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Puppy: Metal's favourite new misfits

They sound like Ghost waltzing with Deftones - and we fucking love them

"Metal has always had that kind of outsider thing to it. It was this cool, weird place, and that’s the thing that appealed to me,” says Puppy vocalist/guitarist Jock Norton. “So, it’s kind of weird to me that the genre would have these rules imposed on it. It seems backwards.”

When put like that, you have to agree. We’re meant to be the most diverse, most openminded set of fans in the music world – music for the outcasts, by the outcasts. Which is exactly why we should be welcoming Puppy in with open arms. The youthful, London-based trio are one of the most odd and challenging bands in modern music, and one listen to their recently released, self-titled EP will make that clear. Mixing flashy, glam rock guitar flourishes that turn into huge hulking metal riffs with the kind of chin-stroking, elegant indie pop that Weezer have made a career from, this is a mix that is as rare as it is enthralling. It’s a far more complex beast than the simple ‘heavy metal’ tag they cover themselves with.

“It’s one of those things, isn’t it?” laughs Jock. “People are always asking you, ‘What do your band sound like?’ And we’ll say, ‘Oh… it’s hard to explain. There’s a bit of alt-rock, doom, a bit of a pop thing..’. In the end, it just became easier to say to people, ‘We’re heavy metal!’” “We’d all been in bands before,” adds drummer Billy Howard. “But with Puppy, the idea was to explore heavier sounds. We’d rather let our music speak for itself than have to mention a load of genres that someone might be into. So, yeah, we’re heavy metal, man!”

Like the tag they embrace, unwillingness to bend or conform is stamped all over Puppy’s DNA – though thus far the three-piece have found themselves playing shows that cater for more indie-oriented crowds. Look through recent Puppy gigs and you’ll find them sharing stages with NME-fodder-monikered bands such as Rickyfitts, Kagoule and, err, Hockey Dad. Hardly the kind of names you’ll see propping up Bloodstock. Hopefully, for them and us, this will soon change.

“We’ve tended to notice that, in that environment, the things that we like, other people think are dumb,” Jock states. “If we played a riff that we thought sounded like Pantera or a did a breakdown that reminded us of Korn, those fans would think it was awful! But the more we picked up on things that we liked and those other people didn’t, the more we wanted to do those things.”

“There’s something funny about playing on some lame indie bill and playing a really heavy riff to people that hate it,” Billy smirks. “The act of pissing someone off in an aggressive or violent way seems hackneyed to us now. It never felt natural to us to be provocative by kicking people in the head, but maybe it’s much cooler to be provocative by just being really dweeby and taking these left turns that will annoy people. We don’t feel beholden to any type of scene or style.”

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