Celebrating a Decade of Punk

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Sunday 17 April 2011 (Michael Bugeja - The Sunday Times of Malta)

Ten years ago, a new band emerged within the local underground music scene. Flaunting a no-frills philosophy, more than a pinch of humour and bearing a simple yet catchy Maltese name, Pupi Tal-Logħob embraced punk’s DIY ethic wholeheartedly.

From the get-go, their passion has been fuelled by their tendency to play their hearts out at whatever venue would have them; their mission, as frontman, guitarist and founding member Kuzza puts it, is simply “to entertain the audience and enjoy ourselves doing it”.

The band’s first official appearance was at the third edition of the notorious Festaħwid punk festival in 2001. “The name of the band was picked without too much thought,” Kuzza explains. “We were all fans of (British novelty punk band) Toy Dolls so we thought we’d just use the Maltese translation.”

Despite getting off to a great start, the band did go through its ups and downs, mainly due to members coming and going; in fact it’s worth mentioning that the current line-up of Kuzza, drummer Malcolm and bassist Shaun is the band’s eighth formation.

While the band’s essence remains staunchly rooted in their punk beginnings, Pupi tal-Logħob are also known to slip in the occasional metal cover when they play live.

“The band is essentially punk,” Kuzza confirms. “We like to call it ‘funny punk’ because of the satire in our lyrics and the comic element in our onstage presentation.”

Apart from several original compositions in Maltese and English – often embracing a very liberal application of the vernacular – the band’s repertoire also includes a number of covers that are delivered with ‘a touch of punk’.

“The idea to include a metal cover first came to us when we performed a Carnival gig in Nadur dressed up as a metal band,” he says.

The stunt worked so well that they’ve set up a side project called Pupowar, which is basically a metal tribute band playing some of the band’s favourite metal tunes.

“This also reflects the band’s collective musical taste, particularly because I come from a punk background while Shaun and Malcolm – who are brothers, by the way – have a metal background. The mixture seems to work well, though, and our sound is quite powerful as a result.”

Given the band name is Maltese, it was perhaps to be expected that some of their songs at least, would be in their mother tongue.

“Actually, singing in Maltese was one of the binding conditions when the band first formed, and besides, since our lyrics have a satirical twist, it makes it much easier to express what we have to say.”

Kuzza happens to be a staunch supporter of our native tongue and feels annoyed that there are many who only rate music if it’s sung in English. “Take, for example, our Eurovision entries: most of the other countries use their own language, but not us, and let’s face it, it hasn’t really helped either, has it?”

He is also concerned about the stark reality that very few songs in Maltese get played on local radio.

“This mentality sickens me. If you sing in Maltese you’ll most likely be sidelined. Many countries have laws regulating the balance of local and foreign music in broadcasting, but not in Malta, it seems.”

While no official Pupi tal-Logħob recordings exist as yet – well, no decently recorded ones anyway – there are plans to rectify this situation.

“The band’s been through so many line-up changes, we couldn’t really plan too far ahead, and our financial situation isn’t too encouraging either.

“However, the current formation has been in place for quite some time now, so we’re hoping to record some tracks this summer,” says Kuzza.

Meanwhile, the band’s immediate focus remains fixed on its 10th anniversary live gig, which takes place at Rookies in Buġibba on Thursday.

“We’re working hard to make this a really special performance. We’re proud to have BNI also performing on the night as we’re big fans of theirs, as well as great buddies.”

The set will be longer and they’ll be playing some of their older songs, such as The Wedding Song. Entrance is free.

“I can’t believe it’s been 10 years already,” says Kuzza. Not bad for a band that originally got together to pass the time playing covers, surely?

Pupi Tal-Logħob on MySpace