Download New Album: The Get Up Kids – Problems
The Get Up Kids comes through with a brand new smashing hot and dope studio album, packed with 12 amazing and solid tracks entitled “Problems“. The classic ’90s emo band announced they were putting out their first proper album since 2011’s There Are Rules back in March and have released a handful of tracks in the interim, including lead single “Satellite,” “Waking Up Alone,” and “The Problem Is Me.” The new album was produced by Peter Katis who has twiddled the knobs for the likes of The National, Kurt Vile, and Interpol. Mates of State’s Kori Gardner provides vocals on the song “Common Ground.” Problems follows the band’s 2018 EP Kicker.
There will be plenty of opportunities to see The Get Up Kids live throughout the rest of the year as the band booked extensive summer and fall tours. Cloud Nothings will join The Get Up Kids during their fall jaunt through North America. The Get Up Kids were looking for a job and then they found some jobs. After the beloved Kansas punk band went on hiatus in 2011, main songwriter Matt Pryor became a farmhand — “I picked radishes and tomatoes and shit and it was awesome.” Guitarist/vocalist Jim Suptic went back to school and landed with the United States Geological Survey, before taking his current gig at Steps For Faith, a non-profit for low-income amputees started by Billy Brimblecom, his former bandmate in Blackpool Lights. Bassist Rob Pope and keyboardist James Dewees simply returned to their enviable gigs that made Get Up Kids a secondary source of income; in 2007, Pope became a full-time member of Spoon, while Dewees joined My Chemical Romance until they said so long and goodnight. Heaven knows the Get Up Kids weren’t miserable now … until they crossed paths with Morrissey.
“Let me paint a picture for you,” Pryor jokes before outlining how Mozz bent the inaugural and final When We Were Young Festival to his will. “All the vendors are vegan, so if you want to go to In-N-Out, it’s right down the street,” he remembers being told, but they’d have to get their own transportation because all the vans were “at Morrissey’s beckoning.” Moreover, none of the artists had dressing rooms, so the group had no choice but to hang out at the bar all day. You’d think these quintessential annoyances and minor humiliations would validate the Get Up Kids’ choice to become “weekend warriors” in their 40s rather than a full-time band. Instead, like most guys that age who spend more than a few hours posted up on a barstool, they reassessed their career path after years of “job jobs.” “Jim, at one point, announces, ‘I wanna be an artist,’” Pryor recalls. “And then we all snapped our fingers and said, ‘OK, you’re an artist.’”
Two years later, the Get Up Kids are back with Problems, their first album since their self-released 2011 LP There Are Rules and pretty much the only good thing to come out of the otherwise woeful festival. “During that time period [2011-2018], I don’t think we were even thinking about making another record,” Suptic admits, but he and Pryor had silently considered putting their solo and side projects aside and recommitting to the Get Up Kids; during our phone conversation, Pryor and Suptic trade laughs about opening up for the likes of Soul Asylum and Jet at local casinos.
Our conversation frequently goes on tangents where Pryor and Suptic mock each other for any number of reasons, mostly a one-upmanship about who’s the bigger yuppie — the one who wore khaki shorts and Vans to the farmers market earlier in the morning (Pryor) or the one pondering the cost of a stand-up desk and yoga ball at his office gig (Suptic). Or they’re having a laugh at the expense of Dewees, the Get Up Kids’ reputation (“We could make a ska record and it’d still be called emo-ska”), or Kansas itself, whether it’s the Sunflower State’s retrograde politics (“Our government didn’t want to teach evolution in schools, that’s how ass backwards this place is”) or their obsession with college basketball. “I played a show in Lawrence when KU was in the Elite 8 and [the promoter said], ‘You can’t go on,’” Pryor says. “Why not? ‘Because the fucking game is on, no one will watch you.’”
The recording of Problems was reflective of this easy camaraderie between lifelong friends, a much different experience than the previous time the Get Up Kids decamped at Peter Katis’ Tarquin Studios in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Katis engineered and mixed the Get Up Kids’ largely acoustic and thus divisive 2002 album On A Wire while developing a voluminous, elegant production style that would come to define A-list indie rock for the rest of the decade. “He started the first Interpol record [Turn On The Bright Lights], did our record, and finished theirs. I think he already did his first thing with the National before they were even a blip on the radar,” Pryor notes, also pointing out that Katis’ biggest previous credit was working with college quad kingpins Guster. “He worked with us right before his career took off,” Pryor notes, with Suptic joking, “Coincidence?”
The duo have also reckoned with On a Wire being the point where their career started to downshift. After their 1999 masterwork Something To Write Home About jumpstarted Vagrant Records’ evolution into an emo powerhouse, the band assumed that most listeners would mature along with them into more heady and mellow territory. Many of their peers made a similarly risky bet, and On A Wire joined the likes of Promise Ring’s Wood/Water, the Anniversary’s Your Majesty and Saves The Day’s In Reverie as florid, wildly misunderstood emo-indie hybrids scorned by fans and critics, effectively ending emo’s second wave, if not their careers. According to Pryor, “People still come up to [Saves The Day frontman Chris] Conley and say, ‘Hey man, I love you but In Reverie sucks.’”
2019 brings both a new Get Up Kids album and the 20th anniversary of Something To Write Home About, which puts the band in a “tricky spot,” according to Pryor — “we’re in a ‘moving forward’ phase, but there’s this celebrating-the-past part that we really need to acknowledge.” Pryor divides the Get Up Kids’ fanbase into people who only like the first two albums and a smaller contingent of ones who’ve stuck with them the whole time — and Problems isn’t a “return to form” that will immediately placate the former group; their fast and hooky 2018 EP Kicker filled that role. Taking advantage of the goodwill generated by Kicker and also a decade of kinder attitudes towards emo, Problems is a validation and revamp of Get Up Kids 2.0, honoring the indie-leaning sound of 2004’s Guilt Show and There Are Rules with a stronger sense of confidence and melody. “It’s the most Get Up Kids record we could make,” Suptic asserts. “If you don’t like this album, then I don’t think you like our band. This is the kind of song(s) you wouldn’t want to miss on your playlist.
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