PUP (band)

PUP (abbreviation for Pathetic Use of Potential) is a Canadian rock band formed in Toronto, Ontario in 2010, originally under the name Topanga. PUP's self-titled debut album was released on October 8, 2013 on Royal Mountain Records.[5] In December 2013, PUP signed with SideOneDummy Records and re-released their debut album in the United States on April 8, 2014.[6] The group was in the studio in late 2015 recording their second album The Dream Is Over which was released on May 27, 2016 through SideOneDummy.[7] The band's third album, titled Morbid Stuff, was released on April 5, 2019.[8][9]

From left to right: Steve Sladkowski, Stefan Babcock, Zack Mykula, and Nestor Chumak, performing at Mavericks in Ottawa in 2012
Background information
OriginToronto, Ontario, Canada
Years active2010–present
  • Stefan Babcock
  • Nestor Chumak
  • Zack Mykula
  • Steve Sladkowski


Origins and formation

Bassist Nestor Chumak, guitarist Steve Sladkowski, and drummer Zack Mykula are childhood friends who attended school in Toronto together.[10] Two of them met in third grade, and the third met them in high school at Humberside Collegiate Institute.[11][12] Throughout their childhood, they played in a number of bands together. Vocalist and guitarist Stefan Babcock also grew up playing in bands in Toronto. During high school, Babcock was the lead guitarist for a ska band called Stop Drop N Skank that he formed with some of his classmates at Earl Haig Secondary School. Babcock encountered Chumak, Sladkowski, and Mykula on occasion at local Toronto music venues, but was not close with them at the time.[13]

After high school, Babcock's band Stop Drop N Skank dissolved. While attending Ryerson University, he worked with Nestor Chumak to record a song he had written for a school project.[13] The project went well, and the duo teamed up with Chumak's friends Sladkowski and Mykula to form a group called Topanga. The name comes from Topanga Matthews, a character on the 1990s Disney sitcom Boy Meets World whom the band has called "our first middle-school crush."[14] They decided to record a four-track EP together, although Babcock says that at the time, they considered this a one-off project and didn't think of themselves as a "real band."[10] Topanga EP (later retitled Lionheart EP) was released as a free download on December 7, 2010.[15][16]

Early days as a band

Shortly after the release of their debut EP, the band began performing live together. They played their first show ever at the Bovine Sex Club in January 2011.[17] According to Babcock, the EP was gaining traction online, and they began receiving increasingly better show offers. By the beginning of 2012, they had begun touring with Hollerado and were signed to Hollerado's label, Royal Mountain Records. On February 15, 2012, they released the two-track Oceans 7" with Royal Mountain.[18]

In 2012, Topanga began contemplating making their first full-length album, and wanted to find a producer who could help them capture their heavy performance style in a studio recording.[19] Inspired by The Bronx's 2008 self-titled album, they were interested in working with its producer, Dave Schiffman, an industry veteran who had worked with artists such as Rage Against the Machine, Weezer, and Anti-Flag. They sent him a demo and, to their surprise, he liked it and soon flew to Toronto to begin working on their album.[10]

While working on the album, the band decided to change their name from Topanga to something else. According to Babcock, they felt the name was less fitting now that they had locked down a heavy punk rock style (as opposed to the lighter rock style they had played early on).[10] In addition, Disney had announced a new spinoff series based on Boy Meets World, and the band didn't want to be associated with it.[14] After a few months of uncertainty, they decided on the name PUP. The name is an acronym of a quote by Babcock's grandmother, who said that playing in a rock band was a "pathetic use of potential."[17] The band officially announced their new name via social media on April 16, 2013.[14]


The upcoming album's release date was set for October 8, 2013.[5] From September to the end of November 2013, PUP joined Hollerado and the Zolas on a 24-stop tour across Canada to promote the album. Upon its release, the self-titled debut album was met with critical praise. The Calgary Herald named PUP one of Canada's best new bands,[20] and Stereogum listed them as one of the top 40 new bands of 2013.[21] PUP won two Bucky Awards from CBC Radio 3 for Best Live Show and Best New Artist in 2013, and was nominated for Best Video.[22]

In December 2013, PUP signed with SideOneDummy Records and re-released their debut album in the United States on April 8, 2014.[23] In 2014, they went on their first tour of the UK, playing 8 shows around the country with the UK band Slaves. The first two shows of the tour in London were part of the NME Awards tour.[24] After that they played South By Southwest in Austin, Texas, followed by several more London shows and the Groezrock festival in Belgium. In May they started an extensive tour of the US with the Menzingers, Lemuria and Cayetana, playing 32 shows in 39 days. In August they opened for the Hives in London, England, and then played at Reading and Leeds Festivals. In September 2014, they made first appearance on Riot Fest at Chicago and Toronto.

