Published May 24, 2016After two years of relentless touring that saw PUP quickly attain international recognition, often at the expense of the members' mental and physical well-being, the Toronto punks seem no worse for wear as they prepare for the release of their second record.
In an interview with Exclaim! at singer Stefan Babcock's home in Toronto, the band recall the "upsetting and dark place" they found themselves in just a few months ago, when a visit to the doctor cast a shadow that loomed over the group's bright future.
It was late October, on the first day of a seven-week North American tour with Modern Baseball, when Babcock found out he had a hemorrhaging cyst on his vocal cords. The doctor told him that, for the sake of his health, it was time to give up on music.
"It was really tough to be told that everything that you worked for since you were a kid is now not going to happen," Babcock says. "I'd much rather fail of my own accord — because I wasn't good enough, or didn't try hard enough — than fail because of something outside my power. It was a dark few weeks when we all had to re-evaluate our lives, and reconsider what the next steps were."
They decided to continue on, and after some well-earned time off and lots of vocal rehabilitation, Babcock says he's back to full health.
His doctor's exact words to him back in the fall wound up as the defiant title for PUP's forthcoming record: The Dream Is Over, out Friday (May 27) on Royal Mountain in Canada and SideOneDummy worldwide.
"You reclaim that phrase, and it's like a big 'fuck you' to all the obstacles that have stood in our way, and a big 'fuck you' to ourselves, as well — a reminder that you can't take yourselves so seriously," says Babcock.
The album is a rowdy, rousing follow-up to their 2014 self-titled debut that builds on PUP's brand of loud, spastic and infectiously catchy punk rock.
The recently shared new album track "If This Tour Doesn't Kill You, I Will" offered an exaggerated look at the band's touring nightmares, with tongue-in-cheek lyrics like "Everything you do makes me wanna vomit" and "Every word, every goddamn syllable that you say makes me wanna gouge out my eyes with a power drill."
However, the band insist that even after a non-stop touring schedule that had them play close to 450 shows over two years, and inspired the song and accompanying music video, they do not, in fact, want to kill each other.
"The touring we do is not glamorous. There's no privacy. You're constantly together. You're bound to annoy somebody or have somebody annoy you," says bassist Nestor Chumak.
But the band say they've grown stronger together because of it. "We developed strategies to cope with individual struggle and group struggle, and writing songs is one of those ways to work through your feeling," says guitarist Steve Sladkowski. "It becomes easier the longer we play, and work, and spend time together."
Check out PUP's upcoming tour dates and have a look at the video for "If This Tour Doesn't Kill You, I Will" below.
05/26 Toronto, ON – Phoenix Concert Theatre
06/01 Pontiac, MI – The Crofoot
06/02 Chicago, IL – Subterranean
06/03 Minneapolis, MN – 7th St Entry
06/06 Seattle, WA – The Vera Project
06/07 Portland, OR – Doug Fir Lounge
06/09 San Francisco, CA – Rickshaw Stop
06/10 Los Angeles, CA – The Echo
06/11 San Diego, CA – Soda Bar
06/14 Austin, TX – The Sidewinder
06/15 Dallas, TX – Three Links
06/17 Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade
06/18 Nashville, TN – The High Watt
06/21 Washington, DC – DC9
06/22 Philadelphia, PA – Philamoca
06/23 Allston, MA – Great Scott
06/25 Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
07/14 Ottawa, ON – Ottawa Bluesfest
07/16 Cleveland, OH – Not That's Class
07/17 Columbus, OH – PromoWest Fest
09/08 Isle of Wight, UK – Bestival