Yorba Linda, CA melodic hardcore band Taken released just one album and two EPs in the early 2000s before breaking up after 2004’s Between Two Unseens EP, at which point vocalist Ray Harkins formed Mikoto and bassist Nick Beard formed Circa Survive. In the time they were gone, their small discography proved to be very influential, impacting a handful of today’s best hardcore bands, like Touche Amore, whose frontman Jeremy Bolm said, “Taken was the band of firsts for me. They were the first hardcore band from my area I attached myself to. They were the first band I heard to blend melody with blast beats, and they were the first band to take me on tour. I owe a lot of to them as a band and as people. My heart is forever in debt to Taken.” Counterparts called them “one of our biggest influences.”
The increased interest in Taken caused them to reunite in 2008, and they’ve been playing here and there since then (they did some shows with Counterparts this past December, which was what prompted Counterparts to give the above quote). In 2014, they released the discography compilation Carry Us Until There Is Nothing Left on Other People Records (the label run by members of Stick To Your Guns and Stray From The Path), and two weeks ago, they returned with their first new release in 14 years, the With Regard To EP, on the same label. They started to write again in 2010 and “tried to do the whole ‘write over the internet’ thing and that didn’t work,” Ray Harkins told Decibel. And then they finally got in a rehearsal studio together in 2016 and began working on what became With Regard To. The songs were almost finished that same year, but then they went in a new direction after Ray’s wife was sadly diagnosed with cancer, as he also explained to Decibel:
She was diagnosed in November of 2016. By that point, the songs were written and we had already started tracking guitars and drums and I had a whole other set of lyrics that were all dialed in for what was going to be the EP. As my wife was diagnosed and going through chemotherapy is when the music was still being recorded and, as you know on most recordings, the vocals are usually done last. So, as it started to come closer to time to record vocals, I looked at my old lyrics and thought “I can’t sing about this; this is meaningless to me now.” So, I changed everything and started to formulate the idea of making it a – and I hate this word – concept record. But I had to singularly write about this experience because there was no way I could focus on anything else at that point. And everybody in the band understood and was supportive of the idea.
We’re premiering the video for “Reflect,” which is actually the first video the band has ever made. As Ray told us:
This is our very first video and it’s insane to say that some 20+ years after the band started but we wanted something intimate and meaningful to us rather than just setting us up in a warehouse and fake playing our instruments. The live footage was taken by our good friend Chris Avis who tragically died in a van accident last year while on tour with a friend’s band and we wanted to memorialize him with this footage that he took of us when we played a show in 2016 in Los Angeles. The footage of my wife and son are meant to symbolize the small moments that we both held onto while my wife was going through chemotherapy from going on walks, simple drives in the car and reading with our son. My son was really the only person that I could break down and be emotional with on a regular basis and we wanted to capture those moments as well. The fact that so many creative people touched this video from the director Patrick Lawler and our videographer Ian Rees, we feel lucky.
You can watch below. The song “Reflect” (and the whole EP) picks up right where Taken left off 14 years ago, and thanks in part to how influential they’ve become, it still sounds fresh today. Ray Harkins’ delivery is as (or maybe more) passionate as ever, and the instrumentation finds the perfect middle ground between aggressive riffage and delicate beauty. You can stream the whole EP, as well as their discography compilation, below.
Taken are playing a release show for the new EP this Saturday (5/12) at Chain Reaction in Anaheim, with direct support from Thrice/Kowloon Walled City/Curl Up and Die offshoot Less Art. The bill also includes Wanter and Low Speech. Tickets are available.