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The Get Up Kids - 01.29.11

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The Get Up Kids - 01.29.11In 2005, The Get Up Kids called it a day. They hung up their Midwestern gear and its members went on to pursue other outlets. But after a reunion tour and hitting the studio once again, the guys pushed out enough songs for an EP and full-length. Currently out in support of their new album, There Are Rules, bassist Rob Pope sat down to talk about walking away, coming back and the open future of one of punk's pioneer bands.


Kind of take me through your thought process of parting with The Get Up Kids and then moving on with Spoon. With this album, I can take a lot of your elements of the last two Spoon records and pinpoint them. I guess, what was your mind set first working with Spoon?

That was four and a half years ago? A little longer than that? A friend of mine kind of just threw my name out there to them. I came down here for South by Southwest. I was playing in this band called White Wale that was on Merge. I wound up having lunch tacos with Britt [Daniel]. Then they came through Lawrence, and wound up rehearsing in my house. A couple of months later, I was down here recording. There was a little bit of overlap between Josh [Zarbo], who was playing bass before me in the band, and me. He was still playing some shows while I was down here in the studio recording. It was kind of a natural progression. Towards the end of The Get Up Kids, I wasn't listening to as much teenage, angsty, punk rock stuff as much as I had been when I was 13 to 22 basically. When I started working with [Spoon] it was definitely a different animal. There's more of a chief song-writer. Brit writes most of the songs, then everyone comes and throws in ideas. Then Jim [Eno] and I would write our rhythmic stuff. I've always liked [Spoon] long before we played with them, just because of how cool the rhythm section was. That's always what struck me as awesome about that group. So, from there, geez, I don't know. I was a pretty easy transition.

Well, let me put it this way: What was the time delay from working on Transference and working on new Get Up Kids material?


There was a bit of overlap. We were doing Transference in 2009 for most of the year, kind of on and off. We'd have breaks where we weren't recording or touring, and then I'd come back to Kansas to do some work with The Get Up Kids. We wound up tracking 19 songs in that one year. Certainly, there was an exchange of ideas. Something I would do at a Spoon practice that I thought was interesting that maybe didn't stick there, I would kind of apply that same thing in a Get Up Kids practice, or vice-versa...There was quite a bit of an overlap.

I think back to the first time I heard "Keith Case," there was kind of a drive that you and your brother and James had more of an upper hand as opposed to possibly before in the writing process, Jim and Matt may have. Then when I heard this record, I felt that same way again.

The idea, when we started talking about working on a new record, before we were even conceptualizing new songs, we really liked the idea of everybody in a small room and no one could bring in an idea. If you had one little, cool little section of a song that you thought was really cool, then yeah, show up to practice and start playing it and see if it gels with everybody. In previous records, Jim and Matt would bring in a verse and a chorus, or a chorus and we'd write the latter. It was a much more interesting way to write a record and see how we could get into each others heads. We were practicing in a room probably one and a half the size of this room here. [note: We're currently sitting in the back room of the tour bus.] So we were always up in each others faces.

Did it feel more natural doing it this way then the other records you had done before?


I thought so, because we've all known each other long enough that there wasn't any sort of baggage. We'd been on such a long break and we hadn't written music in almost six years? So when we got into it really fast, it was almost reassuring that we totally knew how to do it with the five of us in a room. That was really important. Everybody wanted to make a really aggressive, sort of odd sounding record.

It's funny you say that, because the first time I listened to it, it felt off and took a few listens to really get into it - to get what was going on. My mindset was the growth of you all and where you all are age wise.

Definitely. Those are my favorite records. We call them "way homers," because you don't get them until you're on the way home. Those are always my favorite records. The ones that don't initially make sense in your brain, and then, ya know. It's the same reason you reread books, because you think they're great. We never intentionally said that we wanted to make a record that freaked people out, but we also wanted to make a record that didn't sound like us repeating ourselves. That whole idea of a band getting back together and writing a record is real daunting, because they either fuck it up or nothing good really comes out of it or they can't write another record. Like, the Pixies have given us one song. They've been playing shows for over six years or something? That's just a shame. So we were conscious of that too - not trying to repeat ourselves. We wanted to get out of our comfort zone. That was real important. Instead of Matt coming to us and saying, "Oh, here's a song I wrote for The New Amsterdams," or a solo record where it was just kind of strummy guitar, we didn't want to do that. We wanted it to sound like a different animal than anything else would have done.

In reverse of that, I think everybody would agree that there are still elements of past Get Up Kids in the new material. It even seems angrier than anything that's been done.


Yeah. When we were in the studio, I don't know how many times I kept saying, "We need to punk it up," or "make it sound angrier or louder." I must have said make it sound weird about a thousand times. "I don't know! Just make it weird!" That was another thing of everybody getting out of their comfort zone. Your first idea isn't always your best. Take that idea and morph it into something that stands out on its own or is unique. This is also the first record where everyone was more conscious of what everyone else was doing just because we've all gotten better at playing throughout the years. "Oh, I don't need to play right here." You know? It took a long time. On our first few records it was everyone playing all the time. There's no breaks anywhere. [Laughs] There is a little more space for cool elements. The rhythm section can do something cool or the guitar parts don't sound like anything you'd expect from a Get Up Kids record, which was intentional.

