As they get set to embark on their UK tour, things could have been very different for Toronto four-piece PUP.
With the release of the critically acclaimed second record ‘The Dream Is Over‘ earlier in the year, 2016 has already been a bit of a whirlwind for the band.
In 2015 vocalist and guitarist Stefan Babcock was told by doctors that the dream was over after finding he had a small cyst on his vocal cords which had begun haemorrhaging, throwing the bands future into doubt.
Thankfully for fans, the band stuck a massive two-fingers up to the doctors and have been going strong ever since.
Before PUP set off on an 11 day tour of the UK, Just an Insight caught up with drummer Zack Mykula to talk about the band not taking themselves too seriously, human pyramids and the UK’s selection of sweets.
Despite being told by a doctor the dream is over, PUP’s perseverance has won many fans’ hearts and Mykula says the four-piece had worked too hard to quit.
He said: ‘Our immediate reaction to Stefan’s diagnosis was one of concern for his physical and mental well being.
‘There was definitely a lot of doom and gloom as we, as a group, tend to catastrophize. But the primary concern was that we didn’t want our friend to have to go through the personal struggle and concern of whether or not the dream could any longer be tenable.
‘And much credit to Stef’s perseverance, as ultimately we decided that we have worked too hard on our careers, and this record, to give it all up.’
If you aren’t familiar with PUP’s music, their new record may come across as very sombre and bitter musical experience, but in reality it is a story of the boys from Toronto’s passion, honesty and overall their love for doing what they do.
‘The Dream is Over’ opens with the song ‘If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will’ which could be seen as the band not enjoying life on the road, however it is very much to the contrary for a band who played more that 450 shows in 2015.
‘There’s always a chance for misinterpretation when it comes to lyrics,’ adds the bands drummer.
‘We just hope that our fans, with as much of our individual personalities that we display at shows and through social media, recognise that it’s a little more tongue-in-cheek than the lyrics initially bely.
‘You have to understand that being in a band is like having a bunch of siblings. There’s no question that we all love each other and, because of that, we also love pissing each other off.’
Mykula adds: ‘Personally, I am most proud of Sleep In The Heat. We managed to create a gut wrenching sequel to Mabu (which Stef wrote about his beloved Chameleon Norman), with a pretty cool musical arrangement, and it still manages to work as a stand-alone track.
‘Plus, as a (former) pet owner, the lyrics get me every time.’
With being on the road for a lot of 2015, the band haven’t shown any signs of slowing down, despite Stefan’s vocal scare.
Following their trip the the UK PUP will immediately head to mainland Europe, then flying over to Australia, Canada and finishing up in the United States just in time to settle down for Christmas.
By spending so much time of the road Mykula tells JAI how the four friends manage to keep spirits high while on tour.
He said: ‘Doing as little speaking in the van as is possible. Plus, the UK has an excellent selection of candy that, in your darker moments, can help give you a brief (albeit false) sense of levity.
‘There are pros and cons to being on the road. Pros: seeing and experiencing parts of the world that you never would have thought possible (especially given your income), while also being an adult child.
‘Cons: No sleep, gas station toilets, basically being a marauding garbage pile, and knowing your bandmates so well that youre able to anticipate the degree of intensity of their ultimately incapacitating body odour.’
Speaking of the shows in the UK, PUP’s stick man adds: ‘Every show we play in the UK tends to be a little nuts, so its hard to single one place out.
‘But, we’ve definitely seen more than our share of insanity at Joiners Southampton and are excited to get to see our buds there, again. Summed up in two words: human pyramid.’
If you are planning on going to one of the show while PUP are in the UK you can expect to see lots of rowdiness, flailing, double decker crowd surfing with punk dads and twenty-somethings living together in mass hysteria.
It may have been a bit of a rollacoster for PUP so far, but they are taking their fans along for the ride, and trust us it is not a ride you will want to miss out on.
Catch PUP at one of the following dates while they are in the UK:
Aug 29 | The Owl Sanctuary, Norwich
Aug 30 | The Rainbow, Birmingham
Sep 1 | The Exchange, Bristol
Sep 2 | Joiners, Southampton
Sep 4 | Sound Control, Manchester
Sep 5 | Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Sep 6 | King Tuts, Glasgow
Sep 7 | Bodega, Nottingham
Sep 9 | The Dome, London