Encinitas punk goofballs Kut U Up were always proud of their slacker work ethic. “We're the least-hardest-working band in Southern California,” says bassist Chris Cote. Yet, with no CD, website, manager, or agent, the four-man band was asked to tour and open for all 56 dates of the 2002 Green Day/blink-182 U.S. tour.
During the Green Day/blink tour, Resting Bird, a video production company co-owned by blink's Tom DeLonge and Mark Hoppus, paid for a video crew to follow Kut U Up. The resulting 45-minute video titled Riding in Cars with Boys. MTV and MTV2 aired the documentary when it was released in 2003.
Kut U Up's celebrity encouraged local entrepreneur Bill Smoyer to release the band's first record (Pulled Over...Your Eyes Are Telling Me Differently Son) on his Row Boat Records label.
“He spent thousands of dollars to record us,” says guitarist Brandon Parkhurst. “We recorded an album with [engineer/producer] Ben Moore at Big Fish [Studios in Encinitas].... We made enough [from sales] to almost pay him back.”
Bassist/singer Cote admits Kut U Up, broke up just as it became world famous, blowing what he says was an opportunity of a lifetime. “We all saw the brass ring, but we were too f-cked up to reach out and grab it.”
“We were playing stadium shows with blink and Green Day. There were chicks backstage. It was rock and roll fantasy camp.… We think about it every day,” says Cote about the band's failure to capitalize on their big break. “Sometimes it's painful to go see a good show. There will always be the underlying feeling of regret that that could have been us.”
After the split, guitarist Brandon Parkhurst played with Yovee.
Kut U Up played a reunion show at the Belly Up Tavern in July 2008. “I think it was the first time we all played together sober,” says Cote.
Parkhurst says reading about his substance abuse is what made him finally get clean. “I had lost everything,” says the singer/guitarist of Kut U Up. “I happened to read an article about how Kut U Up had blown it. It really hit me hard. It was the big turning point.”
In retrospect, Parkhurst says “I have to take responsibility for us dropping out. They had nothing to do with it. I’m glad to be back in their life.”
In May 2011, Parkhurst said he has been clean for a year and half. “It’s like we have our friend back,” says Cote of Parkhurst. “He’s our band leader and he’s now present in brain and soul.” Cote says everyone in the band (including drummer Brendan Raasch and guitarist Micah Matteson) have been ready and willing to regroup Kut U Up for years. “But we didn’t want to put any pressure on [Parkhurst].” Cote says people in recovery need to take things in stride. “Music and bands and bars were a big trigger for him.”
“We were given the opportunity that any young band would kill for,” says Parkhurst of the old Kut U Up. “We got to go out on the road with two of the biggest bands at that time. And they made a movie out of it.... But, we’re still young. We can still write songs. I totally gave up...alcohol and drugs. As soon as that happened, we all felt the spark again.”
As of 2011, Parkhurst works as a counselor. “There seems to be a big uprising of kids doing heroin...alcohol and drugs right now. I want to get across the message that it’s a dead-end road.” The reunited punks launched a Kickstarter campaign seeking donations to record a new CD.
Summer 2013 saw the release of Worse Than Wolves, their first studio album in a decade, recorded at Double Time studios on El Cajon California, under the masterful ears of Jeff Forrest, and featuring six tracks, some unheard, some live show mainstays. After it release, they played an acoustic show with new guitarist Matt Amador at the Garage, a new art-and-event space in Encinitas that was starting to present all-ages live shows.
“We don’t want to be remembered as the band that was all fucked up in that one movie with blink and Green Day,” says Cote. “We feel the new songs will speak for themselves.”
“We never broke up,” says Cote.
A reunion performance (their first in around three years) took place April 29, 2016, at the Pour House in Oceanside. Cote, who once edited the defunct Transworld Surf magazine, went on to anchor action-sports events for NBC-TV.
Micah Mattson's younger brothers have a successful group called the Mattson 2.