Did you want to alienate anyone with this album?


No. We never set out to alienate anyone. With this record...

Well, you did that with On a Wire already...


Yeah, but even then we weren't trying to alienate anyone. I think more than anything, at that point in our career, we were so fed up with playing with these local bands that were carbon copies of us. It was just like, "Agh. If I have to hear anymore octave chords, I'm going to shoot myself in the head." At that point, we were like, "What can we do where maybe someone will come along with us and maybe we'll open the door to some other people." Punk rockers can be some narrow-minded people.

[Laughs] Henry Rollins will tell you that...

[Laughs] Yeah. They hate you when you try to do something that doesn't fit into this tiny tiny little idea of what they have of you. But when it's done really well, it's beautiful art. People hated Fugazi when it came out. "What is Ian doing? This isn't punk. It sounds like reggae." Fugazi is the best punk band in the last 20 years. Easily. People, early on, connected with our band. I don't think wanted to see us do anything besides this idea that they had of us. When we started to do that, you know? It's not like they could call us sellouts. We never did that. We were never on the radio. We never signed on a major label. It wasn't fun for us to have this cookie cutter [idea] that we couldn't get out of.

Do you ever have fans come up to you at Spoon shows?

Yeah, it happens.

What do those kids usually tell you is their favorite Get Up Kids record? Would it be On a Wire?


No. No. [Laughs] They're usually ex-hardcore punk rock kids that are into indie rock. They're like, "Yeah, I saw you guys in '98. I had all your first two records." I typically don't get into deep conversations with people. [Laughs]

You released Simple Science on your own label, and then released this album through another label you made up instead of signing. What was the idea?

Well, the reason there was two separate labels is because we named the Simple Science label Flyover Records. Then we got a "cease and desist" letter from a record label, in Kansas City ironically, that, well, I don't even know what they put out, apparently they're a record label. So, we were like, no big deal to us. We'll just make up another label. Then the reason for releasing it ourselves was because when the band broke up, we were out of our deal with Vagrant. They had always been great [to us]. They treated us fantastic. We didn't want to go that route of shopping or figuring out if Vagrant was interested in doing it again. It sounded like it would be a lot more fun for us to have way more control than we ever had. If anything goes wrong, the only people to blame is ourselves.

It's funny, Steel Train said something similar when talking about their Terrible Thrills label when I interviewed them. Do you think that's the route for established bands? It goes without saying that it's harder to do this with as a newer band.

Absolutely.

Is this the route to go?

It's just smarter. Obviously, it's much easier to do this as an established band that has a fan base. It feels better. It's kind of funny, Matt is always like, "Okay guys, it's time to make some decisions, put your label hat on." [Laughs] Then we have to talk about if we're going to play some in-store somewhere. [We may not want to do it.] "Well if there was a record label involved, they'd want us to do it." Then I remind him, "We are the label and that's why we don't have to do this anymore." That's kind of the logic behind it.

What was the idea of doing the full-length as opposed to the EPs idea?

After we released the [Simple Science] EP, which was great, we realized that the batch of songs we had was going to be cooler as a record. Then I started to think, "How often do I got to the store to buy an EP?" Not nearly as often as I go to the store and buy a record from the band. We would have worked three times as hard trying to release all this stuff. We really focused on making great songs and packaging the record and putting it out. That was the idea. Originally we [might have done] only 12" records and might not have done CDs. We sort of were over-thinking it. Then when we saw what kind of workload it was going to be...

So it wasn't about if certain songs would fit together for each EP...

No, because at the time we had most of it figured out.

What was going to be tracked on each record?

Mhmm. When we put the EP out, we had seven or eight other songs done. They were all, what we felt, pretty solid. Then we just kept recording and kept writing. We'd write for three days and immediately go in and record those songs. Then write for two days and go record two songs....Ed Rose, the guy recording the record, he wasn't too thrilled with that. We'd show up and be like "I think we have it pretty much done." [Laughs] Then we'd fuck around in the studio and try to figure out how this song is going to be done.

So, he wasn't too happy with you? [Laughs] But, I mean you guys have been working together for so long...

Yeah. He's one of my best friends. He totally got behind the record and the approach of it. We'd come in real loose and not really committed to anything because we just figured out how to play the song the day before. So we'd come in and say, "I think I got my part figured out," and we'd get the drums done and really hone in on that. Then we'd get my stuff done. Then we'd layer on top of that. That allowed a lot of room for cool shit and empty spaces.

There is a lot of layering on this record. Was that something in the approach? Was it spur of the moment?


Probably spur of the moment. There's probably less tracks than any other Get Up Kids record. We did it all to tape. We tried to do it all pretty quickly and not over think it. Ed and I would get in there and play with effects and guitar parts and try to make it sound as cool as we could.

Is this going to be an every two or three year thing?

I hope so.

Maybe not so much a continuation, not an indefinite hiatus, but a creative hiatus...


