Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry, Photo by Lionel David Bergeron
Matt Pryor does not have all that many years on me. He has a couple of young children now. He's married. He has a house and pays for it. All of those things are included in my knowledge base as well, and almost all happened along a similar timeframe as to when Mr. Pryor of Lawrence, Kansas, experienced them. When he should have been in college or was just out of college (not quite sure about the man's scholastics), there I was in college and heading off to see the Get Up Kids play every time they were close enough to do so and still drive back to campus that night so a little sleep could be had before a lecture about mythological beings. They came to Iowa City often - on Halloween one year with Ultimate Fakebook to play in an annex just off of the school's bookstore in what amounts to an eating, lounge area - and they were releasing their most successful records ("Four Minute Mile" and "Something To Write Home About") during that time, touring with Weezer, Ozma, At The Drive-In and The Anniversary. We even made a drive to Milwaukee on a whim to see them play a day after seeing them in Chicago and there, they were joined by Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick to play "Surrender" - Pryor obviously standing up there in second heaven as anyone our age would have been at the time. So really, long story short, we feel each other. The songs that he wrote about the confounding ways of the Midwestern boy's heart as it reached that point of experiencing what was thought to be the first taste tests of real love were the ones that we believed to be in direct relation to the problems we were finding ourselves getting tangled in. We were lost and harried and panicky. We were desperate and lusty and drunk on the idea of finding a cool girl to exclusively watch movies with and whatever else. There was pain and elation, not to mention all of the false starts and premature stops along the cobbled, broken path. Pryor's lyrics blazed our ways through so many of those thorns and prickles, making the same amount of immediate sense to our bruised hearts as anyone else really could. It was uncanny then, how much so many shared in what he was writing and the Get Up Kids were playing. Before the band dissipated, Pryor starting writing even more cutting and specifically - longing and mournful songs about a grown up kind of love, one with real repercussions, rather than just abstract disappointment leading to a continued search for some other person other than the one dealing the rejection that time. Pryor's songs on those New Amsterdams records and those on his latest record, his first to be released under his own name, are some of his loveliest, marking love and the struggles that go along with it as ever-present disruptions that sometimes turn out better than they usually do, but those exceptions are outnumbered. It just so happens that memories still hold onto the hurts, are attracted to them as if they were books lining a room filled with cases and they just so happened to have the most eye-catching spines of any of the others up there. They're slid out from their neighbors and lifted down to re-read or to discover something, founded again for the first time. It's the way that these losses mount and evaporate, the way men and women still cling to some of their vivid scars brought by supposed heartbreak and the actual stuff. It's the way that there's never any slow down of the melancholy taking us for a waltz, for an old or new idea of love slipping into our life and letting us feel it all over again. Pryor is very good at this and he has been for a long, long time. His is that voice from years ago that will always remind us of the things that seem both forgettable and lasting all at once.
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