PUP: Canada’s hardest-working, ‘blue collar’ punks

See y’all in the PUP pit on Sept. 17. Photo by Vanessa Heins

Music journalist and writer Dan Ozzi once tweeted that “the opening 1-2 punch on (PUP’s) The Dream is Over still makes me want to puke out of my butt it’s so good.” If this article didn’t require a word count, then we would just leave you with that quote and the date Canadian punks PUP will be at Harlow’s — Sept. 17 at 6:30 p.m. However, we have a job to do and you’ll be happy that you read up on the band before they come to Sacramento for the first time.

PUP’s 2016 album The Dream is Over gets its title from lead singer Stefan Babcock’s doctor. Babcock had damaged his vocal chords to the point that it was thought he would never be able to sing again.

“I think deep down we knew we’d get through it,” said guitarist Steve Sladkowski. “Just liked we’d gotten through every other roadblock because that’s what touring and being in a band is…”

Being in a band means that you have to be willing and ready to overcome all obstacles, according to Sladkowski. For PUP, that meant having to get through a health scare that could have dramatically changed all of their careers.

Luckily, Babcock got better and they were able to start recording one of the best punk albums of the past few years. Along with the critically-acclaimed and fan-favorite record came a slew of touring and a live show with energy that rivals the heyday of 80s hardcore.

“We take a lot of pride in our live show and I think we are incredibly lucky to do what we do,” said Sladkowski. “The fact that people buy tickets to come see us play really feeds the adrenaline and helps us overcome whatever personal and physiological shit has been going on in our lives.”

Sladkowski once got the worst food poisoning of his life while on tour, and hates Rawlins, Wyoming because of it, but was able to momentarily forget his sickness because of all the fans moshing and singing along. However, the band pays attention to their health more thanks to that experience. PUP doesn’t want to start vomiting on stage divers.

Sladkowski calls the four a bunch of “workaholics” and that they treat this “like a goddamn blue collar job.” He says this means that there’s always an album coming, so fans and critics alike should always be on the lookout.

That work ethic falls into their tour schedules as well. After the band released their self-titled, the quartet toured relentlessly in any space that would have them. It helped their fanbase grow rapidly, but it also led to Babcock’s health issues. This time around, the band has slowed it down — but by their standards. They played well over 100 shows last year all over the world and just wrapped a wildly successful set at this year’s Lollapalooza.

It’s no shock that PUP work hard to make their band what they want it to be — most musicians do that. The difference here the four Canadians don’t let their success get to their heads. Whether they play in front of over a thousand people at high-end festivals or 32 people in some local VFW, PUP will pour their hearts onto the stage for anyone and everyone to see. Whether it be because of who they are as individuals or it’s another trait to add to that old-fashioned Canadian politeness. Either way, it’s something we should all support.

When: 6:30 p.m., Sunday September 17

Where: Harlow’s Restaurant & Night Club
2708 J Street, Sacramento

Cost: $13 – $15

Information: Harlows.com