It is important to note, however, that the band's original line-up did not actually include Ryan Pope, but featured Thomas Becker instead. However, Becker soon left for college in California, and was replaced by Nathan Shay, who was attending school with Suptic but due to an unwillingness to tour, Shay was replaced by Ryan Pope in April 1996.
The act would become a major player in the mid-1990s Midwest emo scene, otherwise known as the "second wave of emo music". They soon would be touring with bands like Green Day and Weezer before becoming headliners themselves, eventually embarking on international tours. They founded 'Heroes & Villains Records', an imprint of indie label 'Vagrant Records'. While the imprint was started to release albums for the band themselves, it served as a launching pad for several side-projects like The New Amsterdams and Reggie and the Full Effect.
Although their debut would be Four Minute Mile (1997), it would be their second album, Something to Write Home About (1999), that became their most widely acclaimed album, and is considered to be one of the quintessential albums of the second-wave emo movement. The Get Up Kids, lake many of their emo comrades, sought to dissociate themselves from the term 'emo', but failed in that goal ultimately. The band departed heavily from their established style with the release of On a Wire (2002), which saw the band take on a much more layered, alternative rock sound.
Due to internal conflicts, the band broke up in 2005. Three years later, the band reunited to support the tenth anniversary re-release of Something to Write Home About. In early 2010, the band released Simple Science, their first release in six years, followed by There Are Rules (2011) and Problems (2019).