In late 2014, PUP completed its first head-lining tour of Canada and the US, culminating in a sold-out concert at Toronto's Lee's Palace featuring a "next level" performance.[25] In early 2015, PUP completed a multi-city tour of Australia, supporting The Smith Street Band. PUP then participated in the 2015 Vans Warped Tour, joining the tour for the month of July, including a highly anticipated date in Toronto, the band's hometown and place where the band has enjoyed success. This was the band's first time playing the Molson Amphitheatre. Between October and December 2015, the group supported Modern Baseball on their headlining US tour.[26]

The Dream Is Over

In early 2016, PUP headlined a very select number of shows in New York City. They also released a new track, "DVP", from their second album.[27] and also they announce upcoming second album The Dream Is Over which was released on May 27, 2016 through SideOneDummy.[7]

On May 27, 2016, PUP released their second album, The Dream Is Over.[28] According to the band, the title is a direct quote from Babcock's doctor after damaging his vocal cords.[29]

PUP toured the US, Canada, Australia and Europe in 2016 on a headlining tour entitled "If this tour doesn't kill you, I will", which is also the name of the first track on the album. In early 2017, PUP headlined European shows with The Wonder Years and Tiny Moving Parts. During spring and summer 2017 the band made their first appearances at several music festivals, including Shaky Knees, Boston Calling, WayHome, Lollapalooza, and Osheaga.

In September 2017, PUP made their cable television debut on Last Call with Carson Daly on NBC, performing "Sleep in the Heat"[30] and "If This Tour Doesn't Kill You, I Will / DVP".[31]

In January 2018, PUP joined The Menzingers alongside with Cayetana on their headlining UK/Europe tour.[32]

Morbid Stuff

In May 2018, the band posted on their official Instagram page that they had finished tracking their third album in Toronto with Dave Schiffman and Darren McGill.[33][34]

Towards the end of 2018, the band released a zine entitled "Pup the Zine Vol. 1" containing a comic book and a flexi-disc for a live version of "My Life Is Over and I Couldn't Be Happier".[35][36]

In January 2019, the band released Pup the Zine Vol. 2 complete with a flexi-disc featuring a new single, "Kids", that they mailed out to fans over the course of the month. The zines additionally contained a press release and release date for the band's third album, Morbid Stuff, which was due on April 5, 2019.[8][9][37]

The band performed "Kids" on Late Night With Seth Meyers on March 21, 2019, in anticipation of release of Morbid Stuff.[38]

Later in March 2019, the band released two new songs, "Scorpion Hill" and "Sibling Rivalry".[39]

Acclaim and awards

PUP has enjoyed critical success, having been nominated or won in major Canadian contests such as the Juno Awards, the Polaris Music Prize, the CBC Bucky Awards, among others. Their first single "Reservoir" was nominated for a SOCAN Song-writing Prize.[40] It was also used on gameplay footage showed at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2016 for the game Watch Dogs 2.

PUP won two Bucky Awards from CBC Radio 3 for Best Live Show and Best New Artist in 2013, as well as a nomination for Best Video.[22] PUP's first album was long-listed for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize of 2014. The national newspaper The Globe & Mail called them out as front-runners in the contest along with Arcade Fire, Mac Demarco, BADBADNOTGOOD, among other artists.[41] PUP has been nominated for three Juno Awards. In 2015, PUP was nominated for Recording Package of the Year and Video of the Year for "Guilt Trip."[42] In 2016, PUP was nominated again for Video of the Year for "Dark Days."[43]

Rolling Stone listed the "Canadian punkers" of PUP as one of 2014's "breakout rock acts."[44]

