I felt extremely called out.
At the ripe old age of thirty-three, I identify somewhat as an “aging punk.” In that mosh pits don’t really do it for me anymore, and nine times out of ten if an actual seat is an option I will take it.
I was living in Vancouver at the time, and bought tickets to see PUP, Touche Amore, Sightlines, and Brass at the Vogue Theatre for a night of ear splitting punk jams. The Vogue is one of those old Art Deco movie theatres from the 1940s, re-purposed into a music venue. However, this means that there’s a balcony – with seats! So naturally, that’s the section my boyfriend and I gravitated toward to enjoy a Friday night of punk rock.
Canadian punk rockers, Pup (often stylized as PUP) were the last band to perform, and about halfway through their set, guitarist Steve Sladkowski turned his attention toward the balcony filled with punks over the age of twenty-five, and delivered that biting zinger that I still think about to this day.
It’s also when I fell absolutely in love with PUP.
A band that I affectionately refer to as “my Canadian punk rock sons,” PUP actually got their start as a band called Topanga (yes, after the character from Boy Meets World) in 2010. The name change came about when they felt that the name no longer fit the more hardcore style that they had begun to lock down, and they also had no desire to be associated with the upcoming Boy Meets World spin-off.
PUP was born, that acronym allegedly coming from vocalist and guitarist Stefan Babcock’s grandmother, who said that playing in a punk rock band was a “pathetic use of potential.” They released their self titled debut in October 2013. They followed this up with The Dream is Over in May 2016, which opens with a song titled “If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will.” Which is … exactly what it sounds like.
Speaking with Riff You, Babcock elaborated:
The four of us in PUP, we’re like brothers. We love each other. But, listen. If you spent 10 months of the year sharing beds and floors with your 3 idiot brothers, sitting in a van 6+ hours a day, every day, trying to annoy the shit out of one another, eating, breathing, shitting, always within hearing range of one another, day in and day out, you’d want to kill them too.
Makes sense! Though the release of The Dream is Over meant that they got to do months of touring all over again.
PUP’s latest release, Morbid Stuff, has been taking the world by storm. I don’t want to be one of those pretentious music snobs who says things like, “I knew them before they were cool,” but I am totally going to say that. But not in a snobby way! I am so happy that these dudes are getting the attention that they so thoroughly deserve.
The songs on Morbid Stuff sound agitated, and there is certainly some typical punk angst, but not in a adolescent sense. No, the lyrics on Morbid Stuff sound like someone who is just utterly exhausted with all of the nonsense that a millennial in 2019 would have to endure. Coping with depression, constant confusion, and dealing with the straight up weirdness that is modern life serve as fodder for the majority of the songs.
Babcock sneers his way through the majority of the lyrics in true punk rock fashion, until it sounds like he almost gets too annoyed to continue doing even that. “Kids” is a personal favourite of mine, and hits far too close to home, an ode to the apathy that seems so difficult to overcome at times.
I’ve been navigating my way through the mind-numbing reality of a godless existence
Which, at this point in my hollow and vapid life, has erased what little ambition I’ve got left
Despite the angst that features heavily in their songs, they are also distressingly catchy. I frequently find myself puttering around my apartment, humming “I guess it doesn’t matter anyway/I don’t care about nothing but you,” as I do mundane tasks like organize my underwear drawer. PUP have perfected the art of the earworm, even if it is a bit on the angry side.
If you want to catch PUP on tour, you can find dates here, although I will warn you that the majority seem to be sold out. These dudes from Toronto are out there snappin’ necks and cashing cheques!