INTERVIEW: Cub Sport
Returning with a bold, honest and experimental new sound Cub Sport are cementing themselves as one of Australia’s most exciting bands. Their second studio album “Bats” follows the timeline of lead vocalist Tim Nelson not just realising he was gay but also that he was in love with his best friend and fellow band mate Sam Netterfield. It then delves into self acceptance, the growth of the relationship as well as the multiple ups and downs life has. A couple days after their coveted performance at BIGSOUND I had a chat to Tim Nelson about their intimate new record, coming out, the upcoming postal plebiscite and embarrassing Snapchat moments. Check out the chat below;
TB: “Bats” is a very emotional and empowerful affair that sees you addressing coming out and falling in love with your best friend and fellow band mate Sam Netterfield. On the song Chasin’ you look at being overseas and realizing all of this. How confusing was this time in your life?
TN: It was pretty confusing. I think it was a lot of denial and a lot of fear mixed together. It took a year for Sam to bring it up with me and for me to actually deal with the situation.
TB: Cause I don’t think people really understand how hard it is to come to terms with sexuality in general but then to do it on your own and in a foreign country is not an ideal situation.
TN: Yeah, It was the first time I had really spent some time alone in a long time as Sam and I for eight years have literally done everything together. I guess being alone and stuck with my own thoughts and realisations was a pretty interesting experience. But very important.
TB: The rest of the album is quite the emotional journey and explores the timeline of accepting yourself, coming out and falling in love. It has a bit of a euphoric feel to it. Why did you guys feel like it was so important to share this story?
TN: Well I guess when I was writing the songs I wasn’t thinking about the next Cub Sport album or what I wanted the album to be. I was sort of just writing what was coming to me and what I was feeling. For a lot of the songs when I was recording them they were that personal that I was like I don’t need to show these to people if I don’t want to but then by the time it came around to putting together the second album I had come to terms with who I am a lot more and I felt a lot more comfortable sharing all of this stuff. So far the response to the singles have been really encouraging. We’ve had people thanking us for being open about it so I’m excited to be able to share our journey and hopefully encourage people who may be in a similar situation, feeling unsure about who they are or struggling to accept themselves.
TB: The record sees the band stepping towards a dreamier indie pop sound that is reminiscent of Savage Garden. What inspired you musically to go towards this sound?
TN: I produced a big chunk of the album. A lot of it is very true to the original demos. I’ve come to realise I quite like space in music. With these songs it really feels like there aren’t things thrown in there for the sake of trying to make it sound bigger. It’s kind of just the elements and whats there and you can hear every part. It’s honest musically and lyrically and there aren’t really parts nestled away, everything is laid out there in every respect. I guess that kinda had an impact on the stylistic change.
TB: Did you guys do anything substantially different with the process of creating this album compared to your debut?
TN: With the debut album it was the first time I had started recording so I recorded those songs as really basic demos and then we went into the studio with John Castle and recorded live drums, guitars, bass and everything over the top and fleshed it out that way. And then I guess between the two albums I’ve been writing and recording the whole time so my skills with recording have got a little better and production wise I have got better at getting the song to a place that they feel right. So we tried to use the same process by taking all the demos into the studio with John and he recorded in some guitars and live drums but the songs were kind of losing the feeling I was going for. So we ended up taking everything out and John just mixed the demos and tidied it up. Like “O Lord” had quite a considerable make over with the beat. John just has such a good ear for production and has all the skills to make something sound so much shinier.
TB: So what was the hardest song emotionally or musically to create?
TN: When I was writing the songs I didn’t really have a goal it was just trying to make sure everything felt right and I think the hardest one to get to a place where it felt right was “O Lord”. Because I recorded all the vocals, synths and everything at home and I was feeling really happy about it but the drums that I had in the demo were just a logic loop I pulled in and it felt completely wrong. So it took a little while to build up the beat and the bass and stuff to get it feeling how we wanted it to and John really nailed that. It was a special song to me and for a bit I was like it seems like this one is just not going to come together. And then one day we went into the studio and Sam was just like “we need to get O Lord working” because he really believed in it. And then John sort of just built that from nothing and pulled in some old samples and beats that he archived from the 90’s or something. It was really cool.
TB: With the current postal plebiscite I think what the most concerning thing is seeing the volume of negative opinions that are coming forward. You guys have got a strong younger fanbase, what would you say to a 16 year old version of yourself if you were currently trying to come to terms with your sexuality during this very intense political time?
