Tell Me About That Album: Something to Write Home About by The Get Up Kids

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For a certain generation of musicians raised on pop-punk, Something To Write Home About from Kansas City's Get Up Kids was a major touchstone. The 1999 release, which put the band and its then-new label Vagrant on the map, is often singled out as the catalyst for the tidal wave of emo bands that flooded the airwaves in the early 2000s thanks to bands like Fall Out Boy and Dashboard Confessional. As Get Up Kids singer Matt Pryor hits the Tractor on Feb. 11th to promote his latest solo LP, May Day, which he describes as "a lot of venting and a lot of melodic anger," we caught up with the singer-songwriter to dig deeper into the GUK classic and its lasting influence.

In an interview a few years ago, your guitarist Jim Suptic apologized for having made a record that influenced a generation of emo bands that a lot of critics didn't like too much. Are you sorry too? In that interview, he was asked what we thought of the modern emo scene, and the way he answered that question was that we don't think about it because we don't really listen to a lot of those bands. What he was apologizing for wasn't so much that these other bands were bad, it was just that it wasn't our responsibility. We just try to do what we do and we never cared what anybody else thought. People get mad at us because they say we were such a big influence on Fall Out Boy or whatever, and I'm like, "I don't care."

But I'm guessing at some point younger bands must have started telling you that the record was important to them. Did you have any inclination at the time that the record might have such a large impact? Anybody who says that they were making an "important" album is either an idiot or an asshole. You're just trying to make a good record. How it's interpreted throughout history is not up to you at all. It's completely up to everyone else. I don't know that what we did is important. I've been told by lots of people that they like it and some of those people are in successful bands but most of them aren't.

Do you remember what records you were listening to when you were writing the album? Jimmy Eat World's Clarity, Wilco's Being There and Summerteeth, Afghan Whigs' 1965, The Cardigans' Gran Turismo. I was listening to the Old 97s a bunch at the time. I remember specifically that we kept referencing the guitars on the second Foo Fighters record. We were wanting to have big guitars like that.

How did you guys arrive at the title of the record? As with all of our album titles, it came down to needing an album title by the end of the day. It was probably an advertising deadline with Vagrant wanting to take out ads -- and you can't just say "new album."

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What about the cover art? What was the concept behind that? Again, it was kind of a last-minute thing. We just said to our friend Travis, "Hey, you're a painter, why don't you make us a record cover?" And he had three days to do it. We tend to get really involved just with the music, but anything other than making the album or playing the show tends to just get thrown out to everybody and we're kind of just like, "Uh, okay, do it."

Do you have a favorite song on the album? Probably "My Apology." I like the way that song is kind of linear. It has a chorus but it comes at it a couple of different ways.

You reissued the album for its tenth anniversary in 2009. Did you enjoy it again after so many years away from it? Did it hold up? It was the first record that I think I actually sang good on. It's kind of like getting a tattoo. You have to live with it for the rest of your life, so it's a better mentality to just accept that it was a document of that point in my life and celebrate it.

The song "Ten Minutes" from the album was released as part of Sub Pop's Singles Club, with only 100 copies pressed on clear vinyl. Do you have one? I did. I lost a lot of vinyl in a flood in my basement, and that was sadly one of them. There was also a couple that Rob's dog ate. So there are probably more like 75 copies of it on clear vinyl. Somebody will bring it to a show one time and I'll sign it and that'll be the next time I see it.

 
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