Matt Pryor is a busy man. Many know him as a singer/guitarist from the Get Up Kids, who have spent the last few years celebrating their reunion with a new album and plenty of tour dates. In addition to the Get Up Kids, he has also performed in the New Amsterdams, the family friendly Terrible Twos, and as a solo artist. When he isn’t on the road, Pryor is spending time with his family and taking care of his three kids. In the last 10-15 years, Pryor has released around 15 albums and has still found the time to be a contributing member of his Lawrence community. Currently, Matt Pryor is preparing for the release of May Day, the second album of his solo effort.
Pryor recently spoke to Midcoast Station about May Day and how fan support helped keep him motivated and inspired to finish the record. Pryor also hinted at what’s next for his many projects (GUK/New Ams/Terrible Twos/mystery other). You can read our full interview with Matt Pryor below. Be sure to check him out 11/11/11 in Lawrence, Kansas at the Granada. More information on that show here.
Bethany Smith, Midcoast Station: How’d your Facebook chat go this week?
Matt Pryor: Fine. Those things…they’re not stressful, but they’re always kind of…you have to keep typing the whole time: answer some person’s question and immediately go to the next…it’s just weird. Haha. But it is fine. It gives people a chance to ask me stuff.
BS: Yeah, it seems like you have some really awesome fan interaction and support. Recently you did another cool web thing with your Kickstarter campaign. What was your reaction to the overwhelming support of that — you almost tripled your original $10,000 goal?
MP: I was completely surprised and amazed by that. I actually thought we had set the goal too high. But we reached the actual goal in the first couple days and we were like, “woah.” It was amazing and a really good feeling.
BS: Is Kickstarter something you’d do again for any future albums with any of your bajillion projects?
MP: Certainly. I think I need to get everything sent off for everyone that supported this project before I go around asking anyone else for money.
BS: Now, you gave away on your Kickstarter the guitars you used to make this album, which is a really cool prize. But did you get new guitars or what are you playing now? You are playing a show Friday – what are you using?
MP: Haha. I have another guitar. I have one acoustic guitar that I’ve had for 15-20 years that isn’t going anywhere. Haha. It’s always take it on the road.
BS: Now, I know through Kickstarter that guitars are heavily used on this new record and I heard a 30 second clip with you singing with an acoustic guitar. What other instruments are on this?
MP: There are other instruments on it. There’s banjo, some piano and some homemade drum loops that I made out of cardboard boxes, and tambourines, and hand claps and smacking my desk for a snare drum sound with my hand.
BS: Sounds cool. How does this record compare to your other solo record under the Matt Pryor name.
MP: It’s pretty similar song structure and instruments. Instrumentationwise it maybe has a little bit more…orchestrations not the right word since it isn’t an orchestra, but more instruments on it.
BS: One of the things I noticed just in song titles is that these song titles look a little bit darker.
MP: Yeah, they’re all very frustrated and it’s kind of hard to explain. It’s a very personal record. It was written and recorded during a time when I was really just sick of everything and burnt out on making and playing music in general. A lot of the songs reflect that. But now I feel lot better! Haha.
BS: Isn’t that always the case – you get a project done and all of sudden it’s like, “Yeah! Now I can be happy.”
MP: I was really, really burnt and doing this record, but the Kickstarter thing really re-invigorated. I feel like I got the demons out by making the record and then the support I got from the Kickstarter thing really kind of…I don’t know…Rejuvenated me.
BS: Now when you have a record that you wrote when frustrated or unhappy, when you play it live, do you feel weird playing it?
MP: Live is really more just trying to play the songs well. Haha. At least for me, I don’t really think a whole lot about what I’m singing about and just think a lot about what the next line is so I don’t screw anything up.
BS: Is there a song off this record that you’re really excited to start playing live?
MP: Wow. I don’t know. I haven’t really even thought about it. I haven’t gotten that far yet. I like…there’s a song called “The Lies Are Keeping Me Here” that I like a lot. That was like the first song that I wrote for the thing and it is pretty upbeat.
Interrupted by kid…’I'll make you lunch when I’m finished here. You just go roller skate.” “You mean roller blade?” “Whatever.”
BS: Rollerblading. That sounds fun.
MP: You’d be amazed how easy it is to get free roller blades for kids. Nobody wants roller blades. They’re all like, “Hey, we’ve got some roller blades in the basement…you want them?” “Sure.”
