Cub Sport’s fifth album ‘Jesus At The Gay Bar’ explores a fresh, new direction for the Australian band – one filled with bright, upbeat dance music.
Stream: “Keep Me Safe” – Cub Sport
Tim Nelson, Sam Netterfield, Zoe Davis and Dan Puusaari of Cub Sport have always explored different avenues within their music. But in their latest album Jesus At The Gay Bar, the Brisbane group are diving into new genres such as dance music, nods to house, 2-step, and UK garage. Although veering from the sound we all know Cub Sport for, this new direction is a natural fit for the band.
“The inspiration behind this album was wanting to create something that felt like it had the heart and warmth of the whole Cub Sport discography up until this point,” frontman Tim Nelson tells Atwood Magazine. “But with a new kind of uplifting infusion of energy.”
Nelson further explains that the band had worked on the album a lot during lockdown; they had missed the energy live shows gave them and were craving that uplifting feeling, which began the process for Jesus At The Gay Bar.
The album title was inspired by the writer Jay Hulme who has a poem of the same name.
He’s here in the midst of it —
right at the centre of the dance floor,
robes hitched up to His knees
to make it easy to spin.
At some point in the evening
a boy will touch the hem of His robe
and beg to be healed, beg to be
anything other than this;
and He will reach His arms out,
sweat-damp, and weary from dance.
He’ll cup the boy’s face in His hand
my beautiful child
there is nothing in this heart of yours
that ever needs to be healed.
– “Jesus At The Gay Bar,” Jay Hulme
“That poem really resonated with me because I grew up in a very Christian world and found the homophobia and attitudes towards a whole lot of things within that world really challenging when I was growing up,” Nelson says. “When I read that poem, I was quite moved by the way it flipped the whole story or attitude that I grew up believing. That story of feeling like there was a big part of me that I needed to be ashamed of and something, that for years, I would pray to be healed from being gay or whatever. And so to read that poem, and it has the last line, “There was nothing in this heart of yours that ever needed to be healed.” I feel like the whole Cub Sport discography has kind of been my healing journey and coming to a place of being proud of who I am and letting go of a lot of the heaviness and shame that I think I was holding deep down for a long time. This album feels like the celebration on the other side of letting go of so much of that heaviness. That poem really summed up one aspect of that journey so beautifully. It fit with the sound of the music and everything. I also like that it kind of sounds a bit controversial, but it is actually really meaningful. It’s not there to piss people off or whatever. It is really true to my experience.”
I feel like the whole Cub Sport discography has kind of been my healing journey and coming to a place of being proud of who I am and letting go of a lot of the heaviness and shame that I think I was holding deep down for a long time.
The whole album is filled with music that demands to be danced along to and blasted from the speakers. As they celebrate all that life has to offer, embracing who you truly are and overcoming one’s biggest fears and obstacles, Cub Sport encapsulates the warmth, love and uplifting feeling they were aiming for within this album. With lyrics that are vulnerable and raw, not only can someone see the life experiences the members of Cub Sport have been through themselves but also makes it relatable to anyone going through similar experiences of love and life.
I just wanna drive forever
I don’t wanna come back ever
I just wanna drive forever
(Keep keep keep keep keep me safe)
I just wanna die in our heaven
I could lose it all, whatever
I just wanna die in our heaven
(Keep keep keep keep keep me safe)
If it’ll keep me safe
For example, “Keep Me Safe” talks about the early days of Nelson and bandmate Sam Netterfield’s relationship when it was still completely secret.
“I got a girlfriend, just to try and convince myself and everyone else in my life that I was straight and that was something I could change about myself,” Nelson says. “But the overall feeling of the song is the rush of love and experiencing those feelings for the first time.”
In order to really accomplish that feeling in the song, Nelson explains there were many layers of vocals recorded and energetic beats. “For me it captures what that time felt like. The chords are really nostalgic and beautiful. It’s sort of like there are two parts of it, the complicated details of the time, but I think the overall feeling is magical, uplifting, celebration.”
This album feels like the celebration on the other side of letting go of so much of that heaviness… It is really true to my experience.
Jesus At The Gay Bar is absolutely enchanting. It is beautifully created with songs that will captivate its listeners.
“I really hope that when people listen to the album they get a feeling of comfort,” Nelson shares. “I hope that they feel energized and uplifted from it. I know that a lot of our listeners are queer, so there are probably things that I’m singing about that people have experienced. I hope that can be validating and healing for anyone who’s been on a similar journey to myself. But I think outside of that, the energy of the album as a whole, I hope can uplift anybody, no matter what their life journey is or has been.”
You can catch Cub Sport on tour within the next couple of months here. Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Cub Sport’s Jesus At The Gay Bar with Atwood Magazine as the band goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of their fifth album!
Stream: ‘Jesus At The Gay Bar’ – Cub Sport
:: Inside Jesus At The Gay Bar ::
Always Got The Love
I wrote this song in March 2021. Sam and I had just arrived home from a road trip along the coast of New South Wales, Australia. We had this one day at a beach called Hyam Beach. It was mid-pandemic, in between lock-downs and I’d been feeling generally pretty low, but this day I felt really good. I had a thought while we were in the water that I should try and capture how I felt in that moment. A couple of weeks later I went to Naarm/Melbourne and wrote with Simon Lam (Kllo) for the first time. “Always Got The Love” flowed out in the studio and it became that song I’d been envisioning.
