London Rockers, Puppy, are swinging for the fences with infectious riffs that sink into the skin of their growing global fanbase. Having signed a worldwide deal with Spinefarm Records, Puppy is slated to make some noise throughout the world of Rock early on in the game in 2019. On the brink of what is to be an exciting year for the band, I caught up with Vocalist, Jock Morton,to discuss the upcoming release of ‘The Goat’, how the band is overflowing with cooking prowess, the bond between the three of them and more.
Congrats on the upcoming release of your debut album, ‘The Goat’. Tell us about the creative and recording process and what you learned along the way.
Thanks very much. It was a long process in particularly in terms of recording. We were lucky enough to work with two very different and talented producers in the form of Tom Dalgety and Neil Kennedy, both of whom we learnt a lot from in terms of what they brought to the table during the recording process. From a writing perspective I felt we’ve grown a lot since we recorded the ‘Vol II’ EP, and thinking about groove was a big element to a lot of my favourite songs on the record like “Black Hole” and “World Stands Still”. Another one of my favourites, “Bathe In Blood”, has a real washed out shoegaze feel to it too which is a side of our songwriting we hadn’t really had a chance to explore before.
Tell us about the bond between the three of you. How did Puppy come alive?
Well our Drummer, Billy, and I have been playing together in various bands since we were about 12 or 13, so musically we have a really good chemistry. We were both really into rock and metal growing up, but as we got older we ended up playing in more indie leaning bands, so when we hooked up with our bass player Will, his background playing in Doom and Stoner bands really helped bring our love of bands like Black Sabbath and Metallica back to the fore. We were able to mix that with the Dinosaur Jr/ Teenage Fanclub elements of what we were doing before to help create the sound of Puppy, and knowing that the music really comes from the bond between the three of us is a pretty cool thing to share.
Your new music video for “World Stands Still” is hilarious and full of punk rock energy. Tell us about the concept and what you desired to express throughout the video.
Our Drummer, Billy, directed it, so it’s his baby really. We wanted to come up with something which really represented the band visually without having us in it too much, and the idea of this sweet little girl made up like a goblin terrorising her neighbourhood really seemed to fit our music; I think at their heart the songs tend to be pretty sweet and fun, but with all these gnarly hallmarks of classic metal like big riffs and guitar solos. That’s pretty much Puppy in a nutshell.
Tell us about your experience so far being signed to Spinefarm Records, one of the most well-known and respected labels in the game.
It’s been great. Dante, our A&R, was completely invaluable during the recording process in particular. We were so used to just chucking together the first bunch of songs we had, and he really encouraged us to take our time and think about what we were doing. Without him songs like “World Stands Still” wouldn’t even be on the album, and I think the fact that it’s pretty much all of our favourite track from the album says a lot. He’s our heavy metal Buddha.
No career path or amount of followers negates the fact that you are a human being that has feelings. Tell us about some parts of you beyond being a musician that you take pride in.
Yeah, I think that’s actually really important to keep in mind in terms of not getting overwhelmed by the pressure of it or anything too. Billy is big into football and loves playing whenever possible. Me and him are big Arsenal fans and try to watch every game when we’re away on tour. I think if it came down to them winning the premier league or us winning a Grammy it would be a very tough call to make; Will and I are very into gaming as well, so we spend a lot of our van journeys boring Billy with our discussions about Metal Gear Solid. Besides that all three of us are pretty keen cooks and have a not so secret war going on as to who’s the best. Obviously it’s me though.
As you are exposed to tons of stimulus, how do you proactively take care of your mental and emotional health when you’re out on the road?
Yeah it’s hard, but for me I try to let go a little in terms of what you’d expect from home comforts and take joy in the simplicity of just having to turn up and play shows and not worry about a day job for a couple of weeks or whatever. Once you get into the rhythm of that, then small things like finding a good place to eat or listening to some cool music or a podcast in the van all become nice little moments. I think the biggest thing you can do is pay attention to how others are doing around you and try to be there when they need it or give them space when they need that too.
How old would you be if you didn’t know how old that you were?
I’m pretty sure I’m still 16-years-old and playing at being a grown up, but then when I get a hangover I’m reminded very painfully that I am not.
If you could hop on tour tomorrow with any three bands/musicians, who would you choose and why?
That’s a real tough one. We’ve been listening to Hallas a lot in the van lately and we’re all very into them, so they’d have to be there. We also went to see Ghost recently at the Royal Albert Hall which was incredible, so to be able to see that show every night we’d have to put them on there. Lastly I’d have to say Dinosaur Jr from a personal perspective. They’ve been my favourite band for years and I want to try and play a show with them before the original trio decide to break up again. Bit of a weird line up but hey-ho.
Last but certainly not least, any closing messages for your fans?
Keep watching the skies.
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Creating therapeutic works of lyrical and musical art is the name of the game for Queens Alternative Hip-Hop Band, Oxymorrons. Beyond the music, Oxymorrons serve as an example of forward-thinking artists who proactively take charge when it comes to creating deeper and more personal connections with their fans. I caught up with Lead Vocalist, Dave Bellevue, to discuss their collaboration with iRel8, raising awareness of mental and emotional health, the bigger purpose of their music and more.
