Weird music videos, strange music. The hell is Puppy? Let’s discover this British band, right here, right now!
Hi guys! How are you?
Jock Norton (vocals/guitar): Real good!
Billy Howard (drums): Really happy to be in Paris!
“The Goat” is out today (ed: on the day of this interview). Nervous? Happy? Grateful?
Jock: Today yeah. Yes kind of a mix of everything I guess.
Billy: You summed it up very well.
You entered the studio a year and a half ago. Wasn’t it hard to wait that much time until the release?
Jock: Yes for sure. We had it for so long. I’ve listened to it for so long. It’s very cool to finally have it out. It’s cool for us.
You even played some of those new songs live. Maybe you come up with some news ideas? Is it the case? Was it disappointing?
Jock: Do we?
Billy: I think we were too lazy for that.
Will Michael (bass guitar): Some of the songs we demo-ed, actually the label asked us to work on some songs we also worked on during the sessions. In order to work on those as well. Some of the latest songs we recorded probably maked it up to the album replacing some of the early songs. Which I think was for the best.
Jock: Yeah like “World Stands Still” which is the second single from the album. That was quiet a late one. As a demo we liked it but you know, and then the label said it was really good and we should have it so. It was a good idea I think.
What is your writing routine like? Do you jam? Do you demo and go through after?
Jock: I kind of write by myself and do demos and tapes to the guys. Then all the riffs and instrumental parts, we tend to change them once we’re all together in a room. That’s where we have fun as a band. Stop/starts, timing things, dynamics. And the guys ajust the parts as well. We’re not very good at jamming. I wish we were.
So there’s obviously a gap between the music being pretty heavy and the vocals being softer. How did you come up to this formula? Naturally?
Jock: What made me, in the band I played before, the guitars weren’t as heavy. It was more like an indie rock sort of thing.
Billy: But we always found it fun to play heavier music. Between practices we used to play like Black Sabbath kind of thing. And going heavy and slowly was something we wanted to explore. Our former bassist was more into doom stuff too. So we played all those genres and find something on our own.
Jock: That was the common music with shared and liked to play and when Will joined the band we felt a lot more confident doing that. So yes, the heaviest side envelopped the softest vocals.
But did you ever try something else with vocals?
Jock: I didn’t feel very comfortable to try anything to be honest. (laughs) I’m not a very agressive person and I don’t think it’ll work that well.
Billy: I think also as integral to the whole thing, it’ll change a lot of things if we look to try screaming or something. It won’t be the same.
You did have fun writing the music but lyrically speaking, what are you talking about?
Jock: I don’t know man. We don’t talk that much about the lyrics between us. I never felt okay about talking about big issues or other people. I think sometimes with rock music, there could be an element of it where the lyrics could be like: “listen up!” and telling people stuff. We didn’t want to do that so it’s quiet internal to the band.
But are they stories? Or?
Jock: It’s more…
Billy: I’m not a lyricist so I don’t know but. Any aspect of this band is about sincerity, honesty, humour and self awarness. For me, the lyrics are the reflection of that.
The album was produced by two different people. Wasn’t it unusual? How did that happen? How did you still have something coherent in the end?
Jock: Making it coherent was definitely tough. That took us a while but it was just a scheduling thing. After the first part, we went to Neil Kennedy and he actually shaped the sound of the album.
Did this experience bring you new eyes on the process as a whole?
Jock: I think… Every time we recored, we learnt more. And this experience with Neil Kennedy is of course important. When we’re about to record, we know what the guitar will sound like, same for the drums and the bass and that’s where you’re getting better at it and feeling better too. We do pick up a few little tips and stuff like that. That was helpful.
Billy: The sound was a bit defined but the context we worked in, so rushed and low budget. Been given a little bit more space and more freedom, might actually help you and find how you want to sound.
A word about “Demons”, the heaviest track in our opinion. Looks like it was on a EP before? Why did you bring it back for the record?
Will: It was released as a single in fact quite a while ago. It was the first song we finished with the first producer and it came out preventively, and there’s been schedule issues and it came out earlier. The version that ended up on the album is a different mix. It’s different from the single. It’s the same song essentially.
