Interviews | Back to Issue 10

Interview conducted by Wade Stuckwisch with guitarist Jim Suptic in mid-November ‘99 at Amherst College, after a show with At The Drive In and Ultimate Fakebook.

NIMBY: Say your name, what you play, and your favorite cartoon character.
Jim: My name’s Jim Suptic, I play guitar and sing in The Get Up Kids, and my favorite cartoon character... is Homer Simpson.
NIMBY: Good choice. So what do you think of The Simpsons this season so far?
Jim: I haven’t even watched it. I think it got unfunny already last season.
NIMBY: Yeah, I’ve heard people say a lot of mixed things about it now. How do you feel about the whole Futurama thing?
Jim: It’s all right. I didn’t think it was that funny. All the kids in Europe like it. They thought it was funny.
NIMBY: When were you in Europe?
Jim: We’ve been [to Europe] twice, once about a year and a half ago with Braid for about six weeks, and then just this October, only for about ten days. It was like a set-up for our record [Something To Write Home About], it was kinda stupid. But it was fun, hey.
NIMBY: So you were playing all new stuff that people hadn’t heard yet?
Jim: Pretty much, yeah. We were trying to get new licensing deals because we’re on a new label now.
NIMBY: I was gonna ask you about that, the whole switch to Vagrant. How is that working out?
Jim: They’re awesome, they’re the best label in the world. The people there are so nice, and the record’s been doing really well, thanks to them.
NIMBY: So tell me about the whole Heroes and Villains thing.
Jim: That’s our record label. It’s an imprint of Vagrant, they’re like the dad corporation. They help fund it, and we get to sign bands. It’s named after a Beach Boys song.
NIMBY: Was Heroes and Villains around before you hooked up with Vagrant?
Jim: Nah. We wanted to do it, and they [Vagrant] thought it was a cool idea. They have a lot of pop-punk bands, but they don’t want to be a pop-punk label. They just want to be a label. They wanted to bring more different kinds of bands to the label, by having us on there.
NIMBY: As I was walking up to the show, I was wondering who’s bus is parked out back... is that your bus?
Jim: That’s our bus, yeah.
NIMBY: Congratulations.
Jim: It cost us a lot of money...
NIMBY: What did you tour in before you got the bus?
Jim: We had a van and a trailer. This tour we had [the bus] because we paid for it out of our own pockets. It was a two and a half month tour... we’ve been home for four days in two and a half months. I think the next time we go on tour we’re gonna rent a Winnebago and a trailer, we’ll never tour like this again. We’ll go out for three weeks, then stay home for a month, the go out again. We’re all kinda losing our minds right now.
NIMBY: So the bus is a rental?
Jim: Oh yeah. They’re like half a million dollars to buy.
NIMBY: So did you find anything interesting under the seats?
Jim: Yeah, actually. We were cleaning it one night... there’s a TV in the back, and we pulled out this thing that’s underneath so that things won’t slide around, and there was a bud of pot that was like six inches long, it was like six months old and all fossilized. We were like, oh my god...
NIMBY: Do you have any idea who was touring in it before you?
Jim: I know Fiona Apple was in it... I heard all she did was sit in the back and smoke pot and make houses out of letters... I guess she’s some kind of a hippie. Kid Rock was on it...
NIMBY: Ho-boy.
Jim: I guess House of Pain had it way back in the day... George Clinton... it’s pretty funny.
NIMBY: That could’ve belonged to anybody, with a list like that...
Jim: The last person who was on it was Lee Greenwood, he’s a country singer. I don’t know it he smokes tha buud...
NIMBY: You guys have been around for a while, so you probably know each other pretty well... who has the worst eyesight in the band?
Jim: I think Rob does, it’s pretty bad. I’m probably in second, then Ryan, then James. Matt is the only one in the band with perfect vision. Me and Rob were in first grade together, we grew up in the same town...
NIMBY: So when you write songs, where do you get the inspiration from? Have you written many of the songs on the new album?
Jim: Well, we all write the music. We write about whatever’s going on in our lives, nothing real political or anything... stuff that affects us, personally. Matt writes most of the lyrics, but sometimes we all write them together.
NIMBY: Tell me about Reggie and the Full Effect.
Jim: That’s James, our keyboard player’s band. He writes all the songs, we’re basically just his backup band. It’s kind of a side project, for fun. We’re two totally different bands, though. We’ll never play Get Up Kids songs at a Reggie show or Reggie songs at a Get Up Kids show.
NIMBY: How long has James been playing with the Get Up Kids [as a band member]?
Jim: Like nine, ten months now. He helped write the new record. He played on the EP [Red Letter Day], and helped a little bit, but he mostly just played on it. The new record we all wrote together.
NIMBY: Last I counted, you now have at least two songs which are explicitly about the state of Massachusetts in some way or another. Do you guys have some kind of special connection with Mass, or do you just play here a lot?
Jim: Matt, our singer—his girlfriend goes to Simmons College in Boston. Matt actually lives in Boston now. He lives here all summer. He just got a job at Newbury Comics, which is pretty funny.
NIMBY: Hey, it’s a good place...
Jim: He just needed a job for the winter. They’re getting married now. He just asked her to marry him in New York about a week ago.
NIMBY: That’s a beautiful thing.
Jim: There goes the band...
NIMBY: Don’t say that.
Jim: I’m kidding. But he’s an official Bostonian now.
NIMBY: Is that a strain on the band? Where do the rest of you guys hang your hats when you’re not on tour?
JIM: I live in Kansas City. James lives in Kansas City. Robbie lives in Lawrence, which is where the University of Kansas is, it’s about 30 minutes from Kansas City, it’s a college town. And Ryan lives in LA now, with his girlfriend. We’re transcontinental. It’s all right, we tour so much that it really doesn’t matter. We’re not really writing songs now. When we start writing songs again—probably this summer—we’ll probably all meet back in Kansas City again.
NIMBY: The last question I have here is, [Brendan] was wondering when you guys are going to play in Syracuse.
Jim: I’m not really sure, it’s a pretty tough scene out there...
NIMBY: I think the stories are a little tougher than [the actual scene]...
Jim: We played there once, on our very first tour, with Braid. We were supposed to play in Ithaca but it got cancelled. There were like thirty, maybe thirty-five people there...
NIMBY: Where did you play?
Jim: It was like some community center...
NIMBY: Did you play at the Wescott Community Center?
Jim: Maybe. We played with this metal band called Voorhees [?], they were from New York. It was weird. It was our very first tour ever, that was like three years ago... it was a long time ago. Three and a half years, even. Maybe someday. Not for a while though. I don’t think we’ll be touring the States again until... maybe this spring. Even then we’ll probably only play two weeks out East, then two weeks out west. It’ll be a short tour. Maybe in fall, when school is back in session...
NIMBY: Tell me about touring with At The Drive In.
Jim: They’re awesome. They’re blowin’ up.
NIMBY: Yeah, they’re pretty fuckin’ high energy.
Jim: We like touring with them, because they make us step it up every night. It’s like, “Yup, they rocked, we gotta rock tonight.” Even if we’re tired... they make us perform better. Plus they’re just really nice guys.