We caught up with Tim Nelson, lead singer of Brisbane band Cub Sport, the other week to chat about their massive return to the music scene with their debut album This Is Our Vice and following tour, as well as their spot at the approaching Caxton Street Festival on in their hometown this weekend.
So you’ve just finished up at BIGSOUND, how was it?
It was really nice getting to go along and just watch friends bands and not having to worry about playing; whenever we played we hardly got to see anyone, so it was awesome.
This is the first I’ve heard of Caxton Street Festival, but it looks amazing, are you stoked to be part of it? Does it feel good to play home shows, do you get alot of old school friends in the crowd?
It should be cool and they’ve always got lots of fresh seafood, so that’s an added bonus! I don’t really have school friends left, [but] the few that I still have [that] come are like my best friends who come to all of them. It’s great to see the fans from our hometown because up until recently, we haven’t played a lot of shows in quite a while. It’s still very normal to get to play here in Brisbane and having people from our city coming and watching us is pretty cool.
Who are you most looking forward to seeing/ playing alongside from the lineup?
I’m excited to play with The Creases and Last Dino’s; they’re mates of ours, its great to play at things with your friends and I haven’t seen either of them play for a little while so I’m excited for that.
I know you are pretty tight with The Creases and they helped with some of your latest music videos right? Is it better working with friends or do housemate styled arguments come up?
Yeah, he [Joe Agius] did the videos for all three of our singles that we’ve released off the album so far – it’s really great getting to work with Joe, he’s amazing. There aren’t really any arguments; I’ve always found Joe really easy to work with. I think it’s because we’re often on the same page creatively, it’s a more efficient way to work for me. I’m glad it didn’t get ugly.
Whats your favourite part of a festival, the crowds, discovering new bands, the food (obviously)?
I think a combination of all of those things; festivals usually have a pretty good relaxed party vibe so it should be nice. I think that it [Caxton] runs all day, so there will probably be a a bit of a rowdy Brissy crowd by the time we’re playing, so that should be funny.
You just finished your This Is Our Vice tour, what were your highlights? Lowlights?
The highlights were… selling out all the shows in advance was pretty amazing because we’ve never had that before, so that was crazy. A lowlight was that I got a bit sick for part of it which is annoying because it’s like, the only time! I’d been healthy for a little while and as soon as something important comes up, of course I get sick! That was annoying but the shows were all still really nice.
There was a Melbourne show not that long ago you had to cut short from losing your voice but it still sounded like a well received gig? Is it great to have such supportive fans or do you think it’s a testament of how amazing the band are?
We’ve got pretty amazing fans. I felt so bad about having to cut it short and everyone was just so reassuring and kept saying “No, no, we understand”. It was pretty lovely too, we hung around – I couldn’t talk at all – but I just sort of hung around and had people talk to me and got some photos and stuff but everyone was so nice. I think that’s just a testament to how supportive and great our fans are.
I hear your Mum controls your leave on your job so that must make touring a little less stressful?
Mum’s retired now actually but the new practice manager at my Dad’s orthodontics practice is equally as amazing and accommodating so yeah, I’m really lucky to have a flexible manager that allows me to go away for tour and that sort of thing.
Because you had to defer university for a bit too, how do you find mixing the music life with the ‘real’ life as some would say?
It’s been a funny sort of thing, because when we started the band I was studying dentistry and then slowly but surely, dentistry has sort of faded to the back and I’m getting to do more and more music as my main thing. It’s good having another job to offer some stability financially and to allow us to tour, but if the day comes when I can just do music, that will be awesome.
It seems you’ve found a lot more confidence in your sound lately, do you feel that way now with a full length album under your belt?
I think so. Because we did a really big tour over in the UK, Europe and America just before we came home and did our tour and The 1975 shows, and because we played so many shows in that time while we were overseas, I think we really got a feel for exactly what we’re doing and what we want to be doing as a band with the live show.
I feel like that’s really helped us a lot and I found also with my writing for the next album, on the back of playing all those shows and then having our sold out shows here, I think we do have a bit more confidence now in what we’re aiming for. It’s exciting.
Your earlier tunes all seemed to have a more uplifting pop sound to them while still carrying some more melancholy lyrics, it seems for your debut album you’ve fully embraced the darker themes altogether, was this intentional or did it just come about organically?