Billy: It came in 2017. We had like twenty songs in total we were looking at and that one was still a strong song and it would have been a shame to not have it on the album. And with the new mix, it just made sense to have it. It’s also a big thump in to have it close the record.
Jock: Yeah that was a big thing. When we were looking to the tracklisting, this one just made sense to end it. Good stuff at the beginning, shit stuff in the middle, good song at the end. (laughs)
What’s your favorite track to play/to listen and why?
Jock: I like to play “World Stands Still”.
Will: Yeah I like the rhythm section a lot too. You have to get people to clap hands like Bon Jovi kind of thing.
Billy: Oh yeah it’s true. You guys could do that.
Jock: We could but I found it embarassing. (laughs) But if you come to a show and start doing it, we could do it.
Billy: We could pay you a few euros or something. 5€ per clap. (laughs)
Billy: I like to play “Just Like You”. It has like a Living Colour vibe, it feels really nice. And I like the song “Nightwalker”, kind of a sad love song.
Will: My favorite song on the album, probably “Bathe In Blood” but I don’t have to play that live, I think it’s the hardest one to play live.
Billy: Yeah it’s quite fast and has a lot to do.
Will: Blast beats on it?
Billy: Does it? (laughs)
The album cover is also pretty special. It’s occult but with a pink set up. Why?
Billy: That’s it.
Will: Wow, that’s what we’re all about baby!
What about your videos? They’re pretty specials. Where do you get those ideas?
Jock: We steal them.
Jock: These guys made them so.
Billy: We all love movies and grew up in the same generation, with MTV too. So music videos were a big part of the way we were introduced to music. I guess converge a lot of that, love and inspiration.
Jock: That’s the name of our second album, “Love & Inspiration”
Billy: We try and balance those things.
Do you set any limits?
Will: The label gives us a budget and that’s the limit. (laughs)
Jock: I think it has been benefitial to us to work with limitations. You have to come up with an idea based on the fact that you have no money even if the ideas are cool. So you find the best way to put it out. But that’s also the charm of it.
What are your next plans? Are you coming back here apart from the Monster Magnet show?
Jock: We’d love to! We’ll play anywhere.
Will: Weddings, birthdays, bar mitzvahs, anything. For now is a bit frustrating, as a UK band, to come to Europe because we’ll have to come with a bigger band. We played France once.
Billy: We’ve been desperated to play Hellfest for years. So many good bands. Elcectic program.
Have you ever been there?
Will: I’ve been. It’s great!
Billy: That’ll be great. Again, if you know someone, we can give a few euros. (laughs)
As a London based band, what’s your opinion about the rock scene in the UK? How is it like?
Jock: I think in London, everything is very spread out. London is so big. When you go out into smaller towns, from people we’ve spoken too, people are closer. “The Rock kids”, like those people hang out all the time.
All being based in London, I know Billy from a long time and our other friends weren’t into rock music. So our rock scene was basically us listening to CDs.
Billy: The other way to see it, it’s just like school. Like the “metal kids” hanging out, the “rap kids” too. But since we left school, I didn’t really feel to be part of or a part of, of any kind of scene really.
Will: Everybody want to sound the same, dress the same, just copy each other. It’s great if you’re a fan of that and if you want to fit in that. But if you don’t and just want to do different, ignorance is the key.
Finally, we are “RockUrLife”, so what rock your lives?
Will: I’m gonna say today because the new “Resident Evil” game came out. I really want to play it, even if I love being here at the Hard Rock Café in Paris.
Jock: I agree. We’ve got an Xbox in the van but we have to find an English copy of the game. (laughs)
Billy: Or again, if you want to make an extra cash, you can translate it live in the van with us. (laughs)
Will: But what rock your lives?
Billy: I’ll say Arsenal. Because today, it’s Arsenal-Manchester United tonight. And there’s a French connection in there as well.
You’re for Arsenal?
Billy: I’m for Arsenal baby! (showing a tattoo)
Show them the Thierry (Henry)!
Billy: No because he’s been fired.
Jock: So maybe Arsenal will rock our life tonight, we’ll see.
Billy: If they loose, I’m getting this removed. (laughs)