A Laidback Chat with Cub Sport's Tim Nelson
Whilst having the privilege to chat to the Cubbies' frontman aka resident @cubsport Snapchatter Tim Nelson, I learned two primordial things: 1. You can learn a lot from someone's daily Snapstories, and 2. Bad Kim K jokes (translated from memes) are never a wise idea. Having recently announced a nation-wide tour, the Brissy indie-pop heart throbs shall be soon setting stages aflame. 2016 has been a swell year for the Cubbies, from supporting The 1975 on tour to nailing every facet of their latest record This Is Our Vice. Despite one minor complication – resulting in a 20-minute wait on both ends – Tim was lovely enough to keep humble and answer an onslaught of (borderline fangirl) questions.
Hey Tim, how’s your day been?
TIM: Pretty good! Took Missy and Evie to get groomed, saw a bunch of people and I’m just haaanging out.
How are Missy and Evie, are they doing well?
TIM: They’re doing good!
Glad to hear. I bet you’ll miss them on tour.
TIM: Yeah, for sure.
I’d like to think that you are to the music world what ‘digwicks’ is to Missy and Evie.
TIM: Aw (laughs) wow, well, thank you – that’s a very kind thing to say.
Quite the analogy too. I have to ask, what’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened while you’ve been cubsport Snapchatting?
TIM: Hmmm... I got swooped by a bird the other day while I was Snapchatting, and when we were in London we saw a pigeon like pecking at a rat – like a dead rat, and I think those were probably the two most shocking moments on our Snapchat.
So I saw on Snapchat the other day that you’d recently played at the Caxton Street Festival. With getting to play live again, it’s not long now before you’ll be heading back on tour. How excited are you?
TIM: Very excited. It was nice to play a show again. It felt like it had been ages even though it hasn’t even been that long. I’m super excited for our tour – and yeah it’s not very far away now!
I have to say, I’m pretty excited too. Which bands have been your favourite to tour with?
TIM: Supporting The 1975 is one of my favourite things we’ve ever done, so that would definitely one. And on our headline tour a few months ago, we took Clea on tour, and she’s so sweet. Their whole band is awesome – it was just a really nice time as well. They’re the first two that come to mind, probably because they’re the two most recent. (pause) Oh! And Saskwatch, they’re the best.
That was last year wasn’t it?
TIM: Earlier this year I think! It does feel like ages ago though.
Are there any tour traditions that have emerged over time?
TIM: We always go to Grill’d, if there is a Grill’d. (laughs) That’s like the thing we always put into the GPS if we’re driving to a new city – just like, go to the first Grill’d we can find.
So what’s your favourite item from the menu?
TIM: Probably ‘Black with the Lot’ these days, a recent addition to the Grill’d menu. It’s the best.
I’m gonna guess that you’re thinking of taking the tour overseas. So what happens then, if there’s no Grill’d?
TIM: If it’s in America on the west coast, it’s In-N-Out. In the UK, there are some really good Indian places that we know there, but Nandos is also really awesome – our substitute for Grill’d over there.
Cheeky Nandos hey?
TIM: Yeah (laughs) for sure.
Well, I’m glad you have plans to share your music to live audiences abroad. Otherwise the rest of the world would certainly be missing out!
TIM: Yeah it’s good fun. We love going over and performing; hopefully we can do it more.
Now I just have to ask, with vocals as angelic as yours, how did you get into music? Was there a miraculous deciding moment?
TIM: When I was little, Mum used to play piano and I wanted to learn because of that – so I started my lessons when I was around six. I did that through until I was fifteen and had my grade 7 exam, then my teacher retired and I stopped. I started singing when I was fourteen; I was a boy soprano at school choirs and stuff until I was sixteen. (laughs)
You’ve mentioned before in other interviews that doing music certainly isn’t easy and I don’t doubt that for a second. With it being so mentally as well as physically challenging, is it purely the love for it that keeps you persevering?
TIM: I think I’d be able to keep trying through pretty much anything. I’m very determined to make music the sole thing I aim for, something that I wholeheartedly put my time and attention into. I can’t imagine getting over it anytime soon, or giving it up because of disappointment.
Maybe though, if I’m like 40? But I reckon I’ll be trying to do it for as long as possible. It's the love that really does keep you persisting.
I can definitely see the love that’s been carefully poured into This Is Our Vice. The entirety of the record is so much more seamless and incredible than I could ever have imagined. Do you feel like you’ve evolved and identified your sound more?
TIM: For sure, we have a better idea of who we are as a band and what we want to do – as people, as well. The vision is getting clearer as we keep going
I understand this is your debut album, though you have released a handful of stellar tracks years before, say 2012/2013. What were the real changes Cub Sport had to undergo before you all felt ready to release this?
TIM: I think it was just growing up, and whatever time that takes for that to happen. It just a matter of living for longer, having more experiences and learning more – thus having more to write about.
I’ve really noticed a more personal and intimate lyrical approach. And just as well, I think it works wonders for representing the band; I can really sense the altitude of growth within each and every track. Did you go into the songwriting process intending this or was it simply born from a stroke of inspiration?
TIM: Before we nailed down the track listing, or I’d even written all the songs for the album, we were all talking about what we wanted the album to be. I always like it when music is really honest, because it’s undoubtedly easier to connect with; I wanted to adopt that same honesty with the songwriting. It was a little weird at first, admittedly, but I’m kind of cool with it now. Once you start opening up a bit more with the writing, it comes much more easily.
There is definitely more of a connection to your music with the direction you’ve taken. What would you say are the most important things that go into the creative process?
TIM: It's different for different songs. The songs that I’ve been writing recently started the songwriting process with a definite inspiration in mind, and all the elements (music and lyrics) just all came together. There are other times when I don’t have a particular inspiration down, and sort of mess around on the keyboard – from that, I think about what that makes me feel, and write lyrics to match that.
Do you have any song(s) that you enjoy performing the most?
TIM: I think ‘Ultralight Beam’ is definitely a highlight, just ‘cause it gives us the opportunity to show underline the whole band’s abilities – like Zoe’s solo, and Bolan’s singing of his verse. And I just love the song, really; Kanye’s one of my favourite artists, and getting to share the song with people, too, is great.
I love doing ‘Come On Mess Me Up’ as well. I think that’s the slowest song we’ve ever had in a Cub Sport set, or that we’ve ever released. It’s amazing performing it while having lots of people sing along – it’s insane.
That being said, I really couldn’t pick a favourite from This Is Our Vice. The ghost-inspired album artwork by Angela Deane is a really lovely touch, too.
TIM: I came across her on Tumblr, and took an instant liking. The first ones I saw were holiday photos at the beach, and she’d painted ghosts over the people in them. I liked how it was a happy photo, but carried a layer of darkness over the top. I felt that suited the sound of the album ‘cause there are darker and more haunting elements to it – but just like our earlier works, it still ties in some upbeat pop sounds, and hence it felt right to have her art as a visual representation. It just felt right, since it matched the overall mood and sound of the album.