Beloved Brisbane quartet Cub Sport have spent two years in the shadows, honing their live show and focusing on their debut album, This Is Our Vice, due on Friday March 4th. Today we’re not only pleased to be sharing a chat we had with lead man Tim Nelson, but an exclusive stream of the first track from the record, ‘Sun’.
You had a two year layoff between releases which is quite a long time for any young band. How do you think you evolved in that time?
We recorded the album kind of in the earlier part of the break between releases, but I guess I did a bit of growing up and I definitely made a conscious effort to be more genuine with the songwriting and to write more honestly, and I guess I wanted the album, for people to connect with it on a deeper level than “oh, this is catchy or fun” or whatever. So, yeah, I guess with the content of the songs and, like I said, more serious lyrics at times, lyrics that really mean something to me, it ended up being a bit more emotional that our previous songs. Keeping that big of upbeat, bright energy that we’ve always had in our music in the core, then kind of marrying that with some darker themes or more emotional content, it kind of ended up like a dichotomy of sadness and happiness, I suppose.
And the parallels to great ’80s and ’90s acts that can be drawn- were they references you set out to subtly draw with the release?
I was listening to acts that reference a lot of ’80s production, but not necessarily actual music from the ’80s. I was listening to a lot of Blood Orange, Sky Ferreira, Toro Y Moi and those sorts of acts which I think inspired a lot of the choices, the drum sounds and bass parts, that sort of thing. Then I was also listening to some pop albums. Around when I wrote a lot of the album Beyonce had just released the visual album and I was listening to that a lot, I was listening to Lorde’s album a lot- I really loved that album, I was listening to it for a long time. Then also bands like Arcade Fire and Solange. So, I think it kid of ended up a bit of a middle ground, with little bits of inspirations taken from all of the different things I was listening to at the time.
The Karaoke competition… I can’t imagine anything more suited to you guys. Who came up with the idea?
I can’t remember, it would have been Sam, Zoe or me I think. We were having a meeting with our manager, she was like “what are we going to do for the JB Hi-Fi preorder competition?” and we were kind of just throwing around ideas and I think it came up half as a joke because doing karaoke with a fan is a bit of a logistical nightmare. But somehow our manager has worked it out so, yeah, it should be pretty funny.
The vocals in the record have clearly progressed to a stronger, more emotive sound. What was the catalyst for that?
I think probably the content and also the setting that I recorded the vocals in. A lot of the vocals on the album are the ones from the original demos where I was singing it for the first time. Often I’ll write the lyrics into my phone and I’ll just be holding my phone there and kind of making up the melody, recording whatever, using the lyrics as a guide. So there were parts on the album with those takes where I was making up the melody. I guess trying to take the lyrics that were in front of me and then use the melody or delivery or whatever to send more than just what the words were saying. Then the fact that we got to use a lot of those vocals I think has a lot to do with why it sounds more genuine.
Yeah and it definitely has more of a maturity around not only your vocal but the songwriting as a whole, which is really quite impressive.
Well, we had a whole bunch of songs recorded that were just kind of a regurgitation which was cool and easy, and that’s what we were wanting to do at the time. We’ve always made the type of music that we want to make, and we have an album of that, that I guess we could have put out but we realised that it’s not really sustainable to keep singing upbeat, happy songs that don’t really make you feel anything and I guess as the performers of those songs, if we’re not connecting to it then how could we really expect anyone else to connect with it.
I’m really glad that we did take the time to get it right, and to put out something that we honestly believe in and that’s something that we actually want to perform and show people.
So you spent a fair bit of time on the road as well over the past couple of years- especially overseas?
Yeah, we did a tour of the states in 2014 just before we recorded the album, so we got to road test a few of the album songs on that tour, and then I went on another trip doing some writing in LA and London just separately to Cub Sport because the album was already finished by then. Yeah, just kind of writing for things to be pitched for TV and movies and other artists. I got to write with people who have written with Miley Cyrus and Lana Del Rey, people who I’m obsessed with. It was a pretty cool experience. I’m really excited to go overseas to do more Cub Sport stuff and really, really excited to tour Australia again because it feels like it’s been so long.
You’ll be touring with Saskwatch too?
Yeah, we join up with them in March for the New South Wales leg, then continue through April to do pretty much the rest of the tour with them.
And is there anything- other than new songs- that you’ll be bringing to the show that we may not have seen from you guys before?
We’ve kind of had a bit of a shuffle around on instruments. Zoe plays guitar now instead of bass, and she’s incredible at it and she’s got a pretty massive pedal board so that she can accurately recreate all of the guitar sounds on the album. I’m playing guitar for a few songs now, which is new. I wasn’t very confident at the start but I’ve had a while to get around it now, and yeah I’m pretty excited. Keyboard is a bit of an anchor on stage, because you can’t really move very far and so it’s a bit restricting, but having a guitar you have a bit more freedom which is nice.
People are going to be a bit surprised by that, too.
Yeah, a brand new Cub Sport.
Listen to our exclusive stream of ‘Sun’ from Cub Sport‘s debut album This Is Our Vice, due out Friday March 4th.