Words by Jack Herz.
Since their early days of having just a couple of songs up on Triple J Unearthed, Brisbane 4-piece Cub Sport have always had a knack with creating catchy, indie pop songs with melodies that burst with colour and vibrancy. 2016 has proven to be big year for the band, having put out their debut album, performing a memorable Kanye West cover for Like A Version, as well as touring extensively both nationally and internationally. They are now about to embark on another Australia-wide tour and I spoke with frontman Tim Nelson ahead of this, to find out what went in to making the album, that fateful Kanye cover, and the importance of connecting with fans.
So you released your album This Is Our Vice earlier this year, can you tell me about the process involved in making and releasing the record?
Well I started recording demos by myself at home which I hadn’t done for the EP’s and it meant that when we went in to the studio we had more fully formed songs.
We then fleshed out those demos and tracked live instruments over the top where I had recorded a lot of midi instruments and programmed drums. That was pretty much the process for the whole album and I think that has a fair bit to do with why it ended up sounding different from our earlier stuff.
Were there any songs that you had to come back to again and again and may have only just made it on to the album?
Our song ‘I’m On Fire’ was one of those. I actually started writing that song back in 2010 before Cub Sport had even properly formed, and we always felt like the chorus had a bit of potential. Then when it came time to record the album I tried a few different arrangements, until we finally got it to a place where it seemed to fit in with the other songs. It was pretty funny to put out a song six years after I started writing it.
Your Triple J like a version of Kanye West’s ‘Ultralight Beam’ was utterly spectacular, was this song your first choice to go with and what initially led you to try and rework this track?
That was one of the first ones we thought of but once we started properly looking at the song and figuring out how we were going do it with only four people we started to think that maybe we shouldn’t. But we stuck with it, and figured out all the harmonies for Sam, Zoe and I. We were pretty happy with how it all came together.
You guys seem to pretty dedicated to communicating with fans through different forms of social media, has this always been something that’s important to you and do you think you will continue to do this?
Yeah, as much as we can I think. It’s always been something that we enjoy doing, getting to know the people who are enjoying the music. Recently—especially after The 1975 support that we did—there’s been a much bigger volume of people to write back to. But despite that, we’re just super stoked that there are people who are listening to our music and who want to have contact with us, so If we can give a bit back to them then we’re going to do it.
I recently had an interview with Liam Mcgorry from Dorsal Fins and he told me about a fateful karaoke session that eventually led to your collaboration on their new record. I wanted to ask you about your most memorable karaoke experience and some of you and the rest of the band’s go-to karaoke songs?
We’ve had so many, I don’t know if they’re memorable, we can hardly remember any of our big karaoke nights. I think one of the best was after a Dorsal Fins show when we went to Cyber City in Brisbane and Ella (Thompson) and I sang ‘We Belong Together’ by Mariah Carey. It was wonderful.
You guys tend to make some hilarious tour video diaries from your travels, I was curious to find out who puts these together and how you guys choose the music, it always seems to fit so perfectly with what’s going on at the time.
I put them all together and choose the music, except I’ve been pretty slack with it for the last few tours. I’m going to try and do one for our Spring tour that’s coming up but now that there’s Snapchat I feel like I have too many videos to sift through and they’re also not the best quality. I should do it though.
So I saw there was a photo put up online of you in some dentistry attire, is this a part time job? Does the rest of the band have other jobs to help support the music?
So my dad is an orthodontist and I work at his practice and so does Sam. Sam’s the hygienist there, although he’s injured his hand so he doesn’t do as much hygiene work anymore. I work in the lab making retainers and Dan and Zoe both work full time as well. Dan’s an electrical engineer and Zoe’s a studio technician at QUT in the music department. So yeah we all keep busy.
When you go on tour you seem to explore a lot and try and do and see all that you possibly can, so in regards to your latest international tour, I wanted to ask what would be one thing you would recommend to people that they have to see or try and one thing that you would recommend against?
Well the one thing that everyone should try is In-N-Out if you’re on the West Coast of America, because it’s incredible and it’s also incredibly cheap, which is great when you’re on tour. We didn’t really have any bad experiences though. We popped a tyre in the middle of nowhere and we nearly missed our show with Of Monsters And Men so if you’re going to pop a tyre, try and do it near a service station to avoid hours of stress.
How did the leaving of guitarist Andrew Williams effect the group musically, did it put more pressure on you guys to have to do more things at once?
We’ve all had to stretch ourselves a bit more to cover the extra parts. Zoe used to play bass and now she plays guitar, so Sam plays all the bass lines with his left hand and then all of the synth parts with his right hand which means Sam’s super busy now. Then with Zoe stepping up from bass to normal guitar, the guitar parts are a bit more involved so I think it stretched her a bit too, but I think she’s really good at it.
So you’re about to embark on another tour around Australia, what can people expect from you guys this time around?
We’re going to play lots of songs off the album, we’ll be throwing in a few old favourites off the EP’s, and we’ll be doing our ‘Ultralight Beam’ cover I’m sure. We’re still putting together the set and figuring it out though, so maybe there’ll be some surprises, who knows.
Have you got anything else currently in the works? I know you’ve got that collaboration with Dorsal Fins dropping but is there anything else people can expect from Cub Sport in the near future?
Hopefully, I’ve been writing like non-stop since we finished recording the album back in 2014, so we’ve got lots of songs now. I also think that my writing has been through a lot of different phases and styles within that time too, so it’ll be interesting to see which songs we end up choosing and what the next album will sound like. I’ve also been doing a few collaborations with some Australian producers as well, just doing some top-lining over what they’ve made, so hopefully one of those songs end up coming out at some point too.