Taking Back big in '03

Two years ago, Taking Back Sunday was nothing more than a blip on the Long Island, N.Y. music map. But in the 600-plus days that followed, the band's debut LP "Tell All Your Friends" outsold nearly every independent release that year, and tickets for Taking Back Sunday's shows became valuable commodities as shows sold out weeks in advance.

Then, sometime amidst all the hoopla, the major label offers, the Alternative Press covers and the throngs of committed fans, two of the band's founding members stepped out of the limelight to start a new band. Tragic? Yes. The end? No. Enter: Fred "The New Guy" Mascherino.

In August the revolution began on a massive stage overlooking the dilapidated Camden, N.J. skyline. In front of a sea of people, Mascherino took a step out of the shade and into the light.

"That was a lot of pressure," Mascherino said of Taking Back Sunday's resurgence into the music scene and his first show with the band.

Mascherino, the former frontman for Breaking Pangea, one of Equal Vision record label's most promising up-and-coming groups, was invited to join Taking Back Sunday on guitar and backing vocals earlier this year. However, it wasn't until after six straight weeks of practice and Taking Back Sunday's hometown show in New York City that he felt the band gelled. "We wanted to be as ready as we could," said Mascherino, now the proud father of a son, Scout. "And even then it took a few shows before we were ready."

While many fans were reluctant to accept the drastic change in the band's line-up, after nearly four months of touring Taking Back Sunday has received nothing short of an amazing response. After getting set up with a cell phone as part of a promotional deal, the band posted its number on www.takingbacksunday.com giving fans the chance to talk one-on-one with members of the band.

"Oh man, it will not stop ringing! It's ringing off the hook. You answer it, you say: 'Hey, where are you calling from? Have you seen us play? We hope to see you soon!' you hang up, and you've missed five calls," Mascherino said. "It's ridiculous! The voicemail is always full ... It's just unbelievable. We've had people from Asia call us, people from England. Someone from Brazil called us. It's great!"

Not only has the success of the phone encouraged Taking Back Sunday that its change truly was for the best, but it has reinstalled faith in Ed "The Old Guy" Reyes, one of the band's founding members.

Reyes is one of the most genuine people in the business. From his days as a straight edge, grommet and bass player in the Long Island hardcore scene to his current position of rock demagogue, Reyes has seen the scene cannibalize itself time and time again. Between '92 and '93, he skirted away from the hardcore scene.

"I got really jaded ... with the scene, with music with all the B.S.," Reyes said.

While a lot of the things that Reyes detested growing up still exist, the success of Taking Back Sunday beyond its original line-up is due in part to the current state of the scene.

"I wish [the kids] would take it more seriously as a lifestyle and not a trend," Reyes said, perhaps referring to the explosion of punk and then nu-metal, which the current music generation has already watched noisily burn out. "For me it was a lifestyle mostly all of my life. Being a punk rock hardcore kid or whatever you want to call it. So I kind of want kids to learn the roots and learn how to live the lifestyle and not treat it as a trend."

On the other hand though, according to Reyes, "if kids weren't the way they were today we wouldn't be sitting here right now doing this. So it's amazing!"

Taking Back Sunday will be releasing the follow-up to "Tell All Your Friends" and touring the globe in 2004.

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