Interview: Steve Poponi on how moving couches led to a reunion of local emo faves Up Up Down Down (tomorrow at Union Transfer)

It was one of those show announcements that, when it came down the wire, I had to make sure I was reading correctly. South Jersey emo favorites Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start (or Up Up Down Down, if you prefer) were reuniting, I found out late last year, and playing an unexpected, random concert at Union Transfer.

Okay, it’s not that random – sharp listeners will tell you that this year is the 10th anniversary of UUDD’s album and nothing is #1, released in 2003 on defunct label OHEM Records. Much of the band has remained active in the region’s music scene since its split – guitarist Steve Poponi is part owner of Gradwell House Recording, guitarist John Masino plays in It’s A King Thing with Brian Mietz, who was also a member of the extended UUDD family. And not for nothing, a swirl of reverence and mystique has surrounded the band among today’s DIY musicians that were probably introduced to it a decade ago as teenagers. (The popular indie / emo group By Surprise took its name from a song on and nothing.)

I swapped emails with Poponi – top row, center in the above illustration – to find out about the reunion, the band’s status as cult favorites and how moving couches and moving amps aren’t that different.

The Key: For starters, let’s get a sense of time – when was the last time Up Up Down Down played live?

Steve Poponi: This lineup only played one song together at the last up up show in 2008. Before that its was late 2003. So its really been 10 years. We broke up as “up up” in august of 08.

TK: I’ve noticed a TON of enthusiasm for UUDD in young, up-and-coming punk and indie bands in recent years. Did you think ten years ago that you’d be this (dare I say it) influential?

SP: Ha, well its nice to see something come of the work we did. We tried to just be ourselves and while i think that made me really proud of the things we did it also made it hard for us to appeal to a wider audience. People just don’t love bands with lead singers in cargo shorts and flip flops…..well, just not that many people. We toured a ton and really gave it a shot for quite a few years and it just never “stuck” so whatevs, i am glad i did it. Continue reading →