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Monday, March 18, 2013

Q&A with Matt Pryor

Here's my full Q&A with Matt Pryor as he hits the Revival Tour tonight in Dallas at Trees.



Is this the first time that you’ve played the Revival Tour?

Yes. I’ve been talking to Chuck about it for a couple of years of now. Could never get it to line up because the Get Up Kids were touring or I was touring. All that kind of stuff. It’s just fun and random. I was just, “Man, what am I going to do in March?” And then I got an e-mail from Chuck and it was like, “Perfect!”

When Chuck calls, you don’t want to turn him down.

Well, that’s unfortunate [how] I’ve had to turn him down.

Have you seen the Revival Tour before? Has it come through St. Louis or Lawrence?

I’ve seen clips of it on YouTube. I’ve never been to one of the concerts. I know the gist of it. I know a lot of people who have done it and have given positive feedback.

It’s kind of an awesome thing you don’t see anywhere else.

Yeah, it’s interesting because I had a similar idea to do something like that with my band, the New Amsterdams. And I just never did it. [laughs] Other things kept coming up. And now if I wanted to do it, [people would say] “Oh, you’re just ripping off Chuck’s idea, huh?”

You did something similar last year with the Where’s the Band? tour.

Yeah, but that’s just . . . When that came up, originally, I wanted to take out the New Ams drummer and bass player because they can play anything and they can back everybody up. My agent was like, “No because then the name of the tour doesn’t make any sense. It would still be a band.” Any he’s the one who came up with the name of that tour. That was more of four dudes stripped down, you know what I mean?

Mm-hmm. Can you remember the first time you encountered Chuck?

I met Chuck in 1997 because Doghouse Records released the first Get Up Kids and the Hot Water Music record, Forever and Counting. I’m trying to think where was the first place we met. Maybe in Germany? Of all places. [laughs] Or probably . . . Probably playing in Gainesville. I don’t remember. We never toured with Hot Water. We always bumped into each other at festivals or just random places. Wait, we did tour with Hot Water one time! On the Honda Civic Tour in 2004 and Chuck sliced his hand open and they had to leave the tour because he couldn’t play guitar. I remember they had Dustin from Thrice fill in for one show.

Yeah, that’s right! Wasn’t it towards the end of . . . Well, the band’s broken up a few times. But this was towards the beginning of their second break-up, I believe?

Yeah, I don’t ever know when or what their status is. They’re doing shows now. Don’t you know bands never really break up? [laughs]

Oh, I know. Just to let you know, in case you hadn’t picked up on it yet: I was that guy who wrote a book about where a lot of emo and post-hardcore came from.

OK.

There was a chapter devoted to the Get Up Kids and one devoted to Hot Water Music, and what happens after the book comes out? Almost all of them get back together. [laughs]

[laughs] What was the book called?

Post.

Post?

Yeah! It’s cited on Wikipedia, surprisingly. I interviewed you over e-mail. I also interviewed Rob, Ryan, and Jim.

Oh, OK! I remember that!

Yeah, so I’m that guy.

Right on, man! Small world!

It was a humble effort document something that nobody else really wanted to document properly at the time. So, there’s some stuff that’s very dated now, but hey, that’s what happens. Wanted to ask, how did you get into podcasting?

Well, for years, I had always listened to stuff like NPR shows, like This American Life and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me! Last year, I got really, really burnt on music and I really thought that I wanted to switch careers. I was like, over it. So I went to go work on a farm. I’m really into growing a lot of my own food in my house. It was like, “Well, I like cooking and I like food,” so I was able to work on a food truck and then I was able to work on a farm. You know, when you’re picking vegetables for eight hours, it’s kinda boring and repetitive. I had heard about Marc Maron and Jay Mohr. I’m a big Kevin Smith fan, so I started listening to his thing. All of sudden, I was like, “These are awesome!” It’s total long-form conversation. It’s not an interview; it’s people hanging out and telling stories. That’s something you do backstage or jam on the bus. [I was] like, “Well, if comedians can do it, I know a lot of people in the music industry.” That’s where it started.

I texted Todd [Bell] when your interview with him went live and I asked what you guys recorded it on, because it sounded pretty good. I know y’all weren’t in the same room, but he said it was Skype. Is Skype what you interviewed Evan [Weiss] on?

Yeah! I’ve actually done more Skype interviews than live ones because the live ones are kinda tough to wait for people to either come to me or me to come to them, which is less likely. [laughs]

The one that you did with Bob [Nanna], was that also Skype?

That was Skype, yeah. It’s interesting: you have to be in the mindset for it, in the same way that you and I are talking and not seeing each other. You just have to pretend. Especially if you speak with your arms a lot. You know, you do a lot of gestures when you speak passionately about something. You start realizing that you’re doing that to a computer. You know, they can’t see you. I specifically don’t do video chats because those are uncomfortable.

I don’t blame you.

Besides, it’s not a visual medium anyway.

Correct! I have to say, the interview that you did with Evan, even though he touched on things that I talked with him about last year, was inspiring. It’s nice to hear people younger than us not wanting to take the path of Fall Out Boy or the All-American Rejects. They want to take the route of the early Get Up Kids.

I know! Isn’t that fuckin’ awesome?

Yes it is!

I met Evan when he was here. I was like, “What’s this kid? Some kind of emo throwback guy?” The more I got to know him, the more I talked to him about it, I was like, “Holy shit, it’s kinda like ‘The Dream of the Nineties’ is alive in indie rock! These are my people!” Obviously I am older and have a family, but it still is the sensibilities that I was attracted to with punk rock. You know what I mean? It makes me so happy.

It’s obvious that this music is coming from a truly genuine spot.

Well, yeah! Recording technology has come so far that they can make decent-sounding records for very little money.

