PREVIEW & INTERVIEW: Joe Pug
We are more than a little excited for our show with Joe Pug on Saturday, and you should be too. In our eyes, he’s pretty perfect. Although in his twenties, the maturity of his voice has garnered some lofty comparisons to past legends, including Bob Dylan. Joe Pug has managed to master a balance of folk, alt. country, and beautiful acoustics. Not to mention, his lyrics are honest and relatable.
On Saturday, expect to hear a beautiful sampling of tracks from Pug’s most recent album, The Great Despiser. We also hope he’ll sprinkle in a few older favorites from his first EP, Nation of Heat (hint hint - ‘Hymn 101’ and ‘I Do My Father’s Drugs’). Even better? David Wax Museum and Vandaveer will be joining us as well! This is sure to be an amazing night at the club, full of killer voices and a chill energy you certainly won’t want to miss out on.
(9:30) Listening to your music, a lot of your influences are pretty immediately recognizable, not in like a negative sense, but a great storytelling singer-songwriter sense, like Dylan or Earle or Zevon. What are some of the influences on your music that you think aren’t as recognizable or some people you would like to know had an impact on your songwriting or music.
(JP) I think more of the lesser named would be like John Haitt, I really love his music, and the ones a little bit less noticeable, I mean I grew up listening to Nirvana and all the older bands who came back to the Northwest. That’s how I first decided I wanted to play music.
(9:30) Speaking of Steve Earle, you found both a touring mate and a friend in him, and you’ve said before that he’s had a pretty big impact on your music. As someone whose spent time with him here and overseas on tour, what is probably the greatest advice or wisdom that he’s passed along to you as a younger musician?
(JP) Well, you know, he never really sat down and gave me advice, you could call it; like getting to be around him on the road, you just pick up so many different things from the way that he carries himself, the way that he treats the people that he works with, the way that he treats himself when he’s on the road. I don’t think you can remain on the road for decades and do it any other way.
(9:30) So you kind of use that to carry yourself through your own headlining tours?
(JP) Yeah, I’d say so. Doing a headlining tour is much different than an opening tour. Opening gigs can be really hard sometimes because the people didn’t come to see you usually and you’ve got to win them over but it makes you work a little bit harder and sometimes you put all the [—-] when you’re the opening band.
(9:30) Absolutely. You’re currently on the road with David Wax Museum, who we’ve had at the club before, and it seems like a really great fit alongside of your music. How did that come about?
(JP) We met on the road in uh, we played a festival in Ottawa last year together and I heard a lot about their music, particularly about their live show, and so we went to go check out the show and it was amazing. When we put out a few words to them about doing this tour together they were excited about it. You know, we haven’t even been on the road together for a week yet but it’s been, it’s been really great. I think the music matches really well and man, they’re a hard act to follow, I tell you what, keeping us on our toes for sure.
(9:30) How is sharing the stage with a younger act maybe compared to sharing the stage with some of the more established acts you’ve toured with like Steve Earle or Josh Ritter?
(JP) When you’re on the road with, like you said, a younger band they’re just, they’re so hungry and so on top of their game, you know? And they’re going on before you, you gotta make sure you got all your T’s crossed and your I’s dotted. You really gotta, you got to bring it but that’s who you want to be out with, you know? You want to be out on the road with people who challenge you in a wonderful way.
(9:30) Tell us a little bit about The Great Despiser. Do you feel there is an overlying theme to the whole album? What sort of place were you in when you were putting those songs together?
(JP)I think I was in a much happier place than maybe the title has led people to believe [laughs]. I think it’s overall one of the most positive albums I’ve written and recorded and I think it’s about that song [‘The Great Despiser’] and maybe the album as a whole is about someone coming to terms with some things in their life in a positive way. When you hear that word ‘despise,’ there’s a lot of connotations to it but I think once folks listen to the album and listen to that song specifically, they’ll see that it’s maybe not exactly as dark as maybe the title connotes.
(9:30) Do you have a song on it that is your favorite to play live or that you are particularly proud of?
(JP) The song from that album…you know, it’s always strange to go on the road with material that fans haven’t had a chance to live with yet, but the song that really seems to be connecting immediately is the title song, “The Great Despiser.”
(9:30) Being somewhat of a politically outspoken artist about to play D.C. as the elections are heating up and there’s a lot of turmoil, I guess, in a political sense, is there a particular message from your music that you hope resonates here as you perform? Or is that something you kind of just leave to the audience?
(JP)I mean, yeah, I think especially coming into this election, I think no matter what stripe of politics you subscribe to I think we can all agree that the money that’s gonna be funneled into this election cycle is not helping us. Whether you’re conservative or liberal, like, we can all agree that a citizens united opposition is going to very heavily influence who’s chosen this election cycle. I think that corporations are putting so much money into influencing politics; maybe a contrast that can be drawn is our music focuses a lot and talks a lot about humanity and corporations are just kind of the opposite. They do a lot of things well sometimes and efficiently but they’re not a human thing and I think we need to use them when it makes sense but we need to remember that people come first. A corporation is a tool we’re supposed to use to make our lives better not worse.
(9:30) On a lighter note to finish things off, it seems that you have a really strong connection to your fans, like your grassroots distribution in the beginning of your career, and we’ve heard you say before that you invite your friends to meet you after the show and share a drink. So that said, can we give them a heads up to Joe Pug’s drink of choice post-show?
Joe Pug: [laughs] Bourbon neat.