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Breaking down the long-running feud between Taking Back Sunday and Brand New


“I think Jesse Lacey is just a dick. He just sucks. He’s not a good person.” What kind of behaviour could get a fellow member of the music scene to speak of a contemporary in such a way? Although this quote came from Adam Lazzara—taking his shot at Brand New frontman Jesse Lacey—in 2015, the beef started long before this moment, on New York’s Long Island, back when Jesse Lacey was still a member of Taking Back Sunday.

There are so many bands that have had historical grudges, and the beauty of diving into such feuds is that so much of it is extremely well-documented. From the world of rap and hip-hop to the rock stars of years gone by, the rivalries can make for some juicy entertainment. 

However, more recent groups and scenes aren’t immune to the concept of a very public war of words. In fact, the tight-knit nature of emo and punk settings can make people more privy to drama. However, in the smaller scenes that existed in the pocket of time between large-scale documentation and the internet era where everything is broadcasted for the world to see, some of the drama found itself slipping under the radar from fans who weren’t paying close attention. 

Although I’ve always been up to date on the drama between Brand New and Taking Back Sunday, I’ve realised over the years that plenty of fans have simply stayed out of the petty fighting. If that’s the case for you and you prefer to keep it that way, then this article might not be for you, because we’re about to get into it.

Nowadays, there are comprehensive Twitter threads trailing back to the origin of the drama for basically any band and artist you can observe in a feud. But that wasn’t always the case, and it certainly hasn’t been the case for bands that hover in the alternative scene. It seems that now more than ever, people have been digging up the dirt to decipher the songs, snark, and comments that have plagued bands like Taking Back Sunday and Brand New for years. So, how did it all begin?

What do emo boys have beef over? Turf wars? Stolen style? Of course not, what do you think this is? The drama was over a girl, obviously. But let’s start from the beginning, a time when Brand New frontman Jesse Lacey was the original bassist for Taking Back Sunday. It was alleged that Taking Back Sunday‘s frontman John Nolan hooked up with Lacey’s girlfriend, which caused him to leave the band, at which point he would go on to form Brand New.

The diss tracks started flying almost immediately, with Brand New coming out with ‘Seventy Times 7’ and Taking Back Sunday responding with ‘There’s No ‘I’ In Team’. The song directly rips lyrics from ‘Seventy Times 7’ and other tracks from Brand New’s first album. Notably, the “I’ve got a $20 bill…” lyric is one of the most recognisable. However, a lot of this got thrown out with the bathwater in subsequent years, as Brand New’s later albums eclipsed their first in popularity.

In 2002, the two bands actually performed their diss tracks together onstage. Although one might be inclined to do so, don’t let this trick you into thinking there was a resolution. Although specific details on that interaction remain sparing, it likely didn’t solve all that much considering their progression without a united front.

Although the air was still icy between the bands, they largely steered clear of one another after they performed together, at least in terms of formalized commentary or pointed songwriting.

There wasn’t even too much press conversation about the beef, which makes sense, especially on the part of Brand New. They’ve never been too keen on talking to the press about anything, including their interpersonal drama. Taking Back Sunday frontman Adam Lazzara said in an interview back in 2015: “I think Jesse Lacey is just a dick. He just sucks. He’s not a good person. Who am I to say? There’s somebody out there that’s gonna say I’m not a good person. I don’t know.”

That’s one way of putting it. One might call the comments tasteless, but at the very least he managed to clear up that they are, indeed, still fighting. And again, we must remind ourselves that this all started with a girl that they probably don’t even talk to anymore, from their late teens and early 20s.

There’s almost no room for questions—the beef never really died, even if it quieted down for a little while. But hey, at least it made for some great material for both of the bands in question.

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