Story Like A Scar is the new full-length of the Kansas outfit The New Amsterdams. The band, led by former The Get Up Kids vocalist Matt Pryor, has been making noise since the year 2000. The group was in town last weekend and took time before their show to share the story behind their most recent opus.
The Concordian: What was your main goal when making Story Like A Scar?
Matt Pryor (vocalist): With this one, we were really just trying to make it the best that we could. All of these songs were recorded in a six-day period and they were part of an experience. I didn’t want us to have to be recording it on another day. This is our time, these are the first songs we wrote as a band, and this was the time we were in Nashville. It’s a document of that period.
The Concordian: How much of it is getting into that mood and creating an experience when recording the record? Because some bands will go back and forth into the studio and re-record things all the time.
Pryor: They both have their pluses and minuses. I personally really wanted this particular record to be just what it is. It was about this time and this place. The record we are working on now is a lot more thought out and arranged. We keep going back to it so it will sound totally different than this one.
Eric McCann (bassist): I think Roger, the guy who recorded us and produced it, he really facilitated the mood thing. The space was really chill, so the whole record kind of absorbed that in a way. He really helped us out with that and made sure we got it done in six days at well.
Pryor: It was 14-hour days, but it wasn’t that bad.
McCann: As far as the few records that I’ve done before, that’s what I’m used to doing. You can set your expectations for what you want to do and record; I don’t think we are too worried about modifying those expectations after the fact. So we did what we could and did what we did.
The Concordian: What is your favorite song on this record?
Pryor: They’re all my babies! (laughs)
Dustin Kinsey (guitarist): I think we’re all very happy with “A Small Crusade.” It had all the ambiance that was intended for it. “Turn Out The Light,” turned into something that we didn’t expect. I think it was an unexpected gem.
McCann: We had to take a different approach with “Turn Out The Light,” to make that one work. We started working on it and it didn’t come together how we thought it was going to. So we had to finish what we could with the other songs and go back and really nail it. I think we came up with something that worked. Personally my favorite is “The Death of Us.”
Kinsey: I think it’s my favorite too.
The Concordian: How important is it to have discussions when writing new songs, to be open minded and listen to everyone’s ideas?
Pryor: I guess we operate under a kind of collective and co-op sort of thing, with me having absolute final veto power. Honestly, I have found that the best way of doing this is to let McCann and Kinsey go ahead with any idea they have, and then pull the reins a bit.
McCann: I think everybody has their own input and we all more or less stick to what we know. Since we all come from different backgrounds musically, it really works to our advantage: we come together. I take care of my parts and Kinsey takes care of his parts. We all do support each other and give a lot of feedback.
The Concordian: You guys live in Kansas. How much of that is reflected in your music?
Pryor: I think that more than anything it affects our sensibility as far as how we do things and how we are as people. We are very laid back; we don’t really let things get to us as people, and I think it comes across in our music.
The Concordian: You guys use a lot of instruments that aren’t just your basic guitar, bass and drums. Is that important for The New Amsterdams?
Pryor: Sometimes, but it just depends on the song. Sometimes the simplest stuff just works. The way our ears work, we all hear counter melodies going on.
McCann: And if we can’t play the instrument ourselves, we’ll find somebody that can.
The Concordian: This record seems a little more country influenced. Why is that?
Kinsey: I think all of us like music in so many different genres, but certainly country. We listen to certain brands of it.
Pryor: It’s not a conscious effort, but there’s a lot of country where we live.
The Concordian: Does The New Amsterdams have a mission?
Pryor: I can tell you but then I would have to kill you [laughs]. I guess just trying to keep challenging ourselves and putting out things that we like. Try and play it to the best of our ability. We try to make every record better than the one before it; I think that’s a good mission to have.
For more information on The New Amsterdams visit www.newams.net