By Jamie Goyman
VANCOUVER — “I think, for me, the whole band is about that cathartic release; I have a lot of pent up energy, both positive and negative and I think writing aggressive, snotty music is a really good way to release some of that.”
Toronto-based four-piece PUP is that punk/rock/amazing that these past few years fucking needed: pure unabashed raw, live energy. The band released their latest album The Dream Is Over in May, a volatile and personal record that shows PUP’s growth from their self-titled debut album. From the first single “DVP” to the almost-anthemic aggression of “Familiar Patterns,” the band have found audiences have easily connect with the music the new record, and it probably has something to do with the fact that when writing songs they’re always thinking about playing them live.
“We recorded both our albums live off the floor, except for vocals and a couple overdubs; it’s important to capture that energy by all of us playing together in the same room rather than tracking drums and adding bass then guitar. That’s just never really worked for us,” explains lead vocalist and guitarist Stefan Babcock. “When you build songs and play them live, I think it’s important to track them live in the studio otherwise you lose a lot of energy. It’s always been the goal of each record to capture the energy of the live show.” That energy he talks about bears its teeth when listeners hit play or, better yet, catch the guys live; they’re that type of group that leaves your body writhing and buzzed, and you love it. “We’re always on the verge of kind of falling apart as a band so it’s kind of probably fun for people to witness a train that is constantly about to be derailed.”
To break it down, what keeps PUP going at full blast is the genuine respect for their band mates and the desire to be in a solid band that knows its shit, keeps their music unrefined and puts it out regardless of any bullshit. “We’re a highly dysfunctional group of adults to be honest. I think we’re all just motivated. It’s a combination of all of us being really motivated to succeed on our own terms, combined with a pretty deep respect for each other… It’s important to fight through all the bullshit and dysfunction and look at the bigger goal and kind of suck it up when you need to suck it up and put in the work and effort, and try not to let the little things get you down.”
Starting their tour on August 27th, and aside from two days off in October, PUP will be on tour straight through to mid-December. That’s a little more than 75 days. “It’s a lot of touring, pretty much nonstop. Once that’s over I think we’ll take a much-deserved month-long break and catch up on life, do what normal people do. We already have plans to go back to Europe in January and February, take a month off and then get back to it,” tells Babcock.
The band, who seem to be constantly touring, has got it down to an almost science when it comes to keeping sane for the never-ending life of 100-km/h scenery passing by. “It’s important to try your best to have your own space because you’re always around other people. I like to get up pretty early about once a week and take the van and go on a hike on my own… Just even tuning out the world, putting on headphones and listening to music and being in your own world is a really important part of my day. Being able to disconnect and go into my own world and listen to something that nobody else is listening to around me is pretty rejuvenating.” This is why when they hit the stage their live show is unforgettable, any room fills wild with the band’s potency and leaves the audience dripping and satisfied.
Western Canada is no doubt ready for PUP to come through with what Babcock describes as “a loud noisy clusterfuck.” Perfect.
PUP performs at the Cobalt in Vancouver on November 21st, at Lucky Bar in Victoria on November 22nd, at Commonwealth in Calgary on November 24th, at the Starlite Room in Edmonton on November 25th, at Amigos in Saskatoon on November 26th and at the Good Will Social Club in Winnipeg on November 27th.AB, Alberta, Amigos, BC, British Columbia, Cobalt, Commonwealth, Good Will Social Club, Lucky Bar, Manitoba, MB, Pup, Saskatchewan, SK, Starlite Room