Even the stuff he recorded for that 52 Weeks project, where he said the total cost was $2,000 by the end of it, pretty much all of those songs sound good.

Yeah, I was surprised that he did them all . . . That was another idea I had at one point. I’ll just do a song a week for a year, but that would mean do an acoustic guitar and sing it into GarageBand. You know what I mean? He went all-out with it.

Do you young bands contact you? Here’s where I’m coming from with that. When I interviewed Ryan about young bands that were coming into Black Lodge. He said they reminded of him when the Get Up Kids started, but at the same time, they had this eye on a prize. So I’m curious what you have seen in the last few years.

I actually don’t have my ear to the ground that much as far as new bands. It’s one of those things where like, I find out about things really randomly. I’m trying to get this together in Lawrence and there’s a lot of great local talent here. So I’m trying to get something that’s like a weekly residency somewhere. I can play new stuff and bring in a local band that I like and we collaborate. It’s a way to get back in touch with the local music scene. I do listen to a lot of podcasts. I listen to less music now than I have.

I’ve heard from a fellow local band that Ryan has moved back from France and Robbie is back from Brooklyn. Is that, in any way, indicative that there are Get Up Kids shows or projects coming.

No. [laughs] If Robbie is back in Lawrence, I haven’t seen him. I know Ryan’s back in town, but his wife is still in Paris and gonna finish school. But no. We’re very much . . . You know that kind of thing where the band broke up and took a three-year-break?

Mm-hmm.

We’re taking a long break and not really worrying about it. Doing other things. It’s a healthier thing to do than to break up.

Oh yeah. With other bands, when they break up, there’s all kinds of hurtful things said in the press and then when the band gets back together, there’s a thought that everything is cool. Then you realize everything is not all water under the bridge.

That was something I was conscious of when I quit the band in 2004 and we broke up in 2005. At least for me, I didn’t want it to be like, “We’re breaking up because James is a dick!” I wanted to be like, “Well, it’s run its course. We want to leave it as friends.” But we said hurtful things to each other and behind each other’s back. [laughs] It’s kinda the, don’t fight in front of the kids. You know?

I understand. Besides the Lasorda record, you’ve done stuff with James [Dewees].

He and I are actually working on an album.

And the podcast. What else do you have time for doing?

The last New Amsterdams record is coming out March 5th, which is a collection called Outroduction. It’s a collection of all the songs over the history of that band that I always really liked, but for one reason or another, didn’t fit on whatever record I was putting out. Some of favorite, favorite songs, but it would be the one big rock song on an all-acoustic/sad record. So it would get shelved. It’s kinda like having leftovers in the fridge. I wanted people to hear those songs.

Something that’s been wracking my brain every time I listen to the podcast: What is the intro music that you use?

It’s a song called “Dear Lover” that’s actually a New Amsterdams song. It’s one of my favorite New Ams songs. It’s actually Dewees playing the piano on it. It’s always killed me that it never fit on anything. We’ve actually recorded it four times; that’s the first one. That’s on Outroduction. It’s the second track.

Something cute that you did last year was when you and your kids recorded a version of “Christmas, Baby Please Come Home.” Any plans to do that again down the road?

Well, I’ve released two albums for kids.

Oh yeah, the Terrible Twos!

I’m finishing up the third one right now. Hopefully that’s going to get finished before I leave for the Revival Tour. I don’t know when that will come out. Fall, maybe?

I had never heard the Terrible Twos’ music until last year. I was riding around suburban Chicago with some married friends of mine and they have a seven-year-old and a two-year-old. They kept singing “I Am A Rake.”

[laughs] It’s not too far off from early New Amsterdams stuff. It’s just the lyrics are about dinosaurs and bugs.

And chocolate milk.

Yeah! Those are really fun to write, but then you find yourself recording them . . . Time management is kind of a big thing for me because I have kids. You’re re-doing the vocal take of a song about chocolate milk and you’re like, “What the fuck am I doing with myself?” [laughs] It’s great when you start meeting those kinds of people in that kid’s music type of world. There are people who take it really, really seriously. It’s always really funny to me. Because I’m like, “These are songs for kids, right?”

On a related note: do you watch Portlandia?

Oh yeah! I love it!

Did you see that episode where Carrie and Fred are convinced that they must create a band they would love to play in and play it for kids? They make all this drone-y noise and all these kids sit there baffled.

[laughs]

And then comes in a band where the singer had a handlebar mustache and singing really poppy stuff. In a way, it was like Yo-Gabba-Gabba! I thought it was perfect. Talking about those friends who played “I Am A Rake” for their kids, the husband played in Allister and they put up Boxer and At the Drive-In.

Punk rockers grow up and have families too, you know? I don’t know. What’s interesting is that my kids are getting older so it’s becoming less intriguing to me. I’ll at least do this last one. We’ll see how it goes. Maybe I’ll get a Nickelodeon show out of the deal.

Could it be in the next few years that your oldest would want to sing “Coming Clean”?

She’s really into female singers. Like, she really likes Tegan & Sara and Neko Case. She hasn’t gotten into the angsty thing yet. But I’m sure it’s coming. [laughs]

Are your kids more familiar with you from the Get Up Kids or the New Ams?

They’re more familiar with New Ams because that who they toured with. New Ams and solo stuff has been more of the focus since they’ve been cognizant of what’s going on. I don’t really listen to my stuff around the house anyway, so I’m sure they’ll find it. [laughs]

I’m sure at some point you’ll be asked how awesome it was to record Four Minute Mile in 48 hours.

[laughs] I’ll tell them the same thing I tell everyone else.

I remember Rob, Ryan, and you telling me about how the only times you took breaks was when The Simpsons was on. But there weren’t many breaks

[laughs] No there were not!

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