If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that London trio Puppy have been building a reputation as one of the most interesting rock bands in Britain these last few years. Signed to the very heavy metal label Spinefarm, but just as much of an indie rock band in the vein of Teenage Fanclub or The Flaming Lips, their sound is quite druggy, quite weird, quite otherworldly, and really extremely melodic.
“We’re hugely into stuff like early Ozzy Osbourne and Van Halen and things like that,” says singer and guitarist Jock Norton. “Heavy music, but with songs that sound like they’re written by the best pop songwriters around.”
Alongside Jock, Puppy is made up of Billy Howard Price on the drums and Will Michael on bass, and today (January 25) the band have released their first ever album. It’s called ‘The Goat’, contains more hooks than a pirate convention and we thought it about time we tell you everything you need to know about our new favourite band.
Hello Jock. Can you tell us as much as you can about how Puppy got together? Leave out the boring stuff if you want…
“Well, me and Billy have been playing in various crap rock bands since we were about twelve. I met Will while working in a bar where we used to listen to the Bill and Ted soundtrack as we tidied up at the end of the night. We invited him to join the band when he did a duet of ‘Hero’ by Chad Kroeger at a karaoke night and it fucking slapped.”
When you formed the band, what did you want to achieve?
“Me and Billy wanted to try and do something heavier than the indie rock and garage bands we were doing, and Will had a background in stoner rock and doom and wanted to do something that had a bit more in the way of melody, so I think our goal musically was to aim for somewhere between Teenage Fanclub and Black Sabbath. In terms of being in a place where we’re able to really explore a wider range of stuff we’re into musically I think we’re all very happy.”
Your band name is hard to Google. You either get stuff about the punk band PUP or pictures of dogs. Neither of these things are bad, per se, but they are frustrating to a journalist on a tight deadline. Your thoughts?
“Frustrating to Google maybe, but hopefully people’s anger will be quelled by nice pictures of puppies. The PUP/Puppy thing was an oversight on our part. Turns out there’s also a band called Puppy with about 14 p’s, but you live and learn I guess.”
Your record is called ‘The Goat’. Goats get a bit of a rough deal. Loads of people eat them, their cheese is shite and Satan claimed them as his beast long ago…
“Love a goat. I think they’ve really had a resurgence in popular culture since the internet realised they screamed like fully grown men. We’re hoping to capitalise on that success.”
The record sleeve for The Goat has an occult vibe. What’s the most black magic thing you’ve ever done?
“I used to play [’90s card game] Magic: The Gathering a lot as a kid, and there were several cards that called for me to sacrifice creatures which I did willingly. Whether that lust for blood will ever cross over into real life remains to be seen though.”
How did you learn guitar? You sound like a man who learned to play on an Ibanez. A proper spiky metal one…
“I actually learned to play bass on a horrible looking Ibanez, but by the time I started playing guitar Billy had gotten me into the Rolling Stones so I had a Telecaster. Weirdly it smelled of piss and to this day I don’t know why.”
One of the things we like about Puppy, is your songs are not boring. What advice would you give to anyone writing songs to help them write songs that aren’t boring?
“Just steal your riffs from really not boring songs like I do. It’s worked so far.”
Puppy’s debut album, ‘The Goat’, is out today on Spinefarm. They head on tour on Wednesday, April 17th, starting at The Joiners in Southampton.