London group Sports Team are turning heads all over the capital.
West London's Sports Team are a precocious bunch. A six-piece originally hailing from Cambridge, they started off as musical primitivists making music that was highly energetic to compensate for their lack of musical proficiency. However, as they prepare to release their debut EP ‘Winter Nets', it's clear to see the group have already come a long way. If the malignant stomp of ‘Stanton' hasn't won you over, their energetic live show will. While the band prepare for world domination, we caught up with frontman Alex Rice.
Hey Alex, can you tell us about the beginnings of the band?
We met studying at Cambridge. There wasn't much of a guitar scene in the city then, or really much appetite for one. We started putting on our own shows, and slowly people came round to it. We were lucky to all have the same attitude, we loved playing live and weren't worried about much beyond that.
How has your sound developed since then?
We've got better at playing our instruments, and the songs have improved, but it's stayed constant in a lot of ways. Our sound developed out of our limitations as musicians, and the dynamic between the six of us. None of us had been in bands before, and none of us were skilled enough to copy bands we liked, so we just sort of went about it the best we could. I think because of that, we've ended up with a sound of our own.
How is being in a band like being in an actual sports team?
The only one of us who's played sport to a high level is Al. She was a serious footballer, but now none of us really do anything. I'm sure there's probably a similar gang mentality.
Your song ‘Camel Crew' seems to have ruffled some South London feathers.
We wrote 'Camel Crew' late last summer. It was about the time that scene of bands from the Windmill [venue in Brixton] were breaking. The lyrics were around for a while before we released it, from live videos I suppose. I don't think anyone really knew what to think about it.
We started getting asked about it at shows, and it slowly developed to the point where it was being talked about as this big "diss track". We'd get asked about "that song you wrote about Goat Girl", or Shame or Happy Meals. Some people got pretty upset about the whole thing. Duke from Happy Meals would come to shows, stand at the front and just glare at us.
There are still some pretty wild theories about what it's about. I've always thought it was pretty explicit; but then I did write it, which helps.
Do you see yourself apart from the South London scene, then?
I think that phrase has already become so blunt. You see bands from Bristol and Manchester being talked about as part of it now. It's lost all meaning. It's like anything, though - it's a nice way to build a little hype and then very quickly it gets out of hand, and you see bands tripping over themselves to get away from it. A lot of that early group of bands had the same management, which probably had something to do with it. Geographically we're well away from it. In terms of the bands; there are some we like, and others we don't.
Your song ‘Stanton' has a pretty great stomp to it.
'Stanton' was one of the first songs we wrote, and has been one of the few constants in our set. It's the simplest track we have. It's just two chords and a riff. We were pretty surprised at the reaction to that one. It was meant to be the soft launch and then wound up having a much bigger impact than we expected.
How are you feeling about your 'Winter Nets' EP?
We're happy. It's a set of songs that we'd had knocking around for a while and wanted to get out. We're pleased by how well it seems to be going. We just heard it's being sold over in Japan, which is strange to think about. Abbie McCarthy has got behind it, so we've been getting a lot of Radio 1 plays, which none of us expected. Dave McCracken ['Winter Nets'' producer] told us we'd hear the songs differently when they were public. I don't think any of us believed it, but he was spot on. It's still strange.
What's your favourite tune from it?
'Back to the Point'. It's the runt of the litter as far as streams go, but it's my favourite. Putting out five tracks rather than a 7" let us be a bit more indulgent with what we released. It's not a song any of us would have chosen as a single; Stanton and Beverly Rose were always the ones to lead it. But it's the one that I enjoyed writing the most. There's also a cover of a Jacques Dutronc song on the vinyl version that's similar.
How does your setting affect your songwriting? You've previously said you're ‘tucked in between a McVities factory and an evangelical church'.
We are. I don't think that's had much of an impact on our songwriting, but who knows? When the winds blowing the right way, the house smells like malt. For the first few months, you notice it, but you get used to it pretty quick.
What non-musical things influence you?
I think we'd all probably have different answers. Lyrically, it's things I read, or hear popping up. Jokes, or odd phrases - things like that. It's all quite organic. Cyril Connolly. Bits from newspapers. I just finished People of Providence by Tony Parker which has started to bleed into some of the newer songs.
What are your hopes for the future of Sports Team?
We're very ambitious. We're in a position where we're able to put a lot more time into writing and touring. In the near future, we have another four or five tracks ready to go. We don't want to be one of those bands dragging out releases. Longer term, we're very focused. South London scene aside, Shame have shown what ambition can do. We're all for throwing the dice. In two years time we could be back doing day jobs, so why not put it all in now.
Taken from the April issue of Dork - order a copy or subscribe below. Sports Team's debut EP 'Winter Nets' is out now.