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Stefan Babcock

In this episode we speak with Stefan Babcock, lead singer and guitarist of the band PUP. Stefan discusses the Canadian music scene and the extent to which the US/Canada border acts as a musical divide. He also discusses lyrical inspiration, band chemistry, the dedication required to make music one’s livelihood, and an experiment PUP ran: what happens when you provide the public with the chords and lyrics to a song they’ve never heard, and hundreds of fans record their own versions of what they think the song could sound like?

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Transcript

Evan Ball:
Hello, and welcome to Ernie Ball's Striking A Chord podcast. I'm Evan Ball. Today on the show, we have Stefan Babcock, guitarist and lead singer of the band PUP.

I spoke with Stefan Babcock of PUP back in April, towards the beginning of the COVID lockdown. He was in his hometown of Toronto and I was in California, but Zoom brought us together, as it does these days. We have an interesting conversation about being a Canadian band versus an American band, and the challenges of becoming a cross-border band. We talk about quitting your job to pursue making music your livelihood and risking total failure, and what it takes to make it. Other topics include lyrical inspiration, book recommendations, band chemistry, and an experiment PUP ran. What happens when you provide the public with the chords and lyrics to a song they've never heard, and then hundreds of people record their own version of what they think the song could or should sound like? Stay tuned. Okay, the first 55 seconds are a little rough, then Stefan switches connections and it clears up. But without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, Stefan Babcock.

Evan Ball:
Stefan Babcock, welcome to the podcast.

Stefan Babcock:
Thanks for having me.

Evan Ball:
Yes. All right, real quick. Can we get the origin of the band name?

Stefan Babcock:
No.

Evan Ball:
Off-limits!

Stefan Babcock:
I'll be honest, there is a very concrete explanation for it but people started arguing about what it refers to, and some of the arguments are just so funny that I'm just going to let it go.

Evan Ball:
That's awesome. So I must've come across one explanation but that's not necessarily it, that's just some speculation that caught on?

Stefan Babcock:
I've heard three explanations and one of them is right, because we've said what it means in early interviews. I've heard three get thrown around quite a bit, so I just like to let the snowball effect happen here.

Evan Ball:
All right, I like it. Are you in Toronto right now?

Stefan Babcock:
I'm in Toronto, yeah. All four of us have lived here our whole lives.

Evan Ball:
And so for our future listeners, it's April 21st, 2020, for some context. So what's the state of Toronto right now, and how are you passing your time?

Stefan Babcock:
I think all things considered, Toronto is doing all right. I have no evidence for this, but it feels like just by what I've been seeing on the internet, that a lot of Canadians are taking this a little more seriously. The social isolation here is in full force and I've been having an okay time, actually. I'm normally a little bit of a hermit either way, so it hasn't bummed me out too, too much.

Evan Ball:
Are you staying active musically, or Netflix?

Stefan Babcock:
Yeah, yeah. I'm writing a lot, or trying. I'm finding it a lot harder to write, I'm not sure why. I think partially my mind is elsewhere and the other thing is just there's a really bleak part of my brain that just is saying, "What's the point right now? We're not going to go on tour for a long time." But I've still been going through the motions. And actually the other day, for the first time in my life, I tried to write a song on a synth, which did not go well but it was something.

Evan Ball:
The pandemic and the associated shutdowns have been devastating for so many industries, but I feel like musicians could be hit uniquely hard because when you hear potential plans to reopen society, concerts are last in line. It's really hard to know, but not to be a downer right off the bat. But what's your take on the current state of being a professional musician?

Stefan Babcock:
I am a pessimist in life in general, and I believe what you're saying. I don't think that we're going to be able to go on tour until there's a vaccine which is, they're saying 12 to 18 months. So that is 90% of how my band, PUP, made a living, was through touring. So I'm grappling with this new reality that operating the way we've operated for the past seven years is not going to work. At least for the next year or two, it's not going to work. It's something I'm still trying to wrap my head around, but I'm just trying to write more songs. I draw a lot, I do comics and stuff. So I'm just trying to find if there's a way to keep this career, keep this dream alive without the live component. And maybe that just means putting out a ton of music all the time, or making books, or whatever it takes.

Evan Ball:
So you mentioned 90% of revenue comes from touring. Where does a musician get that other 10%? Would it be streaming revenue?

Stefan Babcock:
Yeah, probably streaming revenue, royalties, songwriting royalties, that kind of thing. But we've had a lot of success by my metrics. We've been quite successful and we have a really awesome fan base. And we're very lucky to have that strong live following but we're not a band that's on the radio very often. We don't get syncs, we're not TV shows. So it really is about that live stuff and then number sales that come with touring.

