by Amanda Slater
When it comes to bands, the general rule of thumb is that once a band breaks up, even if all members reunite in the future, the band will never be as good as they once were. However, the Get Up Kids have shown that this isn’t necessarily the case. They are back and better than ever, complete with a new album and a tour that will be stopping at St. Andrews Hall in Detroit on March 10. Recently, we had the opportunity to discuss the band, the new album and more with lead singer and guitarist, Matt Pryor. Here’s what he had to say:
iSPY: How does it feel to be back together with the band for a new album?
Pryor: It feels really good, as individuals, and, as friends, I think we’re tighter than we were leading up to our breakup. We’re probably closer now than we were when we started.
Pryor: I think getting away from each other for three and a half years …When we first started playing together, [the band] was the only thing that we had. Then, as you start to get older, you start having other things in your life that you want to spend your time doing, so you have to find the balance between those two things, and I think the breakup was probably part of that early process and that transition.
iSPY: With the change of your sound over time, have you noticed a change in your fan base or audience?
Pryor: Since we’ve gotten back together, we’ve noticed that our crowd seems to be a little older. So they drink more than they used to. And then there are also younger people that never got a chance to see us play in the first place.
iSPY: How does “There Are Rules” differ from previous Get Up Kids albums?
Pryor: It does sound different, but it feels like a really natural progression and evolution of the band to me. I feel like every record we put out, we piss somebody off because we’re trying something new.
iSPY: Are any particular tracks on this album near and dear to your heart?
Pryor: I have my favorites, certainly. I tend to like the weirder stuff, but that seems to always be the case. With every record we’ve put out, my favorite song is never “the hit.” One of my favorite songs on the new record is called “The Widow Perish??,” It’s a really dark, almost Latin-sounding song in the beginning. It’s not like anything we’ve ever done before, and it just feels really cool. We even considered not putting it on the record because we thought it might be too weird, but then we were like, “Fuck it—it’s a good song. We like it.”
iSPY: What do you think is better—continuing to produce stuff that you know will sell and your fan base will like or to keep reinventing, even if that means your efforts won’t always be perceived as successful?
Pryor: I would have to say that I think that staying true to our artistic side is first and foremost the most important. It isn’t necessarily the path to commercial, wide, mainstream appeal, but I can look myself in the mirror every day and say, “You know what? I made the record that I wanted to make, and I’m really proud of it.” Besides, I don’t want to be the biggest band in the world.
iSPY: Why not?
Pryor: I think it’s a rat race. I think it’s kind of like being a politician. People think you just make a record and put it out, and all of the sudden you’re on the radio. It’s not like that. It’s a lot of hard work and back scratching and ass-kissing that I’ve never been very good at.
iSPY: What was your songwriting process like during the creation of “There Are Rules”?
Pryor: This was very much a collaborative effort. It’s similar to the way we wrote our first album, but it’s not similar to the way we wrote our second, third and fourth, in that, from our second album on, it would be me or Jim coming in with either a complete song or a mostly complete demo of a song. The way this record was written was all of us getting in a room, and, with no preconceived ideas whatsoever, throwing ideas out. It’s not as efficient of a way to write, but it’s an interesting creative process, because you’re literally having five guys writing a song at the same time.
iSPY: Were there any particular inspiration behind the album?
Pryor: I don’t know that there was, necessarily. There’s still a decent amount of anger and irritation in the lyrics, although I can’t be a lot more specific than that. A lot of times the lyrics were kind of written around one line or one word that was coming up in the initial songwriting process. So we would come up with one really cool stanza and write all the lyrics around it. I wanted things to have interesting alliteration, almost like the lyrics were another instrument.
iSPY: Would it be true to say that the Get Up Kids are back together and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon?
Pryor: I think we’ll continue to play music, if not make music, together as long as we’re still enjoying being around each other, and nothing as of yet has proven to be unpleasant.
iSPY: Anything you’re looking forward to?
Pryor: I’m looking forward to the bands we’re touring with. They’re both really, really good, so that will be fun. It always makes for a better concert overall if all the bands are good.
iSPY: What should audience members expect?
Pryor: We have five new songs in the set, so we will play a lot of the old chestnuts that everyone gets excited to hear. I don’t think anybody has left any of the shows disappointed, even if they don’t like the new record. They get plenty of what they want. The band is loud and energetic, and, depending on the proximity of band to audience, the audience can be pretty rocking, too. I got hit in the mouth with the microphone at our last show because of a stage diver. I’ve gotten very good at dodging microphone knocking stage divers. It’s a good skill to have in my line of work.