Award-winning Canadian punk rockers PUP head to St. John’s for a sold out debut performance that punk fans on The Rock have long been waiting for
Few punk bands are as hot today as Toronto’s PUP. Ahead of their long-awaited and now sold out debut performance in St. John’s at Club One, guitarist Steve Sladkowski caught up with The Herald to talk the state of punk, NL connections and the balance of heavy tunes and wild performances.
You guys are coming here on Oct.26th for a SOLD OUT! live debut. I know this one is a long time coming.
Yeah it’s our final province, our tenth one. When we started setting this up we demanded and told our agent we’re going to St. John’s. Make it happen. It will be the first time for half of the band. Myself and Stefan have been. Stefan has camped out at Gros Morne and my maternal grandmother is actually from Newfoundland. She grew up in Marystown but was born on Burin Island. I’ve actually been out there and I’ve also been to St. John’s and have been screeched in. The rest of the guys are pretty excited to get screeched-in. I hope we can make that happen either on stage or that night after the gig.
PUP is one of the more positively reviewed punk rock groups in Canada. You’ve been recognized in The Rolling Stone, have performed on American late night tv. How big is it to have those opportunities to break into the U.S.?
I think we sort of made that decision to try and figure out how to do it in the States first. For a long time we were just kind of eating s**t, sleeping on floors and doing the whole kind of DIY thing wherever we could. That sort of connected us to a scene and groups of bands and eventually you find the label that put out our first couple of records down there and then it just sort of all kind of snowballed. We were willing to work hard and were in the right place at the right time. It’s wild. Now I’m on a tour bus heading to Indianapolis to a gig tonight. It’s been a pretty crazy six years.
Take me through the ideas behind the latest album Morbid Stuff. There’s some weighty themes and lyrics but at the same time it’s fast and energetic punk that would make for one hell of a party live. Is the balance of those two things a priority?
Yeah that’s absolutely been the M.O.. The four of us take the band very seriously but we’re not overly self serious. I think that shines through in the music. Obviously Stefan’s lyrics deal with deeply personal and pretty serious subject matter. But we all love records that kind of favour balance and sort of juxtaposition of those kinds of elements. So for us it feels a lot easier to be able to kind of marry that sort of dark subject matter with catchy riffs and heavier punk leaning stuff that’ll get people going in the live show. I think there’s absolutely a necessity for very dark and self serious music. But naturally the four of us as people are not that way.
I find a big part of the thing that we seek from this music and what I think the people coming to see us seek is sort of a cathartic experience where people feel comfortable to be themselves and to be kind of in a group of like minded people in a community where there’s love and positivity. At the end of the day even though you’re singing about some dark stuff you feel like you can band together with other people and that you’re not alone and you’re able to actually gain some catharsis and perspective from it.
Punk is a fascinating genre today. Major festivals have folded up shop, while bands like yourself are flourishing. What’s your take on punk in 2019?
I think it’s more alive than ever, if you are willing to do the work to find it. We are constantly the world, whether it be when we visit Australia, Europe, UK, United States. There are some bands from Japan on our radar, bands with non-binary people, queer people, straight people, people of colour, whatever the case may be making incredible punk rock. I think that if nothing else those bigger institutions, that they aren’t capable of keeping it together anymore, I don’t want to say it’s a good thing, but it represents an opportunity.
That’s kind of thing about underground music and I think why it maintains is that it always is interrogating those bigger institutions and groups and trying to find the holes and poke holes and let the sun shine through to speak in kind of mixed metaphors there. I think that really has provided for some fertile amazing music and we’ve been really lucky to be a part of it.
PUP has gained a reputation as a wild band live. What can fans on the island expect for your Newfoundland debut?
Oh man. I mean it’s been loud and sweaty, out of control and flying by the seat of its pants just as it always has. We’re trying to do more just in terms of a little bit of extra production just to give people a little bit of a show. We’re gonna be trying to partner with local charities in every city, so I’ll be finding a charity in St. John’s in the coming weeks to partner with to have represented at the show to try and give back to the communities that welcome us. We’re just trying to be pretty normal people doing our job.
PUP’s Oct.26th performance at Club One is sold out! For more information on the band visit puptheband.com.