Wonderland.

NEW NOISE: SPORTS TEAM

Frontman Alex Rice talks festivals, new music and, um, sharks.

We’ve already been tipping Sports Team as “your new faves” for a while now and with a headline slot on the BBC Introducing Stage at this weekend’s Reading and Leeds Festival set to be a highlight of the whole event, we thought it was finally time to hit them up and find out just what they’ve been up to…

First meeting at Cambridge University, the indie six-piece have been championed for their addictive songwriting and even more addictive charm. Fronted by the magnetic Alex Rice, the group – made up of Rice, Al, Oli, Henry, Ben and Rob – have already wowed with their debut EP “Winter Nets” and follow-up singles “Kutcher” (about Ashton, obvs) and their latest banger “Margate”.

Currently in the Surrey countryside recording some demos and building our hopes up for an incoming debut album announcement, we grabbed Alex in-between sessions at the local Slug and Lettuce to find out what we can expect from our faves in the future.

Hey Alex, how are you?

Hey, I’m good!

You’re all off to Reading and Leeds Festival this weekend! How are you feeling?

Yeah! We’re doing Leeds on Friday and then Reading on Sunday. I think Reading is the first festival me and Oli used to go to since we were, like, 13 and camp out, so we’ve remembered it for a very long time and Al’s exactly the same, because Al lives in Leeds and she’s been going to Leeds since she was kind of early teens as well. We’re excited for it, it’s going to be great.

Do you have any big plans for the shows?

Yeah big plans! I think the fun thing about Reading and Leeds is that you get to meet up with all the bands that you’ve collected as friends over the last year or whatever. It’ll be nice to meet Hinds properly as well because we’re going on tour with them, we’re planning to hang out with them a lot.

It’s really annoying because we left London last night from our house in Harlesdon in North West London, and we’re at Rob’s now near Farnham trying to get demos down before we go off on tour for quite a long time with The Magic Gang and Hinds, so we’ve got quite a lot to do. But it’s a shame because they were hanging out exactly where we used to live, but we’re looking forward to hanging out with them this weekend.

There’s a band called Lady Bird too who we see quite a lot who are on a couple before us on the Introducing Stage so that’ll be great. And obviously Brockhampton I think is going to be amazing, very excited for Kendrick and The Magic Gang! They’re unbelievable, they’ve been one of my favourite bands for ages, real sort of soft rockers. They’re gonna be brilliant. Slaves as well! We did one show supporting them, and they’re amazing guys.

Time for the plug – why should everyone go see Sports Team at Reading and Leeds this weekend?

I think it’s going to be quite erratic. This is why we’re rehearsing this week, it might genuinely go horribly, horribly badly. Or it could be amazing! I think it’ll be one or the other, you don’t know what you’re getting. You don’t wanna see well-rehearsed, well-put together bands, right? Tune in! Red button as well!

You just mentioned you’re off on tour with Hinds. How are you feeling about it?

Yeah we can’t wait, we can’t wait. There was previously like a five night stop over in Berlin before which has now been cut down to two or three. [Laughs] We’ve all got a slightly different take on what we want to do around Europe. Oli was like “I’m going to go fucking mental!” and then Rob was like “It’s going to be so nice seeing Germany, it’s going to be Christmas market season…”

We’re driving down as well, we’ve got a van – well, probably more than a van, like a Mercedes Sprinter is what we’ve got. Bit weird, driving round Europe, so we’re all getting ourselves insured on that this week. Oli had a go on it yesterday, it was great, got a PS2 in the back…

Wow, living the life of luxury.

I know, it’ll be luxury travel. We’ve done sort of little tours before but it’s the first time I think we’ve done sort of a long period of it. Obviously we’re doing The Magic Gang one in September/October and then straight off with Hinds pretty soon after. So it’s going to be quite intense until mid-December I think.

That’s exciting. They’re such big tours as well, do you feel like that’s reflective of the hype building up around Sports Team?

Yeah, for sure, for sure. The live stuff’s always built it a lot and there’s some stuff that we just really want to get down. It’s just getting new tracks out. However big you get you’ve just got to keep putting stuff out, keep being interesting every single week, do something different, right? That’s what we’re trying to do at the moment. We don’t want to have a really protracted release, we want to put something out every couple of months if we possibly can. Especially now we’re all living together.

And what can you tell me about the stuff you’re working on at the moment?

What can I tell you about it? You know John Betjeman? The lyrics feel quite Betjeman – it’s very English, kind of suburban, pastiche sort of thing. And that’s good, we’re writing in the right place – it all feels very Britain in Bloom roundabouts… I think it feels quite English. It’s lyrical, hopefully it maintains a lot of that.

The bands we love are a lot of the American ones as well, and bands like Hinds that just have got an energy to them. I don’t think we ever want to lose that, we still want it to be clever and lyrical and thoughtful.

What’s this working towards? Another EP or something a bit bigger?

I think we’re definitely thinking album. Quite when that comes exactly we’re not sure, but we’re just continuously putting stuff out basically. I think we can write and record it really quick now, we’ve got the setup and we’re going in again with Courtney Barnett’s producer – Burke Reid. We’ve got a residential studio in rural Wales for a bit after we do Knee Deep Festival, the weekend after Reading, which is in Cornwall, so we’re driving straight up to Wales which will be great. Hopefully we’ll get a lot done, we’ve worked with Burke before too. He works hard, he gets in at 8am and he’s nuts really… But we’ll be productive there I think.

I guess now you all live together as well, you can’t really slack off…

Well recording is pretty weird, you’re doing nothing so much of the time. You’ve got a lot of time to sit around and write, but you don’t really want to do that.

We’re just doing interesting things all the time now basically. There’s people approaching us now and it’s kind of got to the stage where it’s like “Do you want to come and make this film? Do you want to come and do art or photography, or try and act in something?” And it’s like “Yeah, cool, we’ll do that as well!” We’ll do pretty much anything I think.

Amazing. Also I forgot to say congratulations as well because you’ve now got enough Twitter followers to sell out your Scala show!

[Laughs] Yeah! It’s very heartening, isn’t it? Yeah it’s good, I think we were worried. It might be shark themed…

Oh, you’re going proper HMLTD and having a theme?

Well, I dunno. We sort of want to poke fun of that but we also want it to feel like a night I think. It’s going to be a bit more experiential than just a gig. Nobody really wants to come and see a band, they want it to be a night that you take the day off work for, sit around the pubs in Kings Cross and get a hotel in London. We’ve got an afterparty booked at the Lexington and then we’ve got the after-afterparty. That’s what we want it to be, a big night out and a big day out for people.

We also have a poster that we weren’t allowed to run with in the end that’s all based around sharks…

Why weren’t you allowed to run with it?

Well you’d think it was more of a shark week event. But it’s a toss up between that theme and English suburbia, like flowerbeds and things like that, but I’m not sure how we’ll actually do that…

What if you put them together and make the gig Sharknado theme?

Sharknado? What’s that?

You know, the film?

No…

It’s, like, a tornado that picks up sharks and then it goes into a city and drops them and the sharks eat everyone?

That sounds amazing. That’s the theme!

Credit me on the new poster?

Photography
Elina Lin
Words
Elly Watson
NEW NOISE: SPORTS TEAM

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