PUP: If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You…
Canada’s cheekiest rock band, PUP have just announced their second visit to Australia this October. The band will bring their bombastic live set down for a short but sweet run of the East Coast, in support of their second full-length effort, ironically titled The Dream Is Over – a collection of ten hyperactive bursts of tongue-in-cheek punk rock noise that will no doubt serve as the soundtrack to thousands of parties and heartbreaks in 2016. BLUNT spoke to frontman Stefan Babcock about how the dream for PUP has only really just begun, and doesn’t ever seem to slow down.
PUP just never, ever seem to stop touring. It’s only been a couple of years since your debut record came out and from the eyes of an observer, it’s like you guys have lived four full lifetimes since it’s release. After everything that’s happened following that self-titled record, just how different are the dudes that made The Dream Is Over compared to back then?
There was a lot that happened in between! We toured the last one for two years straight pretty much, and it feels like the same band – the same dudes, same goofy sense of humour. But in a way it does feel different. I feel like we’re all just way more confident writers and performs now. We have a way clearer vision for the band than we had when we were making the first record, and it feels a little bit like we just know how to, well, not how to make records, but how to write songs now. That was a big thing that we were just kind of figuring out on the first record and I feel like we did a good job of kind of figuring that out this time around. It feels like it’s been a long time coming, and I’m excited to get it out to the world.
This record definitely does come across a lot more focused than the last one. It sounds more like an album rather than a collection of songs I think.
Thank you! The first record we wrote over the course of about three years, y’know? And we also wrote it without having a clear idea of the kind of band we are and the kind of band we wanted to be. So this one was written in a much shorted period of time, and for me that just made it way more focused and cohesive. And also just knowing what worked for us on the first record and what didn’t, and what songs we liked playing live and what songs we don’t, it was a lot easier to go into the second record with a much clearer idea of what we wanted to accomplish.
You touched earlier on the band’s “goofy sense of humour” and there’s this really dark wit that you seem to use to get over some pretty fucked up situations. People seem to really connect with your songs on that level. Do you think you’re trying to laugh in the face of misery, or just trying to mask being bummed out though?
I guess its a bit of a mask, but I think maybe more so it’s a reality check for myself. I mean, I write a lot of bummer songs because I like to write when i’m pissed off or anxious or whatever. I don’t wanna write songs when I’m feeling happy! But it’s easy to kind of get carried and away, when you write bummer songs, to lose perspective on things. I think I use humour, especially like, self-deprecating, just to kind of remind myself that I shouldn’t take myself so seriously. Ultimately this band, we’re doing this because we love doing it and it is, and it’s supposed to be a fun thing for us, so I usually just gotta self-check myself and remind myself that I’m maybe not as shitty as I’m making out to be and just kind of keep myself in the mindset that I don’t need to take myself super seriously all the time, that it’s not a big deal!
“We’ve all spent 10-12 years trying to accomplish what we’ve just sort of started accomplishing, so PUP is a lot to me.”
PUP have fast become the attention deficit disorder of punk music. With the schedule you keep, the energy of the music, and shows your band plays, do you ever find it difficult to slow down, or switch off?
I do find it difficult to switch off, but its important to do that. And we all kind of have our own ways of doing that. Like, I am really into wilderness camping, and I do that a lot when we’re not on tour just to kind of set myself straight again, because we do have a really hectic touring schedule and a really kind of weird roller coaster of a life right now and yeah, we do kind of harness all that excitement and energy into our live show and into our songwriting process. But ultimately you cant always be at a high or always be at low, you’ve gotta find some balance in your life. When we’re on tour by fucking off on a day off and going hiking and by just zoning out and reading in the van, and when I’m not on tour I spend a lot of time just doing a lot of wilderness camping and stuff like that.
Do you ever feel pressured by your audience or your label or management to just to keep at it?
No [laughs]! I think that no one can put more pressure or be more afraid of my failure than I am myself. I put a lot of pressure on myself and thats always been the case my whole life. And that would’ve been the case regardless of whether people had connected with PUP or whether it had just flopped, I would have had the same amount of pressure on myself always, because I just think it’s really important to do my best at everything that I do, and I’m really glad that people have seemed to have connected with the music that we’ve made and thats really humbling and flattering, but I don’t feel that pressure, I feel like I would be the first person to let myself down.
This band seems to be a real driving force for you! What if the dream was over tomorrow?
I think it’d be a pretty bleak situation [laughs]. The four of us have all – not with PUP but in various bands – we’ve all spent 10-12 years trying to accomplish what we’ve just sort of started accomplishing, so PUP is a lot to me. It’s not just like a job and a passion, it’s also my alternative to therapy, and the way that all of us kind of make sense of the world around us at this point, so I mean, I think if PUP ended tomorrow it would be a bad scene for all of us. I think I would try to like, go be a farmer or something [laughs], take a total break from this life and do the exact opposite. Try to isolate and take myself out of society a little more, I dunno. I try no to think about that because hopefully I don’t have to deal with that tomorrow.
Saturday October 1st – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
Tuesday October 4th – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
Wednesday October 5th – The Brightside, Brisbane
Thursday October 6th – The Reverence Hotel, Melbourne