Published Mar 29, 2019Scrappy Toronto punks PUP may be known for their raucous live shows and ridiculous music videos, but the foursome have done a lot of growing up ahead of the release of their third album, Morbid Stuff. The lineup of Stefan Babcock, Steve Sladkowski, Nestor Chumak and Zack Mykula remain intact, but since founding Little Dipper Records to put out their aforementioned third LP, they're now their own bosses.
Before PUP became a full-time job, Babcock worked as a marketing manager for Canadian indie labels Arts & Crafts and Royal Mountain Records, which he says taught him that "no one is gonna give a shit about your band as much as you do."
Luckily, all four members of PUP gave enough shits to take the leap to man their own label.
"The four of us are in a pretty unique position, because we're all really motivated to work hard and do work and do what it takes to make things work out," Babcock explains. "Most of the bands I've played with in the past are filled with great people who just want to play music and don't know how to use a spreadsheet. So we're really lucky that we have four people with different skills who are willing to do the not-so-fun stuff."
Or as Mykula puts it, "It's four people that hate themselves enough to be willing to suffer through the music industry."
That includes taking on a lot of tasks that most people assume just get passed along to other people — and to be fair, for a lot of artists that's exactly the case. But not with PUP.
"We've been really, really involved in both videos we put out ["Kids" and "Free at Last"] and making zines," Babcock says. "Zack designs 90% of the merch, Nestor and I have been working out tour logistics forever, and Steve [has been] being the beautiful butterfly that he is."
The band are reluctant to call themselves a DIY band at this point, but the same sentiment that they started out with is clearly still alive.
"As the band got bigger, we realized we just couldn't do everything ourselves and we had to bring in some people to help us," Babcock admits. "But we still have that DIY ethos and mentality, and I want to maintain as much of that as we can. So the best thing we could do was start our own label and be in control of our careers."
So far, it's allowed them to keep in communication with fans via zines, sell a boat as part of album pre-orders (for novelty purposes only) and create a video out of 253 fan-submitted covers of "Free at Last" – before the song had even been released.
"The great thing about the four of us is we have a lot of stupid ideas and we're committed to following through on as many of them as possible," Babcock says. "I think we've proved that to ourselves now that we're the bosses, we'll actually go put in the work and do it."
"We also have a really great support system," Mykula adds. "And as much as sometimes they tell us stuff we don't want to hear, it makes us work that much harder to make it happen."
Morbid Stuff is out April 5 via Little Dipper/Universal.