I wrote this song with Styalz Fuego and Nat Dunn. I think it’s about loving something or someone but knowing you have to let yourself move on. Harmonically it starts with this longing feeling, then half way it shifts and it starts to feel lighter. By the end it’s like… euphoric. I love how the music and lyrics feel like they reflect each other in that way.
High For The Summer (ft. Shamir)
I wrote this song with Maxwell Byrne (Golden Vessel/1tbsp) at the end of 2020. I think at its core this song is about having fun with friends and how even if life hurts sometimes, those moments of joy with loved ones can get us through. Around the middle of 2021, I reached out to Shamir about featuring on the track – they were keen and sent vocals back super quickly, I got goosebumps listening for the first time. I finished the song off with Styalz Fuego in 2022 and it just went to another level. I think the vocoder bridge is one of my favourite moments on the whole album.
Keep Me Safe
This song is about the time in my life where (my bandmate and now husband) Sam and I first got together, in secret, when we were 17. That period in my life has always been kind of tinged with the shame I felt about being gay and having this whole secret life, but now I feel like I can shine a light on it and celebrate how magical it was in our secret world. I wrote this one with Styalz Fuego as well! I vividly remember being in the vocal booth recording all the verbed out chorus vocals and feeling so much joy and love in my heart. I hope listeners can feel that too.
This is another song about the early days of Sam and I getting together. The first time we ever spoke was when we saw each other across a juice bar kiosk at the mall when we were in year 8. Sam had just moved to my school and I recognised him and said, “Hi.” It was all so vivid and in my memory it’s almost in slow motion, literally like a scene from a movie. Over the years that followed, I developed a huge crush on Sam and by year 12 I was so obsessed, I’d sit at home zooming in on photos of him. When we’d just finished school and got together, we’d talk about moving to London where nobody knew us so we could be together in public. I had this picture in my mind of us wearing big jackets in the cold, kissing in a park… that’s what the bridge is about. I think this song feels like a companion song to ‘Party Pill’ off our self-titled album.
Songs About It
This was another collab with Styalz Fuego and Nat Dunn. We wrote most of “Replay” and “Songs About It” on the same day. I’d been listening to lots of Fred Again and Jayda G at the time of writing and I think those influences come through most on this song. It’s about love (again) and the feeling of getting lost in it and kind of ignoring everyone and everything else in your life. It’s for the dance floor!
“Beg U” features some of my fav production I’ve ever done. I recorded it at a slower BPM, but then I came across this weird drum loop/sample and sped the vocals and synth up to match the beat. The result was this warbling kind of alien-angelic vocal that feels so emotional. I wrote it around August/September 2020 – a pretty weird time in my life. We’d just put out our 4th album LIKE NIRVANA but we were stuck at home and couldn’t tour or promote it properly. I was feeling pretty lost and kind of needy. I was doing a lot of soul-searching, looking for connection, putting about a hundred crystals out under the full moons in an attempt to capture some new energy. I think it’s mainly about needing to feel loved and about wanting to be able to show the world a truer version of myself or something.
This was the first song that Nat Dunn and I ever wrote together. We turned some weird stuff that was happening around me into something energising and exciting. I remember Sam and I standing on the beach in the dark listening to the first demo, the night of the day it was written, and just being like “Wow I can’t believe this gets to be a Cub Sport song.” It took a while to get the production feeling right. Simon Lam played with it and introduced this kind of vocal sample hook and Styalz Fuego sped it up and leaned into a DnB kind of world, which felt like it unlocked something special. Daniel Bedingfield – “Gotta Get Thru This” was one of my favourite songs when I was growing up and it kind of reminds me of that which I love.
I wrote most of “Yaya” with Simon Lam and Grace Shaw (Mallrat) around the middle of 2021. I love the storytelling in the lyrics and how unique the song is in its form. Grace freestyled some melodies on the mic then chopped it up and re-sampled it to create that vocal riff in the choruses. It feels so angelic and alien. The choruses were pretty empty otherwise, so I sent it to Zo and she recorded in the ‘mmm I’ll always love you’ idea. I played around with the arrangement a bit over the course of a few months then finished it with Styalz Fuego towards then end of 2022 which is when the angel/alien choir vocals you can hear in the intro and throughout came to be. Grace came back into the studio and recorded additional harmonies and doubles of melodies – I love the blend of Zo, Grace and I all singing together. This is one of my fav songs on the album.
Magic in U
I wrote “Magic In U” as a kind of gentle hype-up song for myself. Creating this album was a bit of a roller coaster at times and there were moments along the way where I questioned my vision and it took a lot of strength to keep pushing forward and believing in myself. I wanted the closing song for the album to feel like a reminder of like… there’s magic in you, even if you can’t see it for yourself right now.
— — — —
📸 © Diego Campomar
:: Stream Cub Sport ::