July 15, 2015


Q&A: Toronto's PUP Find Camaraderie On Warped Tour, Dig Drake

Mitchell Wojcik
Mitchell Wojcik

If you've so much as brushed up against the pop-punk subculture in the last two years, PUP—who just premiered their "Dark Days" video on Fuse—are a band that hardly needs an introduction. They took the stale scene by storm in 2013 with their anthemic self-titled debut, a classic in its own right, and it's been a whirlwind for the Toronto quartet ever since. Details on a followup are unclear—the band is still writing a sophomore effort—but we caught up to inquire about other important issues including the SCOTUS decision on marriage equality, some Americans' over-dedication to the Confederate flag, and of course, being neighbors with Drake

Many things about PUP remind me of an older generation of Warped Tour—style, emotion, melody and even a lot of influences cited—Built To Spill, Weezer, the Weakerthans. Does PUP ever feel out of place alongside new-gen Warped Acts like Metro Station, Memphis May Fire, Drama Club? 

It’s less about feeling out of place and more about finding the right group of misfits to drink beer and smoke weed with. While we may not exist in the same aesthetic realms as some of the above-mentioned bands, there are plenty of bands that we immediately felt kinship with. This kinship is especially strong with our Canadian homies the Dirty Nil, Silverstein and Seaway—but it also extends to bands like Citizen, Lee Corey Oswald, Moose Blood, and the entire Warped Comedy Tent, who we feel are capturing the same vibe of Warped Tour that we loved when we were growing up.

All anyone ever wants to know the second a band releases a critically acclaimed record is: What’s next and when can we expect a taste? It’s a thankless task. Your self-titled record was exactly that...so what’s next and when can we expect a taste? 

After this month on Warped, we’ll head back to our jam space in Toronto and finish writing our new record. After that, we’ll head into the studio to track said record before a return trip to The Fest in October, and perhaps a fall tour? We’re very excited to record and tour whatever comes out of the studio sessions. There aren’t really any grandiose proclamations to make because we’re mostly focused on writing good songs and playing the shit out of them wherever we’re welcomed to do so; that was our plan with the first record and in that regard, nothing has really changed. 

Will you premiere the first single on Fuse? Why or why not? 

We see what you’re trying to do here. 

In a previous video interview at an Ottawa show, you mentioned that some new tracks have been added to your live set. Have fans responded positively to those songs? 

One of the most consistently amazing things about the shows that we play is the passion of our fans. That seems like a very clichéd thing to say, but it’s the only way to explain why people know the lyrics to a song that currently exists only as an in-studio session on YouTube. The knowledge of that, in and of itself, has really helped to encourage our creative drive. We want to get the record out so that fans can learn the songs and come to shows and yell them into our literal faces.

On June 26th, PUP posted the hilarious and poignant Facebook status update: “To our Southern neighbours: we are proud of you. Although gay marriage has been legal in Canada for a decade—and no-one gives a shit now—there were struggles early on. Stay strong.” Can you expand on why you believe Canada was able to navigate this difficult issue and the bureaucracy in legalizing gay marriage faster than the U.S.? 

We’re not legal experts, so this is certainly nothing more than wild speculation—but at some point in the early 2000s, the Canadian populace got bored of debating the non-issue of gay marriage. Basically the real-life equivalent of that Onion article that was published, “Supreme Court on Gay Marriage: Sure, Who Cares?” Being the pinko communist nation that we are, we’ve never had the same sort of religiosity that seems to affect U.S. politics—so that never really played a big part in the Canadian government’s decision. And furthermore, as our political landscape has changed—shifting further right, in trend with other Western nations—the decision not to reopen the debate was driven by the sheer political opportunism of our current Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. We also have approximately 10 times less the population as the United States, so even when the debate was raging up north there were fewer voices—reasonable and unreasonable—to be heard. But the truth is that the ongoing struggle and achievement of civil rights isn’t a race; a victory for marriage equality in the United States feels just as good in Canada as our own victory did a decade ago because we’re all in this shitstorm together. 

Given PUP’s politics...thoughts on the U.S.’s current debate over the freedom to wave the Confederate flag? 

As Canadians, this is a very tough—borderline impossible—question to answer. You’re asking outsiders to weigh in on an issue that is wholly domestic in its origin. It is up to Americans to decide how to write and remember their own history; no one else should do it for them, just as they should not do it for anyone else. Idealism much? While international voices love to weigh in on U.S. domestic issues, their opinions are largely bunk because, unlike marriage equality, the Civil War and its still-simmering repercussions are not something we have any firsthand experience of. So having said that: The Confederate flag is, at its base, the symbol of a rebel army that committed treasonous acts in an attempt to defend an utterly heinous belief in slavery and oppression of fellow citizens. Following that logic, in the 21st fucking century, and any century for that matter, it is unacceptable to wave a Confederate flag because it is fundamentally an oppressive act that doubles as an act of treason against the U.S. government. Boom. Somebody tell Obama to put our asses on the goddamn Supreme Court already.

Last—very serious—question: Drake is your neighbor. Thoughts? 

There are differing opinions about Aubrey’s music in the band, but the amount of love he shows Toronto on the reg cannot be denied. Canada has never had someone who is a true competitor for the hip-hop throne—especially someone who is so proud of where he comes from—so that is an amazing feat in and of itself. Plus, how many people do you know that can sample Gil Scott-Heron in a crossover radio hit? If you want some nasty O.G. Toronto hip-hop, check out Kardinal Offishall ‘cause he’s tight too.

Now check out Fuse's exclusive premiere of PUP's new music video "Dark Days" in all its animated glory.