Get Up Kids interview (Matt Pryor)


In the 10 years The Get Up Kids existed, they played with a passion and have a catalog that reflects that. After disbanding in 2005, the guys went their separate ways with new projects. Some talks of a few reunion shows have turned into a full Fall tour in support of the tenth anniversary release of the band’s second full length, and arguably their most notable album, Something to Write Home About, packed with extra content, including a DVD featuring the band’s first reunion show this past March in Lawrence, KS, and more. Matt Pryor recently took some time to talk about the tour, reissues, what to expect to hear at the shows, and new material from the band in the future.

Who started stirring the first talks of the initial reunion shows, and how did that bloom into a full-blown tour?

[Guitarist] Jim [Suptic] would bring it up every time I would see him over the past four years. It wasn’t really something that we took seriously. We talked together one time after a Spoon show, and we were hanging out, and we’re just sort of like, “You know, it would be fun,” and then I was like, “Hey, maybe we should give this a whirl and see what happens.” I think everybody was open to the idea. We just needed someone to say it.

Is this tour only for the reissue of Something To Write Home About, or were you guys possibly itching to have one last good time?

[The reissue] is really, strictly an excuse to play. [Laughs] We were just like, “We can’t just get back together. We need a reason to do it.” [Doing a reissue] had come up like, “Hey, we should do that,” with no one really doing anything about it, which we talked about doing with Four Minute Mile too, and never really got around to it. It was really more that we decided to play shows, and then hunkering down and getting the reissues figured out [afterwards].

What was the initial feeling in the back room, and as soon as you guys hit the stage, the first show back?

The show was fine. The show wasn’t a really big deal. The first practice we had was kind of tense for the first song, like in a “Are we going to be able to pull this off?” kind of way. The show itself — I wasn’t nervous or tense at all. It was a very warm feeling, like just playing for your friends primarily. Just sort of, enjoyable.

Is that the mindset in preparing for the Fall tour?

That’s very much how we’re approaching it. We’re of the mindset that we really don’t need to do this. It’s not terribly urgent that we do something like this. It’s really just enjoyable. That’s how the band was when we started, and I think it’s part of the reason people enjoy watching us play.

From the last time we had talked, we discussed the impact and recordings of the early Get Up Kids records, including STWHA. You said about the lo-fi sound, and I quote, “That wasn’t the point. That’s the point now, but it’s not what we were trying to do. We were in this high-quality studio.” What has been done, or not touched, with the reissue of STWHA? Looking back on that quote, do you still stand by it?

We didn’t touch the recording at all. We didn’t want to go for a “remastered” sort of thing, because we felt it sounded good the first time. We just wanted to have more content added to it. I think the vocals on Four Minute Mile are [still] atrocious. I can’t look at that record in the same light as everyone else. I think the things that some people find charming about it, I find hard to listen to. I guess it’s a “happy accident” in that sense. Going back and listening to Something to Write Home About, I’m pretty happy with how it sounds. I don’t think it sounds as lo-fi as the first record did. I hadn’t listened to it in a long time, and when we played the first show back, I had to go and relearn some stuff. I’m pretty happy with how it sounds. It wasn’t an intentional, stylistic sound we were going for. We were just trying to be natural.

Also, last time we talked, you had mentioned that the band retired “Valentine,” but it came out at the reunion show. Again, I’m not holding you to your word, but what was Rob’s reaction?

We play it all the time now. It was up to [bassist] Rob [Pope], and he was like “Fuck it.” [Laughs] I think enough water is under that bridge, so it’s all good.

Besides Something To Write Home About, can we expect some other discography gems? Any songs, no matter how loud we yell, will not be seeing the stage, or can we expect some unexpected?

Well, the gig we’re playing tomorrow night [Harrah’s in Kansas City, Missouri] is basically the same set we were playing in Europe, because [drummer] Ryan’s [Pope] not getting back from Spain until today. This weekend, before our first show in Denver, we have a list of songs that people have been requesting that we haven’t played before. We’re learning some little chestnuts for the rest of the tour.

[Reader’s note: At this point in the interview, Matt asked me what I wanted to hear, and I told him my favorite song was “Is There a Way Out?” off of Guilt Show. His response was, “Really? That’s such a downer!” and chuckles. FML, right? But in all good spirits, he said he’d see if he could pull something off, and that the band liked that song as well. Who knows what we’ll hear this Fall.]

Some might say that the sound that bands like The Get Up Kids, Braid and The Promise Ring have built has lost a little luster over the past few years in part to more image marketing, and less felt passion. What are your thoughts about the current state of music within this “scene” that you guys have been cited as influences in? What bands do you see are carrying on the aforementioned spirit?

I think what we we’re doing, and continue to do, has more of an indie rock tradition to it. I think that that is still very vibrant. I think the term “emo” is really just a marketing term, and always really has been. It has never been a “scene” defining thing. The bands that are big now, that are using that marketing term, I don’t really think [pause] I don’t really listen to the radio that much. I get most of my music from friends’ suggestions or NPR, so I’m not really in touch with a lot of newer bands. I do think we get cited as a reference point more as that’s where bands are supposed to reference, but I don’t think those bands listen to our records, I think they have to say that they like us, you know?

One geek question. Four Minute Mile and STWHA were recently reissued on vinyl. Any Get Up Kids fan knows there’s one hell of a collection tagged to the band. What do you think of the resurgence of wax for the new generation, or those younger fans that have discovered your band in the past few years?

I think it’s great. I’ve always been a big vinyl nerd — less so now because I have kids and it’s easier to break them. Unfortunately, all [the reissues] that have come out on vinyl have not really been approved by the band, or we don’t ever get copies of it. I didn’t know when the Four Minute Mile vinyl came out. I didn’t know when the Something to Write Home About vinyl came out. It all was done without our knowing, which is unfortunate.

Do you resent that in any way?

I don’t dislike that those pieces exist. i think it’s great. I love vinyl. I love doing limited pressings and stuff. It’s just that I wish I could get copies of them. I wish I would be informed when they are coming out.

I’m sure everyone wants to know, is there new material in the future? Maybe even just an EP?

We’ve recorded nine songs that we have written, which are getting mixed right now. Our schedules aren’t going to allow a proper tour after the album is released. So we’re thinking of doing a series of EP’s, or maybe a vinyl only thing. We’re still in the beginning stages of that. Sometime next year, we’ll have something new out. Who knows where, what, or when. We’ve been trying out a new song at shows. It’s called “Keith’s Case.” Don’t ask me why it’s called that, I didn’t name it. [Laughs]


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