Get Up Kids Return to DIY Roots for New Album, Own Label
Get Up Kids frontman Matt Pryor has his hands full: In addition to a reunited band with a new album on its own label, he has three kids who love to scream while daddy's on the phone.
Even putting his family man status aside, there's no denying that Pryor and his cohorts have come a long way since they led the second-wave "emo" movement of the mid-'90s. After the Get Up Kids' breakup in 2005, members flocked to their own musical projects (Reggie & the Full Effect, New Amsterdams) and established bands (Spoon, My Chemical Romance).
In 2009, the Get Up Kids kicked off a nostalgia-fueled reunion tour in support of the 10th-anniversary rerelease of "Something to Write Home About," during which fans began buzzing about new material. So the longtime Vagrant band -- one of the first acts the label signed after it launched in 1998 -- not only recorded an album, titled "There Are Rules" (Quality Hill, Jan. 25), but also founded its own label.
As much as things have changed, they've also stayed the same: The songwriting process behind the punk-infused record echoed the Kansas City, Mo., band's earlier days, functioning more as what Pryor calls a "democracy" among members rather than with him as its de facto leader. And most tellingly, Quality Hill, the label the act formed with help from former Sub Pop head of A&R and Myspace Music alum Jason Reynolds, recalls the group's DIY roots.
"The Vagrant we signed to in 1999 is a totally different company than it is now," Pryor says. "There were five people working there when we signed, and it's just a bigger company now. [Vagrant currently has a staff of 14.] When the band got back together, we felt like it was a proverbial rebirth for us, so we said, 'Let's take it back to the very beginning -- back to the first thing we ever did,' which was put the record out ourselves."
Reynolds, whom the band first met when he tried to sign it to Sub Pop in the late '90s, was the clear choice for helping establish Quality Hill, Pryor says. Initially, the group wanted to give the record away for free online, and through Reynolds, Myspace Music was in talks to support an ad-sponsored giveaway of "There Are Rules."
"Then I lost my job with Myspace back in January ," Reynolds says. "I kept in contact with the band and I said, 'Look, I can probably help you get this record out. You know, you don't necessarily have to give it away for free.'
"While the band previously had its own Vagrant imprint (Heroes and Villains), launching Quality Hill required expertise, particularly in marketing and distribution, which is through Redeye. Reynolds, who works as a consultant to the label, assists in these realms but insists the band is business-minded. He has hopes for Quality Hill's future, but for now remains focused on "There Are Rules."
"Becoming a record label is something totally different from being empowered and being DIY," Reynolds says. "Talk to the Get Up Kids in a year and see if [they say], 'Hey, that was so much fun, maybe we can help other people.' So many of the indie labels, whether it's Sub Pop or Matador, start out with a band that you love and you want to start a record label to get that music released."