Podcast Turns Must-See TV Into Must-Hear Music
2 Much TV
WITH TOURING STILL OFF THE TABLE IN EARLY 2021, THE
FIRST PUP PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR saw the beloved Toronto punk band shoot a Tiny Desk (Home) Concert for NPR, much to the chagrin of vocalist Stefan Babcock’s now-former neighbours. “In the spring and the summer, we were recording demos, and I was doing them all in my car,” he tells Exclaim! “I just had too many awkward encounters with the neighbours upstairs being like, ‘So, you’re pretty angry, eh?’ Well, no, I just write angry music!”
Why do you live where you do? Drummer Zack Mykula: Not to get too anthropological, but it is a human instinct to just stay where you consider home to be. And I feel like this city [Toronto] has pretty aggressively been trying to push out people that are less able to stay here, and the margins are getting thinner. I just feel like everything I am so far is here, and I want to stay despite there being almost no reason to stay.
What has been your most memorable or inspirational concert and why?
Guitarist Steve Sladkowski: I was lucky enough to see Run the Jewels at the Danforth Music Hall a couple of days after the Ferguson protests. They had come straight from St. Louis to Toronto, and just to be in the room and kind of see them processing things in the moment, it speaks to the uplift and the power that the live concert experience
can have. As much as there have been some great livestreams, and there have been some really great ways in which people have tried to replicate that, I think it really does kind of speak to the unique power that those sorts of events have for people.
What advice should you have taken, but did not?
Babcock: You won’t want to play in a ska band by the time you’re 22.
What was the first album you ever bought with your own money? Bassist Nestor Chumak: I forget how old I was, but I went out to the Sam the Record Man on Bloor Street, and bought Limp Bizkit’s Three Dollar Bill, Y’all$ and Kid Rock’s Devil Without a Cause. I brought them home, and if people don’t know, the disc face for the Kid Rock CD was the middle finger. I remember my dad was really upset with me. He was like, “Why are you spending your money on this?” And I was like, “You don’t get it, man. It’s music!”
What were your first memorable day jobs?
Mykula: I worked for a temp agency, and they placed me as a lab assistant at a generic pharmaceutical company, where I made sure test groups were metabolizing drugs. So I was just surrounded by piss all the time. Just other people’s piss everywhere. I was cleaning piss-covered things, fetching piss from the deep freezer. I accidentally poured titration liquid into my boots. But I was so jazzed by the fact that I was working in this laboratory. I’m like, “This is so cool. I don’t care that there’s piss everywhere!” The scientists were super nice, but it was ridiculous.
What do you fear most? Babcock: I think I’m afraid of what comes after in the life of a fuckin’ C-list rock band. We’re kind of in this interesting spot where we’re doing well, so much better than any of us ever dreamed or anticipated, and that’s awesome. For the past two years, maybe for the first time in all of our adult lives, we’ve been financially secure and stuff like that. But, we haven’t reached, nor do I expect us to reach, a level where we’re set up for life. We’ve just given all of these years to something that we love, but that will one day be gone. I see a lot of sad stories about people 10 years older than me who were in our position. So, that kind of weighs on me a little bit every day, but I still think what we’re doing and what we’ve done is 100 percent worth it.
If you won the lottery, what are you doing with the money?
Babcock: I really want a Fender Rhodes. So, Calum, please make sure to print that if anyone is looking to sell.
Chumak: Maybe put your phone number down as well.
Sladkowski: You know what, give them your account information and credit card number, the whole thing.
What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?
Mykula: Mine was at Seth Meyers after we played. The drum set was falling apart while we were playing. This stuff happens all the time, I’ll usually just play through it and it’s fine, but I wasn’t thinking particularly highly of my performance. I was walking down the hallway and Fred Armisen was like, “Hey man, you’re a real good drummer.”
Who would be your ideal dinner guests, living or dead, and what would you serve them?
Babcock: It’s been a pretty long pandemic. I think it would be nice to have dinner with my friends Nestor, Steve and Zack.