In March of 2012, singer and guitarist Matt Pryor decided to give up music for good. After seventeen years of writing, recording, and touring with a handful of bands—including emo ambassadors the Get Up Kids and folk-tinged indie troubadours the New Amsterdams—Pryor was exhausted, so he took some time to search for himself. First, he spent a few months working on a friend’s organic farm, then serving sandwiches from a food truck, but these he discovered, didn’t scratch any of his itches.
Instead, Pryor’s “a-ha!” moment happened as he readied a resume—something he had never needed to do before. “I’ve been a touring musician since I was eighteen,” he says, “and the last job I had was in a record store. So I put together this resume, and I realized, on paper, it looked like I hadn’t had a job since 1998 when, in fact, I had been running several successful companies for the last fifteen years.” That’s when it occurred to him that maybe he was meant to make music. “It was like, ‘Oh, maybe this is what I’m supposed to do,'” he remembers. “I’ve worked my whole adult life to build this into something and, what, I’m going to piss it away and start over?”
It was good timing, then, when former Get Up Kids and My Chemical Romance keyboardist (and Reggie and the Full Effect frontman) James Dewees approached Pryor about a collaborative recording project. “He emailed me out of the blue with some demo ideas,” Pryor explains. “They were the completed instrumentals of some songs that he recorded at home. I wrote lyrics and a melody and sang it, and then he sang the harmonies, and then we sent it to [producer] Ed Rose and he made it sound great.” The resulting three-song EP, co-released by Equal Vision Records and Max Bemis’s Rory Records, is something that sounds familiar and instantly different, something fresh but still in character, and something that Pryor found particularly cathartic. “I’d just gone through a really negative headspace and then seen the light at the end of the tunnel,” he says. “So I was like, ‘Well, I’m just going to fucking belt this out then,’ and that was really satisfying.”
It was this sense of satisfaction that lead to Wrist Slitter, Pryor’s third solo record and one that stands apart from his others. The title track speaks the album’s driving theme specifically. “It’s not about anyone else,” Pryor says, “and it’s not an anti-suicide anthem. It’s acknowledging the fact that I can go to a dark place sometimes, but that it’s never as bad as it seems.” It was this “dark place” that drove Pryor to turn his back on music for good. Six months later, though, he’s ready to release two new records—a turnaround he attributes to exploring a world apart from performing music. At the end, though, he found that he was where he needed to be all along. “This is who I am, and this is what I do,” he says. “I just had to go off the deep end and try other stuff in order to figure it out.”