Back when emo was more a genre of music than a personal label, three boys from Kansas City, Mo., formed one of the pioneering bands of the indie rock movement — the Get Up Kids. For the next 10 years, the band headlined tours across America, opening for both Green Day and Weezer.

Over 13 years later, GUK lead singer Matt Pryor is still heavily involved in music — only this time he's hitting the stage alone. His first solo album, Confidence Man, is a harmonious blend of folksy riffs with heartfelt lyrics: "I say this with certainty/Hard livin's the only way I can get by." The foot-stomping title track portrays Pryor at his best with his familiar, airy vocals, while the oldest song on the album, "Dear Lover," written in 1995, lends a heartbreaking melody and equally sentimental chorus.

For Pryor, going it alone was one of the most daring decisions he's made.

"I'm much more uncomfortable being solo than being in a band," says Pryor. "I was planning to `go solo`, but kept not doing it, because I was pretty uncomfortable."

On top of his first full tour in five years, which kicked off earlier this month, one of Pryor's other projects is touring at the same time. Kindie rock band the Terrible Twos is the toddler-rock alter ego of Pryor's other band, the New Amsterdams. On Jerzey the Giant, the Twos play eclectic, innocent and playful tunes for kids (potty sing-along "Great Big Poop"; the achingly wistful "Amelia Minor") with a pop rock twist.

Watching his own kids' lives inspired Pryor, a married father of three. "I wanted to do something that was just totally different, and I could just do it, and nobody would care," says Pryor. "I kept telling everyone that I was going to do a children's record. Finally, I told enough people, and I had to do it."

In spite of his foray into a solo career, Pryor is arguably one of the godfathers of today's indie rock bands, a title he modestly accepts. "I get called, like, an elder statesmen of emo from time to time, and that's fine," he says. "I'm very proud of the things I've done, and the records I've put out, and the doors that I've opened."

More by Rebecca Mercurio


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