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The Get Up Kids were viewed throughout their existence as a prototypical emo band, having been major players in the midwest emo movement of the mid-1990s. However, like many early emo bands, The Get Up Kids began to dissociate themselves with the term, as it came to be seen as insult to be known as an "emo band." Due to some internal conflict, the band broke up in 2005. However, in 2008 the band announced that they would embark on a 2009 reunion tour to support the tenth anniversary re-release of Something to Write Home About, the band's most successful studio album.
Early years (1995-1997):
While in high school, Ryan Pope, Rob Pope, and Jim Suptic formed a short-lived band called Kingpin. Matt Pryor had been writing songs since he was a teenager, and was playing in a band called Secret Decoder Ring. Following the demise of the two bands in 1995, The Get Up Kids were formed. The band originally planned on calling themselves "The Suburban Get Up Kids", until reasoning that there were fewer band names beginning with the letter 'G' than there are with the letter 'S', and that therefore they were more likely to be noticed in a record store if their name began with a 'G'. The band was formed on October 14, 1995 on Suptic's 18th birthday.
At the time the lineup consisted of Pryor on guitar and lead vocals, Suptic on guitar, Rob Pope on bass, and Thomas Becker on drums. However, Becker soon left for college in California, and was replaced by Nathan Shay, who was attending school with Suptic at the Kansas City Art Institute. In 1995, Pryor, Suptic, and friend Kevin Zelko saved to self-release "Shorty/The Breathing Method", their very first 7". However, due to an unwillingness to tour, Shay was replaced by Robert's younger brother Ryan in April of 1996. The band became increasingly integral in the growing midwest music scene, forming strong relationships with bands such as Rocket Fuel is the Key, Coalesce and Braid. After "Shorty", the band released "A Newfound Interest in Massachusetts." Soon afterward, driven by interest created by the band's first 7", they recorded their first EP, Woodson. It was released on 7" vinyl through Contrast Records, with Doghouse Records releasing a CDEP version that included the songs from both Woodson and A Newfound Interest in Massachusetts. After Woodson, Doghouse approached the band with a two-album contract, offering them $4,000 to record their first full-length album.
Four Minute Mile (1997-1998):
After signing to Doghouse, the band drove to Chicago to record their debut full-length album with producer Bob Weston of Shellac. The album was recorded in only two days, with the band leaving on Friday after Ryan Pope got out of school, and finishing in the early hours of Sunday morning. Two months after recording the album, the band embarked on their first national tour with Braid and Ethel Meserve, with the first date of the tour taking place the day after Ryan's high school graduation. It was on that tour that the band met James Dewees, the new drummer for Coalesce while the bands were playing together in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
After the show, the members of the two bands became close friends, eventually leading them to record a Split 7" produced by Ed Rose entitled "Burned Bridges/I'm Giving Up on This One". For the split, each band covered the one of the other's songs in their own style. Coalesce did a post-hardcore cover of "Second Place", and The Get Up Kids created a power-pop rendition of the Coalesce song "Harvest of Maturity". A few months later, the band released their debut full-length record Four Minute Mile, bringing a great deal of attention from critics, fans and labels alike. The band was invited to join Braid on their 1998 tour of Europe, soon garnering a rapidly growing overseas fanbase. However, while the band was receiving more and more attention, they became unhappy with Doghouse Records. They finally decided to leave the label in search of another.
This news brought interest from several prominent record labels, including Sub Pop, Geffen and Mojo Records. They soon signed to Mojo, but before the entire band could sign the contracts to make the deal official, they began to have second thoughts, primarily over the fact that the label insisted on owning merchandising rights, a large source of the band's income. Moreover, the band felt insulted when the label requested that they re-record their song "Don't Hate Me" from Four Minute Mile for the next record, feeling that the label believed it was "the best that [they could] write". Before the deal with Mojo was official, the band met Rich Egan, founder of Los Angeles-based Vagrant Records. He convinced the band to sign to his label instead, offering them $50,000 to record a second album as well as their own imprint, Heroes & Villains Records.
