After 8 years the Get Up Kids are releasing a new album! Being a band that has influenced so many others in the genre of emo punk music, it was an honor when they wanted to visit the FC St. Pauli stadium. We took the opportunity to guide them through the stadium and have a chat with them about St. Pauli, football, their music and their reunion, but also to discuss about what’s important in life. Enjoy a lively conversation with Matt Pryor and James Dewees.
Hi, nice to have you here! Have you been to St. Pauli or Hamburg before?
Matt: We’ve never been to the stadium before, but I’ve been around the area here and I’ve bought stuff from the shop. But I’ve never gotten to go to a match or the stadium before.
How and when did you hear about FC St. Pauli for the first time?
James: I’ve heard about it a long time ago with all its indie ethics. I think we were in Hamburg and at punk shows seeing people wearing the shirts with the skull and cross bones – it’s just a cool logo! Anything with a skull involved is pretty rad!
Are there any football clubs back home? Are they comparable to this?
Matt: Yeah, there is Sporting Kansas City, where we live. The Kansas City Soccer Club is pretty big. One of my local pubs is called The Red Lion, it’s about 45min away, and every time there’s a match at the stadium they have a whole bus that comes to the pub and ships everybody out there. And they even have Ultras who take the cheap seats and where there is cheap beer and they just support the club!
You learned a lot just now at the stadium tour. What is most fascinating about the club for you?
James: I feel like this stadium is just amazing from the history of it and then seeing in the museum the pictures from all the transformations it’s been through is amazing. Everything is funded by people – this club is basically taken care of by fans!
Matt: I don’t think there’s any other sports organization that has such a direct message and political stand that it takes with inclusion and progressive politics. I can’t even wrap my head around it… this would never fly in America. That would never happen. We can’t even agree on people kneeling down during the national anthem if they want to and those things.
I also saw a guy at the airport with this shirt on that said: ’I stand for the national anthem’… and I thought Fuck off!
It’s cool to see this – this is such an absolute thing. There are things that are more important than sport or money. I don’t think there’s anything like that anywhere else in the world.
Do you think music can do the same thing? Bring people together and have such a strong voice?
James: As musicians we are kind of on the far side of things, it’s where everyone’s opinion is welcome and we can keep an open mind about stuff. There’s assholes and all that anywhere. When there are people who all want to come together for the right reason that’s important!
Matt: I think when you travel a lot or if you live in a port city like Hamburg, you’re just exposed to all the different types of people that you weren’t necessarily when you live in a land locked city. I think you end up having a much more brought and progressive and sort of an accepting-all-cultures-attitude if you get out of your bubble or if you have people coming in and out of your city.
Little change of subjects. After 8 years you came back together as a band or at least put out a new album. How did you guys find back together again?
James: Well, some of us have regular jobs, some went back to school, some have families and such. So basically real life was happening at the same time…we kind of started messing around and also played together a few shows before and it just felt like the right time to come back together.
Matt: We were just: ‘Let’s see what happens and if it sucks we won’t do it’. But we were just happy with the stuff that we’ve come up with so we decided to move forward.
James: We had some great people at the new record label and it all happened very quickly, because everything just fell into place at the right time. And we were like: ‘Great this works! Let’s do it!’
As musicians/as a band who have reached a certain success and therefore have a platform do you feel like you have a responsibility towards your fans? Maybe an obligation to stand up for certain things, have an opinion and carry out the ‘right’ messages?
Matt: I think in songwriting it’s just important to be true to yourself. I think whenever I’m given a platform to do interviews or something like that I don’t think I go out of my way to discuss those sorts of things that are important to me, but I certainly don’t shy away from them if I’m asked about them.
Part of the responsibility is just to be honest – I mean we’re all flawed humans, I’m not perfect, no one is – to be honest about that and just normalizing it.
I’m on this kind of platform now trying to normalize human emotions and problems and issues. Everyone has problems and anxieties. It just comes down to not being a dick about it. Your responsibility isn’t more than trying to be a decent person, which is what you should do in the first place.
James: When you have a platform it also comes with a responsibility. We live in an age where you’re able to hide behind your phone and say the meanest things you want and have no responsibility for it and you don’t have to own up to the things you’ve done.
Where do you think St. Pauli and The Get Up Kids cross?
Matt: On the wall there it says: no human is illegal.
There’s one song on the record that’s called ‘The Advocate’ and it’s about me as a parent and as a person being accepting. That song is like a letter to my children, saying whatever you are I will still love you. I will still be there for you and it doesn’t matter if you’re gay, if you are trans if you’re – I mean I’d rather you not be a Republican – but, you know, be whatever you want to be.
Without even really thinking about it until just now I think the spirit of St. Pauli and the inclusion and all that; I think I really wanted to project that in that song.
The line is: ‘Arms around whoever you may be’.
You are considered an emo band, so all of your lyrics are kind of focused on negative emotions. How does that affect your music or what you are saying with it?
Matt: I’ve come to terms with it in the sense of that I think what defines an emo band, compared to like a punk rock band, is the lyrical content?! It doesn’t seem to be like genre specific to a style of music and all we have is our authenticity. That’s all we’ve really had and we’ve never been able to fake it! If we don’t get along we don’t play well, you know?
Does that mean you use music as an outlet of some sort? Does it help? I mean letting go of negative emotions to help you to be happy – which would be good, right?
Matt: It’s not a one to one thing. It’s not like I write it in a song and then all of the sudden the stress goes away. It’s less about my therapy as much as it is putting it into the world and then having it exist and then being able to address it. That’s the part that actually helps me.
James: Yeah, that’s the whole point of it! I like the fact that it comes back and that it has helped a lot of other people. I feel like that’s always the best thing to get back from fans. When they come to me and say: ‘I could identify with this and it has helped me get through this and that.’ That’s better than getting paid! That’s what’s most important!
St. Pauli also feels like that. It’s not about anything else than value and taking care of one another.