Get Up Kids frontman Matt Pryor is happily married and has an adorable 2-year-old daughter. Fortunately, he knows plenty of people who are still sad, desperate and dysfunctional.
"Elvis Costello once said that if you start having good relationships, you should write songs about other people's relationships, and that's exactly what I do," Pryor said. "The things that are exciting to me now are not necessarily exciting to your average 18-year-old."
On the Get Up Kids' fourth album, Guilt Show, Pryor taps into the lives of his miserable friends and extracts enough stories of abuse, betrayal and, well, guilt to make the lyrics ache. "Wouldn't Believe It" is about an incident of adultery that leads to divorce, "How Long Is Too Long" is about a guy who slept with another man's girlfriend, and the first single, "The One You Want," is about a woman Pryor would rather not have known. "She's bad news, and I never liked her at all," he said. "She sucks the soul out of people, and she spends all of my friend's money on drugs and stupid sh--."
The album title came out of a happy misunderstanding. The day the Get Up Kids finished working on the record at their studio in Eudora, Kansas, they saw a flier for a quilt show. "I misread it and thought, 'They're having a guilt show? That doesn't make any sense.' But it was a cool name, and there's a lot of underlying guilt in the lyrics, so we thought it fit."
While many of the songs on the disc are thematically bleak, Guilt Show is musically upbeat. The single sounds like T-Rex crossed with Big Star, and many of the other songs swim with hooky keyboards and peppy power-pop rhythms.
"The only thing we decided on in advance was to make something a little louder than what we had done," Pryor said. "Other than that, we approached songwriting the same way. We've always wanted to write a cool power-pop album, but we just failed in the past. Maybe by trying so long we finally got it right."
The Get Up Kids will tour with Dashboard Confessional and Thrice on the Honda Civic tour through June 30 (see "Dashboard Confessional To Spill Their Guts In A Customized Civic"). Every night, Pryor will look forward to taking the stage, but during the day he'll feel as lost and lonely as many of the characters he writes about. "The only thing I actually like about touring is performing," he said. "I don't like traveling, and I hate being away from my family."