Tell us about your partnership with iRel8 and how this has deepened your connection with your fans.
The connection with iRel8 came from doing a mental health event in which I spoke on a panel for a company by the name of ILiveForOrg. It is a company that was started by an Aunt whose nephew committed suicide. My connection to it comes through my best friend who committed suicide years ago. It changed my life. He was the driving force to my music. I have chosen to be an advocate ever since that experience. I speak for many foundations and provide my thoughts all over the place, not only through my music. I linked up with one of the iRel8 sponsors at the ILiveForOrg event that I spoke at and they explained the app that they had created. The app allows you to have talks with people in real time, any time, anywhere. They have chat rooms, it’s informational and you can also get professional help on the app itself.
You’d be surprised how crucial those talks can be for those that are suffering in silence. Through societal pressure, there are individuals who are timid when it comes to bringing their pain outward. It’s bizzare to think of individuals creating fear within themselves because society tends to be rigid when it comes to candid vulnerability. There are so many individuals that are suffering within. It’s beautiful that you have transformed your experience into an opportunity to serve others.
You know, it’s still something that I undergo on a daily basis. I have made peace with certain things, but I do have my breakdown periods. Through our music and in general, we tend to push ourselves through the ringer when it comes to everything in our lives. It’s something that is needed. It’s something that is being more universally spoken about now which is great. There are so many celebrities and artists who are just committing suicide, you know? Taking their own lives. This is a huge issue in music and beyond, yet I love to see awareness continue to grow and expand. Through the iRel8 app, we have about 2500 accounts that we can give to people for free. You don’t have to pay at all and you can get so much professional help, it’s incredible.
Amazing. You mentioned the breakdown periods, yet it seems like the breakdowns have served as key components for breakthroughs for you. Your latest single, “See Stars”, lyrically dabbles into the interactions with people in your life steadily changing. Let’s talk about what inspired that track.
“See Stars” in general was about the battles that we have encountered through our life. It’s about battling through the music industry and how long we have been doing this while trying to break through. “See Stars” is the culmination of a really rough year for us. “See Stars” is that motivational push that reminds us of all of our circles and everything that we have been through. Our sights are set on our goals and we are about to achieve them; that’s what “See Stars” is about. You just have to keep pushing through everything that you are going through all at once. And once you see that moment, you see stars.
From my perception, your thought process of “seeing stars” is entirely different from the surface thought. Your intention and vision of “seeing stars” is the to be able to provide a safe space for both yourself and your fans to be unapologetically themselves while in tune with their mental and emotional health.
Yes! That is who we are in general. We allow and encourage our fans and everyone to be unapologetically themselves. That’s just the way it is.
I noticed the way that you guys dress as well; flamboyant and entirely unique. Total freedom of expression. Whatever you want to wear, you are going to wear it. It’s not what your team wants you to wear, it’s what you want to wear.
Yeah, absolutely. Clothes shouldn’t even have gender assignments. Wear what you want to wear. Do what you want to do. This world is so controlled over and over again and for us, that is not how we live our lives. We just try to be that voice letting people know that it is completely okay to be yourself and that there is nothing wrong about it no matter what society is telling you.
You hit the nail on the head. No career path or amount of followers negates the fact that you are a human being that has feelings. Tell us about some parts of you beyond being a musician that you take pride in.
For me, it is just being a human being in general. I take pride in being a multilingual human being. I speak French and Krio which actually are my first languages. English is my third language. Outside of that, I am extremely healthy. I do Muay Thai and train a lot. I bike ride which is completely therapeutic in such a big place like New York. Also, I am really big on knowing what content that I absorb on social media.
I am a Buddhist and that came from my friend that committed suicide. He was always challenging religion and challenging thought processes and it was through Buddhism that he changed his mind and altered his thoughts. I have been going to temples a lot too which has been refreshing for my entire life.
I can assume that that leads you toward a broader of awareness of the ride that you are on both musically and within. Life in New York is no joke. You are on the move 24-7. Nobody gives a fuck about you in New York and if that isn’t liberating in itself, I don’t know what is because it really pushes you to express yourself in a boundless way. There are no boundaries but yourself in a city like that. As you mentioned, being proactive with bike riding through the city helps free the mind and take in the bigger picture that you are free to do and be whatever you choose.
Exactly. The biggest thing for us is that we know that life is our own book. You write every chapter no matter what is going on. You are in full control. A lot of the times, people don’t realize that and it is due to what is set by society as to what is “normal” and what isn’t. Everything is pretty much controlled and dictated from the moment that you are born. You are told what you do.
True. We have all subconsciously absorbed all of this through our growing years until the recognition of the power of the mind begins to come to light.
Exactly. Oxymorrons tends to challenge control. We bend genres. We grew up on so many different kinds of music. For anyone to tell us that we can only make a certain type of music is fucking crazy which goes into another thing that we deal with which is being in the Alternative scene. We are a black band and people don’t tend to lean towards that. Do you know how many times that I have been told that we won’t make it because we are not American enough?
Photo Credit: Ken Spielman