Matt Pryor | The Kids Are Alright

"Enough time had passed away from one another that we could see through the bullshit and enjoy our time together."

After disbanding nearly six years ago, Matt Pryor and Co. reunited The Get Up Kids and healed the broken hearts of fans everywhere. Pryor never stepped away from music after the breakup—not even close. He carried on with his side project, The New Amsterdams, churned out two kid-friendly albums with The Terrible Twos (featuring the same band members as The New Amsterdams), and released his first solo album.
The Get Up Kids recently released There Are Rules and are about to start up the second leg of their U.S. tour. Pryor took time to talk about subjects ranging from the band reuniting, the sound of the new album (about which he had to correct my presumptions), his other projects, and the great Pee-Wee Herman.
First off, what was the reason for the reformation of The Get Up Kids after five years of being apart?

The reason was that we started getting along again. Enough time had passed away from one another that we could see through the bullshit and enjoy our time together.
What inspired the incorporation of the keyboards in There Are Rules more than on any other album you’ve put out?

This seems to come up a lot, but it’s kind of a non-issue for us. We’ve had a pretty heavy keyboard presence on a lot of our songs, the Moog lead line in “Action & Action” comes to mind. Maybe we just turned them up louder in the mix this time.
To me, most of The New Amsterdams catalog, and even your solo effort’s sound, praises simplicity with an almost stripped sound. Did you acknowledge these factors while making There Are Rules noticeably harder and more electronically textured than anything you’ve done before?

 Outside of The Get Up Kids I tend to write more simplistic songs arrangement-wise, with the exception of the last New Ams record, which is pretty heavily orchestrated. I like the sound of one voice and one guitar. I think that Rules is certainly fuller sounding than any of my other stuff outside the band, but it’s not electronic at all. The whole record was recorded to tape using all analog gear. It’s certainly different—proudly so—but it’s not electronic.

The Get Up Kids formed their own label, Quality Hill Records, for the new album. Was the mentality one of starting everything anew and fresh?

Two reasons. When the band got back together we felt like we’d been given another chance, and we wanted to symbolically bring it back to its roots. We put out our first 7” ourselves so it seemed like a good idea to take it back to the start. On the same side of the coin, the industry has changed so much since we started that we really think this is a good idea for a band like us. Arguably it’s the way the industry is going anyway. We have the knowledge to run a label; we’ve done it before, time to try it again.

You were working on Killed or Cured with The New Amsterdams back in 2004 while The Get Up Kids were on their way to disbanding. Was it the troubles that were brewing within the band that fueled your lyrics? Was the album shelved until TGUK announced their break up so that the fans wouldn’t be aware of the tensions building within the band?

Some of the lyrics but not all of them. The album was never shelved, it was just postponed. With TGUK farewell tour happening, it wasn’t going to come out for another year after it was finished on Vagrant, so I just decided to release the first version online for free. It didn’t have anything to do with fan awareness. I didn’t give a shit if anyone knew how I was feeling at the time.

I haven’t enjoyed children’s music since I was rocking out to Disney Radio about 20 years ago. But your band The Terrible Twos is incredibly catchy. Did you know that you’d be able to craft music for kids that also appeals to adults so well? Also, how much fun is it working with your kids while making the music?

I didn’t know if I could do it or not. I figured it wouldn’t be that hard. The bar is set so low in kids’ music that you really just have to be the least shitty thing out there. It is fun making those records, but if I’ve learned one thing from the experience is that I like my kids, even most of my friends’ kids, but I don’t necessarily like all kids. 

You have a song on Something to Write Home About titled “I’m a Loner Dottie, A Rebel.” The title is from a line uttered by Paul Reubens in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. Are you a huge fan of Pee-Wee Herman like myself? Or did you just find that line to be absolutely perfect for the song?

Reubens is great. The song doesn’t have anything to do with him, though. The title is what happens when 18-year-olds try to be clever.

Now that The Get Up Kids are back together, and you have two other musical endeavors as well as your solo effort, do you think you’ll push forward making music with each of them?

I don’t know if I’ll do the Twos anymore, I’m working on a New Ams record right now, but we’ll see how it all pans out. I certainly intend to keep making music. | Alex Schreiber

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