I hope so. Schedules pending. James and I are particularly busy in other bands. We'll figure out a way for it to work. It took us a long time to finish this record. We did as much as we could in say eight days. Then I'd leave for a month or James would leave for a month, then we'd all come back. So at this point, I hope so.

So at this point it's like, "We'll punch in whenever we decide to punch in."

Yeah, because it's totally fun for us. You have to realize, when the band broke up, we were all 27 or 28. We were kind of young kids that had done a lot in ten years. Really, as opposed to breaking up, we really should have seen each other for two years and then figured out how to be a band again. That's all it really took [was time apart]. When you're in a van or a studio or a practice space for so long, I know exactly what to say to Jim to make him want to punch me and vice-versa.

I know this is only the second night, but what about this tour is different to you all as opposed to the reunion tour last year?


It's certainly different. Last time it was "Hey! We're back. Celebration." This time we're super stoked about playing these songs, because this band is always stoked for playing new stuff. That hasn't happened since 2004. Really, we're just trying to...

is re-established the wrong word?


Yeah. Last night, I can tell kids don't really understand the record yet. They're still like, "What is going on?" I think it's great. I enjoy that, when a band has a new record and you have no idea what's going on. We want to get out there and show off these songs. Everyone is really proud of this record. I think it's by far the most unique and crazy sounding record we've ever made.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 13 of 13
10:29 AM on 01/29/11
#2
Yellowcard2006
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Quote:
I can tell kids don't really understand the record yet.

Hopefully it'll settle in eventually.
11:19 AM on 01/29/11
#3
abusedcat
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Good read.
Love me some There Are Rules.
11:26 AM on 01/29/11
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yufli
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I'm a huge fan of these guys, but this new album sounds so different it's not even close to the same band. Still excited to see them, but I want old stuff.
11:40 AM on 01/29/11
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kneesup
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this was a really good interview. stoked to see them.
12:16 PM on 01/29/11
#6
dicktony
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Bummed this tour isn't coming my way, but I've seen them twice since they came back and they blew me away both shows. I'm not a fan of the new album, at all. Just doesn't feel like a TGUK record to me, if that makes sense. I'm glad they decided to try something different, it just doesn't do it for me.
12:28 PM on 01/29/11
#7
Hereformusic
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Cool interview! It was interesting to hear from someone you don't usually.

Oh and in the Introduction the year is missing it goes: " In _____ , the Get Up Kids called it a day."
12:29 PM on 01/29/11
#8
gold soundz
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Any talk about james?
09:00 PM on 01/29/11
#9
Co and Ca
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cool beans.
11:08 PM on 01/29/11
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I think this is one of the shittiest things you can say about any band. Even in the case of a band like The Ataris, when Welcome the Night didn't quite hit all the notes they wanted it to (although I still thought it was a really promising album), it shouldn't be "I want the old stuff," it should be "this doesn't quite work for me, but I hope they take it further next time and make it work." I mean, you already HAVE the old stuff.

And look what happened after Welcome the Night: Kris Roe bowed to fan backlash, and now The Ataris are guys almost in their forties writing bouncy pop-punk songs like they did in high school. That's WAY more depressing than an evolved sound.
02:24 PM on 02/01/11
yufli
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I think this is one of the shittiest things you can say about any band. Even in the case of a band like The Ataris, when Welcome the Night didn't quite hit all the notes they wanted it to (although I still thought it was a really promising album), it shouldn't be "I want the old stuff," it should be "this doesn't quite work for me, but I hope they take it further next time and make it work." I mean, you already HAVE the old stuff.

And look what happened after Welcome the Night: Kris Roe bowed to fan backlash, and now The Ataris are guys almost in their forties writing bouncy pop-punk songs like they did in high school. That's WAY more depressing than an evolved sound.

I know what you're saying, and I didn't mean to be some stubborn fan never satisfied till I hear Close to Me. I know that they will play new material and I will have to listen to the album enough so I'm not lost when I see them. I do, however, prefer their oldest material, like I think most longtime fans of these guys do, so that's what I'd prefer to hear. But I'm not gonna scream out old songs forever and annoy everyone at the show. I respect bands for evolving, for sure.
04:30 PM on 02/04/11
rwiggum
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I know what you're saying, and I didn't mean to be some stubborn fan never satisfied till I hear Close to Me. I know that they will play new material and I will have to listen to the album enough so I'm not lost when I see them. I do, however, prefer their oldest material, like I think most longtime fans of these guys do, so that's what I'd prefer to hear. But I'm not gonna scream out old songs forever and annoy everyone at the show. I respect bands for evolving, for sure.
I can respect that. I think I misread your post as saying "I didn't like this album, I want them to keep recording songs like their old stuff." I didn't realize you were talking specifically about the concert. My bad!
05:43 PM on 02/04/11
yufli
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I can respect that. I think I misread your post as saying "I didn't like this album, I want them to keep recording songs like their old stuff." I didn't realize you were talking specifically about the concert. My bad!
It's all good. There are plenty of people complaining like you think I was, so I can see the confusion.

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