More than a decade ago, The Get Up Kids’ Something To Write Home About helped define emo’s status as a fledgling genre. A lot’s changed since then: The Get Ups are back from hiatus and playing more straightforward guitar pop on their latest, There Are Rules. Emo’s changed a lot, too, becoming the stomping ground for petulant teenagers smeared in eyeliner. Before The Get Up Kids play Lincoln Hall March 11, singer-guitarist Matt Pryor spoke with The A.V. Club about a time when his band and emo were a lot younger and more innocent.
Jimmy Eat World, Clarity
Matt Pryor: It’s just a beautiful record. The songs are well-crafted and produced really well. It doesn’t need to beat you over the head in order to move you. It’s just a great record. I love it front to back. That band was overlooked for a long time. They put out three albums before they got a hit. I think at the time, they were on a major label that didn’t care about them, so they were given a month after the record came out. That’s just not the way the scene they came out of works.
A.V. Club: When they did break out, it was with Bleed American, which was stylistically a lot different from Clarity.
MP: They don’t feel stylistically different to me, necessarily, just because that song, “Sweetness”—that was on Clarity originally. It got re-recorded, but it was supposed to be put on the end of Clarity, so it was written at the same time.
Braid, Frame and Canvas
MP: I don’t think I totally understood Braid until we toured with them, and they were working on that record at the time. I just feel like it was their masterpiece. That was their last full-length. I think it’s just their essence. The songs are well-crafted and well-honed. They had been playing those songs on the road a bunch and Bob [Nanna, singer-guitarist]’s lyrics are pretty amazing. It’s just great.
AVC: Braid was one of those bands that didn’t seem to get popular until they broke up.
MP: I think they would have, eventually, if they would have given it more of an opportunity. They certainly didn’t get the attention they deserved.
Promise Ring, Nothing Feels Good
MP: I listened to that the other day. It was a good time. It’s joyous. It’s just happy—even the sad, moody stuff. It’s got a fun, happiness that really shines through.
AVC: Those joyful overtones in all these bands are totally absent in the music of today’s emo. Why do you think that’s changed so much?
MP: My general thought on the term “emo,” is that it means something different to a lot of different people, kind of similar to how the word “punk” means different things to people, or even the word “rock” for that matter, or indie, or anything. I think a lot of the bands that are called “emo” now originally came out of the same scene that we did, only later, and with significantly loftier ambitions. We just wanted to play rock ’n’ roll. We didn’t have any grand aspirations of becoming famous.