In the melee of a Scorchio Leeds festival this year (READ THE REVIEW HERE ) we managed to grab 10 minutes with the “otherworldly” death cult prog and roll band called Puppy.
John Hayhurst gathered Jock Norton, Billy Howard Price and Will Michael around a table and shared some drunken jokey tales of Nina Simone, Sea Shanties, Strip Clubs and a fantastic new tour coming in December – which we can fully reveal now too**
Have you played Leeds Festival before or is this your first time?
We played 2 years ago actually, it was wicked, we are mainly London based so we’d only been to Reading as punters, so it wasn’t until we played here, that we visited. But its really nice man, it’s a bit less feral than Reading I think, a bit more civilised at Leeds.
Many bands tell us that they prefer Leeds to Reading as there is less focus from the media and they can relax a bit more, is that the case?
Absolutely yeah, there seems to be a lot more pressure at Reading, in our experiences at gigs we find that Northern audiences are a bit more up for it, in terms of the vibe, like they are a bit more out to have a good time. The further North we go, generally the rowdier the audience, until you get to Newcastle when generally no one is there. Then it picks up again in Scotland and in Glasgow they are completely wicked.
You went across to New York recently – first ever gigs in the States, how did that work out for you?
Yeah it was great, first time in the USA, we chartered a boat to get across. Billy (drummer) is a big sailor so he Captained us there, he’s afraid of flying.
How long did that take to get to New York?
It took us three weeks, but it was worth it though, we wrote a lot…of Sea Shanties, so the next record is a concept album about sailing to America from the point of view of Christopher Columbus, imagining ourselves as discovering America for the first time. Instead of the Santa Maria, ‘Nina Simone’ is the name of the boat. Shocking that Nina Simone actually stole her name from that boat, when her real name was Barry Manilow.
Was it just the one gig in New York?
Yeah just the one then we turned back and set sail home again (Laughs) – No, we did one show in Brooklyn which was really good, we did that, and then went to South by Southwest for the media showcase festival afterwards.
That makes more sense, how was SXSW?
Great fun, a bit of a waste of time to be honest, but we had a good time and the nine people that saw us in the strip club that we played really enjoyed themselves.
Your debut album Goat was released earlier this year, are you pleased with the response?
It went alright yeah, people seem to be getting into it, it got some great reviews, so we’re pleased with its progress so far.
How was your April headline tour in the UK?
For the most part it was great, Underworld in Camden was wicked – it was the biggest show of our own we have played to date, so really pleased how that went down. I guess it’s weird headlining at that time as we felt everything was still new, and it’s always a bit of a litmus test I suppose to see if anyone will actually buy a ticket to see your band just after the album was released, and at least 10 people did every night, so that’s a bonus.
Where does the band name Puppy come from? We seem to have similar named bands at this festival – another one called Pup later and then Poppy plays tomorrow.
I think it just shows that no one has got any imagination for band names anymore. I think technically when you google a band name to see if its already taken, very similar ones don’t come up. There’s also a band called Pupppppy with about 14 ps, but I don’t think they are going anywhere anymore, so we’ve won by default, we just need to outlast the others and we’ll be fine.
There’s Royals and Royal Blood playing too, I’m just looking at the line-up here it’s weird, Ghostmane and Ghost Lady too, Pale Waves playing after Circa Waves – WTF??
Your sound has been described as ‘Otherworldly’ – what does that mean?
Otherworldly! that’s quite cool, I like it that it’s very vague, that’s clearly written by someone who hasn’t listened to the band. You know – “Hey that’s an otherworldy sound”, very noncommittal I feel, lazy journalism.
For me, having listened to ‘The Goat’ there is a feeling of using some Ozzy/Sabbath riffs with strong melodic overtones, quite prog like in parts.
I think to be honest we are big fans of Sabbath and early Ozzy solo stuff. Particularly Sabbath albums would have one or two ballads on them, and then similar with Ozzy albums, by track three there would be this crazy ballad thrown in there which is super melodic and giving a bit of light in the shade. Tender songwriting comes from influences like The Beatles and stuff like that which we are super into. But when you think of someone like Ozzy or 80’s hair metal stuff, when you listen to the album it’s that quite classic songwriting which we’re really into.
Presume you must be thinking about album No2, having had all that time songwriting on the boat?
Yeah, we’ve paid some heavy hitting songwriters to start work on it already, those that wrote Aerosmith’s Pump album, they’re coming in to write a commercial opus for us. What’s the guy that co-wrote all those 80’s metal songs, Desmond Childs No Andrew Lloyd Webber, that’s it, he’s already working on it. He’s got a few tunes up his sleeve that fella, so hopefully it’ll be a great journey.
Do you get chance to kick back and relax at festivals, maybe watch a few other bands?
We stayed at Reading yesterday and we saw a bit of Bowling For Soup, saw a bit of The 1975. Yeah – we kept hearing about The 1975 and wanted to see what all the fuss was about, I left, still unsure what all the fuss was about, but I could see they were going down really well. They played well and their songs are really catchy, that’s about all I can say.
This festival seems now to be aimed at kids who have just got their GCSE/A-Level results and are celebrating or commiserating with their mates. It can be quite a young crowd – which is probably why bands like The 1975 are popular.
We were feeling like really old men travelling up yesterday to Reading looking at photos of line ups of the festivals we went to, and they just felt so much better. It was very different then, there’s a strong history particularly at Reading of really good rock bands like Mudhoney, Sonic Youth and others that we feel much more affiliated with than now, probably because we’re an older generation. There were a lot of bucket hats yesterday, nothing wrong with a bucket hat, although there is something wrong with several thousand of them all at once.
What is next on the horizon for Puppy?
We’ve got some quite exciting stuff for the end of the year, which we can’t say at the moment, but some cool news on the creative front before the end of the year.
A big tour in November/December which again we can’t announce just yet** Keep your eyes on our socials we’ll be talking about that very soon. Plenty of things in the pipeline.
** We can now reveal that the tour is with Norweigian band Bokassa in November/December across Europe – check those dates below and tickets for the UK leg are now available here