BS: Haha. Yeah. I gave mine away after I broke my wrist rollerblading – but we’ll stay away from that story so you don’t feel like stopping your kid from rollerblading.
MP: No, no. It’s part of the drill.
BS: Well, you’re playing a big Lawrence, Kansas benefit/mini-festival. Will we hear any new songs?
MP: You know, I’ll have to sit down and try to figure it out. Today is my day to sit down and figure out what my set list is going to be. I’d like to figure out a couple of new ones, but I don’t know how much I’ll rely on it: not going to be like I’m going to play the whole new record and that’s it.
BS: I’m excited for the show.
MP: It’s going to be fun.
BS: Yeah. And you have tons of Lawrence support and your many projects are looked at some of Kansas City’s bands they’re proudest of, but what is it like to play a hometown show? Is it overwhelming or cool and relaxed or something else?
MP: Usually, it is really stressful because you kind have your…Well, when you’re on tour you kind of get into this routine. You know you’re on in an hour, so I’m going to go backstage and take a nap or chill out. Grab a beer. Relax and talk. But a hometown show, because you know know so many people, you end up dealing with guest list stuff and you’re kind of like entertaining your friends as well as being at work. It’s kind of hard to explain. This thing Friday, I think it is going to be blast. It’s more of a party than a traditional show, you know what I mean? It is a benefit, so I don’t need to worry about guest list stuff at all. So it’s like, come to the show, buy a ticket. So I’m just going to get to hang out and see some other bands play. It’s a different sort of environment I guess.
BS: Should be cool. I’m excited about how they have it set up across multiple venues. Now you’ve been making music for 10-15 years and you’ve like 15 records over that time. For any aspiring musicians, especially all the rising Lawrence bands that look up to you, what advice do you have to give them?
MP: Take your time. You have to be persistent, but you don’t have to rush into anything. You can get really caught up into the whole, “We need to put this out now. We need to do this now. This is our moment to do something.” I don’t think that’s actually the case. Sometimes it is, but for the most part, it’s be true to yourself and take your time with stuff. You’ll have a better quality finished project and better quality of life and sanity…Wow, that was deep, huh? Haha.
BS: Haha. It was a good answer. Plenty of people need to hear to just slow down.
MP: Haha…meditate more and yoga. Haha. Chill out, man.
BS: With Lawrence, it seems like there’s a lot of bands, but as they get bigger they try to move to a bigger city like LA or Chicago or New York. What is it that has kept you in Lawrence?
MP: I’ve lived in other cities. I lived in Boston for awhile before I got married, but I really liked it here because it was where all my friends were at the time and my family is in Kansas City. [Lawrence] just had a lot more life to it than Kansas City, though Kansas City has come a long way since then with the arts district and stuff. Now, I have pretty deep roots here. I have three kids that all go to school here and have friends here. I’m a member of my neighborhood association and stuff like that; I’ve built up a community completely outside of music here. I probably know less people in music now than naught. I get to go other cities and I could attempt to live there, but I wouldn’t go to any other city. I hate LA with all my heart and soul. I’d never live there. You could probably go to LA, Chicago, Nashville and New York. I can’t afford to live in New York, especially not with three kids. I don’t want to move to Nashville and Chicago’s too cold, so might as well stay here.
BS: Cool. Well, I’ll just ask you one more so you can go roller blade with your kids. So after this record comes out, what’s next?
MP: Oh God, I have lots of irons in the fire. We just got done with Get Up Kids stuff, we’re trying to work out whether we can go to South America with that. Then I’m touring. Solo comes out in January then I’m touring the U.S. and probably Europe as well. Then I’m taking the summer off to play kickball.
BS: That’s a good vacation.
MP: Yeah. We started a team and I didn’t think I was going to like it, but I fell in love with it. We were touring a bunch this summer, so I didn’t get to play in very many games. So I have a self-imposed touring ban next summer so that I can go play kickball. Then I have some other projects. I have a Terrible Twos project I want to finish and I’m putting together a New Amsterdams compilation thing. I started another project with some other friends of mine that I need to release or find someone to release next year. So busy, busy. That and I’m a stay at home dad.
BS: Well, we’re glad you are as busy as you are with the music world. The stuff you put out is great.
MP: Thank you.
BS: Thanks for your time. Now go have fun and I look forward to the Lawrence show Friday.