Monday, November 6, 2006
As the front man of the Get Up Kids, Matt Pryor toured the globe and left a wide wake of swooning teenagers. GUK fans were inconsolable when the band broke up in 2005. As a husband and father, Pryor's ensuing musical projects began reflecting his new perspectives and priorities: The New Amsterdams, a rootsy, prairie rock quartet, and the Terrible Twos, sort of a New Ams for kids. Both bands have records due by the end of the year.
Street Level meets up with Pryor, his son Elliot, and New Ams drummer Bill Belzer on a back porch on the East side of town for some good, old fashioned kid wrangling and ruminations on growing up, standing tall, and pitching in-particularly a benefit concert coming up for the Little Red Schoolhouse. Pryor, who kids attend the Schoolhouse, helped bring together several top-shelf bands to play the show, including Drakkar Sauna, Truckstop Honeymoon, and Maw.
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lawrence.com: You're playing a benefit Nov. 18 for the Little Red School House?
Pryor: My daughter goes to the school. It's a co-op so they have to raise money in other ways. Every family gets put on a committee-we got put on a fundraising committee. Last year they wanted us to be in charge of putting together a 5K run. And I was, like, "Why don't we just do a show?"
Are you a runner?
Pryor: :I've run the distance of five kilometers, but not organized. :Since I know more about putting on a concert than organizing a run, it's now manifested as its own entity.
(Banging: Elliott discovers a garbage pail)
Belzer: It was fun last year.
Pryor: Yeah. It's our second year doing it. Since he's probably going to go there next year, next year will be our third year doing it, I'm sure.
You really support this school.
- Saturday, November 18, 2006, 9 p.m.
- Granada, 1020 Mass., Lawrence
- All ages / $8
Pryor: I think it's a great school. :Because it's a co-op, parents have to be much more actively involved and I think that's a positive thing.
How are you involved?
Pryor: Helping the teacher. It's a lot of chaperoning. You have to bring a snack and you have to vacuum. Break up fights if need be. Push kids on swings.
And you have Lilian, who's how old?
Pryor: She's four and a half.
And we've got two-and-a-half year old Elliott and another on the way.
Pryor: A seven-month, in-the-belly baby.
So all these kids as a rock and roll star-with touring being such a big part of it-it can't be easy.
- Saturday, November 18, 2006, 3 p.m.
- Granada, 1020 Mass., Lawrence
- All ages
Pryor: No, it's not. There have been a lot of choices that have been made as far as staying home more-and obviously taking a pretty significant pay cut in order to do so-to be with the little whippersnappers.
When you were at Lollapalooza you played on the children's stage?
(Coughing: Elliot's chocolate milk goes down the wrong pipe.)
Pryor: Yeah, that one was kind of odd. [To Elliot] You alright?
Pryor: O.K. It kind of came up last minute that they were having a children's stage. :And then Patti Smith and Perry Farrell decided to play on the kids' stage-it was weird. Apparently, Patti Smith has some songs she's written for her kids. Then she got up and went on this real political, anti-bombing tirade that just bummed everybody out. And there weren't any kids watching at all-it was all journalists, really.
At least when we were playing, it was all parents and kids. But it was cool-we did the Twos at 3:30 and the New Ams at 4:30, so our day was-
Belzer: It was a reasonably honest day of work.
It's the same line-up, right? It's the New Amsterdams who are the Terrible Twos. The songs are different though:
Pryor: :It's sort of like a folkier version of the New Ams stuff and all the lyrics are about bugs and dinosaurs.
Do kids like them?
Pryor: So far.
Do your kids like them?
Pryor: (sighs) Yes. : Bug, do you like Papa's music?
The New Ams have a record coming out soon?
Pryor: We did an album that we put on our website for free. That was primarily just me and acoustic guitar. And we re-recorded the entire album. We're releasing them as a two-disc set. It's the same ten songs on each disc but they're drastically different from each other. We'll have it for mail-order in time for Christmas, around the same time the Terrible Twos record is coming out :We're planning a show in March-an actual ensemble, an "Evening With"-where we're going to do the string section and pull out all the whistles and bells.
And you're releasing this independently?
You've left Vagrant Records?
Pryor: I'm technically still under contract with Vagrant. We're still negotiating what my terms will be.
You're looking to leave.
Pryor: The way I expressed it to them is that I would like to put my records out myself. :This band is the most important band of any band in the world-to me. As well it should be. And no one else is going to actually feel that way other than me. I think that Vagrant's a great label and I think they did a good job, but it's still a company, you know? We're one of many. I'd rather be one of one.
Your Get Up Kids fans: It's hard for people to let go. You're so identified with one particular project, and now you're on to the New Ams:
Pryor: I think that's really just a matter of time. I can't expect someone who's angsty and 16 to really understand the New Ams stuff that much. I don't think it's that far of a stretch for someone who grew up on the Get Up Kids, and is a little older now, to understand where I'm at as a songwriter and why I wouldn't want to write songs like that anymore. There came a point where it didn't seem like playing fast, punk rock-based music was appropriate for a father of two in his late '20s. It's a young man's game.