From Shred to Ed: Mr. Pupplo’s Wild Ride
By Kali Tapper ’22
Mr. Pupplo scrolls through his cell phone with calloused fingers, searching for a picture of his younger self. He sweeps his long hair away from his eyes, revealing a faded ear piercing. While now a well-known math teacher at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA), Mr. Pupplo lived a secret life as the lead guitarist and original member of the emo/punk band Endwell, who once toured Europe and partied with the children of A-listers.
A Queens native, Mr. Pupplo started learning guitar at 10 years old, forming his first band, Without Reason, at age 14. Later on, he formed the band Endwell with friends from his neighborhood.
“The original people from Endwell and Without Reason were like my best friends growing up, the kids I went to elementary school and middle school with,” said Mr. Pupplo.
He goes on to describe meeting the lead singer, Chris while skating.
“In College Point, we were skateboarding, and this bus drove by, and he screamed out the window: ‘Hey! You guys skate?’ and then he got off the bus and came and skated with us. And that’s where we started,” he said.
From the beginning, they knew performing was what they wanted to do full time, and began dedicating time to writing songs and practicing. They’d book gigs by befriending other local bands in the music scene and trading shows with them. The band independently recorded and released their first EP titled The Missing Pieces in 2005 and began touring the country.
“We started playing out a lot and doing further shows. We all had gotten our licenses, we bought a really bad van at the time, like a really old hoopty van that broke down in Florida on our very first tour. We brought it to the mechanic and they said, there’s no coming back, it’s destroyed, it’s gone, you’ve got to find a way back to New York. So we rented a Penske moving truck and we actually lived in the back of that for the rest of the tour. It was a lot more sleeping on couches, sleeping in the van, stuff like that.”
The band’s peak happened after they released their first full length, “Homeland Insecurity,” in 2006, which sold more than 15,000 copies. Mr. Pupplo describes Endwell’s call to fame.
“When we’d go to concerts, people would ask for autographs and then bring up pictures of us and posters and all that and we’d sign them. That was when I was 21 years old. When we recorded that album, we were living in a beautiful furnished apartment on Sunset and Vine in Hollywood all paid for. We were recording at NRG Studios, which was like this multi-million dollar studio where No Doubt and Linkin Park recorded. We were going to all these crazy parties. We stayed with Steven Tyler’s daughter, Mia Tyler for like two weeks,” he said.
“The shows got bigger and bigger and bigger into the European tour, which was like the peak of the second coming of Endwell,” he added. “That was my last official tour before I became a teacher. It was our first tour on a tour bus. Every night when we got to the venue we were fed, they gave us drinks, they gave us everything. It was my real taste of being a professional musician. But even at that point, I was kind of over the chaos of being a musician. And just like every day, not knowing where you’re going to sleep, what you’re going to eat, stuff like that. It’s really easy to live that kind of life when you’re 17 and hungry for it. Still easy to live when you’re 21 and you’re having a great time. By the time you hit like 25, it’s a little bit harder.”
After the European tour, Mr. Pupplo went back to college, first for biochemistry, the biology, then political science, and finally graduating in 2011 with a degree in economics.
“Endwell wasn’t done yet, so I had different guitar player friends fill in for me while I was sitting in my math classes, thinking about my friend Ian, in like France meeting people, it was a little bit hard to get over. But at the same time, I knew that I was going to actually own my own home and you know, move on to bigger and better things. I saw that a lot of people, older musicians are still doing the same grind and not making any money. And then eventually, they were 40, and they were living at their parents’ houses and I just didn’t want that for myself,” Mr. Pupplo said.
Mr. Pupplo has been teaching for eight years, seven of which were at FSSA. He said he loves watching students gain confidence in math and feeling comfortable in the classroom.
Even as a math teacher, Mr. Pupplo still finds time to pursue his love of music.
“I write music with other people really, friends from the neighborhood. Endwell? Not really. But I don’t think that means we’re done, we’re just not doing anything at this point. I don’t think it ever will be [officially disbanded], because I’m still alive. I’m the only original member left,” Mr. Pupplo said.