The label that accidentally brought emo to the mainstream – Kerrang!


In 2000 and 2001, Vagrant Records has released the first two volumes of a compilation series called Another Year On The Streets. This was before the internet really revolutionized listening habits, when CD samplers always played an important role in disseminating information about a label’s list. And there are fewer better than these two with tracks from Alkaline Trio, The Get Up Kids, Dashboard Confessional, Rocket From The Crypt, Saves The Day, The Anniversary, Hot Rod Circuit, Face To Face, Hey Mercedes, Reggie And The Full Effect and more. These CDs firmly established Vagrant as one of the leading alternative music labels at the time.

This idea was reconfirmed at the 2002 Reading festival. The artists at the top of the bill included big names like Foo Fighters, Muse, Guns N ‘Roses, The Prodigy and The Offspring, but on the Concrete Jungle Stage almost all of the bands in the poster were signed with Vagrant (including presence in UK was bolstered by a licensing agreement with Hassle Records and had songs on these samplers). Even today, listening to these compilations, it feels like they were more than just an advertisement for the label. These bands may not be alike, but they have performed and toured frequently together, and have built an audience as dedicated to the label as they are to the bands themselves. As a result, Vagrant was quickly seen as a staple of what would come to be known, rightly or wrongly, as the third wave of emo, before it went stratospheric with My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy.

At the time, however, Vagrant’s stage wing – for lack of a better term – really seemed to be the center of it. And it all started with The Get Up Kids. After starting the label in 1996, Rich Egan and Jon Cohen borrowed $50,000 Jon’s parents to fund the recording of the band’s second album, Something To Write Home About. A set of songs refined but no less emotionally intense compared to their 1997 Doghouse debut, Four Minute Mile, released in September 28, 1999, and that changed everything.

Rich was leading the band at the time, ”Jon recalls, and he played some early EPs for everyone. Mast [Pryor, singer/guitarist]The voice of and the contagiousness of the music was quite simply different from other music. It was amazing. “

The record’s success firmly put the Vagrant on the map. Building on the success of Something To Write Home About and the bands that signed to the label as a result, Vagrant quickly became a core – along with Drive Thru and Jade Tree – for what people decided was the next phase of emo. . Not that it was part of the label’s plan.

We were just focusing on The Get Up Kids and Something To Write Home About, ”Jon admits today. It’s a masterpiece. Quickly, they emerged as our flagship group, and other amazing artists flocked in. “

We signed to Vagrant because it was a label that had a reputation for taking care of their bands and helping them take their bands to the next level, without having to compromise the artistic vision, ”says Jeremy Ray Talley, guitarist of The Bled. , who released 2005is found in the flood and 2007‘s Silent Treatment on the label. We knew a lot of bands that had a lot of positive experiences with Vagrant.

As for The Get Up Kids themselves, being the flagship group meant that the attraction their success brought to others was not there for them. In fact, signing on the dotted line was something they thought they didn’t have much of a choice.

Honestly, it was kind of an act of desperation, ”says Matt Pryor. We knew we had to leave Doghouse and we were talking to the majors, but all of those negotiations fell apart. Vagrant made us an offer and we decided to bet on them.

The bet worked. Driven by the well-deserved success of Something To Write Home About, the band and label began to thrive. Over the next several years, the label released a series of truly landmark and important records such as Dashboard Confessional’s The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most (and MTV Unplugged), Saves The Day’s Stay What You Are and Alkaline Trio’s From Here To Infirmary, as well as albums from The Bled, From Autumn To Ashes, Senses Fail, Hot Rod Circuit, Alexisonfire, Hot Rod Circuit, The Anniversary and more.

Kerrang's Archives from Get Up Kids Vagrant Records 3

But wait a minute, you are probably thinking. None of these groups are alike. And they’re not really emo. Well yes. Without getting too deep into the semantics, stories, and definitions of what emo is and isn’t emo – there are entire sites devoted to this – none of these groups would identify as emo. Matt, who always gets a little cranky when that word is brought up (and for good reason), doesn’t disappoint when asked if he was aware that most of Vagrant’s bands were drawn into a scene they were drawn to. had no intention of belonging in the first place.

