REVIEW: Puppet Theory – Papillon

Puppet Theory have rapidly progressed as a band over the last few months, and after setting the bar pretty high with their previous single I, The King, the band’s follow up Papillon certainly had its work cut out to match up. However, once again, the Manchester-based indie four-piece have pulled it out of the bag and it proved to be well worth the wait.

I, the King was in your face, a heavier sound to what the band had previously released, but great nonetheless. Papillon on the other hand, is a lighter sound but equally as catchy – if not more so. It has many different elements to it, and the chorus on the new track was a nice little surprise on first listen. You’ll understand what we mean once you hear it…

Puppet Theory are like a relevant resurgence of noughties indie, and who didn’t love noughties indie? We have previously compared the vocals to that of The Wombats’ frontman Matthew Murphy, and this style is something you don’t tend to hear with indie bands today. It is refreshing, a little bit different to what is out there at the minute and it definitely has the fun factor.

I, The King and Papillon have both highlighted Puppet Theory’s lyrical and musical progression quite well. However, what we love about the new single is the contrast to its predecessor. More often than not, bands bring out identical sounding singles and play it safe, but this track shows more depth to the band and what Puppet Theory have in their locker.

It is essentially a happy song, and one you could certainly imagine a big crowd jumping to at a gig or a festival. The band recently played their biggest show to date at The Ruby Lounge in Manchester, but this was only shortly after Papillon had been released. You can be sure that once more of the fans know the song a little bit better it will be a firm favourite at future gigs…

Just in case you haven’t heard the new single, here it is:


Puppet Theory are a indie pop quartet based in Manchester who are causing quite a stir with their crunching and energetic sound which has already gathered a strong following.

Here at MIMR we were very pleased to catch up with Chris from the band to talk about the new single and what to expect from Puppet Theory in 2017.

MIMR: Hey, so what’s new with the band?

Chris: Hey hey! Everything! The single is shiny and new with new t-shirts to go with it! We’ve got shows around the country over the next few months which is proper exciting! As well as that, we’re all buying new guitars, we’ve got new songs which fans will only be able to catch live until later in the year so it’s a really exciting time. Mad busy, but mad exciting!


MIMR: Can you describe your music to everyone and was it clear from the start what musical direction the band would take?

Chris: People who like bands like Circa Waves, The Hunna and Catfish and the Bottlemen should check us out. Our songs are energetic with catchy choruses. We class ourselves as an indie-rock band but we’ve got influences from pop-punk bands like You Me At Six and Paramore and if you know that then you can hear it coming through in our tracks. We never sat down and said ‘let’s sound like this’ but Chris and Johnny are the main writers of the band and so their influences obviously steer the direction of the tracks as they get written, if that makes sense!

MIMR: Fantastic to hear your latest single, whats it about and can we expect more releases this year?

Chris: I, The King is so, so relatable. It’s about when a relationship ends and you start talking or meeting new people but every time you think you’re over the hill you get a twang of memories and everything seems to remind you of your old flame. Lyrics like ‘you act like her, it’s uncanny’ and ‘this mess of web that you’ve thread…is throbbing in my head’ really sing out that message. You’re trying so hard to make things work: ‘Tell me the place and I will go’, but sometimes you just aren’t ready. It’s emotional, fiery and angry.

We’ve got another release coming in September so keep your eyes peeled for that. It’s called Papillon and it’s probably our favourite song that we’ve written together so far!

MIMR: If you could tour with any band past or present which one would it be and why?

Chris: Wow, erm… a couple of us saw Biffy Clyro recently and they were just so awesome and not too dissimilar to us. That would be cool. Although I reckon Johnny would quite fancy The Beatles screaming girls!

MIMR: Thanks chaps for talking to us here at MIMR, wish you all the best for the rest of 2017, how can we keep in touch with whats going on with the band?

Chris: We’re always available on all the usual stuff and we absolutely love getting in touch with our fans. We feel that it’s really important to actually talk to fans rather than just shove a post in their faces and leave it there. So say hello on Twitter or Instagram @puppet_theory and we’ll speak to you soon!

INTERVIEW: Puppet Theory

Indie-pop four-piece Puppet Theory have been making a name for themselves in the industry since the release of the band’s debut EP Buttons, which has been complimented by several live shows at venues such as the Deaf Institute in Manchester. Individually, Chris, Johnny, Niall and Paul hail from various different areas of the UK, but with half of the band being from in and around the Manchester area Puppet Theory is a group firmly based in Manchester.

Although the band is relatively new to the scene, their catchy songs and memorable lyrics are showcasing the potential and promise needed for a bright future in the industry. We managed to speak to Chris (lead singer) and Niall (bass) before last night’s gig at Hangar 34 in Liverpool, to discuss Puppet Theory’s upcoming single, gigs and a potential future album release.