Something to Write Home About (1999-2001):
Before they began work on their second full-length, the band first recorded Red Letter Day, a five-track EP produced by Ed Rose that served to fulfill their two-record deal with Doghouse. The EP also served another purpose, as it gave the band an opportunity to experiment with the addition of keyboards, played by James Dewees. This inclusion was brought about after Matt Pryor helped Dewees record a solo album under the pseudonym Reggie and the Full Effect. The resulting album, Greatest Hits 1984-1987 is considered instrumental in the history of the band's sound, helping bridge the gap between the raw, angsty sound of Four Minute Mile and the more upbeat, calculated style showcased on Red Letter Day and their next studio album.
After the release of Red Letter Day, Dewees joined the band full-time, and the band began recording their second studio album in Los Angeles in June 1999 with producer Alex Brahl. Before the album went into production, Vagrant Records co-owner John Cohen had to borrow money from his parents, who mortgaged their house in order to fund the production of the album. On September 21, 1999 the band released Something to Write Home About on Vagrant Records. Lyrically, the album reflected much of the record label strife the band had recently experienced and their distance between them and those back home after their move to Los Angeles. Something to Write Home About has been singled out as the band's only 'true' emo album, as the albums aesthetic fit more into the contemporary definition of the genre. Furthermore, the album single-handedly turned the struggling Vagrant label into one of the top Indie labels in the country, selling over 140,000 copies after its release. Not only did the album make The Get Up Kids the standard-bearers for emo, but it also launched the genre into a public consciousness broader than the local scenes that had previously embraced it. The album made Vagrant Records a household name amongst indie connoisseurs. At the same time, the addition of Dewees alienated some fans, as the implementation of keyboards moved the band away from the DIY ethic of the contemporary punk scene.
As a result of their newly increased profile, The Get Up Kids toured relentlessly to promote the record. As well as touring Europe, Japan, and Australia, they toured with such acts as Green Day, The Anniversary, Koufax, Hot Rod Circuit, Jebediah, Weezer and Ozma. Their 2000 tour with The Anniversary and Koufax was sponsored by Napster. Their fanbase exploded, and shows on their tours were drastically over-sold, with many venues having fans literally pouring out of the doors to see them perform. To capitalize on anticipation for the band's next album, Vagrant Records released a rarities compilation Eudora in 2001. Eudora consisted of alternate takes, covers and B-sides released since the band's formation. Doghouse began re-releasing older material, releasing a re-mastered edition of Four Minute Mile and a compilation of their own entitled The EPs: Woodson and Red Letter Day which combined the two Doghouse-owned EPs on one compact disc.
On a Wire (2002-2003):
After three years of touring for Something to Write Home About, the band was beginning to feel burned-out on that material and was looking to try experimenting with a more mature sound. They also wanted to get a new producer to help challenge them creatively, approaching Nigel Godrich and Gil Norton with offers, although they both declined. Finally, the band settled on Scott Litt, best known for his work with R.E.M. and Nirvana. The band's third studio album, On a Wire was released on May 14, 2002, debuting the band's new sound. Just as Something to Write Home About alienated fans with its more produced sound, On a Wire was criticized by those fans who were disappointed with the softer musical direction of the album. The reviewer for Alternative Press writing “Unfortunately, the visceral energy of their early days is lost in their newfound maturity.”
