Splendour Interview: Tim and Sam of Cub Sport (Australia) on coming-of-age with BATS and getting married without a wedding band

I’ve known Cub Sport for a long time now. The beauty of running this website has been getting to know bands from their earliest incarnation – in respect of this band, that was “Cub Scouts” (or “Tim Nelson and the Cub Scouts” even before that), and going on adventures together like riding on elephants in Singapore. Because of course we did.

So when I say I’m proud of this band, this isn’t jumping on a bandwagon because Tim Nelson and Sam Netterfield came out about their relationship and made a beautiful record (BATS) about it (though there’s no shame in doing so) – but because I’ve seen how hard this band have worked to get to this point. In every respect, every bump along the road has been the fuel they’ve needed to evolve and become the band they are today. A well oiled live machine, capable of producing records of beauty, captivate audiences and leave this writer, well, a little humbled – and yes, proud. There are few bands more deserving of their accolades than this Brisbane quartet.

To see them play an absolutely rammed tent at Splendour in the Grass last weekend, was an absolute joy, and a couple of days after their set, we sat down backstage at the festival to talk about it, their recent tours, the pair’s upcoming wedding, making their acclaimed LP BATS a reality and much more…

You played almost two days ago now. You’ve been able to soak in the festival, and I guess reflect on your biggest ever Splendour set. Talk me through that performance, and how much it meant to be playing on such a prestigious stage at such a great time of the night.

Tim: It felt amazing.

Sam: Yeah, it was special.

Tim: It is literally a dream come true. We’ve been wanting to do it for years. It felt great. We were all stoked with how it went and…

Sam: Lots of love in the tent. Everything we wanted and more.

Tim: Wonderful vibe.

From the days when Tim’s name fronted the band, through your different incarnations, in different countries, with different setbacks along the way… Everything just feels like it’s paved the path that’s allowed you to be where you are now. 

Tim: Yes, absolutely. It’s been a long journey. I think we had so much to learn about ourselves and the industry and why we’re even doing this. I feel like we’ve taken everything that we’ve been through and grown from it. It really feels like now is the right time for stuff to be happening. It’s the reason we stuck with it, I guess.

It just doesn’t feel like you could have done BATS eight years ago. You could not have jumped off out of the gate with an album like that.

Tim: No, definitely not. I would have had a panic attack if I was coming out into the world back then.

Even the content matter aside, just the quality of the musicianship and the level of exposure that it’s hard for any group to maintain, I think it just shows what you guys been working towards.

Sam: Yeah, I feel like I wouldn’t change anything. I love how everything has played out and how it’s allowed us to find ourselves.

It’s been almost a year now since BATS was released?

Tim: It was September.

Sam: September 22, last year.

How do you find that the fans have grown with you over the years? There’s obviously been a lot of new ones that have come up since BATS was released too…

Tim: It’s been incredible. It really feels like when people come across us, they become part of the journey. It’s so heartwarming for us to have these fans who have been following us since our first single, and then to tell us how proud they are of us and stuff. It’s like, “Oh, thank you.” It feels like a win for all of us or something.

Sam: Yeah, there’s just so much love, woven through it all. It’s the best part of it.

You get to have the fans that you’ve had since day one embrace you in that way, and capture a new audience as well, which is beautiful to see. Seeing the singalongs as well, that’s got to feel pretty nice.

Tim: Yeah, it feels unreal.

What’s the oldest song that still in your set?

Tim: It would be … Just the songs of This is Our Vice (2016), like “It Kills Me”.

Does it feel out of place at all to play some of those older songs?

Tim: There have always been songs on both of the albums, that I feel have epitomised what my vision for Cub Sport has always been about, I haven’t always had the confidence or clarity to zone in on it as much. But there are songs like “Come On, Mess Me Up”, and “Only Friend”, and “Runner”, that I feel like I’m always going to love them like I’ve just written them or something.

But it’s really exciting to cut the songs that I’m not that connected to, and bring in new ones. We debuted a song off our next album and that was on Friday. The vibe was great. It got me super excited to release new stuff.

Tell me a little bit about where you are going musically moving forward.

