Puppy are one of the greatest bands to come out of the UK for a long time. A genuinely unique band who play interesting, fun and groovy music that is as much influenced by Weezer as Pantera. I recently spoke to frontman Jock Nelson to speak about the band’s origins, their recent support shows and tours, their music and 80s cartoons.
Jack: Hey, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. How are you doing?
Jock Norton (Vocals/Guitar): Not bad thanks. I’m currently having a coffee and trying to wake up.
Jack: How did Puppy form?
Jock: Puppy formed out of the ashes of me and Billy’s old band Polterghost. We wanted to try something new and then when Will joined it all really clicked.
Jack: Puppy’s sound has been described as indie metal and has been compared to wide range of bands including Deftones, Nirvana, Weezer and Metallica. What bands are your inspirations?
Jock: I’d say indie metal is a pretty fair description, and all those bands you mentioned are huge influences on us. I’m also a big fan bands like Dinosaur Jr, Teenage Fanclub, Swervedriver, Hum and stuff like that. Basically anything that would have been on 120 minutes in the mid 90’s.
Jack: Has being from London been an influence on the band?
Jock: It’s hard to say really. Growing up where we did (Hackney) there wasn’t really a heavy music scene we were aware of in terms of small bands and stuff. Accessible live music venues always had more of an alternative/ indie slant in our experience so that probably informed us as to how we wanted to approach playing in a heavier band. I think one of the reasons we sound different from a lot of other bands is that we weren’t really part of a scene that could inform what we were doing and had to be a bit more creative with it.
Jack: Spinefarm are re-releasing II, are you happy with the response it got when it was first released?
Jock: Oh for sure. We were really happy with the first EP and some buzz we got off that, but with the second one we refined our sound a bit and more people started to take notice. I think that definitely set us on the path to being able to work with a label like Spinefarm which is still so crazy for us and really a dream come true.
Jack: There’s a lot of buzz around you as a band in general, does this add more pressure?
Jock: Yes and no, I mean when we play shows now more people tend to know our music which always make for a better atmosphere, and as far as writing music goes our standards have always been pretty high amongst ourselves so we just try and make sure we’re super happy with what we’re doing and trust that other people will be into it too. We’re just keeping our heads down and making music that we wanna hear.
Jack: What’s a Puppy recording session like?
Jock: Pretty typical I’m afraid. Usually we’re on pretty tight time restrictions so it’s just rehearsing a bunch before we go into the studio to make sure we’re able to get everything down in time, and then once we’re in there we just crack on and hope it all works. We’re not really big on guitar effects and stuff so we just get a good snare sound, whack the gain up on the guitars and away we go.
Jack: I saw in a video interview that one of your members had an NHS t-shirt on, are many of your songs political?
Jock: [Laughs]. Yeah that’s a great t-shirt. No I wouldn’t say so. We’re very political as people, and during the last election we used our tiny platform to try and encourage people to vote Labour. We got a few negative comments, but to be honest fuck those guys.
Jack: Puppy have been played on Radio 1, was getting played on national radio a dream?
Jock: Yeah definitely. We’d experienced it a bit with some of our old bands, but it never got as much traction as it did with Puppy. Dan Carter (Radio 1 Rock Show DJ) was definitely the catalyst for that and his support has been amazing. He got us in to do a Maida Vale session too which was very surreal.
Jack: What’s working with Spinefarm Records like?
Jock: It’s honestly been amazing. Dante who runs the label is such a great guy, and the support we’ve had from them has been wonderful. We’ve been working on songs for our debut album and they’ve just been really encouraging and into what we’re doing.
Jack: I love the band’s sense of humour, do too many bands take it seriously?
Jock: Thanks! I don’t know, I mean we pick and choose where to be dumb and where not to be dumb. Musically we just try and make the best music we can, but when it comes time to making promotional videos about hats that we’re selling on big cartel, we feel we have license to be pretty dumb about it.
Jack: How was Download Festival last year?
Jock: Amazing. It was our first big festival and really felt like a baptism of fire to a degree. We were all bricking it beforehand, but it went off without a hitch and we were pretty euphoric afterwards.
Jack: Was playing with Conan an odd experience?
Jock: It was great! They’re lovely guys, and it was fun for us to play with a heavier band. We try and mix up the kind of supports we do so we don’t get pigeonholed into any one scene, so hopefully we’ve won over a couple of doom peeps with that one.
Jack: Last month you toured with CKY, how was touring with CKY?
Jock: We were all big CKY fans, especially Will, so it was pretty surreal meeting them and being able to hang out. They’re really nice dudes and they were unreal live. Chad did a guitar solo every night that always hit me for six. Plus he did the thing where you spin your guitar round on your shoulder and catch it which was killer.
Jack: Was being nominated for the Golden Gods a surreal experience?
Jock: Very. We figured we weren’t gonna win as soon as we heard Venom Prison were nominated, but it was still a real honour to be given that nod when we hadn’t even put out an album yet. Hopefully once it does the awards will start flooding in.
Jack: You’re playing Bloodstock this year, do you cater your set to different crowds?
Jock: Sometimes we sorta do, like if we only have half an hour and it’s a toss up between this song or that, we might play one we think the audience will be more into, whether that’s a heavier one or a poppier one or whatever.
Jack: What else do you have in the Pipeline? Any new music or tours?
Jock: Well we’ve started recording our album like I said, so hopefully we’ll be able to put some new music out in the not too distant future. And obviously we’ve started thinking about videos again too so expect something suitably ridiculous once we have that in the can. Tour wise we have something very cool coming up that we’ll be able to announce fairly soon that we’re very excited about too.
Jack: Finally, as the video to Do It Again feature 80s cartons, what was the best 80s Cartoons?
Jock: Ah well I was a huuuuge Thundercats fan as a kid so that’s mine I think. Was Bucky o’ Hare 80’s? I loved that too. Will inherited a bunch of videos from his older brother when he was little which I think informed the choices for Do It Again quite a lot. He was big into He Man. Also Darkwing Duck, though that never made it into the video sadly.