Teens in Trouble and PUP Chat About Their Pups

Collaborators Lizzie Killian and Stefan Babcock catch up about their furry friends.

Lizzie Killian is a Raleigh, North Carolina-based artist who fronts the band Teens In Trouble; Stefan Babcock is the vocalist and guitarist for the Toronto-based band PUP. The two recently collaborated on Teens In Trouble’s new track “You Don’t Want To Mess With Me,” and bonded over their love for their dogs — Malkin and Moose, respectively — so to celebrate the forthcoming release of Teens In Trouble’s What’s Mine (out March 29 on Asian Man Records), they caught up over email about their furry friends. 
— Annie Fell, Editor-in-chief, Talkhouse Music

Lizzie Killian: We call my dog Malkin all kinds of other names (Mr. Malkin, Sneak Dog, Inspector Malks, etc.). What are some nicknames you have for your dog? (Bonus: and the story behind them, if any.)

Stefan Babcock: I mostly call him Bubba. But sometimes I call him Mr. Arp, because whenever he yawns he says, “Aaaarrrrppp.”

Lizzie: Speaking of “Sneak Dog,” what’s the sneakiest/most mischievous thing your dog has done?

Stefan: If you’re laying on the couch and he wants your attention, he’ll pull your socks right off your feet. He doesn’t even want the socks, he just throws them into the corner. He just wants to play. He’s a good boy. Also one time, there was a guy at the dog park just standing still and reading a book and Moose thought he was a tree and pissed on his leg. Like I said, a good boy. 

Lizzie: Does your dog have any surprising enemies? Malkin hates the air vents in our house and is always giving them the side-eye.

Stefan: Big time. The worst is the snow shovel, because one time he was running around outside with his leash attached and he knocked over the shovel and got startled and ran away, but the shovel was caught in his leash so it was chasing him all around the backyard and he was barking the whole time like, “what the fuck is up with this crazy shovel!!!” He still barks at it sometimes when he sees it. 

Lizzie: This one is from my friend Alyssa from The Moore Family Band who is a huge PUP fan! What is your favorite memory you have with your pup?

Stefan: First time he experienced a big snowfall was pretty amazing. He went berserk. I started throwing snowballs at him and he would just gobble them up mid-air.

Lizzie: If your dog was in a band, what role or instrument would he play?

Stefan: Hype man, boy’s got too much energy

Lizzie: What is your dog’s superpower?

Stefan: He is really good at hockey. We play in the backyard every day. He’s the goalie. One time my mom was like, “Well do YOU ever play goalie?” And I was like, “Sure mom, the dog picks up a hockey stick and shoots the puck at me.” PARENTS, AM I RIGHT?! Anyway when I say “go long” he runs to the other side of the backyard and I shoot a tennis ball at him and he always catches it and brings it back. And when I say “defense” he tries to steal the ball off my stick. No matter how hard I try, he always wins.

What’s your dog’s favorite street food and/or stuff to roll around in?

Lizzie: Malkin LOVES to roll around in the grass and mud, especially after a lot of running on a hot day. This park I used to take him to had a little stream of water and he would plant one side of his butt in the water with a huge smile on his face, then get up and plant the other side of his butt. He also really loves to roll around in clean bedsheets.

Stefan: I also wanna know what the sneakiest/most mischievous thing your dog does, ‘coz I feel like there’s a story in there.

Lizzie: My dog is a certified thief. Whenever we have house guests, I have to warn people to keep their bags zipped up, or doors closed if they’re staying the night. He mostly likes to steal socks. However, in one of his biggest heists, he stole my co-worker’s wallet right out of his backpack when I brought him into the office one day. Malkin started parading the wallet around the office and it was pretty hilarious and cute. I had to scold him but was also secretly proud.

Stefan: Is there a word or sound that makes your dog lose his cool completely? If I say “who’s there?” Moose goes ballistic.

Lizzie: Malkin seems to know the exact sound of a bag of sliced cheese. I could be ruffling around any other kind of package in the fridge, with seemingly the same kind of plastic, but the moment I even lightly graze my fingers along a bag of cheese, I’ll hear him tearing ass from across the other end of the house toward the kitchen.


Lizzie: Haha, I had to think about this, but yes, I do talk to him like he is a toddler. My voice is a little higher pitched when I talk to him, and everything is positive/encouraging. Ugh… kinda like Spongebob, if I had to give an example. Except of course when he does something bad. Then my voice is deeper and more stern. That’s how you let ‘em know.

Stefan: Are you one of those people who dresses up your dog? And if so, why?

Lizzie: I’ll admit this only happens around Christmas, and maybe once every three or four Christmases — I’ll get suckered into buying a dumb elf or Santa outfit or hat while I’m getting his actual Christmas present, and he’ll wear that for about 10 minutes, or long enough for a photo.

The bright-blazing new creative project of Lizzie Killian (previously of The Glowing Stars and Sputterdoll), Teens in Trouble refracts the sounds of punk, garage, and dream-pop through a prism of memory, melding past and present with the kind of sun-dappled clarity that can only come from hindsight. Armed with huge guitars, catchy hooks, and disarmingly direct lyricism, Teens in Trouble plays brisk punk-rock that nods to the fuzzed-out, surf-influenced sounds of ‘90s alt-rock idols Weezer and Pixies and ‘60s garage-rock, but is equally informed by Killian’s own years of youth in revolt.