"This is the first time I'm talking to anyone about this," he laughed on Thursday. "But, yeah, I have parted ways with Taking Back Sunday. I felt like during the time we were together, we made some great music together, but it was getting to the point where I felt I had taken the road as long as I possibly could."
Though he wouldn't elaborate on just what made him decide to leave TBS — the band he joined in 2003 and rode to impressive heights thanks to 2004's Where You Want to Be and last year's Louder Now — he did say that it was something that was in the back of his mind for months. He noted that the band's musical direction, coupled with its rather tumultuous history (since forming in 1999 TBS have shed four members, including two singers) played a part in his decision.
"After Louder Now, I think the band was headed somewhere I didn't want to go, musically. [Louder Now] was a rock album, and there were some songs that I had written that were more pop than anyone else wanted to go," he said.
"There is a direction Taking Back Sunday has been on since before I joined, and it will continue. When you're in a band that has history, then that band sometimes carries responsibilities and weight with it. And as much as I enjoyed it, I just needed to move on from something that happened so long ago."
Mascherino said he's written more than 45 songs over the past two years — the majority of which he said were intended for the follow-up to Louder Now — but when he found the majority of his ideas being shot down by his bandmates, he started to realize that perhaps it was time to move on.
"I hoped to write another record, for sure. But there wasn't a lot of writing going on between the five of us, honestly," he said, speaking in slow, diplomatic bursts. "We weren't really coming together. I felt like it was just a good time to move on, because I was pretty sure I could never make another record with these four guys."
So rather than store those songs away, he's decided to let the world hear them on a solo project he's calling the Color Fred, a name that, ironically enough, was chosen for him by Taking Back Sunday fans ("I know it's kind of a silly name," he laughed, "but I think that's appropriate for my personality"). He's releasing an album on October 30 called Bend to Break, and he hinted that the songs will give TBS fans an inside look at just what led him to leave the band.
"A lot of the songs do sort of tell part of my struggle within the band. I mean, it's not an album about me leaving the band, but it's about what I've been feeling," he explained. "That said, it's just more of the stuff I've always written. It's not, like, me and an acoustic guitar, like, 'Oh, I'm Bob Dylan now!' I want people who have been following my music to like these songs."
When Mascherino takes his new project out on the road later this month, he says it'll be a bit weird, but also, "refreshing." And though he realizes that leaving Taking Back Sunday was a pretty big risk, he's excited about the possibilities of writing and playing whatever he wants. Whenever he wants to do it.
"I'm fully aware of the risk, but I grew up with nothing, and when I was in ninth grade, I said, 'All I want to do is play guitar for the rest of my life.' So as long as I can play guitar, I'm happy," he said. "It's about doing what I want to do for as long as I can. The times in my life where I've had money have not been happy ones. So I want people to listen to my record and hear the honesty in it. I want to make music that's really, truly the truth."