thing I found out was that this is the longest time that the band has had a consistent line-up, that being three records. I feel like that must have a big impact on this record for you guys, seeing as you’ve had longer than ever to grow as a full unit.
It definitely has! I think it also helps that we were the group of people who started the band together and put out ‘Tell All your Friends’ together. So we have that connection with each other musically. So now to do three records together, we have learnt all these things about each other and grown so much together as a band that affects this album in such a way that no other albums could have been affected.
That’s really great to hear actually. You’ve all been in the industry for so long and seen it grow, so I’m keen to know if you’ve used any new sort of programs to help you in your writing process, like Sibelius, Guitar Pro or hell, even Garage Band. I know a lot of younger and newer bands are doing that so I thought it’d be interesting to see if older bands are tackling that.
For myself and Adam, our process is pretty much the same as it always has been. It’s pretty much the tape recorder process, it’s just become digital. You have an idea and you hit record and get it down and then a few days later you come back to it and work on it. After a lot of that rough recording on a tape recorder or your phone, you get into a studio situation and flesh it out with more technology. But one thing though that did happen on this album is that our drummer Mark wrote a lot of stuff on Garage Band on his phone. He would come up with these digital drum beats and stuff using the keyboards on there that didn’t really sound like Taking Back Sunday songs and he’d bring it to us and then we would sit down and try to figure out to play this thing as a band that he did on Garbage Band.
That’s really awesome to hear that that app has some purpose! One sort of wrap-up question and it’s a bit weird.
So for me, every Taking Back Sunday record has its own color to go along with. ‘Tell All Your Friends’ is green, ‘Where You Want to Be’ is yellow and ‘Louder Now’ is like red and so on. So it was really interesting to me that when you guys released the self-titled album as the original ‘Tell All Your Friends’ lineup, the key colour of that record was green like ‘Tell All Your Friends’. I want to know if that was on purpose or I’m looking way too far into this than I should be.
[Laughs] I don’t know for sure honestly. But I do know that Adam is very involved in what the cover art ends up looking like and he has a clear idea of what he’s looking for. So my guess is that either you are right and there was some correlation there or there was a subconscious connection in his mind when he was looking at different options for the album artwork.
[Laughs] Awesome. Well thanks so much for your time today, John. Best of luck for the album cycle and enjoy the rest of your day!
Thanks, Matty. You too!
‘Tidal Wave’ is out September 16th through Hopeless Records and UNFD.