- Words Notion Staff
- Photograph Jennifer Medina
Venturing into a new club-house phase Cub Sport discuss their forthcoming album ‘Jesus At The Gay Bar’, their writing process and collaborations.
From self-managing their career to establishing their own creative and visual direction, it’s fair to say Cub Sport have complete autonomy over their work. Soon to have New Music Friday fans in a chokehold, tomorrow the group are set to share their highly-anticipated club-house album ‘Jesus At The Gay Bar’.
For those new here, Cub Sport are an Australian quartet who cemented their infectious indie-sleaze soundscape in the height of the scene. Recently nominated for a Grammy, the group are quickly going from strength to strength with each addictive release and are connecting with one another more than before.
Since speaking with the group, Cub Sport has unveiled a Ninajirachi remix of “Keep Me Safe” and shared an electronic-pop offering “Songs About It”. Soon to embark on a four-date UK tour, we spoke to the band about the story behind their single “Keep Me Safe”, collaborating with new producers on their upcoming album ‘Jesus At The Gay Bar’ and how they’ve evolved since starting out.
Hey Cub Sport. How’s 2023 been going for you so far?
I’m good, thank you. Answering these questions I can hardly even remember January.
Congrats on the new single. “Keep Me Safe” is the third release from the upcoming album – could you tell us a bit about the story behind the lyrics and the writing process?
I wrote “Keep Me Safe” about the very start of Sam and I getting together when we were 17. The whole relationship was a complete secret, which made life kind of complicated but it was the happiest I’d ever been. I wanted this song to capture the magical feeling of the inside of our secret world, as cheesy as that may sound.
I wrote the song with Styalz Fuego in Melbourne in 2021. There was something about the synth that was so nostalgic to me, it transported me back to that time and brought all these memories and emotions back. I love getting to celebrate and affirm that period in my life because at the time I couldn’t really share it with anyone.
The video is gorgeous and is inspired by the work of fellow Australian Baz Luhrmann, is there a sense of recasting ideas around secret relationships, especially ones in a queer space, using one of the most famous love stories ever?
Thank you. The vision was a queer reimagining of Romeo and Juliet; the forbidden love parallels, feeling like you’d maybe rather die than live without the other. Romeo and Juliet is visually stunning and referencing that imagery felt right for “Keep Me Safe”.
The album is also inspired partly by a Jay Hulme poem about religion and acceptance, how does this translate into themes you explore in the project?
The poem tells the story of Jesus partying at a gay bar, and he’s approached on the dance floor by a boy who wants to be healed. Jesus tells him there is nothing in the boy’s heart that ever needed to be healed. It struck a chord with me because I grew up in a very religious world and spent years praying that God would heal me from being gay, so I found a lot of comfort for my younger self in this poem.
At the risk of sounding overly earnest, the whole Cub Sport discography explores this journey of self-acceptance, unlearning and healing. ‘Jesus At The Gay Bar’ feels like a celebration of the point I’ve gotten to so far, and sonically, it’s the most dance-forward Cub Sport album, so the setting of a gay bar is fitting.
If people who listen to the album could take one thing away, what would you all hope that might be?
I hope it makes people feel good. I hope queer listeners find comfort and inspiration in the lyrics but I really think the feeling of the album overall is for everybody. To me it feels pretty emotional but really uplifting and energising at the same time.
If the first three singles are anything to go by, this album sounds like it might be broader musically than some of your previous projects – was this the intention?
I feel like all of our albums are pretty sonically diverse. I love the album format and perfecting the sequencing so that it’s a cohesive journey from start to finish with each track having its own identity. I do think this album is the most succinct version of that breathe-through.
How does the song writing work between you? Is it a collaborative process, and have you all worked out where you best fit into this process over the years?
I’ve always done most of the writing and recording by myself in my home studio. This album was definitely more collaborative than past releases though – I worked with a couple of new producers and co-writers such as Styalz Fuego, Simon Lam, and Nat Dunn which was really exciting and inspiring. As well as Brisbane producer Maxwell Byrne aka Golden Vessel/1tbsp who I’ve done a bunch of writing with over the years – I feel like Max and I have a really special musical cohesion.
To me, ‘JATGB’ has the same heart and emotion that’s in all Cub Sport albums, but there’s an exciting new energy – it feels a bit happier and lighter? The sonic foundation of the album feels clubbier too, which I love.
The current line-ups have been going for almost a decade now, with plenty of musical releases and even a band marriage since then. Have you got a secret for working together for so long?
I don’t want to sound cliché but I think it’s destiny that the four of us are working together, it’s just meant to be. We’ve all changed a lot since the start of the band, but we’ve grown together. We’ve grown closer and stronger, there’s a lot of mutual love and respect there and I think that’s why we’ve stayed strong for so many years.
The four of us are much more than a band that plays music together. Between us we’re self-managed, run the business, release through our own label, tour-manage, creative direct for all visual aspects etc. Basically everything is done in-house, we’re really independent across the whole project which I think is a pretty unique and special model.
Has there been a moment in your career so far that you think your 2014 self would be particularly impressed by?
A recent one would be; getting nominated for a Grammy, being at the Grammys, and then making the Red Carpet’s best dressed list. The whole thing was a literal dream come true!
It’s been four years since your last tour of the UK – do you feel you’ve evolved musically since the last time we got the pleasure of your shows?
We will have released two albums since we last toured the UK. I think our biggest evolution is the energy in the music. This new album is the most pop/dance/electronic leaning project we’ve released and I think the vibe at the shows is going to be really fun and still emo (because it’s Cub Sport) but also like a celebration.
What do you miss most about Australia when you’re away? Do you bring any home comforts on tour?
I miss my dog Missy most, I wish we could bring her with us.
What are you most excited to play? Are there any of your tracks an audience always really responds to?
We’ve played a song off the new album called ‘Songs About It’ at a couple of festivals and it’s gone off, I’m really excited to play that one on tour.
With the album and international tour in mind, what’s next for Cub Sport?
We haven’t really looked too far beyond that. There’ll definitely be more music, but I’m not sure exactly when. I’ve got a few new demos that are feeling really good so even though it’s early days, I think I might be starting to get an idea of what the next era could sound like. I’m not locking myself into anything at this point though, just writing when I get the chance and creating stuff that feels exciting and pure.