Evan Ball:
So you guys obviously have fans in the U.S. and Canada, but as far as aspiring bands and their quest for popularity, what's the border like between Canada and the U.S.? Does it feel more like two distinct worlds or is it something more unified, maybe by genre?

Stefan Babcock:
Yeah, it's definitely two different worlds. For a Canadian band to go to America legally, you have to have a visa which is about... I don't know how long it is now, maybe three or four months process to apply for it. And it costs... I can't remember, I haven't done it for awhile but I think it costs around 1500 bucks to get a visa, just to play a show in America. So, at a certain point that's a negligible cost, but when we were starting out and we were trying to tour and get paid 50 bucks a show and whatever, that $1,500 hit seemed insurmountable.

Stefan Babcock:
I do think there is a pretty big divide and what I've noticed with a lot of our friends who are in Canadian bands, PUP have been really lucky to have broken out of Canada. But we have a bunch of friends who are in Canadian bands who are far more successful here than we are, but they haven't been able to break into the U.S. market at all because of border issues, or just going at it by building their career with a Canada centric approach, which has hurt a lot of them.

Evan Ball:
That's interesting. I didn't know if the internet and streaming would supersede touring across borders, but I guess that touring component is pretty big. Or maybe it's the focus that your friends' bands have, I'm not sure?

Stefan Babcock:
Maybe. I think a lot of success in the music industry is like chicken and the egg, right? So it's like you want to get that big Pitchfork or Stereogum article or whatever it may be, but they don't want to do it unless you've got a show lined up in New York, or LA, or Chicago. And you can't get a show unless you've already got press or radio, and you can't get a manager unless you have an agent. But no agent wants to sign you if you don't have a manager, it's all one horrible chicken and the egg situation.

Evan Ball:
It's interesting because I think on the face of it, I'm in the U.S., you're in Canada, we speak the same language. Our accents are basically the same so it's easy to just think it's a minor distinction, whether PUP is an American band or a Canadian band. But I guess you're an aspiring band, there is a separation that maybe a lot of people don't think about?

Stefan Babcock:
Yeah.

Evan Ball:
I'm going to risk sounding like a silly American tourist on this episode. I'm interested in this, but what about within Canada? Are there other separate music scenes with bands that sing in French and bands that sing in English?

Stefan Babcock:
Yeah. So it's a thing that most Anglophone Canadians wouldn't even know about but Quebec, which is the French speaking province in Ontario. There's French in every province, but Quebec is like the hub of Francophone Canadian culture. They have a whole different scene of French speaking artists who, some of them are in Quebec, are superstars that people in Ontario never would have heard of. But in Quebec they play 5,000, 8,000 cap theaters and small hockey arenas, and stuff like that. And then you cross the border to Ontario and no one's ever heard of them. When I learned about that whole community, it just blew my mind because it's not something that ever comes across your path if you're an Anglophone in Canada.

Evan Ball:
That's really interesting. So even if it's similar genres, maybe in the punk scene, you're not really commingling?

Stefan Babcock:
Yeah. In the punk scene, I guess it's a bit different. There aren't a ton of Francophone Canadian bands who sing in French. There are a few but not a ton, but it's more sort of the divide is more in like the pop world or the folk world, where there are artists that are just massive in Quebec and nowhere else.

Evan Ball:
Gotcha. All right. Let's get some of your backstory. So what came first for you, singing or guitar?

Stefan Babcock:
Definitely guitar. Singing still is a challenge for me. When we started the band, I was writing the songs and the plan between the four of us was always to find a singer. And I was just filling in until we found the person and that person never really materialized. And one day it was just like, okay, well, we got to go record a record, so I guess you're the singer now.

Evan Ball:
That's funny. Total parallel in my band that I was in growing up, but we all ended up splitting the duties. A couple of us took most of it, but that's how it started. So when did you start guitar?

Stefan Babcock:
I think I started playing when I was about 14. I got an acoustic guitar first and then I got an electric guitar, I got a Yamaha Pacifica about two months after I got the acoustic. The day that I got the electric guitar, I joined a ska band and we played a show, it was like a battle of the bands thing. But there was like, I don't know, 60, 70 people there. And we played a show like a month after I had joined, and I'd only been playing guitar for three months. And I was supposed to be the lead guitar player in this band and it was a complete disaster.

