Ten Questions with PUP (March 4 at The Waiting Room)…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:30 pm March 2, 2020

PUP plays at The Waiting Room March 4. Photo by Vanessa Heins.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

There is a long-form version of this story at thereader.com wherein I talk about the Over the Edge column and how I’m shifting its direction to become more interview-based. You can read that version right here.

Ten Questions with PUP

Toronto-based punk band PUP — the name an acronym created by frontman Stefan Babcock’s mother, who said playing in a rock band was a “Pathetic Use of Potential” — has been around since 2010, when they were called Topanga. They changed their name to PUP in 2013 with the release of their self-titled debut on Royal Mountain Records. They switched up to respected punk insignia Side One Dummy for their 2016 follow-up, The Dream Is Over. Much touring followed.

The four-piece quickly created a following for their explosive live performances and melodic (dare I say pop) punk equal parts scratchy confessional and fist-pump anthem that’s a call to arms for your typical suburban Canadian (and/or American) underdog. They’ve never been more powerful than on their latest, 2019’s Morbid Stuff (Rise Records), a collection of shout-along emo-punk nuggets.

With a gig slated for The Waiting Room March 4, I caught up with PUP guitarist Steve Sladkowski and gave him the Ten Questions treatment:

1. What is your favorite album?

Steve Sladkowski: It’s hard to pick one, but currently I’m enjoying just about anything that’s being released on the Sahel Sounds label based in Portland, Oregon, especially the album No. 1 by Etran de L’Aïr.

2. What is your least favorite song?

“Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

I’ve been able to see the world and make friends in a way that seemed completely impossible prior to my life in PUP.  To be able to do that with three of my closest and best friends on the planet still feels a bit like a surreal dream.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

As someone who is in their early 30s, it can get a bit tiresome to answer people’s (sometimes unintentionally) condescending questions about what I have devoted my life to; but otherwise, it’s tough to be away from our partners, loved ones and friends while we’re on the road. Like any job, there are tough days, but it’s something that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Coffee first with bourbon a very, very close second.

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

It’s always fun to play at home in Toronto, but I love to explore new places, so really anywhere they’ll have us is a nice place to play.

7. In what city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

Probably when I was in a jazz band in my early 20s, playing stuff like “Someday My Prince Will Come” to utterly disinterested audiences at weird suburban Southern Ontario wedding halls.

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

We are!  It took… a long time, probably the entire course of two albums’ worth of writing, recording, rehearsing and touring ad nauseam. This is basically the case for every person I know who is able to eke out a living while playing music in a streaming world.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

I’ve been very singularly minded toward music for basically the past 20 years, However, I’ve always found urban planning and public transportation fascinating.  We’ve been lucky to see a lot of cities and ride a lot of public transit, and it’s something I find myself reading more and more about both online and in books. I would absolutely hate to be a banker or any other profession that revels in bald-faced capitalism.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

I heard the guitar player in PUP was suffering from the worst food poisoning of his life while onstage in Omaha in 2015.  He’s probably looking forward to having a nicer time exploring the city in 2020 when they visit!

PUP plays with Screaming Females and The Drew Thomson Foundation March 4 at The Waiting Room. Tickets are $20 Adv./$23 DOS. Showtime is 8 p.m. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.com.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.