Taking Back Sunday talk popularity, ecology and Degrassi

Taking Back Sundays Matt Rubano (right): Hes not saying his band is bigger than Zeppelin, but thousands of Alabamians cant be wrong.

By James Simons

Mar 15 2007

If Taking Back Sunday have proven one thing, its that Led Zeppelin were a bunch of losers.

Im not bragging; Im merely stating a completely bizarre statistic, says TBS bassist Matt Rubano, on the phone from a Denver tour stop. We broke an attendance record in Birmingham, Alabama, that was previously held by Led Zeppelin, like, 35 years ago. All of us being huge Zeppelin fans, we were like, Im not going to believe that.

Despite their ticket-sales shortcomings, Zeppelin infamous for an on-tour incident involving a red snapper and a female groupies you-know-what still hold the unofficial world record for the most crazy-as-balls tour stories. Nevertheless, Taking Back Sunday have accumulated more than a few Behind The Music soundbites of their own.

Weve had everything from band members being left behind in cities by the tour bus which was me, says Rubano, to having band members hit in the head by our singers famous flying microphone. That was also me.

As well, the DVD that accompanies the Amityville, New York, punk-pop bands third and latest chart-conquering album, Louder Now, depicts countless bizarre on-the-road activities, including the sport of throwing cheese slices on Rubanos wet, freshly showered stomach to see if theyll stick. Hey, man, the musician interjects, That cheese was organic!

In other words, Taking Back Sunday are coming on the Captain Planet tip. That said, the band were understandably psyched when a recent scheduling mix-up at the University of Oklahoma landed them on the same stage as the universally cool Al Gore.

It was meeting a politician: you get about a minute and a half; you shake his hand, get a picture, and thats that, Rubano recalls. But it was just great to be sharing a venue with him for such a worthy and noble cause. Initially, they wanted to cancel one of [our] shows [to accommodate Gore]. But we, with our new environmental initiative in trying to get our touring completely green, decided that both events should happen.

Obviously, TBS environmental consciousness is significant, especially since, as journalist Matt Diehl points out in his upcoming book My So-Called Punk, many in the Warped world dwell in a politically inactive, self-absorbed state of American idiocy.

Its no surprise, really; pop-punk bands are neither married to their punk predecessors politics nor to their sound. In fact, the neo-punk aesthetic generally glistens with as much hairspray as it does mohawk glue. For their part, Taking Back Sunday boast anthemic, emotive melodies bigger than Richie Samboras hair circa 1984. If they havent banged Heather Locklear yet, its probably only a matter of time.

But the band clearly isnt in it for the chicks which is a good thing, since most of their female fans are still in training bras. Unlike Zeppelins Jimmy Page, who took time out from his nightly conquests to date the famous 14-year-old groupie Lori Maddox, Rubano insists that the only meaningful relationship is between our music and their ears.

The bassist also says that this relationship is just as important to the band as to the fans.

We love playing to a young audience. They have more energy; theyre more excited to see a show; they have this passion that cant be matched, he enthuses. I remember what I was like when I was going to shows in high school: I looked forward for months, and then the day came and I had what clothes I was going to wear planned out, and I went five hours early and sat outside freezing my ass off.

Perhaps in an effort to connect further with the Clearasil crowd, TBS recently guested on an episode of Canadas own Degrassi: The Next Generation. That was the brainchild of Adam [Lazzara], our singer, and his roommate, Angel, Rubano explains. They saw [Clerks director] Kevin Smith on an episode, and it was one of those moments, like, Wait, maybe we could get on Degrassi! A couple of phone calls later, we were headed to Toronto. It was our acting debut and I dont know when the Canadian Oscars are, but I hope well be nominated for Best Acting Ever.

So, did the gang learn anything from their first television experience? Pensively, Rubano responds, I learned that doing coke is bad. 

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