An Interview with Matthew Pryor of The Get Up Kids

Episode 20 - Matt Pryor (The Get Up Kids) — Washed Up Emo

I first discovered Punk Rock when I was in high school. Not the Hardcore or really old school stuff, but more the Emo and Pop Punk side of things. Bands such as MXPX, Pennywise and AFI could always be found on mixed CDs that I had in my Chevy Suburban’s CD player. As I got a little bit older, I began to dive into the grittier side of the genre. I discovered bands such as Brand New, Taking Back Sunday, The Promise Ring, Knapsack and The Get Up Kids. Of all of these bands, The Get Up Kids stood out to me most of all. Their songs for one reason or another resonated with me.

Over time, The Get Up Kids became one of my favorite bands, and when they broke up during my senior year of high school (2005), you could say I was pretty bummed out. Move a few years down the line, and the band was still in heavy rotation, but now on my iPod. I remember when I found out the band was getting back together (2008) and that they were going to tour. More so, they were going to be in our area! I called my best friend Joe, and long story short, we finally ended up seeing them live and it was amazing. In 2009, when I went up to school at SUNY Cortland, I found myself pretty lonely, and my roomates were angry, partying nightmares. I was forced to aimlessly walk around campus in the cold to escape them. I still remember how The Get Up Kids would soundtrack those lonely walks. In retrospect, what better to soundtrack a young emo college student’s emo walks than an emo band? Looking back, it’s kinda cringy. Typing it out now is pretty cringy too. All well.

Anyway, all in all, I’ve seen The Get Up Kids three times, and they rocked each concert. Over the years, I’ve stuck with them, or maybe it’s them who have stuck with me. The Get Up Kids are an important part of my musical origin story, and I still love them today as much as I did the first time I heard them as a teen. The songs don’t carry the same angsty meaning anymore, but they don’t need to. To this day, I still remember each song, word for word, line for line. The driving, crunching Punk Rock licks seared into my brain. It’s good, catchy music. And these days, that’s all I need it to be. I don’t listen as often, but when I do, it still means something.

Today, I’ve got Matthew Pryor “in the house.” He’s a founding member of The Get Up Kids, as well as the lead vocalist and guitar player. The Get Up Kids are still going strong. Their last album, Problems, was released in 2019 and it’s awesome. If you’d like to learn more about The Get Up Kids, you can head to their website here. That said, enjoy the interview. Matt is a cool guy. Cheers.

Andrew:
Matt, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. It’s been a weird year, hasn’t it? What have you been doing to pass the time?

Matthew:
What’s weird about it? Haha. I’ve been working in my garden, helping the kids with school. We just started band practice again last month so that’s been good.

Andrew:
Tell us a little about your back story. How did you get your start? What are your musical origins so to speak?

Matthew:
I got really into Hair Metal when I was in grade school. GnR, The Crue, etc.  My subscription to RIP magazine lead me to Metallica, who lead me to the Misfits, and Punk Rock in general. Once I got to Fugazi, I was a convert. I started playing guitar when I was 13, and played my first show when I was 15. TGUK started in 1995 when I was 17.

Andrew:
Your band, The Get Up Kids was one of the leaders of the 90’s Emo/Pop Punk scene. How did the band get its start? How did the members all meet?

Matthew:
Rob and Ryan are brothers and Jim went to school with them. They played in a band in high school called Kingpin, who would play all ages shows around KC with the bands that I was in, and that’s how we all met.

Doghouse launches Get Up Kids pre-orders ‹ Modern Vinyl

Andrew:
Four Minute Mile and Something to Write Home About are in my opinion, two of the best albums of the decade, let alone your particular genre. What do you remember about the recording of those albums? What was the inspiration?

Matthew:
Well, there’s a lot to unpack there. We drove to Chicago and recorded 4MM in two days so it’s a bit of a whirlwind. STWHA we spent a month in LA crashing on the floor of a friend’s house who hadn’t told his roommates we were coming. The inspiration was just what we were going through in life at the time, relationships we were having, music we were listening to, etc.

