Two decades ago, Taking Back Sunday vocalist Adam Lazzara was working as a waiter and food deliveryman as the group recorded its first EP.

Despite the Long Island, New York rock band’s ambition to produce it, record labels were less receptive to the project.

“Nobody wanted it,” Lazzara recalls in a recent phone interview.

But the band pressed on and that self-titled EP landed at Chicago-based Victory Records thanks to a friend of the band. That early release paved the way for its debut album, “Tell All Your Friends,” which celebrated its 20th anniversary in March.

“Our goal was really to see the album out in stores,” Lazzara said. “Then we put it out and it just changed the course of our lives.”

The quartet will perform some of that album’s biggest songs alongside other hits as they’re currently out on the road, opening for Third Eye Blind on the Summer Gods Tour, which includes stops at the YouTube Theater in Inglewood on Aug. 5, Cal Coast Credit Union Amphitheater in San Diego Aug. 11 and FivePoint Amphitheatre in Irvine Aug. 13.

As Lazzara reflected on the album and his career, he recalled what it was like to grow up in North Carolina’s music scene, where genre labels like emo and pop-punk didn’t exist at the time.

“We didn’t really give things a name like that,” he said. “It was just a scene where all the misfits gathered.”

Lazzara said that local acts in North Carolina started going up the coast and into Long Island, which created a network of bands between the two states that ultimately led him to meet early members of Taking Back Sunday. He originally joined the band as the bassist and later became the frontman.

Now, 20 years later, Lazzara said the songs on “Tell All Your Friends” have taken on a whole new meaning.

“Obviously, we’ve all grown as people and it would be a real shame if we hadn’t,” he said. “When we play them live, they have a life of their own. They’re no longer ours. They belong to everyone there. You have lots of different people in different stages of their life learning different lessons.”

The band recently collaborated with rock band The Maine and singer-songwriter Charlotte Sands for the single “Loved You A Little,” which was released in May. Lazzara said that Taking Back Sunday has toured with The Maine multiple times and have gotten close over the years. So during the pandemic, The Maine’s vocalist John O’Callaghan contacted Lazzara to see if he’d be interested in singing on the track.

“It was a really welcoming feeling to have something to take my mind off things at the time,” he said.

Taking Back Sunday also teamed up with DJ and music producer Steve Aoki for the track “Just Us Two,” which dropped in June. Lazzara said that the band had never co-written songs with other artists, but they went into the collaboration with an open mind. Aoki and the band had a lot of similar interests and that chemistry led them to finish the song in just one day.

“He feels like someone we’ve known for a long time,” he said of Aoki. “Sometimes when stuff works, it really works and it feels like it fell out of the sky. That’s what this felt like and we’re really happy with the way it came out.”

In addition to the recent collaborations and tour, the band is working on a new album. Lazzara said they plan to get back into the studio when the tour ends to produce an album that has a Taking Back Sunday feel, but with more of a modern influence.

“When I listen to the old demos, I realize that this is what we’ve been chasing all along,” he said. “I think the knee-jerk reaction is to think of us as the band who put out ‘Tell All Your Friends,’ but that’s not how we see ourselves. I’m excited for people to see us for more than that and I think with the new record that will happen.”

Summer Gods Tour

With: Third Eye Blind, Taking Back Sunday and Hockey Dad

When: 7 p.m. Aug. 5

Where: YouTube Theater, 1011 S. Stadium Dr., Inglewood.

Tickets: $25-$130 plus fees at

Also: 7 p.m. Aug. 11 at Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre, 5500 Campanile Dr., San Diego. $29-$245 at; 7 p.m. Aug. 13 at FivePoint Amphitheatre, 14800 Chinon, Irvine. $35-$128.50 at

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