12 December 2017 (released)
12 December 2017
Australia recently became the 26th nation to welcome in same sex marriage. Voted in by a controversial public vote, which proved the Australian nation were on the whole very pro equality, the subject of same sex relations have been heavily debated in Australia over the last few months. It is therefore somewhat timely that we caught up with Brisbane's Cub Sport, who released the stunning BATS earlier this year. Having fought against his sexual identity for a long time, lead singer Tim Nelson to find out how he is feeling about the positive impact his story has had in his home country.
Hi Cub Sport, for those who don't know about you as yet, give us a brief intro…
We’re an independent pop group from Brisbane, Australia. We’re self-managed and run our own label. We love dogs, food and equality!
You have existed as a band for six years. How have things evolved since the outset?
The evolution of our sound and style over the last 6 years has more or less reflected our development as people and as musicians. Coming out as gay in mid-2016 was a huge turning point for me - it brought on a new wave of freedom and creative inspiration and I started feeling way more comfortable performing on stage. It feels like through years of hard work we’ve really found what we’re meant to be doing.
Do you remember your very initial ambition?
When I first started writing songs I just really wanted to record them and sing them in front of people. I didn’t really have much of an idea of what I was aiming for though, I think I needed a few years to learn about myself - both as a person and as a musician.
How would you define your current ambition?
This has sort of developed and grown over the last 18 months since coming out. My desire to write, record and perform music will never go away, so that part hasn’t changed, but being another voice for the queer community has become an important part of our ambition as a band.
You are two albums into your recording career, tell us a little about the releases?
This Is Our Vice was our debut album released in 2016. It largely represents those late teen/early twenties years for me. It was the first time I’d recorded demos myself at home and I think the intimacy of that writing/recording environment subconsciously opened me up with my lyrics and also led me away from the jangly pop sound that dominated our EPs - it was a bit of a breakthrough and felt like the first steps towards the true Cub Sport sound. The third single off This Is Our Vice ‘Come On Mess Me Up’ really connected with people and scored us an invite to join The 1975 on their Australian arena tour which was absolutely mind-blowing.
We released our second album BATS in September this year. The songs follow my personal journey of coming to terms with my sexuality. From the moment I admitted to myself that I was gay, to realising I was in love with my best friend/band mate Bolan (Sam), to finally acknowledging the situation a year later and to then coming out and getting together. Sonically, it’s a bit of a departure from This Is Our Vice - it’s a bit more chilled out and has some more R&B/soul vibes. I recorded pretty much all of it at home and we kept a lot of the production from the original demos for the final mixes so it feels especially genuine and quite organic (as cliche as that sounds).
This year's album BATS. How did you come up with the title?
The house we were living in when I recorded BATS was just up the hill from a creek that had a huge colony of bats living along its banks. Bolan and I would walk our dogs down there each evening and watch the bats fill the sky (usually soundtracked by Frank Ocean - White Ferrari playing off my phone). I’d often put it on my Snapchat story and one day someone from Texas replied and said that they’d see the same thing there. It inspired the opening lyrics of the song Bats ‘Bats in the sky, it looks like Texas. I like this time because it reminds us we can be anywhere, that doesn’t change us, nothing can change us now.’ Bats the song felt like it really represented the vibe/story of the album which is why we decided to make it the title track. There was always something exciting and emotive about seeing thousands of bats fill the sky and I wanted that visual to represent the collection of songs.
Which song are you most proud of?
I’m really proud of the whole album, but I’d say the autobiographical songs are the ones that mean the most to me. Bolan’s and my story rolls out over this list of songs, more-or-less in this order - Chasin’, Look After Me, Crush, Solo III, Bats, Give It To Me (Like You Mean It), O Lord and Banyo Blue. Writing these songs gave me clarity around a bunch of things that still felt hazy in my mind, it’s like they helped me understand a deeper yearning that my mind couldn’t make sense of.
Your visuals are very striking. How important are visuals to you as a band?
Thank you! The visual aspect of Cub Sport has become increasingly important as our creative vision has developed. We want our music videos, album art and photo shoots to give more life to the music - it’s a cool opportunity to strengthen the message of the songs themselves and paint a clearer picture.
As a group you have become known in Australia for speaking out about gay rights. Was this a very conscious decision?
I’d say it was a result of wanting to be open about our own lives and sharing what’s important to us. When we started doing this, we were inundated with messages from people thanking us saying how much we’d helped them - in some instances people said that we’d saved their lives which is quite surreal. We feel very lucky to have some sort of a platform, so if we can help people out by being ourselves and speaking up about the things that matter to us then of course we’re going to do it!
Gay marriage has recently been passed in Australia. Have you got your big day planned?
Yes! It’s made it through the senate so we’re getting very close now! We’re looking at some time around the middle of 2018!
Do you hope your music can help spread a positive message to communities where gay marriage isn't accepted?
Definitely! We try to foster an inclusive community on our socials and at our shows so that people who don’t have that acceptance and support in their lives know that there are people just like them who understand their struggles and love them just as they are.
Lastly, looking back over 2017. What is the best thing you achieved?
Releasing BATS was a huge achievement for me. I didn’t like who I was for a long time - I hated that I was gay and always wished I could change and just be ‘normal,’ so to release an album that tells my journey of figuring myself out and accepting who I really am felt like a huge step. After years of struggling with being gay I’m really proud to have created an album that celebrates the beauty of queer love.