Andrew:
One of the things I noticed between your first and second albums was there was definitely an uptick in the production. Your first album (Four Minute Mile) definitely sounds more raw. Was that intentional?

Matthew:
No, we’ve never been happy with how 4MM sounds. It was recorded really quickly when we didn’t know what we were doing. So, we made it a priority to spend more time on the next one.

Andrew:
After your first album, there was definitely a shift in your sound. Not in a bad way, as I am a huge fan of those records, but it seemed like you guys were maturing and perhaps drawing off some different influences. Can you expand on that at all?

Matthew:
I mean, that’s what you do as you get older. I think the biggest difference besides the production is that we were more conscious of traditional Pop song structure. There’s less long instrumental parts on our second album and more focus on the riffs and the vocal hooks.

Get Up Kids singer Matt Pryor on reuniting, touring and Lawrence

Andrew:
In 2005, The Get Up Kids broke up. I remember when it happened. It was huge bummer, but then in 2008, you guys got back together. What lead to the breakup, and then reunion a few years later?

Matthew:
Hindsight being 20/20, we needed to take a break. But, when you’re 23 and the band is your whole life, it’s hard to recognize that. We had a kind of all-or-nothing policy, and since I was incredibly burnt out, I chose the “nothing” option.

Andrew:
Your last two albums, There Are Rules, and Problems have both been great. You seem to have carried on in the more mature direction. Who are your influences these days?

Matthew:
When we were recording this last record, I got really into XTC and finally started to understand Oasis, who the rest of the band adores but I never really got until recently.

Andrew:
The Emo and Punk scene has changed so wildly since you first began. You guys, along with Knapsack, Promise Ring and a few others were sort of the pioneers in a way. What is your opinion of how the genre has progressed?

Matthew:
I see a lot of positivity. I’m privileged in that my daughter is in a Punk band and has really opened my eyes to the music that she and her friends are listening to. It’s all underground again which is, honestly, where I’m more comfortable.

The Get Up Kids / Into It. Over It. Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto ON,  December 5

Andrew:
Shifting gears here. Do you collect vinyl? Tapes? CDs? Or are you all digital now? Where do you like to shop for music?

Matthew:
I have collected vinyl, but sold my collection when my kids were young.  I’ve always been an advocate, I used to work in a used record store, and we’ve always made sure that our albums were available in the format.  Even during the “vinyl is dead” days.

Andrew:
What a few albums that mean the most to you and why?

Matthew:
The Afghan Whigs, Black Love is just a cool, dark, soulful Rock album.

Steve Early, El Corazon which really taught me about about writing lyrics.

Dillinger Four, Vs. God arguably one of the greatest Punk Rock albums in my opinion.

Andrew:
It’s been a weird year, but we’ve still seen a lot of great music released this year. What are some of your “must haves” of 2020?

Matthew:
Bourbon, socially distant friends, family and the garden.

Andrew:
Once COVID-19 calms down (if it ever calms down) what’s next for The Get Up Kids? Any chance of a new album soon?

Matthew:
Yup, we’re going to start writing here soon.

Andrew:
Last question. What advice would you have for any new bands just starting out?

Matthew:
DIY. Don’t ever expect anyone to do anything for you. You have all the skills you need to create, and release music. You just have to do it.

The Get Up Kids look forward (and back) in an energetic turn at the  Echoplex – buzzbands.la

Interested in sampling The Get Up Kids? Check out the link below:https://www.youtube.com/embed/xncA1GVlFRc?feature=oembed

Dig this interview? Check out the full catalog of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interviews

Published by Andrew Daly

Since he was a young child growing up on Long Island, NY, Andrew has always loved writing and collecting physical music. Present-day, Andrew is proud to share his love of music with the world through his writing, and the result is nothing short of beautiful: articles and interviews written by a music addict for fellow music addicts. Andrew lives on Long Island and works as a Horticultural Operations Manager by day and runs the Vinyl Writer Music website by night.

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