PUP was nominated for the 2016 Prism Prize for Music Video of the Year for "Dark Days".[45]

PUP achieved commercial success with the release of their second album, The Dream Is Over, on May 27, 2016, with chart achievement recognition from Billboard in several categories including Canadian Albums, Alternative Albums, Heatseekers, Independent Albums, Top Rock Albums, and Top Album Sales.[46] In July 2016, The Dream is Over was nominated to the short-list of the Polaris Music Price 2016.[47] Rolling Stone also listed the "Sleep in the Heat" music video as #4 of the "10 Best Music Videos of 2016."[48]

"DVP" and "Sleep in the Heat" were nominated for the 2017 Prism Prize for Music Video.[49][50] In July 2017, PUP won SOCAN Songwriting Prize for "DVP."[51] In March 2018, PUP was nominated for the Prism Prize for the video for "Old Wounds."[52]


  • Stefan Babcock – lead vocals, guitar (2010–present)
  • Nestor Chumak – bass, backing vocals (2010–present)
  • Zack Mykula – drums, backing vocals (2010–present)
  • Steve Sladkowski – guitar, backing vocals (2010–present)




  • Reservoir / My Shadow 7"
  • "Kids" Flexi-Disc


  • Oceans as Topanga (2011 digitally) 7" re-release 2012


  • "You Don't Get Me High Anymore" (2017)

Music videos

  • "Reservoir" (2013)
  • "Lionheart" (2014)
  • "My Shadow (Jay Reatard cover)" (2014)
  • "Guilt Trip" (2014)
  • "Mabu" (2014)
  • "Back Against the Wall" (2015)
  • "Dark Days" (2015)
  • "DVP" (2016)
  • "If This Tour Doesn't Kill You, I Will." (2016)
  • "Sleep in the Heat" (2016)
  • "Old Wounds" (2017)
  • "Kids" (2019)
  • "Free at Last" (2019)
  • "Sibling Rivalry" (2019)
  • "See You At Your Funeral" (2019)

