Kansas City’s The Get Up Kids may have gotten back together in 2008 but as far as full length releases go, the reunion hadn’t led to more than a single album, There Are Rules (Quality Hill Records, 2010) in that time. That is until now, with the announcement of imminent sixth album, Problems (Polyvinyl, 2019) due out on 10 May 2019. In the meantime, along with the celebration worthy news for all fans of the iconic 90s originating, alternative rock-emo hybrid band, The Get Up Kids presented the pubic with the lead single, “Satellite,” and a music video to match.
The Get Up Kids are:
Matt Pryor (Vocals, Guitar)
Jim Suptic (Guitar)
James Dewees (Keyboards)
Rob Pope (Bass)
Ryan Pope (Drums)
Beyond the basic structural facts of who worked on what, and why a cardboard figure named Hank is important to the symbolism and intent to show contrast for this audio-visual release, “Satellite” is interesting to digest for other reasons not quite as promotionally obvious. While Hank is certainly apparent enough of a creative element alone, the idea to develop a video that not only offsets the anxious and uncomfortable emotional place from which Pryor writes but also lays it out in a way that caters far more naturally to the narrative based sequences of videos from The Get Up Kids early days in the 90s, shows just how much subtlety and artistically indirect thought went into this first re-emergence for the band. And though the song has an openly stated “pop-minded song structure,” there’s much of The Get Up Kids’ original, fundamental sound and just overall emotional vibe, coming through. Acoustically driven verses and pre-chorus lines flourishing into thickly amplified but brightly harmonized and catchy choruses being coming together to be paired with a video channeling just as much classically structured storytelling, is a charming nod for not just older fans of the band but older music fans in general who still remember the significance of video storyboarding because of platforms like MTV’s TRL.
I don’t think anybody else
All is well
You’re only thinking of yourself
It’s a long way down
It’s a long way down for me
– Lyrics from “Satellite”
Peeling back the layers even further, even though “Satellite” is barely three minutes long and does indeed follow a pretty standard “verse, verse, pre-chorus, chorus” format, the very aesthetic of its sound leaves plenty to be reflected upon. Not even a full minute into the song, at the very first entrance of the repeated pre-chorus phrase (“It’s a long way down,”) The Get Up Kids show even more of their emo styled colors. A fleeting moment of clipping in the vocals that would almost be unnoticed if one has no idea what they are looking for or a lack of familiarity with what they’re hearing when it’s pointed out falls right in the line of lyrics, and at the longest held word to boot. This observation isn’t meant as a dig at Katis, who is undoubtedly a professional and an expert behind a mixing board and with a Pro Tools session. If anything, because it’s a detail that there is more than enough technology to detect and eliminate, the sparingly retained amount of crackle in the vocal track is an artistic choice and it absolutely fits with the aesthetic of imperfection and mild instability of indie emo bands like The Get Up Kids and sonically similar and long running peers like Saves the Day.
Perhaps a little ironically – as The Get Up Kids are known for having an impact on and greatly influencing bands whose music would follow theirs in later years – the rhythmic foundation in both the drums and guitars that holds up “Satellite’s” chorus, is something that seems to align that band with thoughts of a song written by a pop punk successor of sorts: “The Anthem” by Good Charlotte. Granted, the compositional comfort zones for genres like pop punk and emo aren’t don’t tend to be overly elaborate but it’s always at least a little amusing when one can easily hum the chorus of one song over the band support of another and have either swap in seamlessly. (And no, that doesn’t mean The Get Up Kids ripped off Good Charlotte; drum fills and syncopation patterns aren’t something that can be copyright protected in a pop song.)
The funniest thing about “Satellite” however, might not even be related to its musical attributes at all. Rather, it’s the realization that despite emo music and its stereotyped stylistic qualities often being reduced to crowds of teens who would come to be accordingly labeled “emo kids” in social circles, fast forward 25 years and though the song has plenty of emo themes at play, the feelings and the situations Pryor is contemplating that evoke those feelings, are hardly niche emotional concepts anymore. It’s revealing, to say the least, that what used to be the kind of song saved for those especially hard days or the occasional rough patch in someone’s life, is now wholly relatable across age groups, races, economic brackets, and yes, political parties. “Satellite” somewhat painfully is a slice of art highlighting what could be considered the general state of life for many at present and while that makes for a heck of wide appeal bonus for a record label and a band, it’s likely The Get Up Kids don’t wish this song and video that was created to provide some humorous respite, hit so close to society’s home.
Keep up with The Get Up Kids through their official website and these social media outlets: