Cub Sport

Cub Sport is in a league of their own. Initially coming onto the scene with a traditional indie sound, over time they’ve evolved into a global pop power group. The band has been releasing music for more than a decade and with each new drop they manage to tap into a new sound, a new vibe, a new facet of human emotion. Their latest release is no different. Jesus At the Gay Bar taps into the queer experience and explores the joy that follows when you live and love authentically. And oh, it is joyful. The music oscillates between dance tracks and pop with a healthy dose of synths.

In conversation with 1883 Magazine, Tim Nelson of Cub Sport chats about the development of the band’s sound, how it felt to work on their album Jesus At the Gay Bar, and more.


The new record is called Jesus At The Gay Bar, which is the same as a very beautiful poem. I wanted to learn a little bit more about your relationship with that poem. How did it feel when you first read it? Why did you choose that as the title of the record.

Yeah, so I came across that poem on Twitter, I think at the end of 2021 and it really stopped me in my tracks. And even though I don’t subscribe to Christianity, or any religion really any more, I grew up in a very Christian world. The version of Christianity that I grew up with was very homophobic. And so to read this poem that depicts Jesus as the opposite to what I grew up being taught is super comforting to my younger self. And I think the whole Cub Sport discography kind of feels like it follows my journey of unlearning everything that I was told when I was young, and learning to accept my queerness and then, now I feel like I’m at a place where it’s something that I’m genuinely proud of and I get to celebrate that. So I think the name Jesus At The Gay Bar kind of felt like it was the perfect summary of that whole journey and the whole evolution. So it just felt right for this. chapter of the Cub Sport story.


I just think sonically too this whole record is super joyful. I think that really ties in with that whole celebratory concept.



This is your fifth studio album now which is monumental. How do you feel like your music has changed and developed over the years?

I think every Cub Sport album feels like somewhat of a departure from what came before it. And I’m really proud of the way that we’ve continued to evolve album to album and like, have never taken the route of playing it safe or anything. But I kind of feel like the evolution for this album is that it has kind of like a more energetic, joyful kind of feeling. Which I think may have stemmed from not being able to play shows for a couple of years and thinking about how I wanted the shows to feel when we could get back to touring and I guess like the energy that I wanted us to bring on the stage and like also what that was gonna feel like for people in the audience. But I think that overall it feels like there’s a developing freedom within Cub Sport with each new album.


So is it conscious as you’re working on the songs and you think in your head I’d like to head in that direction, or is it kind of just a happy byproduct?

Usually just happens, but I did have a pretty clear idea of how I wanted this album to feel, not necessarily how I wanted it to sound but just like the feeling that it brought. And so when I was working on this album for like the last couple of years, I would kind of let myself write in any direction I was drawn. I was aware of how the songs were making me feel. And when certain songs kind of brought that feeling that I knew I wanted, that was when I knew that it was aligned. I feel like these 10 songs, feel like they belong together and kind of take the listener on a journey. They have that kind of uplifting, joyful feeling that I wanted it to have, even though the whole album isn’t super happy. I don’t know if I could ever write happy songs. It’s just not who I am. But I think the album is energizing and so uplifting through the sadder, deeper moments… that’s like the vibe.


I think that’s also just like a real representation of life too. Even when things are sad, you can still find beauty in that. Sad moments don’t necessarily have to be just a downer. I also love when a record isn’t something that you listen to for just one occasion. My best friend and I are the worst music snobs in the world. We’ll be like This is my favourite summer record. And while yeah, I love that music in the hot days of summer, I believe that it’s a testament to a really well done album when I don’t just want to put it on when the sun’s shining. Does that make sense? 

No yeah, totally. 


What was it like to pursue this new kind of happier, more dancey sound? Were there any new instruments that you guys were incorporating anything that you were super excited to try out or nervous to try?

It was really fun to work on this album. I worked with a couple of new producers who I hadn’t written with before. But yeah, I think it’s kind of similar instrumentation and stuff. It’s like a lot of synths and a lot of programmed drums and that sort of thing. I think kind of just like going a bit deeper into that world. When I was coming home from a session or working down here in the home studio and then coming upstairs with a new song and it being something that we can kind of dance to was really fun. That was pretty new, because I do write a lot of sad, mellow songs and that sort of thing.I think finding that place where the songs felt euphoric and energetic but it still had that genuine emotion that has kind of been through all of Cub Sport’s four albums was really cool and special. And I was writing a lot of it through Covid.