While many fans were upset with this sudden departure, the album was generally well-received by mainstream publications. The Entertainment Weekly reviewer was highly positive, writing that "This is the group at their best." In his review of the album, Rolling Stone writer Barry Walters wrote “On a Wire quivers with the anxieties that must have arisen as the Get Up Kids left behind what originally made them. Straining vocals, racing tempos and walls of distortion give way to softer singing, spacious guitars and prominent keyboards... The Get Up Kids dig deeper into themselves. What they find is often subtle, less visceral but far more tender.” However, the poor reception of the album had a larger impact on the band's widespread popularity as a whole. The band embarked on a tour to promote the album in the late spring soon after the album was released, only to find that they were experiencing far less support from both their fans and their record label. Since the release of Something to Write Home About and the label's ensuing success, the company had taken on several more big-name acts like Alkaline Trio, Dashboard Confessional and Saves the Day, meaning that The Get Up Kids were no longer the label's biggest priority, particularly not after the lukewarm reception of On a Wire. In an interview with AP Magazine, lead singer Matt Pryor considered that the dramatic change in style for On a Wire seriously impacted the momentum the band had gained from Something to Write Home About, allowing later bands like Dashboard Confessional to take much of the fan base that The Get Up Kids had previously earned. In an interview, Pryor confessed that he didn't think that "anyone, including Vagrant, gave that record a chance". It was at this point that the band began trying to shed the term "emo", a word that had defined them for years, but had come to mean something different. Pryor commented on the album, saying "We really didn’t give two shits if anyone liked the record or not, we were really confident that we were going to kill this ‘emo’ stigma that we had and take the people with open minds with us and leave everyone else in the dust.”
Guilt Show (2003-2004):
In 2003 the band began recording their fourth studio album. The album would be the first recorded in Black Lodge Studios in Eudora, Kansas renovated and owned by the Pope brothers and producer Ed Rose. The writing process for the album was much different than their past works, as most of the songs were written by only three of the band members. In the early stages of the writing process, Jim Suptic was on his honeymoon and James Dewees was involved in a particularly nasty divorce, and much of his creative efforts at the time inspired by those events went into the fourth Reggie and the Full Effect album Songs Not to Get Married To. While these factors combined led to a much less collaborative process than in the past, it gave the Pope brothers a more substantial role in writing the album than they had previously. In an interview with AP Magazine, Pryor confirmed that the song "Never Be Alone" was written by Rob Pope about his divorce in 2003 from The Anniversary keyboardist Adrianne Verhoeven. However, this new fractured take on the creative process began to strain relationships in the band, at one point leading Suptic to consider quitting the band.
In March 2004, the band released their fourth and final studio album Guilt Show, produced by Ed Rose. Sonically, the album served to combine the more measured, sophisticated sound of On a Wire with the frenetic, upbeat style of their earlier work. The album was very well-received both critically and commercially. The more pop-driven tone of the album served to reunite the band with many of the fans who had become disenchanted after On a Wire, while also staying close enough to On a Wire to interest that album's fans. However, their return was largely overshadowed by the booming popularity of bands like Dashboard Confessional, who invited the band to open for them on the 2004 Honda Civic Tour.
Over the course of the tour with Dashboard Confessional, relationships between the band members continued to decline. The band's live shows had deteriorated, and Rob and Suptic had both threatened to quit multiple times. Matt Pryor's wife had recently given birth to their first child, and being away from his family had made him irritable and standoffish. After the Honda Civic tour ended, the band embarked on their world tour, including stops throughout Europe, Japan and Australia. However, their live performance hit an all-time low, with Pryor at times refusing to even sing large portions of songs. At one tour date in England, the tensions came to a head when Ryan Pope confronted Pryor due to his recent despondence, leading to a band meeting with Pryor confessing his feelings to the rest of the group. After some discussion, the band agreed that their hearts were no longer in it and, at the end of the tour, they would quietly end the band. After the tour ended, the band went on an unofficial hiatus, not playing as a group until the next January, when they played a show at the Granada Theater in Lawrence, Kansas to celebrate the band's tenth anniversary. An album was recorded and released the following May as the band's first and only live album, Live! @ The Granada Theater.
On Tuesday, March 8, 2005, The Get Up Kids announced that after ten years they were calling it quits. They would embark on a short tour ending on July 2, 2005 in their native Kansas City. The group disbanded after their sold-out July 2, 2005 farewell show at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City, Missouri.
After breakup (2005-2008):
After the band played their final show, the band continued to be involved in the music scene in various ways. Rob and Ryan Pope have taken charge of Black Lodge Studios, the recording studio that the band formed with the recording of Guilt Show alongside limited stints playing with Koufax. Rob was a founding member of Lawrence, Kansas group White Whale before joining the indie rock group Spoon.