Evan Ball:
Wow. Well, that's one way to get started, you just jump into the deep end.

Stefan Babcock:
Trial by fire.

Evan Ball:
So I heard you guys talk about how, when you started out, the music was mellower and you morphed into a punk band? Were you guys all coming from different influences and certain influences ended up winning out?

Stefan Babcock:
Yeah, definitely. I should say this first, right now, PUP is very much four of us together. I might be the guy that stands in the center of the stage but that's it, the four of us. It can't exist without the four of us. But when we started, it was very much my band and I was writing these songs. And I had this vision of it being a mellower, acoustic... Not acoustic, but a little more folk focused. And that was working for a bit but I think, especially Zack and Nestor who grew up together and learned to play music together, and there they're a lot more into heavy music. They're into metal and stoner rock, and that kind of thing. And it was a gradual thing where the songs would just get played louder and louder every practice.

Stefan Babcock:
And Zach moved from playing with brushes to playing with sticks, to playing with these heavy sticks and just bashing the shit out of the drums. And as soon as everybody started throwing their own unique influences into the songs that I was writing, it took on a whole different life. And it felt way better and way more natural for the four of us to be playing louder, faster stuff. So we just started writing that way and I'm very happy that we made that choice.

Evan Ball:
It's worked out. Obviously, your sound has resonated with a lot of people in the punk world, but there's lots of punk bands that have not broken through, of course. What do you think separates PUP from other punk bands?

Stefan Babcock:
Luck. I think a lot of it is luck. I think another part of it is, and this is not to say that other bands don't work as hard or harder, but we've always had a pretty strong work ethic. I have this philosophy that there's two types of people who have success in music. And it's you're either A, a genius, a musical savant, whether that's you're amazing at performing or amazing at songwriting or whatever. And there's just people who just grind it out and work really hard and just don't stop. And we are in category B for sure.

Evan Ball:
I'm sure your fans would disagree. I'm you have that, but you guys have some sort of... There's an extra creativity I think you guys bring to your genre.

Stefan Babcock:
Well, who was it that said 10,000 hours of practice or whatever will make you perfect? I don't really believe that, but I do believe that since the day we started this band, we've practiced five times a week. And we quit our jobs to play in this band before we were called PUP, before this band was anything we jumped in with two feet. And we're like, we're going to just risk it all, be broke and just see if we can make this work. And I think it's a thing that not a lot of people want to do, is risk that huge failure. If we had failed at it, we would have all lost our careers, the careers that we had before this band, and we would have been broke. And it would have set us back in our lives four or five years.

Evan Ball:
Where does that drive come from? What makes you want to do what you do?

Stefan Babcock:
I think it would be different for everybody in the band, but for me it's like I just don't see a life where I don't write songs, whether it's for a living or not. And the four of us all, we all love playing live. For me, I'd been in a couple of bands before this one and I just love writing songs. I love being in a band, but none of those bands, the personal dynamic never really felt right. And I think a lot of my drive came when I met these other guys, and we were on the same page musically. And they were as committed to being in a band as I was, and we all had the same expectations and goals. And it just felt really right and my drive came from, if I can't do it with these guys, I can't do it with anyone. So I got to go for it now, it's now or never.

Evan Ball:
That chemistry is so crucial. If you couldn't play music, what career would you want? Do you ever think about that?

Stefan Babcock:
I do, I do, yeah. I always thought maybe being an architect would be cool, but I don't know anything about that stuff. I'd maybe be a farmer or I've been drawing a lot of comics lately. So who knows, maybe there's some sort of a career in that. I don't know, I'm not very talented though, but 10,000 hours or whatever.

Evan Ball:
Well, that's cool. Three other options, three very disparate options.

Stefan Babcock:
I guess it's hard, to think what my plan B would be because I had a job before I had a career, but it wasn't really what I love doing. And I didn't really have a plan B for what was going to happen if music didn't work out, which maybe is also one of the reasons why it worked out.

Evan Ball:
Hearing from, in other interviews you guys have done, it sounds like your first big power play was reaching out to Dave Schiffman, who would end up producing the band?

Stefan Babcock:
Yeah.

Evan Ball:
Was this just a cold call or was there a connection already in place?

