The last time Crossfire went along to interview The Get Up Kids, back in 2004, it resulted in a broken Dictaphone, some hastily scribbled quotes on pub napkins, the mother of all hangovers courtesy of the Pope brothers and a sheepish email to Zac the editor the next morning. Definitely not one of our finest moments…!
Shortly after the band’s 3 night stand at The Barfly in Camden they decided to call it quits, with band members joining new projects and taking on new ventures, and we thought we’d heard the last of The Get Up Kids. But then, last autumn keyboardist James Dewees started dropping hints of a reunion and the rumour mill truly cranked up to overdrive, and by the time the band announced an official reunion show we knew it was just a matter of time before they crossed the Atlantic to play some UK shows.
The comeback coincides with the ten year anniversary of their seminal album ‘Something to Write Home About‘. Having been touted as one of the most influential ’emo’ bands (a label they have always shrugged off, and have even apologised for) their return has resulted in sold out UK and European tours, and a US tour stretching through to the end of the year. There’s been no confirmation of further material and the band have been somewhat cagey about what the future holds – so Dee Massey sat down with guitarist Jim Suptic, along with cameo’s from bassist Rob Pope and his brother, drummer Ryan, for a chat about why they broke up in the first place, what bought them back together and what’s next for The Get Up Kids.
So, welcome back to the UK! We’ve missed you!
JIM SUPTIC: Hey thanks! We’ve missed the UK – it’s been a while, I don’t think I’ve been here for about 5 years?
Last time we saw The Get Up Kids you were doing your 3 night stand at The Barfly..
JS – Oh that was a lot of fun!
..and then you went and broke up on us and never came back! What happened?
JS – Yes…well….basically I’m not going to point fingers but certain members of the band didn’t want to carry on. We were going to do a world tour around the time we were breaking up, but then it ended up just being a US run, we wanted to come back but that just didn’t happen. Hopefully it was worth the wait?
You’ve been pretty busy in the interim though? Didn’t you set up your own record label?
JS – Er yeah, but it really doesn’t exist anymore [laughs], it tanked! ‘Let’s start a label at the worst possible time to start a record label…hmm…let’s sell music when no ones buying it!’ [laughs]
Ryan Pope walks in.
Ryan I am busy! [laughs]
Ryan Pope walks out.
Like everyone else in Get Up Kids you joined another band, you were in Blackpool Lights – what’s behind the English name?
JS – Because we were watching The Beatles Anthology and George Harrison was talking about the Magical Mystery Tour, and people taking little holidays to Blackpool in vans to see the Blackpool Lights, and I’d never even heard of it, but thought ‘ that sounds cool’ , and thought it was quite campy, thought it was the perfect band name! Yet another band name with a Beatles reference in it…
Are you still playing with them, or will The Get Up Kids take preference now?
JS – No…not really with them anymore [laughs] But I still have a bunch of songs I wrote for what was supposed to be our second record but…you know once you turn 30, if you’ve not making a lot of money playing music its hard to convince people to do it, like sleeping on floors and stuff. I mean, it was fun…
RYAN POPE: It’s hard to find good people to play with…
JS – Yeah it is. I mean I loved everyone I played with, and we got to go to Japan, we toured with Social Distortion, we did some cool things! It may come out some day as just my solo record or something, just for fun, but I don’t know, we’ll see. I’m having fun with [The Get Up Kids] right now.
So what was behind the decision to get back together? Who made that first call?
JS – Well the long story is that we had this accountant that disappeared! We hadn’t really done any business, but we were still generating money as a band because we were still selling some merchandise, things like that – but our accountant literally vanished. We had to get together to deal with it and everyone was getting along, and we just thought…hey…let’s play a show! That’s basically how it came about…
What was it like when you first got into the rehearsal room?
In about 3 seconds it was like we hadn’t stopped. We’ve played these songs so many times and it’s like second nature…it’s like muscle memory! It just snaps back into place!
Out of interest – when James started dropping hints when Reggie were on tour last year – was that a PR ploy?
JS – [laughs] I don’t think so!
RP – James just has a big fucking mouth!
JS – [laughs] Yeah…but I mean, since we’re taking this as unseriously as possible maybe because if we fail…
You won’t fail! You’re selling out shows…!
JS – I know I know and that’s great – but if expectations are so high, then maybe if we don’t take it so seriously then …I mean we are taking it seriously but in our heads, if we just play nonchalant I guess it’s less pressure on us.
Are there any changes to the band this time round?
JS – Well we’re a lot more sober! [laughs]
RP – We are?
JS – Well I am! [laughs] It’s different!
RP – If we’re more sober now we must’ve been drinking a lot back then
Well last time we saw you, you were into the Jägermeister, just before your birthday…
RP – Oh yeah! [laughs] It was before my birthday! I remember those tubes…that was fun!
JS – At that point I think you start taking things for granted because you’ve done it so much. But now – this is all just fun ….
RP – It feels like now we have a little more time to reflect.
JS – I just know that trying to start a band and how hard it is – makes you appreciate it more. I mean Rob played in some bands and worked his butt off, White Whale etc – its hard to get people to come…now we see how lucky we are that people still give a shit about [The Get Up Kids].Its not easy to be successful playing music and this time round we get that..
Ryan Pope walks back in again.
So the question everyone wants answered…is this a one off tour, or will you be back?
