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Toronto punks PUP on the brand new album, their ‘unravelling’ and perfecting imperfect music


It’s not typically you hear somebody confer with their very own selections as “stupid,” however PUP singer and rhythm guitarist Stefan Babcock signifies that in probably the most honest approach doable.

“When I say that, I don’t see that coming from a place of regret,” he mentioned casually by way of video name from his residence in Toronto about his band’s new album, launched Friday. “I love this record and I’m so glad we made those decisions.”

And a few of these “objectively dumb” selections by him and his bandmates resulted in a 12-track punk epic titled “The Unraveling of PUPTheBand,” showcasing a wider vary from the Juno Award winners that followers possible haven’t heard earlier than.

A piano ballad to begin? Electric beats? Are these horns at one level? Is this the punk band PUP?

“There are at least three (dumb decisions) per song,” chimed in drummer Zack Mykula.

Singer Stefan Babcock and drummer Zack Mykula clarify the inspiration behind the title of their fourth album.

For the Toronto punk rock veterans, who’ve been enjoying collectively since 2010, writing their fourth full-length album was actually an emotional and psychological “unravelling,” particularly contemplating what’s been happening on this world the previous two years.

Add in a five-week, 9-to-5 marathon recording studio session in an previous mansion secluded from the remainder of society within the sleepy New York City suburb of Bridgeport, Conn., and you’ll’t actually blame them for getting a bit of zany.

Oh, and the band — rounded out by lead guitarist Steve Sladkowski and bassist Nestor Chumak — additionally needed to cope with bats at night time. Yeah, bats.

“ ‘If you see the bats, it probably just means you stayed up too late,’ ” Mykula recalled producer Peter Katis telling them once they first encountered a winged nightmare, including the house had considerably of a “subliminal effect” on them throughout recording. “So it was just naturally haunted.”

That manic interval spawned an album that’s nonetheless principally quintessentially PUP, with wild guitar hooks, head-banging chord progressions and catchy choruses that make you wanna scream. But there’s a degree of maturity, of disappointment, of discontent that stands proud greater than of their earlier efforts.

Those themes had been evident in two of the band’s singles for the album: “Robot Writes a Love Song,” wherein the demo and lyrics of the track had been kind of written in quarter-hour, in accordance with Babcock, and “Matilda,” a tribute to one among Babcock’s favorite guitars.

New album ‘The Unraveling of PUPTHEBAND’ out April 1, 2022.

In “Matilda,” as he has achieved prior to now with songs about his late chameleon Norman and his first automotive Mabu, Babcock immortalizes an object that has meant quite a bit to him. In this case it was a guitar that was given to him by a pal when his earlier one broke throughout a tough stretch of a tour years in the past.

“I played it every day on tour for, I don’t know, five years or something. And then I stopped playing it for a while because my bandmates told me that it sounded like s–t,” Babcock defined. “But it just always kind of had this pull on me.

“And when I noticed I hadn’t played it for like a year, I started feeling really sad and guilty.”

So it solely made sense it needed to make one remaining look on the brand new album and Matilda the guitar was certainly used through the recording of “Matilda.” Using an imperfect guitar was the proper choice.

And together with different tracks on which the band performs new devices or makes use of completely different methods, there’s inevitably an additional layer of complexity whenever you attempt to recreate these tracks dwell, particularly for a band that embodies components of storage and noise punk.

But PUP’s exhibits are at all times uncooked and imperfect affairs. They make errors and so they roll with it — it makes it extra relatable and accessible. It doesn’t matter anyway when many of the crowd is crammed like sweaty sardines, moshing and rocking away to their hits.

“The content of the songs themselves, like lyrically, are so imperfect,” Babcock mentioned. “So if we played (the music) perfectly, I think there would be like a disconnect between what the song was about and the actual performance.

“But it’s just not our place to make that (perfect) music because we are extremely imperfect individuals.”

And for the primary time in two years they’re taking that imperfection on a North American tour that kicked off final week in Toronto and features a cease on the legendary Coachella in April. But returning to a post-pandemic life is a wrestle for these within the dwell music enterprise simply as a lot as anybody else. Perhaps much more so.

After waves of lockdowns, and extra seclusion and misplaced cash and misplaced hope, residing as a musician in Toronto — arguably one of the locked down locations in North America — has by no means been more durable. And that may result in some fairly irreparable injury to a metropolis’s punk and rock scene.

“It doesn’t need to be said how many great bands have come from here,” Mykula mentioned. “But I think also just Toronto, by its nature, has an unflagging hostility toward musicians and culture in general.

The Toronto band’s fourth full-length album “The Unraveling of PUPTHEBAND” arrives Friday.

“We are very much a safety first band and I have no issue with lockdowns in principle. I have no issue with vaccine mandates in principle,” he continued, not mincing phrases about how musicians have been handled the previous two years, together with a lot of closures affecting venues and rehearsal areas. “But we have basically had our opportunities — and especially opportunities for bands that are just coming up now — steadily taken away. And I think because of that, Toronto will lose a pretty significant part of what makes it special.

“So it’s hard not to feel like we’re being thrown away.”

But that have of “unravelling” the band tapped into throughout recording is lingering. For Mykula and Chumak, who each have Ukrainian roots, the continuing disaster in Europe has been high of thoughts.

And it’s onerous to reconcile that whenever you’re meant to return to work, again to “living,” as governments throughout the globe are so keen to advertise throughout these instances of maximum uncertainty. But PUP has by no means been shy to say what they assume, whether or not that’s about music, about politics, about inequality, and even about themselves and one another.

“It’s really terrifying,” Mykula continued. “Every day I see the news and my heart breaks … So it’s going to be hard; I guess I’ll just have to figure out a way to live with it.”

And PUP goes to do this in the way in which they know finest: being themselves and enjoying the music their followers love. And to them, that’s simply good.

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