It’s the kind of story you’d see in a film – you join a band with your best mates and down the line, your feelings begin to develop and through the late nights, tours and miles spent travelling shows you realise you’re in love with of them. But you hold in the feelings, squash them down, the swell of your emotions instead finding themselves laced in the lyrics you’re penning and the songs you’re playing until one day your secret love turns to you and says that he’s in love with you too. Throw into the mix that you’re also both male, and have lived your lives so far as straight men, live in a country where gay marriage isn’t yet legal and you have a tale that’s too good to be fiction.
This is the exact story that’s formed the basis of Aussie quartet, Cub Sport‘s latest album BATS. The independent band from Brisbane had been steadily making their name with their delicate pop melodies and dreamy, melancholy drenched lyrics when lead singer Tim discovered he had feelings for his bandmate Sam. It was this experience that shaped their recent second album, and their journey to self-acceptance has not only found them love but has also established both Tim and Sam, alongside their bandmate Zoe as unexpected queer icons thanks to their openess with their fans. Intrigued by their story, we caught up with Tim to discover more about how the relationship developed, their views on gay marriage in Australia and the making of their important second album.
Congratulations on your album, BATS. It came just a year after your last LP. What motivated another album so soon after This is Our Vice?
Thank you! I’d been working on BATS since before This Is Our Vice came out, so album 2 was ready to go and we felt like it was the right time! I’m always writing and recording if I’ve got spare time – I’ve actually already started making inroads into album 3, so if it feels right there could potentially be another swift follow up!
How has your sound developed over the past two albums musically?
Sonically, I feel like it’s much more chill than anything we’ve released before. It’s still pop, but it has some R&B and soul influences shining through. BATS feels like a truer [sic] representation of who I am, lyrically and musically.
I wrote and recorded BATS over the course of a couple of years, and it maps out what has felt like a really significant time. It more-or-less follows my personal journey from the moment I admitted to myself that I was gay, to coming to terms with being in love with my best friend/bandmate Bolan (Sam), finally acknowledging the situation a year later and to then coming out and getting together. It also explores the emotions that come with navigating your 20s – the highs, the lows and the general experience of figuring stuff out (which I’m still in the process of doing).
What themes and issues have you focused on? We read that it was this album where Tim and Sam realised their feelings for each other and equal marriage in Australia was finally brought to attention, but it’s also a year when the west fell to shit – Brexit, Trump – how do these two paradoxical happenings inform what you were writing?
When I was writing and recording BATS, I didn’t have particular issues or themes in mind – it was more about processing everything that I was experiencing in my life which just so happens to be really relevant regarding what has been happening politically, especially here in Australia.
Rather than just legalising same-sex marriage, the Australian government has sent out a non-binding postal survey which has spurred a very drawn-out, public discussion. It’s been challenging watching a debate on whether same-sex attracted people deserve the same rights as heterosexual people. I’m really fortunate to have an amazing support network around me, but a lot of people don’t have that. There are so many LGBTQI people struggling with their identity and sexuality, and allowing ‘no-voters’ a platform to say that queer love isn’t worthy of recognition only makes that harder.
It feels like there are a lot of backward steps made by people in power across the world, so it’s more important than ever for minorities to have a voice and be represented. BATS is a product of queer love and I hope it can be a comfort and encouragement for the LGBTQI community and our allies during this time.
How did the new relationship between Sam and Tim change the dynamic within the band, and between the rest of the bandmates? Were there tell-tale signs of a blossoming romance before this?
I feel like we’re stronger now than ever. Creatively, our vision is more precise, and it feels like we’ve got a new energy and confidence. Dan and Zo were awesome, as we expected! Zo said she’s known we were soulmates all along, so she wasn’t surprised.
“I’m crying to be open, to show a side of me” – the lyrics here are very telling, describing wanting to reveal your true identity, Tim. Were you apprehensive about revealing your feelings in your lyrics? What happened first – did Sam hear the track first or did you describe what you were feeling in person to Sam?
When I wrote ‘Chasin’, I hadn’t yet come to terms with what it was about – I was way too scared to acknowledge the situation. Sam had heard ‘Chasin’ in its original demo form for about nine months before we actually had the conversation. He said he already knew what it was about so I guess that helped inform him that what he was feeling was reciprocated, even though I hadn’t had the courage to say it out loud in words.
What has been the reception since coming out to your fans?
It has been really lovely and encouraging. We’ve found that since coming out and being open about our sexuality, we’ve been able to encourage and support young queer people experiencing the same struggles that we did growing up. We get messages from people every day saying that our openness and pride in our identity has helped them learn to love and accept themselves just the way they are – that part feels more important than the music itself.
Do you think this movement has helped shape the direction of the band or the music you produce?
Yeah absolutely! I feel like now that we’re not trying to hide parts of who we are, we can put our whole selves into what we’re doing and our creative possibilities all of a sudden feel limitless. It’s a really exciting time!
If anyone is undecided on what to vote in the Australian referendum, what do you want to tell them?
I’d say this is an opportunity to right some of the wrongs experienced by the LGBTQI community throughout history. Let’s make a change so that LGBTQI people in future generations don’t have to face the discrimination and abuse that so many have experienced. Love is love and deserves to be celebrated and recognised whether it’s between two women, two men or a man and a woman. Be on the bright side of history!
There’s a lot of new music coming out of Australia at the moment, who should us Brits be looking at?
I could go on about great Australian artists forever, but these are some of my favourites at the moment – Pool Shop, Mallrat, HTMLflowers, Hatchie, Oscar Key Sung, Cloud Control, E^ST, GL, Middle Kids, Kllo, The Harpoons, Golden Vessel and Saskwatch.
You’re touring Australia next year – any plans to come to the UK?
Yes! Our plans for 2018 include our largest domestic national tour to date, a 20 date tour across North America and we’re just in the process now of following that up with a trip to the UK and Europe! We can’t wait to come back!