While working as a carpenter in Chicago after dropping out of the University of North Carolina, Pug wrote and recorded what would eventually become his debut EP, Nation of Heat. Its literate lyrics received widespread acclaim and Pug's unorthodox promotional strategy of distributing free CDs to anyone interested in sharing his music resulted in the EP selling over 20,000 copies. After touring with Steve Earle in 2009, Pug was signed by Nashville indie label Lightning Rod Records and released Messenger in 2010. After moving to Austin, Pug released The Great Despiser in 2012.
Pug's acclaimed narrative songwriting has led critics to draw comparisons between his work and that of John Prine and Bob Dylan. His stated influences include John Hiatt, Warren Zevon, and Beck, as well as literary figures such as John Dos Passos, John Steinbeck, Walt Whitman and Raymond Carver.
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