PUP is back in Kingston

Band set to play The Ale House on Mar. 28 

The group has realized its potential. 
Supplied by PUP

Canadian rockers PUP are playing The Ale House on Mar. 28.

The band is touring to promote The Unraveling of PupTheBand, their fourth studio album releasing Apr. 1. Anticipation and expectations are high for the group’s new record after 2019’s Morbid Stuff won them the prestigious Polaris Music Prize.

Despite all their success and accolades, lead guitarist Steve Sladkowski spoke humbly about the band’s journey in an interview with The Journal.

“The thing about playing in southern Ontario is it keeps us connected to where we come from, where the band started,” he said.

Their lineup hasn’t changed since their 2010 inception—Stefan Babcock on vocals and rhythm guitar, Nestor Chumak on bass, Zack Mykula on drums, and Sladkowski on lead guitar.

Their name, however, is another story.

PUP was initially Topanga after the character in the sitcom Boy Meets World but switched in 2013 to avoid association with Disney’s planned reboot of the classic show. They settled on the acronym PUP after Babcock’s grandmother referred to being in a rock band as a “pathetic use of potential.”

“We all have family members, especially early on when we were quitting jobs and deciding not to do graduate school, who thought we were doing a dumb thing,” Sladkowski said.  

PUP has a long history of playing shows in Kingston. They last visited three years ago, pre-pandemic. Sladkowski said stopping here often used to fit their schedule.

“Play Thursday night in Kingston, Friday night in Ottawa, then Saturday night in Montreal—that was the bread and butter of the band for a long time,” he said.

“We used to play house shows on Princess Street. That’s something we don’t want to forget or be disconnected from, even if the band is playing larger rooms or parts of the world. Playing shows in southern Ontario is something we’re always going to want to do for ourselves.”

Fans attending next week’s show should expect to hear their old favourites as well as singles off the new album, which include “Matilda," “Robot Writes A Love Song," and “Waiting.”

The Unraveling of PupTheBand is the product of pandemic recording sessions that saw the group breaking new musical ground. “Waiting” is a classic PUP rocker, while the other two singles incorporate some electronic and acoustic elements.

“We were able to get into a productive and open-minded creative atmosphere that allowed for a lot of experimenting with different instruments and approaches to songwriting,” Sladkowski said.

“As we were writing the record in our jam space in Toronto, the songs were taking on a different creative shape in the demoing process than they had previously. We realized we should probably make the record in a different way.”

PUP spent five weeks living in a studio in Connecticut, where they had the freedom to record whenever they wanted. The finished product speaks for itself.

“We made a record that is a natural expansion of where the band can go and wants to go, but I think we still sound like those four guys who are happy to play a greasy venue in Kingston.”

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