Stefan Babcock:
It was more or less a cold call, we had some mutual friends. He produced an album by a band called Priestess who are a Canadian, I guess you'd call them stoner rock or metal, or something in that vein. And we're big fans of that band and he had produced the record. And we were also kind of vaguely friends with them and had a few connections that way. So we managed to get our demos into his hands and we had zero expectations, but he took a real liking to the demos. Then I think he took us on as a pet project because there is no way that we could have afforded him at his full rate, or there's no reason why he would want to work with a band that was at our level. I think he just took a risk on us and treated it like his pet project, and it really worked out. He also produced our second and third record and with every record, as we have made a little bit more money with each record. He also makes more money and it feels like we're a team that's in it together.

Evan Ball:
Did you throw a lot of lines out and he was the one that responded, or was he your number one target?

Stefan Babcock:
He was the first one we... We made a list, we had a list of about 10 people and he was at the top of it, and it worked out.

Evan Ball:
So what happened next? He wants to work with you, is there a date set to jump into the studio? Or do you guys meet up first?

Stefan Babcock:
If I'm remembering this right, he came to Toronto after we sent him the demos, he lives in LA. So he flew in to hang with us to see if we would all get along, and to hang out in the jam space. And hear the songs and maybe make a few suggestions, and stuff like that. Another example of just chemistry just being so important and working in our favor. I think we left that preproduction session feeling like this is a perfect fit and we just planned to make the record after that. I think we made the record, we started recording it four or five months later.

Evan Ball:
So touring. So back in the olden days when bands toured, do you have a favorite place to tour?

Stefan Babcock:
I love going to Australia. I think Australians, especially for guitar rock, it is still alive and well in Australia way more so than anywhere else. The Australians who like punk music and guitar rock music are mostly completely unhinged, so the shows are pretty fun.

Evan Ball:
That sounds fantastic. What's the best way to pass your time when you're on the road?

Stefan Babcock:
I draw and I read a lot. I'm a pretty introverted guy so being on tour, being around people all the time takes a pretty significant toll on me. So I like to go into my own world every day, whether that's reading or drawing or whatever. Nestor and Zack, they both have Nintendo switches and they are deep into Zelda, hours every day. And Steve's a big reader as well.

Evan Ball:
So do you read nonfiction or fiction?

Stefan Babcock:
I'm mostly a fiction guy.

Evan Ball:
Any book recommendations you want to throw out?

Stefan Babcock:
Yeah. A Prayer for Owen Meany is a really great book. I just finished this book which is like, I think by the title, it's a little bit embarrassing because it's pop lit. But it's called Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, I think that's the title. It was a really fun kind of dark but also quick read. So that's a great one if you just want to burn through something in a couple of days.

Evan Ball:
Great. I think a book recommendations are as welcome as they've ever been, right now.

Stefan Babcock:
Yeah. Oh, one other one if you want to bite into something a bit bigger, there's a book called House of Leaves. Do you know about this book?

Evan Ball:
No, no.

Stefan Babcock:
I'm a big horror fan, or horror novels. It's a pretty big book but it's written in a way that I've never seen anything else written. Without giving anything away, it's about a house that is larger on the inside than on the outside and it's a really great creative book.

Evan Ball:
All right, another touring question. What's the ideal set length?

Stefan Babcock:
22 minutes.

Evan Ball:
Yeah? You like a short set?

Stefan Babcock:
Yeah. In the past four or five years, we haven't really done many support tours, it's mostly been headline tours. So, we like to play for like an hour at a headline show, which I guess is still a bit short for a headline set. But nobody wants me yelling in their faces for more than an hour so we keep it at an hour. My favorite are when we have that odd, weird festival set, or it used to be back in the day, we used to always be a first of four band in a given 20 minutes. And you just rip your six fastest, naughtiest songs, and get off stage and not speak at all, those were my favorite.

Evan Ball:
Hey, can you explain the Free At Last challenge you put out to your fans? I think it was brilliant.

Stefan Babcock:
Yeah, thanks. We made a music video for a song called Free at Last and before the song had come out, we put the chords and the lyrics to the song in a zine that we made. And we asked people to interpret it however they wanted and guess what the song would sound like, or make their own version of a song that used those lyrics and that chord progression. And people started sending us in videos of them just making up what the song would sound like, and we ended up getting over 250 people sent us videos and audio files. There were opera versions done by professional opera singers. There was trap versions, there were deathcore versions. There was like folky country versions, there was a mariachi version.

Stefan Babcock:
Literally almost every musical genre I can think of, we got somebody who sent in that song. And we decided that we would compile all of that into a 250 song playlist which runs about, I think it's over 14 hours and I have listened to every single song on it. And we also made a music video using a lot of the videos sent in from people. I would say it's one of my proudest achievements in this band. Or I should say our proudest achievement in this band, was making that video. I love it, I think it's... If you never heard PUP and you need to start somewhere, I would say the Free at Last music video is the place to start.

