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PUP’s new single Matilda will make you weep for your first guitar

PUP frontman Stefan Babcock onstage with his guitar Matilda
(Image credit: NurPhoto / Getty)

PUP have debuted new single Matilda, an emotional ode to frontman Stefan Babcock’s favorite guitar that will hit six-string fans right in the feels.

The Toronto punks have always had a talent for combining a fresh perspective and a killer hook (the brutally honest If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will (opens in new tab); the futuristic tear-jerker Kids (opens in new tab)), but Matilda is essentially Toy Story for guitars.

Matilda is the name of my favorite guitar,” says Babcock of the instrument that inspired the song. 

“She was a gift from my friend Ryan, after watching me accidentally break the only guitar I owned in the middle of a long tour. I had no money to buy a replacement, and Ryan’s act of kindness is up there on my list of ‘nicest things anyone’s ever done for me’. I played Matilda nonstop for 7 years at every PUP show, even when my bandmates started complaining that she sounded like shit. 

“As the band got bigger, the pressure to sound better was building and so I bought a ‘good’ guitar and played Matilda less and less. Before I knew it I hadn’t played her in over a year. I wrote this song based on this intense feeling of guilt and sadness and shame and nostalgia and regret, watching her rot away in a corner. I love this guitar and I love Ryan and wanted to do right by them, and I felt like I’d failed them both. 

“I convinced the band that Matilda deserved one last rip on a PUP record, and I played her during the bridge of this song. It sounds so shitty. But good shitty. Great shitty. For me, it was the most joyful and cathartic moment in the entire making of this record.”

The song and accompanying video – which also features the real Matilda – are packed with little nods that players of all stripes will recognise, particularly those who found life pulling them away from a guitar at various points. 

“Now, you don’t even write the chords down, you don’t even play me anymore, anyhow…,” sings Babcock. “The reasons you started are lost, now that the feeling has worn off.”

The video depicts a love story of a young player and their guitar, before it is resigned to the closet when a shiny new model arrives. “George and his lover they gently weep, but I don’t even get to breathe,” notes Babcock, in reference to George Harrison’s opus, While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

Guitar World is left in an emotional place and would like to take this opportunity to appeal to those of you who still have your first guitars to dust them off for old time’s sake. Or re-home them in a place where they’ll get the love they deserve. 

PUP’s new album The Unraveling Of PUPTheBand arrives April 1. You can pre-order physical copies (opens in new tab) or pre-save digital versions (opens in new tab), depending on your preference.

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Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk (opens in new tab), which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.