The Get Up Kids are back!
The Get Up Kids
by Danny Lore
Photos: Shawn Brackbill
24 years ago 3 high school friends in Kansas City, Missouri got together and formed a band that would help define a genre. Their second album, “Something to Write Home About,” lit a spark that would ignite and influence bands for years to come. The Get Up Kids left a mark on the landscape of emo music that would become known as “Midwest Emo.”
As time moved on, The Get Up Kids felt the confines of being known as an “emo band” and sought to disassociate themselves from the strict guidelines of the genre. As they matured as artists they departed from the sound that they were known for. They reached out creatively and began to experiment with a fresh approach to songwriting. The evolution of the band’s sound and their new music reached critical acclaim and upset the purists at the same time.
After years of living on the road and spending months away from their families they were burned out. In 2005 they announced that they were calling it quits.
In 2008 the band reformed to commemorate the tenth anniversary and re-release of “Something To Write Home About.” On November 16, 2008 they played the album from beginning to end and were called back on stage for a 6-song encore at The Record Bar in Kansas City. This show led to a reunion tour that started in Europe and ended in the U.S. in 2009.
The band was moving forward again and headed back into the studio to record a new EP entitled “Simple Service” in 2010 and a full length in 2011 named “There Are Rules.”
“Problems” is the first full-length album The Get Up Kids have released in eight years. The songs are strong and the guitar work is as crunchy and melodic as it ever was. Matt’s lyrics effortlessly recapture the personal and contemplative imagery that made this band an important part of so many peoples lives.
When did you start writing the songs for your new album, “Problems?”
We started writing in February 2018. We did two writing / pre-production sessions that were about 5 days each in Feb. and May last year.
The Get Up Kids wrote their first songs 24 years ago. How has the writing process changed over time?
Not that much. We still write a lot of the foundations of the songs in the room together and then I take those ideas home and write lyrics over them. Sometimes, Jim or I will come in with a complete song with lyrics but that’s pretty different from how we did it back in the day. Our first record was written pretty collaboratively.
The raw and emotional lyrics of “Problems” is what made fans fall in love with you decades ago. How has growing older changed your approach to writing lyrics?
I like to think we’ve gotten better at it. Like most people, sometimes I look at the words I wrote when I was a teenager as cringeworthy. I certainly put a lot more thought into it now.
In 2008, the band reunited to commemorate the tenth anniversary of “Something to Write Home About.” After years of being apart, what was it like to get back on stage and reconnect with the band and your fans?
It was like putting on your favorite jean jacket from high school and it still fit.
The release of your album “Something to Write Home About” is largely considered one of emo's genre defining moments. You became the poster children for emo and inspired many bands along the way. How difficult was it to escape that label and write songs that allowed you to grow as an artist?
I don’t know if it’s possible to escape the label so we’ve pretty much accepted it. We’ve always tried to challenge ourselves creatively. I think the records we made after STWHA prove that.
The internet has changed everything about the music industry since you first started the band. You were able to see and experience that shift first hand. How have you had to adapt to the evolution of the industry?
I think the biggest difference is that instead of doing one thing (put out and album and tour) you now have a lot of smaller hustles. Ultimately, I think the internet has a positive force especially if you are a fan of music. It’s made it easier to distribute your art and easier to connect with the artists that you like on a more personal level.
What new bands are you listening to now?
Spook School, Diet Cig, Sidney Gish, Great Grandpa, Ezra Furman, Remember Sports, LK Ultra
Tell me something about yourself that nobody knows.
What do you do when you're not on the road?
A lot of interviews, and gardening.
Do you have any hobbies or activities that you enjoy outside of music?
Gardening and cooking
Your show here in Gainesville takes place during "Independent Venue Week." Why are independent venues important to you?
I think independent everything is important to me. We’ve been lucky enough to be our own boss for over 20 years. I like being able to support other people who do that, and who put their passions in front of profit. Not that there is anything wrong with profit, it’s just not the only reason for living.