All of which has left the band’s fanbase wondering what the hell was actually going on? How could such a seemingly unlikely turn of events come to be?
The answer is… well, it was their drummer’s idea. “This whole thing spawned from this crazy idea that [drummer] Mark [O'Connell] had,” Lazzara explained earlier today via cellphone. “Because after feeling unhappy and unsatisfied for so long he envisioned this world where [Shaun Cooper and original guitarist John Nolan] would come back into the band and then everybody was operating on the same level. When Mark first presented me with the idea I was like, ‘Man, you’re out of your mind’ because I didn’t even know if John would talk to me. Eventually John called me in January and we started talking on the phone and even though it had been six or seven years since I had spoken with him, it felt like no time had passed. I think there’s a lot to be said about that feeling.”
Eventually the duo started kicking song ideas back and forth via email and discussing the possibility of reuniting the band’s original Tell All Your Friends lineup. “I just missed having [Nolan] as a friend, so for me, even if the music part didn’t work out, I was stoked to have my friend back,” Lazzara explains. The original five members (the fifth being guitarist Eddie Reyes) eventually reunited this March on the American side of Juarez, Mexico, at a recording compound where they spent a week writing music and getting to know each other again.
“When we got there everyone looked around at each other and laughed and went, ‘Who would have thought?’” Lazzara says. “I feel like in the past, I’ve kind of gone out of my way to make it sound like everything is great and awesome [in this band]. But when I say these songs wrote themselves I’m not embellishing. I was blown away.”
Lazzara reveals that the band recorded five hours of material containing 20 or 30 musical ideas and seven songs during their weeklong stay, which far exceeded anyone’s expectations. “Normally we would get together and it would take us four months to write two songs. I feel like a real hippie saying this, but it really felt like the songs were there waiting for us, we just had to catch ‘em.”
While it’s clear that Lazzara and his bandmates are happy to be re-united with Nolan and Cooper, what they haven’t been as vocal about in the past few weeks is what exactly happened with Rubano and Fazzi. Though the TBS frontman maintains that asking Rubano and Fazzi to step down was a difficult but necessary decision, what Lazzara hasn’t been as forthcoming with is that it was a longer time coming than he had let on in previous interviews.
“It wasn’t like we woke up one day and it was like ‘everything’s different,’” Lazzara explains. “Nobody felt fulfilled or was satisfied with the way that things were going and then nobody was really getting along,” he continues. “I think right before New Again came out we were in this honeymoon period and we embellished everything which gives the appearance of ‘Hey, everything’s great.’ Our personalities are so different and that’s been a thing that would work toward our advantage [in the past] because everyone would have this mutual respect for each other. But over time that respect started to dwindle and then the thing that worked toward our advantage started to work against us.
“For me the decision with Matt Rubano was not an easy one, it’s probably one of the toughest decisions that I’ve ever made. But it was all in the spirit of ‘I need to do what’s best for me, I can’t keep going on like this,’” Lazzara says. “Letting those guys go just wasn’t an easy thing.”
When reached last week, guitarist Fazzi admitted that he actually found out about the line-up switch the same way that everyone else did—he saw it on Taking Back Sunday’s website. Like many, he doubted that that bringing Nolan and Cooper back into the band would have ever been possible.
“I only came to that conclusion after they had called us and let us go,” Fazzi said. “I kind of assumed as much only because I knew that Mark had maintained a friendship with Sean basically since he left the band seven years ago. But at the same time I was under the impression that Adam and John’s relationship was just so fractured that they would never reconcile, you know? So I was a little shocked myself… Shocked in a way when I heard that it was a true. It’s something that I definitely thought was a possibility but I was pretty surprised.”
So where does all of this stand now? Well, Fazzi is currently concentrating full-time on his band Happy Body, Slow Brain (which he says Rubano may collaborate on) and Taking Back Sunday just announced that they’ll be recording their fifth full-length this summer with Louder Now’s producer Eric Valentine.
When asked if he would ever consider re-joining Taking Back Sunday down the road, Fazzi says that it’s unlikely but admits that stranger things have happened. “Realistically I don’t see that happening, but I would never say never because you never know. Who ever would have thought they would reconcile with these dudes and go back with the original lineup?”