JS – [laughs] We’ll see what happens you know? Rob plays in Spoon, James is My Chemical Romance’s touring keyboard player – and they’re going to be busy boys, but I think as long as we’re having fun we’re going to keep doing this. We do want to come back – when people say ‘it’s the last time we’ll ever be here’…erm we never said that! We’re going to come and play some gigs, and have a good time! I almost feel like we did diss Europe and we want to make amends.
We did feel a bit left out when you came over for that festival in Europe in the spring…and then didn’t come to the UK!
JS – Ok ok here’s the deal! Bands are contractually obligated…we couldn’t announce any shows because the festival wants exclusivity, that’s why they pay you heaps of money, they want to feel like it’s an exclusive show.
Would you come back for any UK festivals?
JS – We were initially talking about doing Reading, but for an established band it’s financially better for us to do our own shows. It’s not like its ‘we’ve got to get new fans, this’ll really break us!’
RP – Next year we’ll do the festivals.
JS – Well we’ll see…..Ryan!
Well it’s good to hear you’ll be sticking around…
JS – [laughs] I said we’ll see!
We saw those pictures of the band in the studio on twitter – were you just rehearsing or are you writing new material?
RP – We already started messing about with some stuff…
JS – Yeah we might have been writing some songs.
Will you be going back into the studio with Ed Rose?
JS – Maybe….
Has Black Lodge [the recording studio owned and run by The Get Up Kids] really for sale?
JS – Yes it’s for sale! If any UK buyer is interested….any off shore interest…
RP – But it’s still going, but yeah…its for sale. But it’s still operating.
Would you record in there again?
RP – Sure. With Ed.
JS – Once again – we’re not announcing anything! [laughs] We’re trying to be cryptic…
RP – That’s not cryptic!
JS – I mean…I mean…we played a new song two nights in a row…and we might play it again tonight! So there are kids sitting there going ‘ what is that song? Is that a cover?’ and we’ll like ‘” Yeah…it’s a cover…of a Get Up Kids song!” [laughs]
You guys have access to a whole new fan base since people like Pete Wentz started citing you as a huge influence…
JS – Do we have a new fan base because of that? I don’t know, I honestly don’t. But I know the crowds are older but there are also definitely a lot of people who never saw us before. Last night was a really good mix; I could see people in their early 30’s to kids who were 18. This is only our 4th show in the UK but I know with the shows we played when we were headlining – before we always had a young crowd and they always did really poorly at the bar, and now they’re saying ‘this was the best night we had in 3 months’. Is that a good thing?
Clearly all Get Up Kids fans like to drink!
JS – [laughs] It’s just showing that our fans are older now!
So what bands are you listening to on the road?
JS – Erm…We’ve been listening to that new Phoenix record, the new Grizzly Bear record.
RP – Foreign Born
JS – Yeah they sound cool. Rob’s always the guy who’s saying ‘Jim you’ll like this’.
RP – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.
JS – I just listen to what Rob tells me! And usually 90% of the time I dig it…
What are your three most essential items for taking on tour with you?
JS – Three most essential items…hmm…contact solution.
RP – Boring!
JS – Oh I don’t know…um….now my computer, I’ve never had a laptop and in Europe now I can use skype and be able to talk to my wife whenever I want, that’s definitely one. Also a photo of my daughter, and….what’s the third most important thing Ryan? A happy disposition!
What’s your favourite drink after a show?
JS – Well these kids (points to Rob and Ryan) have got me onto Jameson and soda, which is nice. I’m noticing we are drinking less and less beer as a band, we’re drinking more wine. We’re real cultured! [laughs] But right after a show, that’s when I’m most likely to have a beer…or water.
What’s your best hangover cure then?
JS – Sleep! Actually green tea!
Very grown up! Wine and now green tea!
JS – I know I know! I should say ‘More liquor’ – that’s the only way!
What’s your best memory of being in The Get Up Kids?
JS – There are too many. Some of my favourite memories are from the first times…I mean I love traveling, I am truly a road dog, I love being on the road. So the first time we came to Europe, being 19 – it was amazing. And the first time we went to Japan. Every time we experience something new. Even though we’ve been before to cities, like Manchester, I always try to experience something new.
RP – Your best new experience was when you first felt the touch of a grown man…[laughs]
JS – [laughs] I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about…ignore him!
Ryan, what’s your favourite experience with The Get Up Kids?
RP – Probably the first time we went to Japan, that was a lot of fun. Very memorable. And um…not really the show part but the traveling and meeting people..
JS – You see these shows really get in the way of us having a good time! [laughs]
Also, Ryan is it true you own a restaurant now?
RP – Yeah, it’s a bar café . It’s called The Bourgeois Pig.
JS – It’s very European, its really nice actually! Its like a coffee shop with a bar…Its where the intellectuals go [laughs]
RP – Don’t listen to him!
JS – It’s my interview! It is nice though, its not like a frat bar.
And finally, can you give us some words of wisdom? Words to live by for the Crossfire readers?
JS – Words to live by? This is fucking serious shit! Ryan?
RP – This is your interview man!
JS – Shit..ermm.. Enjoy the moment and…I love music? I’m kidding! I’m kidding!
RP – Oh you’ve stumped him with this one!
JS – Oh I have a good philosophy, “When you have second changes….run with it. ”