Emo, as an experience

We chat with Adam Lazzara of Taking Back Sunday ahead of a Philly stop

Emo rock band Taking Back Sunday
Emo rock band Taking Back Sunday has spent the latter part of the year celebrating 20 years on stage together. This week, its caravan came to Philly for two nights in front of a scheduled sold-out crowd. | Image courtesy: Aaron Feterl

One wouldn’t think an emo band could resonate with the world as much as Taking Back Sunday has. But for two nights in a pair of sold-out shows, they’re here, in Philadelphia, celebrating their 20th anniversary.

The band has been around the world on a commemorative tour since January. They started in Australia, moved on to Asia, North America, then to the United Kingdom, and now back to North America for the second leg of the tour.

Hosted at Franklin Music Hall for two nights – on Nov. 13 and 14 – the group pulled much of their sets from their 2002 album “Tell All Your Friends.” In honor of the anniversary, the band also released “Twenty,” a compilation album, on Jan. 11.  It features classic emo cuts, like “A Decade Under the Influence” and “MakeDamnSure.”

Before selling out Philly for two nights, PW caught up with frontman Adam Lazzara to chat about the band’s experience on tour so far.

So, you guys are always on tour, but this is a big anniversary to celebrate.

We’re the luckiest guys that you’re ever going to meet. We figured that doing something for 20 years is something to be celebrated, and we just feel really fortunate that we’re in a place where we can just take a whole year to go to the people that helped make it possible.

When you guys started the band 20 years ago, did you see yourself being at this point? Where do you think the band would go?

I mean, at the time, I don’t think we were thinking this far ahead. We just wanted to have a record out in stores and we wanted to be able to tour, and that’s kind of as far as it went. I’m normally not a big fan of nostalgia – I think it’s dangerous territory. I’d rather be moving forward, but to have time to celebrate and reflect on all of it is a pretty wild thing.

Of all the things you’ve done over 20 years, what would you consider some of your biggest accomplishments as a band?

Being able to play these shows and look out to the audience and see people from all different stages of their lives — from teenage years to like their 40s — to see them all getting lost together and all getting lost to the same thing at the same time, you know, we’re all very proud of that. We could play these shows and then have there not be this great divide between what’s happening on stage and what’s happening in the crowd — just having it take on a life of its own is just a real special thing.

How do you think your sound has evolved over all this time and all these experiences?

Well, we’ve all gotten a lot better at playing our instruments. Any time we go into the studio or make something new, we’re always trying to push ourselves as far as we can go. I think with every record we’ve done that and I can hear that when I listen back. That’s something that I think if you listen to the release, “Twenty,” it’s like you could hear it happening right now.

As you grow, so does your taste. All of us are just such huge fans of music and every type that I feel like as time has gone on, the more we’re introduced to, it’s like the more inspiration that we have to draw from when whenever we’re writing.

You guys have played in Philly plenty of times before. Have you ever had time to explore and go to record stores or have some cheesesteaks or something while you’re in the city?

Over the years we have we’ve had that opportunity for sure. It’’s one of our favorite cities to go to because there’s so much going on, and in turn a lot to see.

Where do you see the band going in another 20 years?

We’ve been so lucky to still be doing this. Our plan is just to keep our heads down and keep creating, and try to reach as many people as you can. Once you start, you can never stop, you just have to keep going. That’s true, and that’s been the plan for some time.

  • Alex Nag's headshot

    Alex is a reporter most passionate about arts and entertainment writing. She has been working for PW since March 2019, where she has been lucky enough to learn more about Philadelphia’s vibrant culture and interview some of her favorite artists, such as The Black Keys.