Tongue-in-cheek punk darlings PUP are lucky enough to hail from Canada, just a border away from the nightmare that is the United States.
Of course, not having to live around guns and Donald Trump only goes so far, since the COVID-19 pandemic hit every country regardless of whether or not their leader was orange. For frontman Stefan Babcock, it always felt like the world was ending anyway, so events transpiring more clearly in a dystopian apocalypse direction is really just external validation. We caught up with PUP to talk about their forthcoming extended play This Place Sucks Ass, their livestream that promises zero seriousness or professionalism and of course, the end of the world.
What do you mean you always felt like the world was ending?
I’m a pretty big nihilist. And also just the way my brain functions, I constantly feel like we’re doomed, everything I do just feels like I’m going to die at any minute. It’s just how my brain works and I’ve come to understand that and do my best to soar through that very intense and complex emotion. But now it feels like maybe the world is ending. I had a talk with my Dad about this the other day and I was like, “Everybody thinks the world is ending, but maybe it’s just our generation, is this the craziest thing that you’ve ever lived through?” And he was like, “Yeah.” But then he reminded me that when he was growing up during the Cold War, they were constantly prepared to be nuked and eviscerated. So, I guess every generation maybe goes through some potential world ending disaster.
What makes you feel good in these dark times?
I really like nature. I spend a lot of time hiking and camping and being in the outdoors and when I do that, I feel like a completely different person, which is really, it’s a thing that myself I know that when things get really dark, I can always escape to nature and reset. Dogs make me feel really good. I like dogs a lot. And I think, music has the power. I think any type of art, depending on what you gravitate towards, but there are certain types of music or albums where, when I hear them, they just elicit such an emotional response that even if the response is sometimes like a sadness or even an anger, there’s just joy and happiness beneath that, because you’re just hearing something that is just making you feel something so intense.
I do feel that way about Phoebe Bridgers right now.
On the same detail, Phoebe Bridgers is one of my favorite songwriters in the world, she is unbelievable. I listen to a lot of music and I listen without paying attention. I’m very picky about the kind of music that I invest myself in truly. And probably every year, there’s three-ish, two to five albums that really smash me in the face. And the last two Phoebe Bridgers records have both done that. Same with Better Oblivion, which is her and Conor Oberst, just incredible. I just cannot believe what an awesome songwriter she is.
She breaks my heart every time. You’ve got this EP coming out, and one of the songs is a cover of A.M. 180, which was made popular by the movie 28 Days Later. Is that why you covered it?
I do like 28 Days Later, but that’s not why we chose it. I’ve seen 28 Days Later, many times, and I did not realise that song was in that movie until after we’d recorded the cover. I hadn’t connected the dots. I don’t know how familiar you are with Granddaddy, they’re a band that Zach, the drummer in PUP, really loves. I don’t think anybody else in the band was too familiar with them. And he suggested we cover that song. I listened to it and I think all four of us just fell in love with that song. And then I started diving back into the Granddaddy catalog. Again, it’s rare to find a band from the 90’s with a big catalog that you’ve never heard of and you just love…But I think the spirit of that movie, like the “End of Days”, also fits very nicely with a lot of what this EP is about and what a lot of what the imagery that we used in the past was, so maybe it was a bit of a serendipitous kind of thing.
Is this EP the last thing you guys are going to do before the next PUP album?
I will give you a vague answer. And it’s that the four of us are always working. I’m always writing songs every day. And the four of us are, whether we can see each other in person or whether we’re hanging out on Zoom or whatever, the four of us are always working and creating something, whether it’s songs or videos or magazines or whatever. So we’re not stopping if that’s what you’re asking. We find so much joy in just having created the energy together and just seeing where that takes us. Whatever you decide to take from that in terms of another PUP album or not another PUP album or whatever is up to you. But yeah, we are feeling very creatively stimulated, and I’m feeling very grateful to get to make music and magazines and make videos with my three best friends who are all incredibly talented weirdos in their own right.
Your live stream teaser was a little bit adorable.
I think that live stream is going to be pretty goofy or just kind of…live streams are so weird. It’s such a weird thing, especially for band like us, that so much of the show is about crowd interaction. We’re really leaning into how fucking weird the live stream medium is. And also just trying to take advantage of every opportunity it affords us. Because we can never do fucking stupid green screen stuff at our real shows. So yeah, we’re just trying to have fun with it and, and not take ourselves too seriously. In a time when there is a lot more important things to take seriously and just try to provide a bit of levity for people who watch the stream and for ourselves and for each other.