If there is one thing to be grateful to Canada for is the the hilarious and extremely talented members of PUP. Singing angsty songs ranging from the loss of their pets to hating each other on the road, PUP has developed a strong community of fans all around the world. This punk group has been touring through SideOneDummy Records since 2014. Battling obstacles such as spending hundreds of nights on the road, the lead singer developing vocal cord cysts, and rarely seeing their families, this band had managed to hold on to an incredible sense of humor and lighthearted outlook towards the world. Having seen the band from both the mosh pit and talking around a dirty hotel table I can speak to the fact that their energy and fun spirits radiate both on and off the stage.
While at Shaky Knees in Atlanta, Georgia, three members of the CisternYard Radio team were able to sit down and talk to them about friends they’ve made on the road, their crazy touring adventures, and their thoughts on the festival.
Jonathan: We were wondering about your relationship with Finn Wolfhard (Mike from Stranger Things) and how that got started and if you are still working with him at all?
Steve Sladkowski (Guitar): Our good friend Jeremy made a video for a song we have called “Guilt Trip” and they were trying to cast kids. We sent them childhood pictures of ourselves and they were trying to cast kids who look like childhood us. This was before Finn was in Stranger Things, before he was a big star. I guess they cast him because he looked like me when I was a kid. He turned out to be much nicer looking than I am but when we were kids we were similar. He was in the “Guilt Trip” video and nobody kind of knew who he was and then I guess shortly after that he got cast in Stranger Things and it’s just kind of been insane for him. Yea, he’s cool, he’s a cool kid. We’re still in touch with him. We did another video with him “Sleep In The Heat” and that was cool. Yea, he’s around. He hangs out, he knows a lot about music.
Jonathan: You ever take him up on stage with you?
Steve: Haven’t done that yet. Maybe one day. He plays in his own band now. Him and the guy who played Zack, the drummer, in the “Guilt Trip” and “Sleep In The Heat” video. They actually met at the “Guilt Trip” video shoot and then they started a band together which is awesome. They are opening for Tenacious D like in a week or something.
Jonathan: What’s that band called?
Zack Mykula (Drums): Just as a side thing. I think he’s in a movie about us, it’s called “It”…
Stefan Babcock (Lead vocals, Guitar): …Or the sewer clown.
Stefan: It’s really great though, we sat down and had dinner with him when he was in Toronto like a couple months back. He is just like a normal dude. If fame has affected him in any way it doesn’t show. It’s really nice to see him kind of be able to maintain a semi normal life.
Zack: I think it has affected his mom more than him. She is the sweetest but she is super protective. Obviously, as a mother should be when their kid is that young and doing something in the movie business. But she is just trying to keep him on track and educated obviously as he goes through this crazy world and she is doing an awesome job and he is a great kid and they’re an awesome family. It’s great to see them doing well.
Jonathan: It’s cool to hear about the personal side of someone who is famous, you know. You watch him and get to see him on Netflix and just think that he will be some bratty star kid but it’s cool to hear that he is not.
Zack: He is not. He’s got a good head on his shoulders.
Jonathan: We have some questions about touring life for you guys. Your band has toured relentlessly for years playing 255+ shows a year. We were wondering if you feel your music loses its meaning or fun after to playing it back to back and what effect touring so much has on you as a group?
Steve: It doesn’t become less fun because the thing that’s never the same is the crowd, right? Our crowds dictate a lot of keeping the music interesting for us depending on what kind of shenanigans all the dickheads are up to on any given night. But, it’s been good. It is tough. It’s not as easy it might seem. It takes a big toll on your mind and your body and all that stuff. But at the end of the day we don’t have that much to complain about. It’s four, (looks at manager) damn, five of us, five best friends touring around the world and doing dumb things, it’s pretty awesome.
Stefan: Just trying to find good chicken sandwiches and hamburgers and stuff you know
Will (CYR): Since y’all tour so much, what do you guys do when you’re home, like regular stuff…like do you guys work?
Nestor Chumak (Bass): (Mockingly) What do you do?