I feel like that’s such a starkly contrasting time to be doing that work. You’re writing these fun and exciting songs, and the rest of the world is in this bleak, gray time period. What was it like to be working on this while going through all of that uncertainty at the same time?

I think it feels a little bit like escapism or something. Like its own kind of thing. We had this Airbnb in Melbourne, for a period while I was working on that album and it was like this big, open plan loft kind of thing with huge windows and like massive vines growing all over the outside. And it had the surround sound and like built into the space. And so we were just like putting the demos on and it would just be blasting from every corner of this big industrial apartment. Looking back on those few weeks that we spent there mid-pandemic there was a lot of uncertainty, it was a pretty stressful time for a lot of people. But being in there and listening to the songs… that did feel joyous. It was a really happy time and I’m so excited to kind of get to share that energy with the world now. 


How do you expect it to feel when you get back to touring?

I’m expecting that it’s gonna feel really good. Like we’ve played a few festivals and one off shows over the last couple of years. And in the more recent ones we’ve been able to start introducing some of these new album songs into the set. It just feels so good. And it is really fun and I think it’s something that the audience can enjoy. So I’m excited to bring like, a lot of emotion but like a lot of joy as well.


Were you able to tour the record that came out previously very much before COVID lock downs happened? 

No. We got to play two shows for that album, both in our hometown. And they were socially distanced shows. So it wasn’t the fantasy tour of presenting LIKE NIRVANA to the world. 


I had tickets to go see that show. And then was completely devastated when it got canceled. That was one of the first shows that got canceled for me and I was like, Oh no, like things are really not looking good.

I think we had around 60 shows that we canceled that year.


That sucks. And then there was the whole, will they reschedule? Won’t they reschedule? And then you couldn’t. 

We weren’t able to! I think by that point we realized that it wasn’t gonna happen for a while. We had to cancel our Australian tour that was kind of like playing in smaller kinds of club venues for the release of Confessions, the single. And that was just as COVID was starting and I remember when we had to cancel that too. We were like, Oh, that’s really sad. But as long as we can go to the US and do that tour… like surely it’ll be okay in a few weeks [laughs].


Where do you see your music heading in the years to come?

I feel like I never really know. Because it’s just instinctual all the time. It’s not something that I really think about that much. I mean, I’ve got a lot of other unreleased music, like a whole other album that I wrote, kind of at the same time as Jesus At The Gay Bar. It’s kind of like the other side of that time, and what I was going through. It’s very different sonically. It’s like, more experimental and sad and weird. I really love it. So I still don’t know what to do with that album or like, how it’ll come out or if it’ll come out. And then I’ve also been writing more in the dance and electronic space. So I mean, it could go anywhere, or it could go back to the more experimental side of things, similar to Like Nirvana and then maybe come back to a dance space? I don’t know. I guess we’ll just release this album and figure it out along the way. 


All of your music is so intensely personal. And to me as a listener, it feels really confessional. Is there ever any fear in being so honest and in being so vulnerable with your music? How do you just throw that out in the world and let that be out there? 

Yeah, it is. It can be pretty scary. And I don’t know. I think it’s like the only way that I can write genuinely. Like I remember hearing someone say something like if you’re not a little bit scared to show people what you’ve written down like it’s not very good. But I do think that kind of revealing yourself is important for the people who like to find connection and solace in the music. If you can be in a position where you can share your emotions and experiences and you’re able to express that in some way, then that can help other people understand their own feelings or just feel something at all. Then that’s a gift. I think it’s just the way that I am as a writer and songwriter. So it kind of just is what it is. But yeah, it is it is a little bit scary.


Last question for you is what are you hoping to be your fans biggest takeaway from this new record?

I just hope that it makes fans feel good. I hope that especially queer people can find some comfort and inspiration in the lyrics. When I was growing up I didn’t really have a lot of music that felt like it spoke to my personal experience. So if I can provide that for some people, that is incredible. But I really think that like the overall feeling of the album, and lyrics aside, just sonically, how it is… I feel like it’s for everybody. And I think that energy is good. So yeah, I just want it to make people feel good.


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