I’m not sure what you mean by that, ”he says. I don’t think it’s possible to get drawn into a scene you don’t want to be in. At first we had no awareness of a scene’; there is no scene ‘where we come from. But we played concerts and made friends with the bands we played with. Then somewhere on the line people started calling him a scene’.”

I understand Matt’s sympathies, ”Jon admits. Oddly enough, where I was sitting, mixed with the excitement and anxieties of running a label, it was hard to step back in the moment and label anything. emo ‘. It’s only in retrospect that I can see the scene we contributed to, which a lot of people like to call emo. But there were also a lot of other big labels, Drive Thru and Jade Tree among them.

Francis Mark, the (own) singer of From Autumn To Ashes, slightly contradicts Matt’s protests, although it should be emphasized that this was not a direct response to Matt’s response, but simply to his own answer to the same question.

I don’t think anyone has let themselves be drawn into anything without being at least partially willing to do it, ”he says. It’s probably silly how many bands would feel pride or shame for an outright title someone else prescribed them. I remember an incredible sense of community and a feeling of oneness, even though things can get very shallow and petty. “

And, as if to show how the emo ‘tag really is, The Anniversary singer / guitarist Justin Roelofs delivers a humorous yet precise response that shows just how deeply ingrained emo has been in culture since those heady Vagrant days.

Believe it or not, ”he begins, when we started this group in 1997 as kids in the Kansas basement, we mapped it all out. We’ve put together a big track record, starting with bands like Jawbreaker, Sunny Day Real Estate and The Get Up Kids, and finally ending up with our band The Anniversary. And then we drew lines from there to bands that didn’t even exist yet, like Fall Out Boy, and eventually even lines to the modern era, spotlighting future artists like Lil Peep and Juice Wrld. . This graphic was like a giant future warning oracle that was stolen from our van during the year 2000, allegedly by one of the future members of My Chemical Romance.

Ironic comments aside, the lasting impact of the Vagrant roster back in the day is still being felt today in the alternative / emo scenes that were inspired by these bands and albums. They were – even unwittingly and unintentionally – a fundamental stepping stone to the next wave of emo that took their permutation of the stage to the top of the charts. This is something even Matt Pryor reluctantly concedes.

That’s what people tell me, ”he says casually. It doesn’t really matter to me.

Get Up Kids Vagrant Records Kerrang 2 Archives

To a certain extent, he is absolutely right. Emo or not, what Vagrant did was simple: they made music with bands they believed in, and from there was born a sense of community which was then identified by others as a stage. There will never be a consensus on what emo is or isn’t, and that’s not particularly important. As Jon puts it: Frankly, I never thought The Get Up Kids sounded like Dashboard or Dashboard like Saves The Day, but they all fit into some form that people refer to as emo ‘.

Either way, it’s clear that for all of the bands on the label at that point, it felt like something very special was going on.

It was really a fantastic situation, ”said Adrianne Verhoeven of The Anniversary, and very cool and special as long as it lasted. All of the people at Vagrant have been great and have been very supportive of what we were doing in a creative way. And the scene was pretty cute – sometimes wild and always fun! We had a blast. To quote Reggie and the full effect: Good times, good songs, good friends‘and now: big old folks!

It was really like something special was happening, ”said Riley Breckenridge, drummer for Thrice, who released four albums on the label between 2007 and 2011. We had friends on the label and we were fans of a lot of bands on the label. They had already done a decent job of solidifying their legacy as a historic independent label with the success of Dashboard, Saves The Day, Get Up Kids, etc., and we were grateful to be part of that family.

This is something that Matt Pryor completely agrees with.

Friendship between groups, ”he replies, asked about his favorite memory of being on Vagrant. It was all just a really good shot.

Posted on November 4, 2021 at 3:00 p.m.

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