Word of mouth in the alternative music scene is still one of the best forms of promotion any band can get – it’s free, direct and if you find someone passionate enough to talk about your music, then it’s going to be met with nothing but love and appreciation.
That’s how my discovery of PUP came about (shout out to EK and Matt Doria for their encouragement) and I’m glad it did because when an opportunity arose to have a chat with drummer Zack Mykula. At first, I was hesitant to jump into the unknown – not knowing much about the band other than their name – however in doing so, I’ve uncovered what I’m essentially dubbing the feel-good album of the year as the Canadian pop punk lads prepare to release their fourth studio record THE UNRAVELING OF PUPTHEBAND on April 1st via Cooking Vinyl Australia (suss our review here).
Hitting play for the first time and taking it all in over a morning coffee (how most of us will listen upon release day), you’re met with this satisfying feeling of understanding and self-awareness as you listen to vocalist Stefan Babcock sing/yell his way into your life, detailing his own personal struggles (which at times) reflect what was going on in my own day to day life. The album was conceived during the pandemic when EVERYONE was going through the same traumatic experiences – friends became distant, the social norm was thrown out the window and it seemed like there was no end to the madness – yet, somehow this band of misfits came together to create a raw, insightful collection of tracks – reflective of the world around them – with a welcoming sound that draws you into every word being sung.
That juxtaposition between the thought-provoking lyrical content, the joke/skit story arc of ‘Four Chords‘ and the up-tempo backing instrumentals give the listener a somewhat encouraging boost to get back on that life horse again after all we’ve been through.
But according to Zack, the feel-good vibe (I took from my listening experience) wasn’t intentional during the recording process:
“I mean, it’s puzzling, that it would make anyone feel better because it’s an amalgam of our collective fears and anxieties… A lot of the rawness is just from the fact that we, in the recording process, try to actually play together in the room when we’re recording the songs and when that is the foundation, it’s pretty easy to find the energy when you’re, you’re layering stuff on top of it.” Mykula explains. “We all love playing music, but on top of that, we’re also all very anxious people and I think you can hear that in the music as well. And, you know, it’s just like, [we] try to make something human that kind of sounds like it’s falling apart at the seams.”
So much like the saying “organised chaos”, in PUP‘s world, it’s more so a case of “organised anxiety” bringing the band together on one hand, and connecting with the plethora of fellow misfits and anxious folk who have latched onto their music and found a place to belong through that connection as Zack adds:
“Yeah, it’s very gratifying to see that it connects with people and provides some kind of outlet and they can see that through our music we’re like each other and we all have our own anxieties.”
“But that’s what I hope people take away from the songs is that they can feel a little bit of release or like an escape…”
There’s nothing better than losing yourself when listening to music and PUP have done a stellar job of this on THE UNRAVELING... When it comes to their live sets though, the energy produced from their fans and the band on stage combined could move a locomotive and with the boys set to appear at Coachella later this year – a festival predominately adopted by Instafamous celebs, socialites and people who are there to be seen more than seeing the acts on stage – they’re going to turn heads in the process, but they’re hoping everyone who catches their set has a good time with what they have in store:
“I don’t really have many expectations; I just hope people are there to have fun and I hope our crowd comes and represents and provides the good times we usually do and the inclusive sort of vibe. That’s what I want from it. Every show is gratifying for that reason.”
As for Aussie fans, the band will not only be playing Splendour in the Grass (the Aussie cousin of Coachella!?) but they’ve just announced a few headline sideshows too (tickets here), something Zack and the gang cannot wait to get down under and be part of:
“Yeah, it’ll be incredible. We love Australia, I mean, we’ve been there three or four times, and every time it’s great. It’s a great escape. And we’re actually really excited to play Splendour. It’s like it’s been on our list of things to do.”
So if you’re feeling alone, lonely and possibly a little bit emo – slap a fake smile on your face and give PUP‘s new release THE UNRAVELING OF PUPTHEBAND a spin when it’s out on Friday. It may just be the little something to brighten your day and give you the strength to get on with life again.
Interview by Paul ‘Browny’ Brown Insta: @brownypaul
THE UNRAVELING OF PUPTHEBAND is out April 1st
PUP – THE UNRAVELING OF PUPTHEBAND tracklisting:
1. Four Chords
2. Totally Fine
3. Robot Writes A Love Song
6. Four Chords Pt. II: Five Chords
9. Cutting Off The Corners
10. Grim Reaping
11. Four Chords Pt. III: Diminishing Returns
12. PUPTHEBAND Inc. Is Filing For Bankruptcy
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