Will: I’m intrigued. Just like regular guy stuff?
(In a sarcastic manner)
Zack: Buy celery and look at pictures.
Nestor: Grilled cheese sandwiches.
Stefan: Watch basketball.
Steve: It’s been pretty good. This is the first time where we don’t need to go home and work other jobs. We just go home and write music and hang and stuff and buy celery. Yeah totally!
Jonathan: Last night at your show you were saying you had three months off and that was the biggest gap you ever had. What was that like?
Steve: It was weird.
Nestor: It felt a bit rusty.
Steve: Yeah, we are getting back into it now. Restarting.
Stefan: I don’t think I’ve consistently gotten 8 hours of sleep a night, like other than those three months in years. It was pretty great!
Steve: You know what’s funny is Nestor and I were both talking about this. We were at home like “Fuck we are drinking way too much I can’t wait to go back on tour so we can like sober up a little bit.” Like it’s so counterintuitive but you know…
Zack: We’re going to work.
Steve: Yea we’re going to work. It’s great. It’s great.
Will: Last tour question do you guys have any big crazy events that happened on tour that you can think of off the topic of your head?
Jonathan: Your craziest tour adventure.
Zack: You really jumped into the cactus.
Stefan: We spun out once. We spun out in where, in Montana?
Stefan: Not fun.
Steven: Ah Jesus…
Jonathan: It doesn’t have to be politically correct or appropriate at all, it’s college radio.
Zack: I mean for you it doesn’t have to be (laughs) but for us that’s a different story.
Steven: One time we were playing this college show. We were on tour with this band. It was like in our band’s early days. We were on tour with this band called Hollerado. Menno, the singer of that band and us went to this frat house cause we were just trying to get beers. We had ran out of our rider beers and we were just trying to find beers. We went in and they were like (in a douchey voice) “Oh hey! It’s PUP like wicked! Do you guys want beers?” We’re like “Yeah! Definitely!” So we grab beers and then they were just like really douchey dudes like it was horrible. I don’t need to get into it but they really sucked as people. So Menno was like, “Let’s get out of here! We got the beers.” So we pocketed the beers and they were like (in douchey voice) “You guys are just leavin’ with our beers?” and Menno was like (condescendingly) “uh yea” and then we walked down the hallway and he just turned around, whipped out his dick, and pissed in the corner of their house. And then he’s like “Let’s go!” and we just ran off and got chased around this weird French town in Quebec by a bunch of frat dudes. That was pretty fun.
Martin: That’s the best.
Jonathan: So now we know how to handle the frat guys at our school: whip it out and pee in their house.
Steve: There you go!
Will: You guys are my heroes!
Martin: I was wondering, I saw a few of you guys at the Pinegrove set. What other band’s are you seeing at Shaky Knees?
Zack: I watched a bit of Twin Peaks.
Nestor: I watched Wolf Parade last night at the after show. They were so good.
Steve: We saw Fidlar.
Stefan: I’ve never seen Cage The Elephant before so that was kind of cool. I was like “Wow I’ve heard a lot of these songs on the radio. I didn’t know it was all the same band.”
Steve: It’s been pretty cool because a lot of festivals you go to and it’s like “Man, I hate everything. I hate all these bands,” but at this one seems like, at least yesterday, pretty much I could have gone to any stage at any time and been like “I’m into this. I at least like it if I don’t love it.” I got to watch some of Car Seat headrest. That band is amazing! Yea, it’s been good. I love the lineup. I feel lucky to be a part of it.
Jonathan: Our last question- we are wondering if there is any new PUP music coming out soon that we can look forward to?
Steve: We’re working on it. I can’t tell you when it’s coming out because I don’t know. The songs aren’t even done. We were talking about taking a three month break there, but it wasn’t a break. It’s just been three months in the basement writing.
Nestor: We’re hard at work and when it’s ready it’ll be ready. Hopefully sooner rather than later.
Written by Jonathan Gerstl, Martin Adkins, and Will Dukes