Interview: The Get Up Kids

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Sometimes when a band announces they’re coming to town, the announcement is met with an unbridled explosion of pure joy and excitement.

In the midst of yet another snowstorm, The Get Up Kids announced they’d be headlining The Stone Pony on March 27th. When that announcement hit the Internet, New Jersey officially lost its mind with glee.

The band is currently celebrating its 20th Anniversary and we had the honor of speaking with the band’s lead singer and guitarist Matt Pryor. It was a different sort of interview. Pryor isn’t just a rock star nor just a Get Up Kid anymore — he’s a father, solo artist, podcaster and a guy who doesn’t mind working in the garden. In this interview, he’s not afraid to frank about where the band is and where he is at this point in his life and career and he says everything with a strong sense of honesty, but also a strong sense of levity. Nicest dude we’ve ever spoken? He’s definitely up there.

Tonight, Matt Pryor and the rest of The Get Up Kids roll into Asbury Park for a night of unbridled excitement and fond memories. Here’s Matt’s thoughts on the tour, the band’s state in the music world and being a dad and a touring musician.

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When The Get Up Kids announced their date at The Stone Pony it seemed like everyone in social media circle lost their collective minds in excitement. I mean people went legitimately bananas. But these were people mostly of my age in their late twenties, early thirties. Do you find that your audiences right now are all ages or are mostly from this age group?

It’s been four years since we toured last and our audience is definitely older, primarily. I’m sure at The Stone Pony show people will come up and say they saw us at the Manville Elks Lodge back in the day. People will always say, ‘Yeah, I was at that show at blah blah’ and I’ll always respond, ‘Yeah, so was I!’ (laughs).

Man of your contemporaries have recently reunited and are out on tour celebrating the anniversaries of their most famous record. Do you see The Get Up Kids as a band embracing the nostalgia or do you feel you guys are still a current band who’s out to tour and make new music.

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Currently, and this is not to say this our world view forever and ever, but it’s like a college reunion. From our own research it seems to go the best lately when it goes like, ‘Oh my God I haven’t seen you in so long let’s hang out. Let’s remember the old days and play the old songs.’ It wouldn’t be fulfilling to do just that all the time. I don’t know. Everyone’s super busy and we all have this brief window on this 20th anniversary tour. Don’t get me wrong this isn’t the only tour, we’re going to do more. After that, everybody’s got real jobs. This particular touring cycle, the band is about having fun, drinking beer and seeing our old fiends, because who knows when we’ll ever do this again.

How does that feel reunion?

There’s two sides to it. These guys are my friends. These guys are my brothers. We’ve gone through so much that no one else will understand. That’s the reunion part. We don’t always see each other, even thought [some of us] live in the same town. We get together and hang and then we make fun of Jim, because that’s what we’ve always done. When it comes to performing, I don’t need to perform any of these songs ever again, but you’re feeding off the crowd. I would never sit home and play ‘Action and Action’ by myself. You’re feeding off the crowd and that energy is contagious and uplifting.

Let me complicate the previous question. When you’re in the moment, performing on stage do you ever feel, ‘Hey, we could make another run at this as a full-time band’ even if it is for a fleeting moment?

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Well, we did do that in 2011 and it didn’t go very well. (laughs) This band is a scheduling nightmare because everyone has so much stuff going on. The fact we made this happen is one thing. To make new music, we’d have to commit being a band again. I mean we could get together and make a record, but we wouldn’t be able to tour it. We’re stubborn in the sense we won’t make the same record twice. We’re always pushing ourselves to create something new.

There’s two types of Get Up Kids fans. There’s those along for the ride and they’re along for everything because they know it’ll be interesting and good. Then there’s those who just like the first two records. Our first two records are our most popular records so you can’t really complain about that. There’s nothing on the books about making new, we’re just trying to have fun and celebrate the hard work we’ve done.

Being a new dad myself, I wanted to know how is it being a dad and being a touring musician? How do you mentally and emotionally prepare yourself for going out on the road?

It sucks (laughs). No two ways about it. Currently, I’m in a good position because my kids are older. That’s proven to be a lot easier to be away from them. My in-laws live in town so that makes things easier, too. You can’t complain about touring because you sound like an asshole. But, we’ve all seen that Bon Jovi video where everyone looks exhausted. Touring, no matter how you do it, you never get enough sleep and it’s lonely for the most part. You take all the negative things you don’t like about touring and you multiply it by a thousand when you have a kid. The loneliness is worse. When you call home and your three-year-old says, ‘I forget what you look like’ you feel like a total asshole.

But are they old enough to bring with you?

Yes, but it gets expensive. On this Get Up Kids tour…I don’t think I’d ever bring my kids on a Get Up Kids tour…but my wife’s coming out for the last three shows. It’s good for both of us because we can get away from the kids.

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Has being a parent influenced your art at all?

I wouldn’t say it really has. I did do a couple of albums for kids under the name The Terrible Twos. I would’ve never have thought to do that if I didn’t have kids. Honestly, the answer is having kids changes you as a person. They’re not directly linked but I really figured out a lot about myself through having kids.

So, not to be cheesy, but how has it impacted you as a person?

It demands you be more patient. You don’t have any say in the matter. You say things in your life to adults like, ‘You’re acting like such a baby!’ But then when you have one you’re like, ‘Ah shit, that’s what they’re really like!’ You can’t tell your kids not to be a baby.

So, going back to the music, is your solo work your main creative musical outlet or are there other projects on the horizon?

As far as a creative musical outlet, [the solo project] is what I do. Right now, I’m not putting out a solo record in the middle of a Get Up Kids anniversary, that’d be stupid. I have to wait till it’s over to start the solo work.

But that’s not your only creative outlet, right?

Right now it’s the only creative musical outlet.  I’m also doing a podcast and writing. I’m collecting a bunch of stories to put together into a book.

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Speaking of the podcast, Nothing to Write Home About, can you talk how you got into it?

I got into podcasts when I was working on a farm a few summer ago. In fact, before you called that’s what I was doing, I was working in my garden listening to the Nerdist because Jack Antonoff was on. So, [while working on the farm] I was listening to Maron and I though, ‘Shit we’s just telling tour stories, I can do that. I know interesting people. Some of them are borderline famous. (laughs).’

For those unfamiliar with the podcast is there an episode you’d recommend someone start with?

I’d first find out if I interviewed someone they like. But, you could go with the funniest ones which are the ones when I’m talking with [James] Dewees and the most interesting ones are when I’m talking with Chris Conley (Saves the Day). We talk about spirituality and the universe, we barely talk about universe the most.

What’s on the horizon for The Get Up Kids in 2015?

We’re going to England in August and we’re trying to route a U.S. leg, heading west in the fall. Then go overseas after the first of the year. We’re mapping out the next six months.

The Get Up Kids perform tonight at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

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Bill Bodkin is the Owner, Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Pop-Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beauty daughter, Sophie. He is beyond excited that Pop-Break will be six years old in 2015 as this site has come a long, long way from the day he launched in it in his bachelor pad at the Jersey Shore. He can be read every Monday for the Happy Mondays Interview Series as well as his weekly reviews on Law & Order: SVU, Mad Men and Hannibal. His goal, once again, is to write 500 stories this year (a goal he accomplished in 2014). He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @PopBreakDotCom
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Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites

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