Evan Ball:
Did anyone come up with a melody similar to the actual song?

Stefan Babcock:
No, and you know what's interesting is of the 250 versions, almost none of them sounded like each other at all. It was really this cool social experiment. It was like the way that people might interpret our... Or I'm sure there's like a deeper, there's a better, more and more philosophical way to say this. But I just found it interesting that everyone heard that chord progression and those lyrics differently, and it was really, really interesting. There were some versions that honestly were probably better than our song.

Evan Ball:
That's really cool. But it speaks to this phenomenon that I think a lot of musicians probably think about it at one time or another. How are there still songs left to be written? There's only so many chord progressions that get used, at least in popular music, and they've been used over and over. But somehow there's this endless well of potential songs.

Stefan Babcock:
I think it is tricky because I've had a few songs in the past where I've written and they never came out, but somebody would point out, "Oh, this kind of sounds like maybe this other thing." And I'm not sure if I've ever heard those other songs, and maybe I did and it infiltrated my subconscious. Or maybe it was a complete coincidence, I'm not really sure, either are very possible. That's one thing that I'm trying to be really aware of in my song writing, almost every melody and certainly every chord progression, like you said, has been done. So try to get a bit weird with things when you can.

Evan Ball:
Right, right. I'm sure people are bound to write very similar things sometimes, just because people with similar taste buds are going to be inclined towards certain note selection and whatnot. But in general, your experiment shows how many possibilities there are. All right, PUP has received lots of nominations and awards. Do you have any favorite accolades or awards?

Stefan Babcock:
That's a funny question.

Evan Ball:
I just throw them out there.

Stefan Babcock:
Music is not a competition. That said, we win a lot of them. No, we're more of a always a bridesmaid, never a bride. We've been nominated for a lot of things, but we've won very few. One that I am particularly proud of is there's a Canadian prize called the Polaris prize. It's like the Mercury prize in the UK, it has nothing to do with popularity or album sales. It's not like the Grammys, it's just voted on by music critics. And our last two albums were both shortlisted for it. We haven't won, we've never won it and I don't expect ever to, but being nominated for that award, it's an award that I paid attention to a lot when I was growing up so that meant a lot to me.

Evan Ball:
That's great. It's got to feel good to be recognized.

Stefan Babcock:
I don't put too much stock in it because a lot of that stuff is just such bullshit, but it is nice though. It is nice to be recognized for hard work once in a while.

Evan Ball:
So you have your own label, Little Dipper, but you're also on Rise Records?

Stefan Babcock:
Yeah.

Evan Ball:
How does that work?

Stefan Babcock:
It's an interesting partnership between Little Dipper, Rise, and BMG. And I would say, we formed the label for a couple of reasons, one being we very much come from DIY roots, but we're not really a DIY band anymore. In some capacities we are, like we'll do our own videos with our friend Jeremy and do whatever. But we make zines and stuff like that, but the truth is that we have a lot of people who work with us now. We have managers and agents, and all of that stuff. So forming our own label was just a way to hold onto a sliver of our DIY roots and our DIY beliefs, and stuff like that. We wanted to make that label so that we could stay in control of everything we did artistically.

Stefan Babcock:
Rise came on board as a label who has had a lot of... They've done a great job with their bands and they have been the manpower behind our ideas. So it's been a really great partnership, they let us lead the charge on marketing and creative stuff like that. But we don't really have the expertise or resources to make a lot of our dumb ideas come to life, so they're really great at helping us do that. We've been really lucky to work with a bunch of great people who have come on board with this band.

Evan Ball:
It sounds like you get the best of both worlds then?

Stefan Babcock:
Definitely feels like that, yeah.

Evan Ball:
Well, if Rise Records is that willing to trust you guys and let you do your thing, couldn't you just be on Rise Records without Little Dipper?

Stefan Babcock:
We could, but I think... You know what? This might sound a bit selfish or something, but I think if you're willing to be creative and willing to do a lot of hard work, try to reap some of the reward, you know what I mean?

Evan Ball:
Yeah, yeah.

Stefan Babcock:
So I think we're a band that just in very general terms, the four of us are probably a lot more actively involved in the business side of our careers than most bands at our level.

Evan Ball:
Gotcha. Where do you draw your ideas from or inspiration for your lyrics?

