Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
The Get Up Kids were a band of a short portion of a generation - that generation of young men and women growing up in the Midwest, now in their early-to-mid-30s getting on with their serious lives. It was the band that epitomized all of the growing pains and all of the newfound obstacles, all of the welled up emotions and their related effects that came rushing during those days of being upperclassmen in high school and moving onto college years, when everything began to get just a little more testy and a lot more intense. The Get Up Kids then represented five buddies who were in this with you, test-driving a new form of life that may have had many more strings attached, but the training wheels were unscrewed from the backs of the bikes and doing things right, getting things right and not just crashing into the ditch was up to us. These men from the bright hot and burgeoning scene of Lawrence, Kansas - the pre-Omaha of the middle states - were the voices of so many who were struggling to find their inspirations in dead-end towns, struggling to claim some small slice of the pie (whether that took the form of love or confidence or success) for themselves. Matthew Pryor, Jim Suptic, Ryan Pope, Rob Pope and James Dewees wrote music that was the embodiment of all the precariousness of that age and that time in the late 1990s, when there really wasn't all that much to worry about - just what was going on with you and your heart at any given moment. There's always a place for those most basic of concerns, but during those days a decade ago, when the band was releasing its classic and most resonating albums - "Four-Minute Mile" and "Something To Write Home About" - our cares as teenagers were not so serious. We could get away with worrying solely about ourselves and not have to be faced with such troubling concerns as there being no jobs to be had, record-breaking numbers of home foreclosures and two ugly wars that will be quagmires for much, much longer. The Get Up Kids was a band that - along with The Promise Ring and Joan of Arc, Braid, Jets To Brazil, Knapsack and everything on Jade Tree - brought the term for emo music into vogue. It was just a phrase and then it became a needless burden or a tired one, but there was never any argument about what was inside the songs that the band brought to life - these earnest snapshots of simple and natural ferocity, the most understandable and constructive angst bursting out of young men familiar with the wilds of it, pounding through the dark chambers of what it means to really hurt and be hurt for the first times ever. Pryor and Suptic had ways of writing and singing that felt as if all sanity hung in the balance of these three and a half minutes songs of wailing and flailing spirits - of people tripping and getting back up to do it all over again. They were made of heavy fire and of the kinds of wanted sentiments that aren't experienced on the printed page, just in the space of a filthy bar or on headphones, when a group of people can pack together in one room and belt out their troubles and worries in congregation. The Get Up Kids were the pastors and curators of these emotions and they're back in their original incarnation - and they've told us with a new album done and just waiting to be put out there sometime soon - reminding us that these types of feelings and sad worries can't be outgrown. They're as powerful and meaningful as they ever were, letting us drink up the odd elixir that is hopefulness in spite of persistent struggles to see anything resembling a bright spot.