The Get Up Kids Get Back to Basics

The Get Up Kids Get Back to Basics
"They hated it," Get Up Kids guitarist/vocalist Jim Suptic says candidly of fan reaction to his band's last record. "People hate change." When last we visited with emo's great Midwestern hope, they were extolling the virtues of their On A Wire disc, a twangy, pseudo alt-country record made with producer Scott Litt (R.E.M.) that was a marked departure from the scrappy sound of their first two albums. Critically lauded for its introspective songs and "mature" sound — an unfortunate euphemism commonly used when punk bands go soft — it was, as Suptic points out, not a hit with long-time fans who found its slower pace a little tough to mosh to.

"Looking at it now in retrospect, I don't think we really did expect any sort of backlash," he says on the line from his Kansas City home. "I think we were caught up in our own little world of what we were doing while we were making that record. We weren't even thinking about what people would think. That was the last thing on our minds.

"It's our record, it's a record we made for ourselves, we weren't thinking of anyone else when we made it. This time we made an effort — not that we made record for our fans, but we wanted to make an upbeat rock record." The result is The Guilt Show a record that is thematically as introspective as On a Wire but with the rock-itude of 1999's Something to Write Home About.

"It came together the same way the last record came together: we were writing songs that were influenced by how we were feeling and what we were listening to," says Suptic, noting that bands like the Clash and Elvis Costello and the Attractions were in regular rotation in the tour bus last year. "We just started writing wild songs. I don't know if it was a conscious thing. I think we wanted to write songs that would be a lot more fun to play live and maybe less of a downer record, even though if you listen to the lyrics, it is a downer record. There are no love songs about girls; it's a dark record, but it's kind of hidden through upbeat music."

The new record's energy should also give their live shows a boost, Suptic jokes. "Not that it's not fun to play songs from On A Wire but kids don't want to go crazy to slow songs," he laughs.

While the return to the sound of Something to Write Home About was the product of a collective band desire to rock out, Suptic says credit also belongs to producer Ed Rose. While the band has worked with Rose almost since the beginning, six years ago, he's never actually produced an album for them. Now that they're all business partners in the Kansas recording studio where The Guilt Show was assembled, the time seemed right to put him to work.

"He knows how to get the best out of everybody because we've worked with him so much," says Suptic. "This is my favourite record we've done by far because I think everyone played well on it and most of that has to do with Ed getting his nose in there and saying, ‘C'mon you can do this better.' He really helped shape this record."

Rose even had a hand in the album's title. "Rob, our bass player, and Ed were driving out to the studio and they were passing some church and it said 'annual quilt show' and they thought it said annual guilt show," Suptic recalls. "They thought it was funny because it was a Catholic Church."