When Adam Lazzara left North Carolina to join Long Island-based rock band Taking Back Sunday over a decade ago, he never imagined coming to Charlotte to stay.
"I was like, 'I'm outta there,' " says Lazzara, 29, who grew up in High Point and Wilmington and now lives in NoDa. "Now there's no place I'd rather live."
As teenagers, he and his friends would skip school to go to Manifest Discs and Tremont Music Hall in Charlotte, where the hardcore, emo and pop-punk bands that later influenced TBS were fixtures.
Just a few years later, as Taking Back Sunday released a string of Top 10 albums, he found himself headlining Tremont and later Amos' Southend and playing Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre with Linkin Park's Project Revolution Tour.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
This time out, Taking Back Sunday graduates to The Fillmore on Thursday. The bill includes the Colour Revolt, Thursday and We Are the In Crowd.
Parenthood drew Lazzara back to North Carolina. Living in Texas, he and his wife, Misha, had little help with their now 2-year-old son, Keaton. Both had family in Charlotte.
There's actually a song on the new TBS album called "Best Places to Be a Mom."
"Her sister has two boys who are 3 and 1. I could throw a baseball at her house. Her cousin lives maybe five or six blocks away and her mom lives with us.
"My dad is in High Point. My mom's in the process of moving here. We have other family. When I have to be gone, there's a great support system."
TBS guitarist John Nolan and his wife are moving to Charlotte from Lawrence, Kansas. Nolan spent time in Charlotte while working on Taking Back Sunday's new self-titled record, which was released two weeks ago on longtime label Warner Bros. Records. "We were fine-tuning things on acoustic guitars on the back porch here."
Don't let those acoustics fool you, though. The new disc, which debuted at No. 17 on the Billboard 200 this week, features a mix of heavy trudging grooves, pop-punk hooks, grand anthems, Weezer-ish waltzes, Foo Fighters-like arena-ready rock, post hardcore riffing, and an undercurrent of hope.
There's growth as well. "El Paso," the heavy opening track named for the isolated area where the reunited band worked out new material, echoes Jane's Addiction, while Lazzara also tackles mature subject matter fitting for a new father and rocker approaching his 30s.
"There's your personal life and your writing and art and (you think) the two things are totally separate - then when you have the end product, you realize they're very much intertwined," he says of the disc's autobiographical qualities.
"The song 'Faith' (When I Let You Down)' deals with the idea that as you get older there's these questions of faith. Because you're not living under your parents' roof anymore, you have to decide for yourself. 'Sad Savior' deals with being in a real relationship and the ups and downs you go through trying to hold it together. I feel like this record deals with - I don't want to say coming of age - but as you grow, you're faced with more responsibility, and relationships either keep blossoming or fall apart.
"It's a reflection of what we think of all that and how we deal with all that."
Lazzara is hopeful the new album and tour will receive a good reception in his adopted home.
"Because the band is based out of New York, those shows are always crazy and packed. It's this hometown vibe," he adds, revealing his disappointment that TBS never got the same level of excitement during its rare North Carolina dates. "It's been hard for us to break out here. I'm hoping this time around it will feel like a big homecoming."