NC: So how did the band get started, can you tell me a bit about the formation and influences behind Puppet Theory?

Chris: We all came together about 18 months ago now, it started off as a jam and became what it is today. I’ve known our guitarist Johnny for nearly 10 years, he used to come and watch my old band, and when his band let him down he came to me and we started jamming. I hadn’t been in a band for a while at this point, and then we found Paul and Niall through friends of friends.

Niall: We all have very different influences. Personally I like American bands like Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age, but Chris is a massive fan of stuff like The Cribs and Paramore. If you sit there listening to our music and know of all the different individual influences that have gone into it then you would be able to hear it all in one song. It is a broader range of sound that we make because of this, if we all liked the same music we would just be regurgitating what’s already out there and it’s already hard enough to be unique.

NC: You have released your debut EP now, what has the reception been and is there a stand-out track?

Chris: Buttons is obviously the title track of the EP, but my favourite song personally is Young & Youthful because it’s one I wrote about my younger days, playing on the beach with my mates, so it has a lot of sentimental value. The reception we got from the fans and people we speak to is very mixed. We never get the same response when we ask people what their favourite song is, which we definitely take as being a good thing.

NC: What is the best gig you have played so far?

Chris: Deaf Institute is probably the best we have played at so far. We weren’t the headline band but three quarters of the crowd were our crowd so it was a really awesome show. It made it quite special.

NC: What can we expect from the new single, ‘I, The King’?

Niall: The new single is definitely a bit heavier than our previous songs. We have progressed as a band a lot since we first started and I think this track is a culmination of that. It’s probably most similair to Young & Youthful, but like I said it is heavier. It’s a song you can only listen to on top volume and it’s going to be great to play live once it has been released.

NC: And are there plans for an album any time soon? What are the band’s plans for the near future?

Chris: There have been hints of an album around the corner, but the priority is the upcoming single. We’ve got quite a few gigs booked around the country in the next few months, and we are looking forward to going to new places, meeting new people and fans. We want to go as far as we can physically take it, booking further afield and visiting different countries. We have fans in places like Finland, Poland and Canada so we would love to play out there!

Puppet Theory will be performing at Soup Kitchen in Manchester on 7th June, and the new single ‘I, The King’will finally be released on 1st July, so be sure to keep an eye on the band and check it out!


‘Amber’ gave us gritty indie-rock evoked early ‘Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ tones throughout and the lead singer, Chris Pickering, led the audience shouting ’Leave the Light On!’ at intervals with the lead guitarist, Johnny, commanding the stage.

The rhythm changed to heady and steady with ‘I The King’ and Chris’s vocal blended with gravelly harmonies from Johnny Hearldon and Niall Musa. Their powerful punk vibe bled into the audience.

Their new EP – Room to Breathe – played with contrasting tempos and melodies throughout with high vocals scratching with emotion.

We were treated to energetic use of thudding bass guitar from Niall with ‘Mascara’, catching the audience off guard with skipping rhythms and heavy punk drums and bass.

Buttons and Papillon gave us an almost electronic sound. Buttons has recently been released as a video on their website and Facebook page and is well worth a watch -a celebration of their unique style. Paul’s rattling drum roll in ‘D’You Know?’ was reminiscent of the military and darkened the melody giving the lyrics an even murkier edge.


Jordan Rafferty


I’m hoping to find a new sound that will keep me occupied throughout the gloomy winter that will soon be with us, complimented by those crappy Christmas songs and all things before Halloween. This week I was introduced to the sound of Puppet Theory and their debut EP Buttons, hoping the three northerners and southerner, will be the ones to help us through!

From the off, this EP definitely brightened up the day! First off, the track youth and youthful, the distorted upbeat guitar rift gets it started, bringing it into a catchy foot tapping alternative rock song. It gives you a feel for what the band are about and the genre they place themselves within. It’s got a real summer vibe to the song with vocals that are spot on to accompany the track.
Continuing with the same sound on lead guitar into the next track Buttons, it still has it’s own identity and not a track that merges into the next without you realising. Lyrically it’s wrote really well and was my favourite on the EP.

I appreciated the last on the EP called Do You Know. A well written track adding variety, whilst keeping with the theme of punchy alternative rock. It’s stop, start, with great vocals keeps you engaged on a 5 minutes track. Hard thing to achieve with this style unless you’re aiming for anthemic.

The vocals throughout this EP are strong from both the lads, with this genre, I feel you need a different voice or else you’ll blend in with the rest. You definitely don’t get it with these lads and it’s a sound that you’ll know when shuffling your playlist. It’s a strong EP from all band members and one I’ll be keeping on my playlist.

This fresh, upbeat, catchy alt rock EP, definitely resonates the sound of the mid 2000’s, if you like the sounds of the Milburn, Fratellis, Maximo Park I guarantee you’ll be singing and tapping to this EP before it’s over. One to watch for if they’re playing Sheffield anytime soon, also if there’s any work going into an album I grab that too.