Stefan Babcock:
For each of the three records we've written, I think the lyrics, they're all somewhat connected. But I view our albums, at least lyrically, as six month snapshots of my brain. Where we were at, where I was at, in the six months that we wrote the albums. So I was going through a pretty tough time while we were writing the last one and so our last record, Morbid Stuff, is pretty... The lyrics are more on the dark side I would say, they're a little bit depressing but we try to deal with that in a humorous way. We're not a very self-serious band, so we try to find humor and find some sort of catharsis in those kind of lyrics. And the record before, The Dream Is Over, the lyrics came about... We were on the road touring the first record 250 days a year for two or three years in a row.

Stefan Babcock:
The only thing on my brain was touring because that was the only thing that I know. If your job is to be a songwriter, there's only so many songs you can write about songwriting. So my job was to be a touring guy for a few years there and do nothing else except for tour. And that was on my brain and so that second record is a lot about what it's like to be on the road, and love your bandmates and hate your bandmates. And be stoked that you're doing what you want with your life, but also be upset that maybe it's not working out the way that you had always envisioned it. So a lot of conflicting ideas there.

Evan Ball:
You had a pretty serious issue with your vocal chords. Was that right before that album?

Stefan Babcock:
Yeah, it was right before The Dream Is Over came out.

Evan Ball:
And that was potentially a brick wall for the band, I would think?

Stefan Babcock:
Yeah.

Evan Ball:
Is that a risk going forward or do you have to take precautions?

Stefan Babcock:
I do take precautions, a lot of precautions, actually. Maybe I'll just give a bit of a backstory. I'm not a trained singer, I just have always gone out there and yelled and sang, and whatever happened, happened. And I guess doing 250 shows a year for several years has caught up with me and I ended up developing a cyst on my vocal cord. And a hemorrhage, which means that my vocal cord just started bleeding into itself or filling with blood, which those two together could often mean that's it for you as a singer. That was a tough pill to swallow. As I said earlier in the podcast, I'm a pretty big pessimist so while I don't think it'll ever be an issue, it's always on my mind. Is this my last show? Is this the day that I blow them out completely?

Stefan Babcock:
I do take a lot of precautions. I started training with a vocal coach who's really amazing. And he was the first person to not try to change how I sounded, just changed my approach to the things. And then I take really good care of myself on tour now. I used to... I mean, I still like to party once in a while, but it used to be a lot of drinking, a lot of smoking weed, late nights, eating garbage, all that crap. And now I'm more eating salads and drinking tons of water. And only getting drunk once in a while and just trying to take better care of my body.

Evan Ball:
I hear you. Do you have advice for aspiring bands?

Stefan Babcock:
Yeah, I guess. When we were talking about it before I was like, if you're serious about music and you really want this as a career and you are having personal issues with somebody in your band or multiple band mates. Those are not the people that you're going to have success with, so get out of that situation. And the other thing is everybody says hard work, hard work, hard work, and it's easy to say you're going to work super hard. But then when it comes down to it, you're not really willing to go the extra mile. If you want to do this, I think anybody who really wants to do this can do this. You just have to really mentally prepare yourself to be really poor and not see your partner, or your family, or your friends for months on end. And work harder, and I'll probably write music when I'm at home 10 hours a day, every day. So you just really have to love doing it and want to do it, and be willing to sacrifice a lot.

Evan Ball:
Important question. What gauge guitar strings are you using?

Stefan Babcock:
I'm using the 12-56. They're not even Slinkys. Live, we play a full step down so we play in D standard, and some of our songs are dropped even... Some of our songs are drop C which is, we do not sound like Korn but we have similar tunings. I use real thick strings because we're just playing really... I also do a lot of chordal, powerchordy kind of stuff. I'm more about getting some crunch and growl than I am about shredding.

Evan Ball:
All right. Well, Stefan Babcock, thanks for being on the podcast.

Stefan Babcock:
Yeah. Thank you for having me.

Evan Ball:
Thanks for tuning into Striking A Chord, an Ernie Ball podcast. Since this interview, PUP has released a couple of singles and has been active on social media. So go check them out, they're staying busy. If you'd like to contact us, please email [email protected]

Evan Ball:
Hey, real quick. Your phone's breaking up a lot.

Stefan Babcock:
Oh, okay. I can try getting off this headset and see if that does anything?

Evan Ball:
Yeah, maybe I'll check the recordings real quick and see if it's just how I'm hearing it, rather than how it's being recorded.

Stefan Babcock:
Okay. How's this?

Evan Ball:
There you are.

Stefan Babcock:
Is it all right?

Evan Ball:
Yeah, there we go.

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