Appearance in media

See also


  1. "PUP | Biography, Albums, & Streaming Radio". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-06-28.
  2. Lampiris, Steve (April 14, 2014). "PUP – PUP". The Line of Best Fit. Retrieved September 28, 2016. ...a fantastic hardcore band.
  3. Weiss, Dan (November 3, 2016). "For Toronto pop-punks PUP, the dream is just beginning". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved February 8, 2017.
  4. Rise Records (January 15, 2019). "It's our pleasure to welcome Canadian punk legends..." Facebook. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
  5. "Check out Toronto Punk Band – PUP". Indie88. August 22, 2013. Retrieved December 1, 2013.
  6. "SideOneDummy Records signs PUP". Propertyofzack.com. December 9, 2013. Retrieved December 9, 2013.
  7. "PUP Announce 'The Dream Is Over' LP". Exclaim.ca. March 30, 2016. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
  8. "PUP Announce New Album With Zine Mailed To Fans". Stereogum. January 12, 2019. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  9. "PUPs New Album Coming in April". chorus.fm. January 11, 2019. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  10. Hudson, Alex (October 22, 2013). "PUP - Boys, Meet World". Exclaim.ca. Retrieved December 1, 2013.
  11. "Interview with PUP: Zack Mykula talks Boy Meets World, Nintendo Nostalgia & Potential Band Name Change". The MAT Magazine. September 24, 2017. Archived from the original on June 3, 2019. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
  12. "President's Scholars: 2006-07 Recipients". University of Guelph. 2007. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
  13. Streitenfeld, Darcy (February 8, 2018). "From drama class to lead singer-guitarist of PUP". Post City Toronto. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
  14. PUP (April 16, 2013). "We used to be called Topanga. Now we're called PUP. Let me explain:". Tumblr. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
  15. "Topanga EP". Topanga. Bandcamp. Archived from the original on June 28, 2011. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
  16. "Lionheart EP". Topanga. Bandcamp. Archived from the original on June 2, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
  17. Sharp, Elliott (April 7, 2014). "We Hung Out Under a Bridge in Austin With PUP". Red Bull. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
  18. Topanga (January 9, 2012). "Oceans". SoundCloud. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
  19. Elbert, Tarian (October 17, 2013). "Producer Dave Schiffman nails the punk hook for Toronto's PUP". Metro News. Archived from the original on March 21, 2018. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
  20. Bell, Mike (2013-11-08). "Pup: The best new band in Canada heads to Calgary". Calgaryherald.com. Retrieved 2013-12-01.
  21. "Stereogum's 40 Best New Bands Of 2013 PUP". Stereogum. 2013-09-19. Retrieved 2013-12-01.
  22. "2013 Bucky Award Winners". CBC. 2013-12-04. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
  23. "SideOneDummy Records signs PUP". Propertyofzack.com. 2013-12-09. Retrieved 2013-12-09.
  24. "NME Awards Tour". NME. 2013-12-09. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
  25. Howard, Richard (2014-11-25). "PUP's Homecoming Show Took Them to the Next Level | NOISEY". Noisey.vice.com. Retrieved 2016-06-28.
  26. Leak, Brian (August 11, 2015). "Modern Baseball announce tour with PUP, Jeff Rosenstock, Tiny Moving Parts". Alternative Press. Alternative Press Magazine, Inc. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  27. "PUP unleash rip-roaring new song "DVP" — listen". Consequence of Sound. 2016-01-26. Retrieved 2017-09-20.
  28. PUP. "The Dream Is Over". Bandcamp. Retrieved May 30, 2016.
  29. "PUP talk their "rowdy, noisy clusterfuck" of a new album, 'The Dream Is Over'". DIY. March 1, 2016. Retrieved May 30, 2016.
  30. Pup: "Sleep in the Heat", September 18, 2017, retrieved September 20, 2017
  31. Pup: "If This Tour Doesn't Kill You, I Will/DVP", September 18, 2017, retrieved September 20, 2017
  32. Will, Richards (August 14, 2017). "The Menzingers and PUP Announce UK/European Tour". DIY. Retrieved July 25, 2018.
  33. PUP (May 23, 2018). "We've finished tracking LP3. Thanks so much to Union Sound Co. for hosting us these past many weeks. Our favourite studio in Toronto! And..." Instagram. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  34. "PUP Finish New Album". chorus.fm. May 24, 2018. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  35. "Pup (3) - My Life is Over and I Couldn't Be Happier". Discogs. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  36. "PUP Are Releasing Their Very Own Zine". Exclaim. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  37. "Pup (3) - Kids". Discogs. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  38. "PUP Make Their Late-Night Debut, Ripping Through "Kids" On 'Seth Meyers': Watch". StereoGum.com. March 21, 2019. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  39. PUP (March 22, 2019). "Sick of waiting for new music? Good! Here are two new songs, Sibling Rivalry and Scorpion Hill, out NOW!https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBE0Nf0OhLtNpqB-3ZLgWhJ5YAq5TLkJM …". Twitter.com. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  40. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 8, 2014. Retrieved June 22, 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  41. Wheeler, Brad (20 June 2014). "Long list for the Polaris Prize is diverse, but not all-inclusive". The Globe and Mail.
  42. "2015 JUNO Awards Nominees" (PDF). Junoawards.ca. Retrieved 2016-06-28.
  43. "2016 JUNO Awards Nominees" (PDF). Junoawards.ca. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  44. "The Breakout Rock Acts of 2014". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on June 28, 2014. Retrieved June 28, 2014.
  45. "News". Prism Prize. Archived from the original on July 29, 2016. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  46. "PUP - Chart history | Billboard". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2016-06-18.
  47. "2016 Nominees - Polaris Music Prize". Polaris Music Prize. Retrieved February 9, 2017.
  48. "10 Best Music Videos of 2016". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 9, 2017.
  49. "Prism Prize Announces Top 20 Finalists". Retrieved March 4, 2017.
  50. "Prism Prize Reveals 2017's Top 10 Finalists". Retrieved May 27, 2017.
  51. "Punk phenoms PUP win $10,000 SOCAN Songwriting Prize 2017". SOCAN. Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  52. Murphy, Sarah (March 27, 2018). "Here Are the Top 10 Prism Prize 2018 Finalists". Exclaim. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
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