9/10 Jordan Rafferty

Dominic Penna - NRMB

EP REVIEW | Puppet Theory – Buttons


January 13, 2017

Dominic Penna
Word is starting to spread nicely about indie pop four-piece Puppet Theory, especially on their local Manchester music scene. Their EP ‘Buttons’ very capably shows why.

The second the chords kick in on title tracks ‘Buttons’, listeners are treated to an upbeat, substantive sound which calls to mind a range a whole variety of acts. “Buttons and strings can fix the most stubborn of things”, runs the tune’s catchy chorus, which is only added to by a vocal rich with personality and the very tight sound that the band produce as a whole.

‘Room to Breathe’ is another big number in terms of its production, the guitar work and drumming topping off the tune nicely. While a bit more melancholic than ‘Buttons’, ‘Room to Breathe’ is still a track that commands repeated listens and shows the band’s versatility as well as their promise.

The alliteratively titled ‘Young And Youthful’ is yet more proof that the group live up to their promise to make “catchy, punchy pop songs that will get stuck in your head”, particularly in terms of the absolutely huge refrain and the way the song builds to incorporate stylish backing vocals and whole layers of sound, especially after the three minute mark.

‘Do You Know’ is the longest track on the EP, clocking in at five and a half minutes. That said, it goes by quickly – it feels quite spaced out at first, only to build nicely and grow more layered and impressive over the duration of the song. The final forty seconds of instrumentation are definitive proof of how musically talented and compatible Puppet Theory are as a band. The interplay between the band members is spot on throughout the EP – lyrics are relatable and memorable, and the band as a whole have a very cohesive sound to their music.

‘Buttons’ is available to listen to here. It’s a strong debut EP which hints at big things that could be coming the band’s way in the near future.

Puppet Theory play at the Deaf Institute in Manchester next Saturday (21st January) with Bayonet and Lyerr (both of whom we have interviewed for NRMB in the past) – make it down if you can and catch three great new bands.



EP Review: Puppet Theory – “Buttons”

British Indie pop/rock foursome Puppet Theory is the latest band to emerge from the vibrant Manchester music scene. They bring a fresh approach to their music, fusing old-school Brit-pop/rock with punk and alternative influences. On September 21, they dropped their debut EP Buttons – a collection of four infectious, high-energy songs guaranteed to put you in a good mood and make you dance around like – well, a puppet on a string!

I first learned of Puppet Theory when they followed me on Twitter a few days ago and, given their fun, upbeat music and sense of humor, I’m already a big fan. On their website, they state “Puppet Theory have the perfect blend of UK influences, consisting of 2 Mancunians, a Scouser and a Southerner whose energy, edginess and musical expertise work together to create an unforgettable set.” For those of us non-Brits, a ‘Mancunian’ is a person from Manchester and a ‘Scouser’ is from Liverpool. In their Facebook bio, they identify themselves as follows: Johnny – Little strings and sings; Chris – Little strings and sings; Niall – Big strings; Paul – Hits things. How endearing is that?

Puppet Theory began life when Johnny and Paul started jamming together, feeling an instant connection. Knowing they needed a strong vocalist/lyricist who could serve as band front man, they held auditions and enlisted Chris after he impressed them with his songwriting ideas. Finally, after auditioning four other bassists, they were blown away by Niall’s playing and signed him on the spot, completing the band line-up. They’re thrilled to now have their first EP out so music junkies like me can enjoy their music.

The first track, “Young & Youthful,” immediately hooks you with an irresistibly catchy melody, though the poignant lyrics speak to anxiety over transitioning from youth to adulthood. The song bursts open with shredded guitars and pounding drums, led by a buzzing bassline. Another guitar riff is introduced, intertwining with the shredded guitars, and Chris plaintively sings: “When did we get old? Someone should have told me that I don’t know what it is all about. Give me some time to figure it out. I’ll get there.”

Pulsating guitars, strong bass and Paul’s assertive drums – accentuated by lots of crashing cymbals – highlight the catchy title track “Buttons.”

The strong third track “Room to Breathe” has a distinct Foo Fighters vibe, most noticeable in the excellent main guitar riff. The final track “Do You Know” treats us to more awesome blistering guitars and dynamic percussion that appear to be a hallmark of Puppet Theory’s sound. The song seems to end at 4:30, then starts up again with a dramatic guitar solo that’s a sped up version of the main song riff for another 30 seconds. Interestingly, the band is the third that I’ve reviewed over the past month or so to utilize this stop and start up again technique in a song.

All in all, Buttons is a strong debut for Puppet Theory, who I think have a promising future, given not only their talent, but their strong chemistry and charisma. Show them support by checking out their Website, following them on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to their YouTube channel. Stream Buttons on Spotify or purchase on iTunes.