Since their inception in 1995, the Get Up Kids have amassed somewhat of an underground yet diehard emo/pop-punk/rock following. And while they’re not necessarily tethered to the band’s sound and aesthetic, groups such as Coheed and Cambria, Fall Out Boy, and Blink-182 have each cited the Get Up Kids’ albums—especially 1997’s Four Minute Mile and 1999’s Something to Write Home About—as major influences on their own output.
This past June 8, the Get Up Kids put out the four-song EP Kicker, the band’s first release since the 2011 LP There Are Rules. As the band members juggle forty-something adult life more than twenty years after their formation, drummer Ryan Pope explains their writing process, considering each member’s current commitments. “We’ve kind of been forced to work in these short jolts because of everyone’s busy lives and schedules,” he says. “When we get together, we try to get as much done as possible. Some of the songs on Kicker were recorded or worked on well over a year ago. So we’ve been waiting to get this thing out into the world for a while.”
Pope opens the EP’s lead-off track, “Maybe,” with a driving quarter-note groove between the snare and open hi-hat that’s amplified by the growling, almost distorted drum tones. Pope attributes Kicker’s snarling sounds to boutique gear the band utilized during their session at Fire and Ice studio in Baldwin, Kansas. “Kicker’s engineer, and one of our good friends, co-owns Coil Audio,” the drummer explains. “So we had access to some really badass preamps. And we recorded everything really hot, so [the drums] were already breaking up going into the preamps. That was something we did initially while recording, but we also messed around with the sounds a little bit. I like to play around with drum tones that aren’t typical. Also, when we handed it over to get mixed, Jim Vollentine put a little candy on there to help it growl a little more. But overall, on this one I think we wanted it to sound like how we used to make records—a little rawer and less polished.”
The group self-produced Kicker, a process that, according to Pope, can have its ups and downs. “We’ve all worked together for so long, and we know each other so well, so we can butt heads a lot. It’s kind of like having a lot of cooks in the kitchen. So it’s a matter of everyone pushing and pulling. I think we’re going to work with a producer on our next record, and it’ll be fun to have someone to help put all of the pieces in line.”
Although the Get Up Kids took a hiatus between 2006 and 2009, since 1999 the group has maintained a consistent lineup that includes vocalist and guitarist Matt Pryor, guitarist and backing vocalist Jim Suptic, keyboardist and vocalist James Dewees, and Ryan’s brother Rob on bass and backing vocals. The drummer explains the dynamic that arises when mixing family into a creative environment. “You’re hardest on the people you love the most, right? [laughs] I think it can be a total advantage to not have to tiptoe around someone you’re playing with, and you can be really blunt about things. But of course that also can create tension, and you have to take the good with the bad. But I think it’s way more positive than negative. Otherwise we wouldn’t be doing it. But my brother is a badass bass player, so that really helps me as a drummer. Playing with a good bass player is everything.”
Pope plays C&C drums and Istanbul Agop cymbals, and he uses Evans heads and Promark sticks.
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