long island

When You Say “Best Friends” Means Friends Forever

It started with a girl. Last weekend I went to a punk show in Philadelphia. Rancid, Pennywise, and Suicidal Tendencies are all on tour together with a few other bands and they played a well known Philly venue that we all still refer to as the Electric Factory. I was supposed to attend with my friend Ashley and her friend Kelsey, but when Ashley took an offer to sell merch for Rancid, that left me and Kelsey to attend together. I just met Kelsey earlier this month so going to Rancid together really gave us the chance to hang out and get to know each other. We started talking about music and eventually got into talking about Brand New and Taking Back Sunday. They were two of my favorite bands in high school and Kelsey’s all time favorite bands. Since my Rancid hang with Kelsey, I’ve listened to both bands a couple times and for nostalgia’s sake, started reminiscing about how wild it is for someone to love both bands so much given their history.

Again it started with a girl. Jesse Lacey of Brand New and John Nolan of Taking Back Sunday were childhood best friends. They both were part of the famed Long Island music scene in the early 2000’s. As rumor has it, at some point in their friendship there was a girl that got in the way. No one knows the exact story of what happened. From what I know, it was something along the lines of Jesse was with a girl that cheated on him with John. It incited a well-known emo music feud between both bands. Songs from both bands’ first albums pointed anger and hatred towards each other (Brand New’s “Seventy Times Seven” and Taking Back Sunday’s “There’s No “I” in Team”). There was even band merch that did the same (“Because mics are for singing not swinging”, a dig at TBS frontman Adam Lazzara’s mic swinging style and “Proudly Swinging Since 1999”). Yet, while listening to these bands in high school, I loved both of them. Sure, I favored Brand New over Taking Back Sunday, but I definitely loved both and listened to each during certain periods of high school. Most of my friends did too. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone who has chosen one and hated the other? Do those people even exist?

That’s what got me thinking about it this week. It’s crazy that we loved both of these bands. The songs they wrote that took aim at each other had some incredibly violent lyrics. “And you can think of me when you forget your seatbelt and again when your head goes through the windshield!” or “Best friends means I pulled the trigger. Best friends means you get what you deserve!” I mean come on! These are intense words. They’re actually threats! But when you’re in high school in the mid-2000’s, you don’t think of it that way. You just love the music and you relate to the lyrics.

I will say though “Seventy Times Seven” was the fuel for a lot of my own teen angst towards friendships. In fact, I think both of these bands taught me about friendships through their songs. I realized the importance of calling someone a best friend and what that meant. Of course, actions speak louder than words, but…words can be powerful. You don’t want to waste words on lower cases and capitals. You want them to mean something. So in high school, I started using the term “best friend” sparingly because in my mind “best friends” meant friends forever. I learned that from Brand New. It’s still something I hold with me to this day. I actually took those words for granted recently and I needed to remind myself to not do that again after it happened so again I looked towards “Seventy Times Seven”. This is why it’s still relevant 15 years later.

Sadly though, in recent years, a lot of people began to have mixed feelings about Brand New. In late 2017, Jesse Lacey was accused of sexual misconduct and a lot of fans were upset by the allegations. Mostly, I think people realized that Jesse Lacey wasn’t who they thought he was. Before that happened, Brand New released one final album, Science Fiction, before calling it quits last year. Taking Back Sunday however is still touring. They’re embarking on a 20 year anniversary tour this fall. John Nolan is still part of the band even though he took a brief break from the group in the mid-2000’s to form Straylight Run. On the tour they’re playing their first album Tell All Your Friends in full. It’s definitely going to bring up a lot of feelings for fans and maybe even for the band. Who knows maybe we’ll find out exactly what happened between Brand New and Taking Back Sunday? Maybe not though. I will say I think the feud might have been blown up out of proportion and there’s evidence of that as well (cue the video of Jesse and John playing with Say Anything). It was still enough that we never got a Brand New/Taking Back Sunday tour. Despite everything surrounding both bands, I’m glad they gave us the music that they did. It was the soundtrack to my youth. Even if I no longer feel like a failure by design or a wishful thinker with the worst intentions, their music is still relevant to me at times and I still love connecting with people over it.

