Band Lineage: The Get Up Kids

What fascinates me the most about this classic Kansas City emo outfit is that they can be traced to two incredibly divergent styles of music: Nu-Metal and Alt-Country. Never mind the linkage to Spoon (Rob Pope), Blackpool Lights (Jim Suptic), My Chemical Romance (James Dewees), A New Found Glory (James Dewees), and LeATHERMOUTH (James Dewees…again), let’s dig deeper.

Get ready for some hardcore lineage!

Nu-Metal

This is the simpler of the two, as in, you can do some wikipedia combing to find the degrees (or should I say Dewees) of separation.

James Dewees, before becoming the keyboardist for TGUK, enlisted Matt Prior and Rob Pope to help record some songs for his solo project, Reggie and the Full Effect. Not only did that project, Greatest Hits 1984–1987, land him a role in TGUK, it also marked the beginning of “Reggie’s” long-lived musical career.

Greatest Hits 1984–1987 is the only Reggie and the Full Effect album I do not own.

The next two Reggie albums (Promotional Copy, Under the Tray) continued the mostly humorous, sometimes sincere, frequently obnoxious synth pop-punk found on Greatest Hits. And then Dewees got divorced.

Unsurprisingly, there was a darker, heavier tone to the album. And while the humor was still present in moments, it was cynical and angry (examples: The Fuck Stops Here, Love Reality). And then Dewees went to rehab.

There was no humor, no pop and a ton of guttural screaming. Reggie was following Mitch Cohen’s musical path.

Rewatch A Mighty Wind if you’re confused.

Dewees also shifted producers from TGUK staple, Ed Rose, to Sean Beavan, whose previous credits included Marilyn Manson’s Antichrist Superstar, Pantera’s The Great Southern Trendkill, and Slayer’s God Hates Us All.

Also, if you remove two letters, his name becomes Sean Bean and that’s about as Metal as you can get.

It seemed to go hand-in-hand that a change in band members might further fulfill this new shift in style for Reggie. So, instead of long time, aforementioned bassist and TGUK bandmare, Rob Pope, Reggie enlisted Paul Grey. Better known as The Pig. Or #2. You see, Paul was a member of the seminal Nu-Metal band, Slipknot.

Slipknot was the at the forefront of Nu-Metal, and, arguably, even aided in the genre’s creation. Their lineage is wide: Stone Sour, Murderdolls, Static-X, Rob Zombie and even Metallica. While this genre of music may not have been all that distant from Last Stop: Crappy Town, it certainly was a far cry from the heartsick, melodic angst of Something To Write Home About or the adult contemporary indie-rock of On A Wire.

And it was certainly light years away from Wilco.

Alt-Country

While Dewees was off writing songs about dwarves and chickens, Matt Pryor was recording acoustic covers of Afghan Whigs songs and writing folk-tinged ballads under the moniker, The New Amsterdams. Similar to Reggie, The New Amsterdams employed TGUK members as a backing band on two of the first three albums.

Para Toda Vida was entirely Matt Pryor and his acoustic guitar.

And then, on his third venture, Killed or Cured, Pryor settled on a more permanent lineup, perhaps due to the breakup of TGUK. This lineup included the seasoned drummer, Bill Belzer.

Bill Belzer can be linked to The Band and Taj Mahal, amongst others. And, for six months, Belzer drummed for the “At the Drive-In” of Alt-Country: Uncle Tupelo.

The story of Bill’s short-lived tenure with Uncle Tupelo is a difficult one but worth hearing. There is a great episode of Matt Pryor’s podcast, Nothing To Write Home About, with Bill in which he talks about what it was like to be an openly gay man in the primarily straight world of Rock N’ Roll.

Uncle Tupelo was a staple of alt-country, and similar to Slipknot, one could argue that they were, indeed, part of the genre’s creation. But, due to heavy drinking and dysfunction, the band split up and factions were created: Jay Farrar created Son Volt and Jeff Tweedy, Wilco.

From here, the branches spread like fractals. Jeff Tweedy can be linked to Mavis Staples, Nels Cline can be linked to the Geraldine Fibbers, Mike Watt, and Thurston Moore. Hell, you can even throw Billy Bragg into the mix. And if you’re doing that, why not go to the Mermaid Avenue source material:

Woody’s “Band Lineage” would require a blogging mini-series.

So here we are, at, arguably, the beginning of the American Folk Music movement, which is worlds apart from the white-bro anger of Nu-Metal. And what connects them? Some punk rock kids from mid-America who sang some songs about girls and loneliness.


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