I think on the earlier stuff I was setting out with the goal to write hooky fun songs, but I guess lyrically, often I still went down the track of whatever came to mind and sometimes I’d just try and think of funny things to write songs about. When it came time to do the album, I really wanted it to be a bit more genuine and just do exactly what was I feeling rather than aiming for a particular sound, if that makes sense.
I think that’s sort of the result of it, I got a bit more honest with what I was writing and musically, I sort of wanted it to reflect the same mood. So it wasn’t necessarily an intentional shift in sound, but I think the inspiration and motivation for making music changed and that was the result of it.
I’ve been a fan of the band since “Evie” and “Can You Hear” when you were still known as Cub Scouts. I heard your album was recorded back in 2014 but all the mixing and label processes held it back to this years release date; was that frustrating at all?
Yeah it was pretty frustrating sitting on it for so long, but I got to write more during that time, and I think that the frustration and disappointment of waiting around and having to sit on this music we were so excited to release, it sort of inspired me with writing then. So I’ve got a lot of songs that I’ve written since This Is Our Vice to choose from for the next album which is cool, and we also got to include “Only Friend” because I wrote that in that time as well and it was just in time to make it onto the album.
It wasn’t how we imagined it all rolling out, but I think that it was all for the best and it also gave us time to learn more about ourselves and develop as people before putting it out, and I think that if it was earlier we might not have… I just feel like it all happened for a reason.
“Only Friend” is one of the feature singles you released in anticipation for the album, and as you said it wasn’t originally on the album, are you thankful it did make it?
I think that it kinda ties it all together and brought a little bit more of the darker side to it and balanced it out nicely, so I’m glad that it all happened how it did.
One of my favourite tracks off the album is “Come On Mess Me Up”and when you did your Like A Version at Triple J you mentioned it was about touring life?
Yeah, part of it is. I wrote about wanting to pursue music as a career – the first verse is about when I was working when I just finished high school and that was when I started recording songs and that sort of thing. The second verse is about deferring uni and the third verse is about when we were on tour and I got really sick and was throwing up a lot. So that’s sort of part of it; the touring life and how it can sort of mess you up a bit, well it can for me!
I honestly love these stories, I feel like they happen in the Australian music scene alot, of how the stars just align, is it true you connected with your current producer John Castle because Zoe and himself had matching outfits at a Washington gig?
Yeah! At BIGSOUND – oh how many years ago, it would have been ages ago – and Zoe was there at Washington and John was drumming for them at the time and yeah, they had matching jackets on and just clicked! We got in and recorded our first EP with John and then we’ve just kept coming back!
Okay so probably the most important question of this interview, what comes first – dog ownership or music? I’ve heard people didn’t realise you were band on Snapchat?
Oh! I don’t know… I feel like in my life its just fifty-fifty; they’re equal parts. I guess we started getting really into Snapchat before we’d put out any of our new music in that big break between our last EP and the album, so I think that people had recommended us to their friends on Snapchat or something and somewhere along the line, people forgot that we were a band but were still following us on everything. It was pretty funny to get a message saying, “Oh I didn’t realise you guys make music too!”
Maybe you guys just tapped into a new market?
Exactly, we’ll take whatever avenue we can!
Everyone is still buzzing about your Like A Version, will you be bringing that to the Caxton Street Festival?
Yeah I’d say so; it’s pretty fun to play live and the audience seems to really enjoy it, so I’d say we’ll probably be playing it.
Have you got your setlist nailed down or will it be carried on from your recent tour?
We haven’t really nailed it down yet, but at our recent shows we’ve been mainly playing songs off the album and throwing in a couple of EP songs as well. I’d say we’ll probably do something similar; we might mix it up a bit, we’ll see.
Have you guys got any tips for up and coming acts and who is your next pick?
I don’t know if GL or Dorsal Fins would sit in up and coming, but they’re probably two of my favourite Australian bands at the moment they’re just incredible recorded and live and awesome people as well so I think that they’re probably two to watch.
That’s good timing because GL just got announced for Laneway Festival too!
Yeah they’re the highlight of the lineup for me!
You can order the album online or get the dates of their newely announced national tour here. Details for the Caxton Street Festival including lineup and timetable can be accessed here – tickets $29+bf. Image by Michelle He.