Puppy: Pure Evil

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If we told you PUPPY frontman Jock Norton was being held prisoner in a dungeon guarded by a vicious Labrador and chained to the wall like Princess Leia to Jabba, you’d probably laugh us out of the building, right?

But that’s exactly what’s happening, sort of. Whether he’s staying at his friend’s house, who happens to own a Labrador or he’s having a wild Wednesday evening in, it perfectly encapsulates the isolation and loneliness PUPPY have picked up a penchant for.

These are the very same themes that you can feel throughout Pure Evil, the follow-up to 2019’s The Goat, which came as a by-product of putting together a record during a global pandemic.

“The world had gone to shit, it was bleak,” he exclaims reflectively, from the cosy confines of his dungeon, adding, “we weren’t seeing our families, we couldn’t see each other – it felt like I was pushing a boulder uphill.”

“It introduced an existential element of the whole idea of being in a band,” chimes in drummer Billy Price, who’s always bouncing off of Jock’s thoughts like a ball to a wall.

“For a band of our size, we’re not KEANE, SNOW PATROL, STARSAILOR, SHED SEVEN – a top act, you know, but I don’t think a band of our size barely has enough goodwill in the bank to sustain a few months of not really doing very much, yet we were looking at an eternity of not really doing much, but that bought us closer together and made us look at what we were doing and why we were doing it rather than continuing the cycle.”

In layman’s terms, the pandemic put everything into perspective for PUPPY, completed by bassist Will Michael. Rather than sitting “twiddling our thumbs not knowing how to spend time”, they threw their feelings into an album as “a reflection of that period.”

The result is Pure Evil, an album that takes their penchant for pick-and-mix genre mashups to a new level. One minute you’re travelling through a forest of post-grunge grit, the next you’re swimming in a sea of lo-fi shoegaze, and then you’re being shot out of a dynamite-laden alt-rock cannon. The carousel of sounds comes from the freedom a pandemic afforded them. A freedom they found their true purpose in: to embrace their DIY roots and combine their past into one, as Jock explains.

“The concept of The Goat was to record a nice sounding pop album, like our version of pop music and the concept going into iii was like us in a room, we wanted to do as little double tracking as possible, go down the Steve Albini route, and with this one, we wanted to marry up the two.”

“We’re big fans of DIY art, people like R. Stevie Moore who make studio albums by themselves, and we wanted to do something that felt ambitious, with loads of layered guitars and cool harmonies, but we knew there’d be certain limitations like being able to get glockenspiels and choirs in.”

But as Billy soon reminds us, they met those ambitions, and then some. “We actually did both of those things for this album,” laughs Billy in unison with Jock. “You see the bloody roots of that idea in iii, we recorded that in five days, all totally improvised on the spot – we’re the first band to do that outside of the jazz world. But seriously, we’re going in the direction of embracing the lo-fi etiquette that underpins our work anyway, because we never had any money or skill.”

Pure Evil also serves as PUPPY’s way of building their own multiverse. Whilst it’s title, according to Jock is “just a cool name for a song or an album, or whatever”, it’s model castle artwork, interconnecting videos, and thematic interpretations of isolation, loneliness, and modern relationships all serve a grander purpose in some shape or form.

“We took inspiration from The Chapman Brothers, who did this series called Hell using toy modelling things to map these really grotesque landscapes with horrific battles and horrible things going on,” Billy explains, lighting up at the effort they put into the album art and it’s grander meaning. “Much like the title and much like us, it’s potentially dark in one sense, but also very silly and juvenile in another sense.”

It’s this duality, this dichotomy, that the album art evokes that PUPPY find so many parallels within in. The effort that went into making Pure Evil, and everything around it, is represented in a single image of a model castle. “Another thing about the model is it’s so detailed, and someone’s put so much effort into something which is really dumb at the end of the day,” laughs Jock, as infectious as ever. “I think that’s how we feel about our music, like you try super hard to do this stuff, and you present it, like here we go, here’s my castle, and 99% of people don’t give a fuck”

“I think even the people who do really give a fuck, I suspect it’s something you might put on maybe once a month with a beer,” Billy muses, finishing Jock’s sentences like twins. “Even if you’re BJORK and you’re spending seven weeks up a mountain writing lyrics about fucking dragonflies, like maybe there’s some sense and logic behind the amount of time that goes into that, but I don’t know, there are stupider bands than us, but not many!”

PUPPY might think they’re one of the world’s stupidest bands, but they’re far more than that. They take simple ideas, and they shoot for the stars with them. Pure Evil is a labour of love, made by a band who had nothing to lose in a time where the world lost everything.

Pure Evil is out now via Rude Records.

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The post Puppy: Pure Evil appeared first on Distorted Sound Magazine.

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