Tim: I feel like this next album is the story is just being told from a more confident perspective. I wrote BATS as I was coming out and coming to terms with all of that. This time around, it’s like, I feel like I know who I am a lot more, and my writing isn’t so much me figuring myself out. It kind of feels…

Sam: Like a celebration…

Tim: Yeah. And just being inspired by what’s happening and the way that everything’s changing.

You can go into it with a lot more confidence as well in terms of what the reception is going to be. I imagine going into that last record being unsure about how that would be received?

Tim: Yeah. I feel like everything we’ve done has been building to this next era of Cub Sport.

Sam: It feels more Cub Sport than ever I reckon.

Peak Cub Sport.

Tim: Yeah, we’ve arrived.

You’ve been playing a lot of shows over the last year as well, all over the world. Do you have any highlights of the last year touring wise? Obviously, Splendour is probably up there.

Tim: Yeah, Splendour, I think perhaps that was maybe my favourites that we’ve ever played. We had some pretty special shows though like…

Sam: The whole BATS tour was incredible. It was so heartwarming to see people connecting with that album, and the sentiment, and getting behind it. It’s really cool. Then just take it around the world and people in the middle of other countries where you just don’t get to go often and have people who come specifically for that.

Tim: Our show in Chicago was sold out. It was just such a vibe. The stage is super low. I felt like I was almost standing on the floor, and everyone was just crowded around. Yeah, it was a seriously good vibe. London as well was like a highlight. There have been some shows, but you can just feel the love so intensely that I’m almost crying. It’s really cool.

Those are the best moments. It sort of gets to a point for me, where everything just starts to blend together. A bit of a weird question, but do you have any techniques to take stock of all the amazing shit you’ve done? 

Tim: We’re definitely learning to be more mindful, and to take time aside at shows. We’ve been talking about it before we go on, just take a second to actually remember this. It makes it special. But it does certainly. There are times where it becomes a blur for sure.

You’ve gotten to play with some pretty amazing bands from all over the world. This time, they’re your support acts which is pretty cool. Any standouts in terms of acts that you’ve gotten to discover on the road?

Tim: We literally just came from seeing Eves Karydas play, which obviously we toured with her earlier this year, it’s the best she’s ever sounded. It was incredible. Touring with Middle Kids last year was amazing. So amazing.

Sam: We’re going straight from these interviews to Middle Kids. It’s awesome getting to see our friends just killing it.

That’s really the vibe at this festival. I’ve been getting emotional watching you guys and Gang of Youths, Methyl Ethel and Amy Shark and all you guys who have worked so hard to get here over the last, for you guys eight years. For some bands 10 or more. And finally, just seeing that response, and that reception that they have deserved for so long. It’s beautiful and it’s amazing and it’s wonderful.

Tim: I agree.

Sam: I agree. Yeah it is. It’s really special.

So, new music on the way probably next year, and you’re wrapping up this year with some more shows?

Tim: Yeah, we are touring with Vance Joy in September.

A couple little shows there.

Tim: Yeah, just like 70,000 people.

Sam: They’ll be our first shows as a married couple.

It’s coming up, isn’t it?

Tim: Yeah, it’s just under three weeks.

How have you been fitting in the planning for that amongst prep for this and everything?

Tim: Wedding planning is a breeze compared to managing an album launch campaign.Try throwing an album campaign together in eight weeks and then you’ll realise that a wedding is OK to plan.

Sam: Then I think we’ll go overseas release some new music, come back do some more festivals and stuff, and then do it all again.

Being musicians yourselves, is the most stressful part of the wedding picking who’s performing?

Sam: We’re just getting a DJ.

Tim: Everyone’s getting the might off.

That is a very uniform and fair approach. No one’s going to be hurt. You’ll just have to add some of your mates into the mix of the DJ mix.

Tim: Yeah, exactly.

Well guys, congratulations on BATS. Congratulations on this beautiful year of touring that you’ve had. Can’t wait to see those shows with Vance in September. Just always good to see you guys.

Tim: Yeah, you too. Thanks so much.

BATS is in stores now. Cub Sport‘s tour with Vance Joy is on sale now. You can get more details about that HERE, and find out more about the band on their Facebook Page HERE.