TN: When I was 16 that was around the time I was first finding myself attractive to guys and it was a terrifying thing. Sam was actually the first guy I ever had a crush on even in year 11 *laughs* and I remember being devastated and really hating that and obviously rejected that for years. It’s a horrible feeling to hate a huge part of who you are as a person and that was because of the environment I grew up in was quite religious so it was a NO campaign 24/7. I would want to tell young people that you are the way you are because that is the way you’re meant to be. And you should love that about yourself and be proud of it and that anyone who thinks otherwise is not worth listening to or putting any energy into. It’s sad because there are a bunch of people who don’t have a support network, friends or family that they can reach out to about it. So if you’re already in doubt and in that stage of questioning who you are and then seeing on TV that you shouldn’t be allowed the same rights as the heterosexual person is a horrible thing. Just try to ignore it and remember that there are people out there who love who you are.
TB: Yes exactly! How old are you Tim?
TN: I’m 26
TB: Okay sweet well I’m 23 and I feel like back when I was in high school and realising that I was gay I was repressing it so much because there was no vocal mainstream support reassuring me that what I was feeling was okay. It was always that if you were gay you were instantly weird and not normal. Where as now we have platforms like Youtube, social media and artists like yourself who are very open and political about letting everyone know that it is okay. So it’s great to see how far we’ve come and the progress we’ve made but now with the plebiscite I feel like we are taking 10 steps back.
TN: Exactly! It’s wonderful that there are so many supportive people and love there. It’s almost been overwhelming the amount of love and support that we’ve received from being open about it and it’s beautiful. It’s such a shame just like what you said, it’s like a massive step back even having this debate.
TB: And, congratulations about getting engaged!
TN: Thank you!
TB: I know we spoke about the negative comments and touched briefly on the positive but it must been nice seeing all the positive comments on social media about your engagement and to the lyrical content of these songs and re assuring that this plebiscite will turn into a massive YES result.
TN: Well I hope so! I always wonder if its just all the algorithms that makes all my feeds just YES posts and comments *laughs* I’m just like, everyone wants this! But I do believe and hope that it will become a positive thing and a massive yes vote.
TB: These new songs are very personal and honest. With the release day looming are you having any anxiety about being so vulnerable?
TN: No not really. I’m just excited now! In the creation of the album there have been moments of anxiety along the way and it is a lot to put it out there but in the last couple of weeks with the amount of love we’ve been shown the anxiety has gone away. I’m just so excited and its exciting that I’m now just excited about it *laughs*.
TB: You guys are pretty avid Snapchatters, what is one of the most embarrassing things to happen mid snapchat?
TN: *Laughs* Most of the time its just when I’m snapping and someone says something really embarrassing or mundane in the background and it’s like alright guys I’m snap chatting stop having this boring conversation *laughs*. But yeah I can’t really think of anything specific I’m sorry!
TB: Are you some who just goes along with it or do you stop and refillm it and pretends like its just happening for the first time?
TN: *Laughs* Not really! I think most people like especially Sam are so used to me having my phone out and ready to snap so I can do it on the first try.
TB: For the new live shows what can fans expect? Do you think the show will have a different vibe because of the new songs?
TN: Yeah for sure!. We played a bunch of songs for the first time at our Bigsound showcase the other night and it really did feel like a start of a new era for us. Like when we were practicing the set I was like this is so exciting. It was only a half hour set so we cut a bunch of old songs and I was only singing for the whole set instead of playing guitar or keyboard and it felt great. The response to the new songs was great and very encouraging. I love singing them, they are probably the most fun songs we have ever had out. It’s a new phase for Cub Sport I think, I don’t quite know how to describe it. But, come to a show! *laughs*.
TB: What song from “Bats’ are you most excited to perform live?
TN: “Good Guys Go” is really fun to perform because in the pre chorus there are effected vocals and that is something I just played around with during the recording process and I was like this is really cool. And then doing it live I have two mic’s, one normal one and one with distortion and delay. It’s just fun and something new for me. And then on the Big Scary tour we were playing “Solo III” and it’s a pretty special song and Sam sings the bridge in it in the live show and it felt like the audience latched onto the fact it was such a special song for all of us to be performing together.
TB: Let’s play a little game of rapid fire questions where I am going to say a couple of sentences and you just say the first thing that comes to mind
TB: If I could form a supergroup with Cub Sport and any other band or artist it would be…
TN: Frank Ocean, Solange and Kanye West. It would be like a seven piece band.
TB: My band members would describe me as…
TN: Oh that’s a hard one, I feel like I’m a little bit obsessive. Because we are self managed and with Sam and I being together it feels like Cub Sport has become my whole life.
TB: Most mornings I…
TN: wake up really early because I can’t control it and then cuddle Missy and Indy (his dogs).
TB: If we weren’t called Cub Sport or Cub Scouts we would be called?
TN: Oh my goodness it took us so long to come up with a name in the first place and then when we had to change our name it took us so long as well so I feel like it would take me weeks to get an answer back to you *laughs*.
Cub Sport’s second studio album “Bats” will be released on September 22.