Matt Pryor continued as part of The New Amsterdams, an acoustic alt-country group he formed in 2000. In 2007 he formed The Terrible Twos, a children's band that has released two albums on Vagrant Records. In July 2008, he released Confidence Man, his debut solo album.
Jim Suptic went on to form Blackpool Lights with former members of Butterglory and The Creature Comforts. He is also one of the co-founders of Curb Appeal Records, a Kansas City-based record label that released Blackpool Lights' debut album This Town's Disaster, plus albums by Smoking Popes and The New Amsterdams.
James Dewees continued his side project Reggie and the Full Effect. After the breakup of The Get Up Kids, Dewees toured with A New Found Glory as their touring keyboardist. After another brief tour opening for Hellogoodbye in 2006, he joined My Chemical Romance as touring keyboardist on their 2008 world tour. After returning home from the tour, he released the fifth Reggie and the Full Effect album on Vagrant Records, entitled Last Stop: Crappy Town, followed by a brief tour of the United States.
In late August and September 2008, while Dewees was touring with Reggie and the Full Effect, reports began to surface that he was hinting at a Get Up Kids reunion tour to commemorate the ten-year anniversary of the band's second album Something to Write Home About. According to reports, Dewees also confirmed that the band would be re-releasing the album.
In the meantime, Dewees continued to fuel speculation when he stated in an interview that he would be working on the reunion of a "band from the 90's and early 2000's". The reunion was finally confirmed by a post on the official music blog of The Kansas City Star, confirming rumors that the band would be playing a surprise reunion show at The Record Bar in Kansas City on November 16, 2008. According to the article, the band had made the decision over the summer and had Dewees intentionally leak the information to fuel speculation.
The reunion show was officially announced on Friday, November 14, along with the official confirmation of the album re-release and a 2009 national tour. The tenth anniversary edition of the album will include a photo album and a DVD containing a band retrospective and other content, including their live performance from March 13, 2009 at Liberty Hall in Lawrence. The show took place Sunday, November 16, 2008 at the record bar in Kansas City. The band played their album Something To Write Home About from beginning to end, as well as a six song encore.
The Get Up Kids have had a lasting impact on the music scene, having been cited as inspirations to several prominent bands and artists. Blink-182 bassist and singer Mark Hoppus is a vocal fan, having proposed to his wife to The Get Up Kids song "I'll Catch You." The Get Up Kids were offered to join a Blink-182 tour after Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, but they declined. The members of Fall Out Boy cite The Get Up Kids' influence, particularly Four Minute Mile. In a 2005 interview with Alternative Press, Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz stated that the band had a huge influence on him and the other members of Fall Out Boy. "There should be a How To Be a Pop-Punk Kid starter kit with bands like Get Up Kids, so kids would know whose shoulders bands like us are standing on. Fall Out Boy would not be a band if it were not for The Get Up Kids."
New Jersey based act Midtown has stated in interviews that they were heavily influenced by The Get Up Kids, among other groups. The Early November band members were all fans, and influenced by, The Get Up Kids. The Early November song "Baby Blue" includes the line "I don't want you to love me anymore." This line is taken directly from the Get Up Kids song "No Love," not only lyrically but melodically as well. The band Hellogoodbye have been vocal fans of the band and while on tour with Reggie and the Full Effect in 2007, two years after the breakup of The Get Up Kids, Hellogoodbye invited James Dewees and Matt Pryor onstage with them, and proceeded to back them in a cover of The Get Up Kids' song "Action & Action."
Nerdcore rapper mc chris is a self-professed fan of The Get Up Kids and Reggie & the Full Effect, having toured as an opening act during Reggie & the Full Effect's 2008 farewell tour. The song "DQ Blizzard" from his debut album Life's a Bitch and I'm Her Pimp samples "Your Girlfriends Hate Me" by Reggie and the Full Effect, and live versions of the song contain samples of "Mass Pike" and "Action & Action" by The Get Up Kids.