How PUP Makes Sure Every One Of Their Music Videos Are Memorable

“It’s weirdly a bit melancholy and emotional, you know? That’s the band.”

June 02, 2016
How PUP Makes Sure Every One Of Their Music Videos Are Memorable Royal Mountain Records

Within the first minute of PUP’s March video for “If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will,” all four members of the Toronto punk band are maimed, stabbed, hit by a touring van and, in the case of one, lit on fire. This isn’t unusual: PUP’s music videos can be a violent affair.


Since releasing their self-titled debut in 2013, PUP — the subject of a recent GEN F — has carved out a self-referential universe depicting the adventures of a hard-touring raucous punk band. Much of that narrative is rooted in the collaboration between the group and Canadian filmmakers Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux and Chandler Levack. PUP videos are ambitious: they run the gamut of treatments, from coming of age epics and animated tour diaries, to frantic '80s video game montages. And this is paying off with wider recognition, including multiple 2015 and 2016 nominations from both the Prism Prize music video awards and the Juno Awards.

As PUP ready more visuals in support of their new album, The Dream Is Over, The FADER went through five of their best videos with Levack and Schaulin-Rioux.

1. "Guilt Trip" (2013)

JEREMY SCHAULIN-RIOUX: The main kid who plays a young Stefan [Babcock, lead vocalist/guitarist] — his name is Finn Wolfhard. He hadn’t really done much [before being cast for “Guilt Trip.”] He shows up in full character with his head semi-shaved, in his full jean jacket regalia. Makeup had just given him a harelip scar. He doesn't say hi to anyone in the crew — most of whom had never met him before — and just starts skulking around. Finally he takes this prop razor blade with the logo X'd out for legal reasons and runs up to show me and the DP, saying, "Each one of these X's is for a cop I killed. This last one's for the pig who got my poppa!" And then he runs away cackling. He was whispering the scariest shit during all the takes. As soon as he showed up, everything fell into place. All the other kids...all of a sudden they were a band because he was so strong and scary and fun.

2. "DVP" (2016)

SCHAULIN-RIOUX: The band called me up and said they had to do a lyric video for “DVP” but [they] hate lyric videos. They were like, You don't have to do it. We just want something shitty that doesn’t look like we tried too hard. We were playing around with making a video game-themed video anyway, but got the idea to easily sub the text out. They sent me a bunch of [YouTube links to their favorites] and Stefan said, ‘I want this for the Hawaiian red fruit punch line,’ and he had this Kool-Aid Man game nobody had ever heard of. Maybe it’s pompous to say, but there’s something perfectly PUP in it being a little bit silly. We’re putting swearing and sex into stuff from when we were nine years old. But it’s weirdly a bit melancholy and emotional, you know? That’s the band.

3. "Reservoir" (2013)

CHANDLER LEVACK: The first video we made together. So hot, tiny, and sweaty. [“Reservoir” was shot in] a concert space in Toronto called Double Double Land, but people also live there. Every so often, we’d be setting up a shot and a cat would wander out. Those extras were crowdsurfing so hard. The energy you see in the video was the energy in the room: insane and infectious.

SCHAULIN-RIOUX: The band was self-financing at this point, and not getting any grants for it. So we begged, borrowed, and stole broken instruments, and dragged them around on bicycles. I lived in a stupid, shitty basement hallway apartment and there’s a photo where it looks like Hoarders. The entire apartment is filled with busted up instruments. There wasn’t a ton of money, there weren’t a ton of stunt people. We tried to get a prop mic that would be soft but it didn’t look right so Stefan was just getting smashed in the face by a real mic. I don’t think any bones got broken but everyone got bruised and scratched.

4. "Lionheart" (2013)

SCHAULIN-RIOUX: "Lionheart" was Stefan’s idea. We were prepping to shoot "Guilt Trip" in Vancouver in a house full of kids’ clothes, fake blood, and weird props and guns, and he was like, 'We need to make this other video!' So we made it in our weird sublet apartment with Levack, morphined out from some crazy sickness she had.”

LEVACK: I had this mysterious stomach flu. I went to the hospital and they asked, 'What’s your pain level from 1-10?’ All of a sudden they were shooting me with morphine and I got strung out. Meanwhile Jeremy and I were supposed to be doing all these tests to make sure all the effects [for the video] would work.

SCHAULIN-RIOUX: It’s an hour long piece of footage [that we] got down to three minutes. It was 70% party and 30% filming. That couple made out for four hours endlessly. The best thing is they didn’t know each other and now they’re a real couple.

5. "If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will" (2016)

SCHAULIN-RIOUX: The early rough cut had X-ray callbacks to all the videos. We had X-rays of the busted bones, Zach’s broken wrist, the cut hand from “Guilt Trip,” Stefan having cymbals in his back from “Reservoir,” and his broken arm from doing the inverted Jesus pose and falling into the crowd in “Dark Days."

The idea was they’d been on this tour for however long and they’re broken and battered, emotionally and physically — and they really were. There’s that one X-ray of Stefan’s real throat. The story of the video is a slightly more gnarly version of the very real life PUP story. We literally shot a video where they set each other on fire, soaked in blood, and were physically trying to kill each other. I don’t have a clue what we can do [to top this video] next.

How PUP Makes Sure Every One Of Their Music Videos Are Memorable