 

Coachella Band Preview: Brand New

If you had asked me in the months between when I purchased tickets to Coachella until when the Coachella lineup came out who I thought was going to play the event or who I wanted to see at it, I could have given you a bunch of bands. The Arctic Monkeys. The Black Keys. Alt-J. Cold War Kids. Florence and the Machine. The list goes on and on. When the lineup came out in January, some of those bands made the cut (i.e. Alt-J, Florence, etc.). Many did not. What I wasn’t anticipating was seeing a band on the list that had been a major part of my life since around the time I started listening to “good music” in high school. It was a band that I haven’t listened to in several years because my taste in music changed quite a bit (when I strayed on a more indie route from my punk rock/emo/scene kid days). Even though that is the case, I can’t pretend I wasn’t stoked to see their name on the poster.

Coachella is noted for booking artists and bands that appeal to a wide array of music tastes. So, it shouldn’t have come as such a shock to see Brand New’s name on the lineup. I wasn’t expecting it but like I said, I was still pretty stoked. If you had asked me during my senior of high school who my favorite bands were, Brand New would’ve been in the top 3 so possibly seeing them as part of my first Coachella experience would be pretty rad.

Formed in 2000 from Long Island, New York (one of the best music scenes in the late 90’s-early 00’s), Brand New is made up of members, Jesse Lacey , Vincent Accardi, Garrett Tierney, and Brian Lane. Since their creation, Brand New has toured world wide, played countless festivals, and even performed on some late night television shows. They released their debut album Your Favorite Weapon in 2001. The second album, Déjà Entendu, came two years later and was a change in style from their first album. The first album was angsty, emo punk rock about all kinds of relationships. Most notably a few songs on the record supposedly took a dig at Taking Back Sunday guitarist, John Nolan, who was childhood friends with frontman, Jesse Lacey (for more on the bands’ feud you can check this out). The sound on the second album was way more mature. It was more alternative rock, more mellow at times, and much less angry. It was a progression of sound as well as success as it surpassed sales of their first album in a matter of weeks. Brand New’s third album, The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, was released in November 2006 and featured one of their most successful singles, “Jesus Christ”. The sound in this album also progressed from their second album. Although I would also consider it alternative rock, the band’s punk rock roots were less evident in it compared to Déjà Entendu (at least it seemed that way to me, but you could argue). Daisy, their fourth full length and latest album, was released in 2009. The sound in it was comparable to their third album and didn’t stray as much as the transitions between the other 3 albums.

In late 2004, a friend of mine introduced me to Brand New by burning me a copy of Your Favorite Weapon (it was actually the same friend who introduced me to Bayside). I was a huge fan from that point on. I listened to the CD constantly. I’m pretty sure I ended up getting Déjà Entendu not long after. It might’ve even been for Christmas 2004. I loved almost every song on Your Favorite Weapon though. In particular, “Failure By Design” was my all-time favorite. I related to the lyrics so much since I was such an emo kid at age 15. I purchased a Brand New t-shirt at Hot Topic (before Hot Topic got trendy) that is still to this day one of my favorite band tees. My Brand New “Because Mics Are For Singing Not Swinging” zip-up hoodie (another dig at Taking Back Sunday) was my go to during my senior year of high school. I screamed the lyrics to “Seventy Times Seven” when I got in fights with friends, and then I would put that song on the mix tapes I made them.

The first time I saw Brand New play live was in October 2006, my senior year of high school, when they were on tour with Dashboard Confessional. They opened for Dashboard. I saw them two more times after that. Both came in the spring of 2010, my junior year of college, within a week or two of each other. Yes, it was two shows on the same tour. I haven’t seen them since. I haven’t really had the desire to either since I experienced that second “musical enlightenment” in the spring of 2011 (my music taste changed a bit for those that haven’t read my blog posts).

Seeing them this year at Coachella would be like an added bonus (since I never expected to see them there). They’re playing on Sunday for both weekends in what will be their first Coachella appearance. I haven’t listened to them to prepare for their set because I’m sure if I do end up seeing it I’ll know the songs well enough already. However, if you end up seeing their set, I have a feeling they’ll be playing some new material. In November 2014, they announced a fifth album was in the works. I haven’t heard when it’ll be released but I’m sure they’ll use this opportunity to play a few new tunes. So if you’re like me and Brand New was part of the soundtrack to your teenage high school days (or if you’re into the kind of music they play), their set is worth checking out. It’ll definitely be nostalgic.

Song recommendations:

1. Seventy Times Seven

2. Failure By Design

3. The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows

4. Okay, I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don’t

5. Jesus Christ

6. Archers

7. At The Bottom

8. Jude Law And A Semester Abroad

9. The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot

10. Soco Amaretto Lime