Cross Canada chaos

Toronto punk band PUP takes its unruly reputation on the road

Toronto punk band PUP just released its debut self-titled album on October 8 through Royal Mountain Records, and its sophomore disc is right around the corner.

“We’ve been working on another record already,” says lead vocalist and guitarist Stefan Babcock.

On the phone from Kelowna, B.C., the band – composed of Babcock, bassist Nestor Chumak, guitarist Steve Sladkowski and drummer Zack Mykula – is set to play a show at The Habitat.

PUP is the opening act on a musical surge across the country headlined by Ottawa indie rock band Hollerado.

Before it transformed into PUP, the band, with the same line-up, was called Topanga, but changed it after ABC Family announced it was bringing back the character of Topanga in a Boy Meets World spin-off. While it wrote and played songs that now belong to PUP, Topanga had a different sound. The members came to a collective realization.

“We wanted to make a lot heavier music,” Babcock says.

In its short existence, PUP has been named a “Band to Watch” by music blog Stereogum, was called “Ones to Watch” by Toronto weekly The Grid, and its album single “Reservoir” spent two weeks at No. 1 on CBC’s The R3-30.

The Hollerado tour provides a special opportunity for PUP as far as living with its music. On an earlier pre-album tour, the band worked out any kinks and got the songs into proper shape.

“On this tour, there’s now a lot of room for creativity, so we don’t bore ourselves. We’re adding in jams and new parts,” Backcock says.

PUP recorded its debut with producer Dave Schiffman, who’s worked with the likes of The Mars Volta, The Bronx and Rage Against the Machine.

Like the aforementioned bands, and as the new video for “Reservoir” displays, PUP has a capacity for mayhem. Babcock says that the band enjoys a rowdy show.

“We love it,” he says. “We’ve had our fair share of onstage injuries and catastrophes.”

Babcock reminisces about the audience-demanded repetition of a certain Can-Rock tune.

“One of my favourite covers was this one by Gob – do you remember Gob? – called ‘I Hear You Calling’,” he says.

“Once, we were playing a house show and got way too drunk. We played that song, and then people wanted to hear it again and again. We played it five or six times in a row. Eventually we were so drunk we couldn’t even play our instruments, and we made a promise when we woke up in our hangovers that we would never play it again.”

Published in Volume 68, Number 12 of The Uniter (November 20, 2013)

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