London trio Puppy have been on the circuit for a number of years now, making ripples with their combination of 90s alternative rock and old school heavy metal, and next year we’re finally going to hear ‘The Goat’, the band’s debut full-length album that we so richly deserve.
Ahead of the band’s final night of their first ever headline UK tour, we caught up with lead vocalist/guitarist Jock Norton, bassist Will Michael, and drummer Billy Howard backstage at The Borderline in London to talk about the record, their music videos, touring with a wide range of bands, and their dream collaboration, which is suitably 90s.
DP!: Hey! How are you guys doing?
J: Really good, thanks. It’s the last show of our headline tour; a hometown show which is really cool. We’re really excited about it.
DP!: This is your first headline tour, how does it feel to have gone out and done that for the first time?
J: It feels great. I think we were all really excited going into it. We didn’t feel we were quite there as a headline band yet, and some would argue that we’re still not, but we’ve done it anyway. It’s fun. We’ve had a good time.
DP!: You’ve just announced your debut album, ‘The Goat’. Where did the title come from?
B: It’s just our favourite farmyard animal, basically. It was between that and ‘The Cow’, and we chose ‘The Goat’.
DP!: Was it in the video for ‘Black Hole’ for the same reason?
B: There’s no goat in the video for ‘Black Hole’.
J: That was a weird thing that happened afterwards.
W: We just noticed that in the footage afterwards.
B: We were just shooting on tour, and that just cropped up in the background. It was scary.
DP!: When you recorded the album, did you do anything differently as opposed to the previous singles and EPs?
B: We wore clothes in most of the takes for this one.
J: Usually we record fully naked, so it was nice to try out a different kind of style.
B: I hated it.
J: Billy didn’t enjoy it at all. Billy still played naked, but the rest of us wore clothes. It was really cool. It was the first time we were able to really take our time with recordings, and spend some more time with all of the sounds. I think overall it sounds like it’s had a bit more care and attention paid to it.
W: We went to a real studio as well.
DP!: Where did you record the album, and who with?
W: The first half of the album we did over three sessions. We did a week at a place called Rockfield in Monmouth with Tom Dalgety. Then we did another session, or two, in Southampton at a place called The Ranch with Neil Kennedy.
DP!: You’ve been known for merging 90s alternative rock and heavy metal together. Was that a conscious decision when you write, or does that just come naturally?
J: I think it comes out pretty naturally. Those are two pretty big touchstones for us as people, and two that we feel comfortable playing. We’re also quite into rap, but I don’t think we feel comfortable incorporating that into our sound.
B: Not yet.
W: Give it time.
J: Album two.
B: There are a lot of b-sides that Jock actually spits on, but I don’t think that the world’s ready for that yet.
DP!: You’ve played with a range of different bands as well, from Kvelertak to Sorority Noise. Has that been advantage to you, being able to get on a wide range of bills?
J: I’d like to think so, yeah. Whenever we come back and play shows, especially on a run like this, it’s been really cool because you see people that said they saw us with CKY, and also said they saw us with Kvelertak. Other people saw us with Soroity Noise and Creeper. All sorts. There’s a lot of crossover, in terms of the fact that we’re all rock fans, but I think we’ve reached a lot of people who wouldn’t necessarily have sought us out or heard about us. I think it paid dividends. It’s cool seeing them turn up to the shows.
DP!: You tend to think outside the box a lot when it comes to your way of doing things, especially with your videos. Will we see anything like the Mystery Mansion again, or Barry Harambe making a return soon?
J: Hopefully. Barry Harambe stopped returning our calls.
B: I think the cheque that we gave him for that session bounced. I think he’s quite bitter about the whole thing, really.
J: Probably not him, but hopefully we’ll be able to think of new ideas for videos in the future that’ll be cool. But, if we don’t, then expect to see a return from those guys, for sure.
W: We’ll just go back and return to the Mystery Mansion a couple of times.
J: Mystery Mansion, part three.
B: Michael Haneke remade Funny Games shot-for-shot but in a different language. So, maybe we’ll do exactly the same.
J: ‘Arabella’ in German. That’s the next single.
DP!: How do you guys feel about the current state of the UK rock scene in general at the moment?
J: I don’t think we pay much attention to it, to be honest. That’s not really where we come from musically. We’ve always just been doing our own thing. A lot of what we do starts and ends with just us playing each other albums, hanging out and watching films. I don’t think any of us really have much of a dog in the fight in terms of the UK rock scene. I think it’s cool that it’s happening, and, being in this band, we’ve been exposed to a lot more current stuff than we had been prior. We’ve met some really nice people, but there’s not a huge amount we’re that excited about personally. No disrespect to anyone, it’s just taste I guess.
DP!: Is there a band you’d all love to play with that you haven’t shared a stage with yet?
J: I second that.
J: Shaggy and Aerosmith doing ‘I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing’ together, and us as the backing band. At the Oscars.
DP!: Finally, what can we expect from ‘The Goat’?
J: I think it’s our best work. We spent a long time on it. There’s a pretty broad variety of stuff on there. If you like Puppy, you’ll love ‘The Goat’. If you don’t like Puppy, you probably won’t like ‘The Goat’, because it’s more Puppy songs.
M: You should put that on the sleeve.
J: Leading quote!
The band’s debut studio album, ‘The Goat’, is out on January 25th 2019 through Spinefarm Records.
Music graduate from City University, partial to almost anything with ‘post-‘ in the genre description.