Way back in 2014, PUP had just released their self-titled debut ahead of an extensive tour that saw them play two sets at the Fest in Gainesville, Florida. That performance went well, but it was nothing compared to the raucous ovation they received at this year's event. The Toronto natives' set was not only one of the most eagerly anticipated of the weekend, but it was also one of the most ferocious. Playing to a much bigger crowd in a prime slot, PUP saw firsthand how quickly the buzz around their sound and show could grow. The crowd was as intense and into the music as any show they've played thus far.
Zack Mykula, Nestor Chumak, Steve Sladkowski and Stefan Babcock have known one another since elementary school and started playing music together at a young age. It took until 2012 for the quartet, which was formerly called Topanga after one of the lead characters of the TV show Boy Meets World before changing to PUP after Disney launched a spin-off, the ingeniously titled Girl Meets World. A mere four days after they submitted their demos to a label, PUP were offered a major tour slot and the members decided to quit their day jobs and make music their top priority.
Their self-titled album was released in April 2014 via SideOneDummy and became one of the highest rated of that year. PUP have since maintained a rigorous schedule that has seen them zigzag the globe, including several headlining tours in the States and Canada. "We relish maintaining a work ethic especially now that the first album cycle is winding down," says drummer/vocalist Mykula. "We love getting out there and giving people a chance to see us. That's what we really relish."
This year alone, the band have played in Australia with the Smith Street Band, landed a lauded stint on the Warped Tour and are currently on the road with Modern Baseball. With the plaudits they've received, PUP have had to quickly get used to the physical and mental effects touring can have on a band. "It's not like we were [too crazy] before, but we've had to have a way more adult approach to health and maintaining a career," Mykula says.
As the band parlay each show into something bigger, they maintain their focus on what got them to this point, knowing their rigorous work ethic will keep them in the studio and on the road instead of an office. "We didn't really expect much other than to be allowed to play music and work as hard as possible," Mykula says. "That makes it sweeter that we've found moderate success and get to play full-time."
PUP are now finishing their sophomore album. The recording was completed in October, and the yet-to-be-titled album is in the process of being mixed and mastered.
The band are working with producer Dave Schiffman (Weezer, Vampire Weekend, Rage Against the Machine) again, and Mykula says the writing sessions indicated an evolution in the band's understanding of who they are at this stage of their career, something that seemed a long way away when they released their debut.
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"We are now better able to work with each other," Mykula explains. "Writing itself is a learning process. You learn how to listen to people and work better with people. There's less guesswork and more cooperation between everyone that will reflect in a more coherent sound."
PUP perform with Modern Baseball, Tiny Moving Parts and Jeff Rosenstock at the House of Blues, 1530 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, (714) 778-2583; www.houseofblues.com/anaheim. Fri., 7 p.m. $17-$35. All ages.