This interview was first published on May 27, 2016
Following up on their infectious 2013 debut, Toronto’s punk-rock foursome PUP has just unleashed their sophomore full-length. The Dream Is Over (SideOneDummy) is already hailed as ‘one of the most unapologetically over-the-top punk albums in recent memory’ (Sputnikmusic) and ‘more unhinged, louder and much more direct than ever’ (Punknews).
Dealing with straining relationships and a sense of adult disillusionment, The Dream is Over is channeling their energetic and catchy tunes into a raw and honest account of real life.
“I think that a lot of people in their mid-20’s start to feel this sense of disillusionment – realising that maybe life isn’t going to turn out exactly as you’d pictured it. I love touring and playing music more than anything in the world”, says singer and guitarist Stefan Babcock.
“But there’s also this realisation that maybe the romanticised version of this lifestyle I’d imagined 10 years ago has little or no relation to the actual experience. I used to dream about this shit when I was a kid. But I never dreamt about the bad days – waking up in a Walmart parking lot in a van full of dudes, and thinking ‘Fuck, I’m 27, broke, and lonely. What am I doing?’
Opening track “If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will” is a perfect picture of their current state, on an album packed with songs that bear the marks, bruises and scars of the realities of their experiences, as well as it also captures the sheer joy of their journey. It’s one hell of an album, and we invited drummer Zack Mykula for an Off/Beat Q&A:
What’s the best gift you ever received?
Either the original Ghostbusters playhouse, or the gift of having two Christmases due to my parents’ divorce.
The advice you wished someone would have given you.
“You’d better get a job where you’re allowed to hide your face, son. Cause your particular brand of ugly haunts the senses like the smell of a living dog turd smoking a cigarette.”
Describe your earliest memory that made you want to become a musician.
When I was young (about 3 y/o), and my parents would get sick of my yammering, they’d stick me in the back room with pots and pans and spatulas and I would let fly. Obviously, it sucked for all concerned – but I loved it.
Most unlikely band/artist/song that inspires your music.
What’s the first thing you thought this morning?
“I need an illegal amount of coffee”
If you weren’t an artist – what would you do?
Make beer / drink that beer / repeat / be on a waiting list for a new liver.
What’s your greatest fear?
Falling while walking up concrete steps and shattering my teeth, irreparably.
A genre that you just don’t understand.
Vaporwave. It will be the music that plays while the machines rise up and turn us all into living batteries, putting our collective consciousness in a virtual reality simulation of a comfortable existence.
A book that you wish everyone would read.
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
Make up a fake story about the title of your new album.
“The Dream is Over” is actually “Dre A.M. is Over”, and it’s a concept album about the tragic cancellation of Dr. Dre’s new, critically lauded but criminally under-appreciated morning show.