MU­SIC

The Georgia Straight - - Music - By Mike Usinger

ac­tu­ally a plea from the dark and un­cer­tain place Nel­son was in when he wrote it. Raised in a re­li­gious fam­ily Down Un­der, where he was ac­tive in the church, he found his life turned up­side down af­ter he came out; the tip­ping point was ac­knowl­edg­ing that he was deeply in love with Cub Sport key­boardist Sam Net­ter­field. When you know that, the song takes on a whole new mean­ing, with the singer look­ing to a higher power for guid­ance and afraid that he’s not go­ing to get it be­cause of his sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

When Nel­son and Net­ter­field are reached in Los An­ge­les on a con­fer­ence call, they come across as in­de­scrib­ably happy. That might have some­thing to do with their still be­ing in the hon­ey­moon phase of their mar­riage ear­lier this year.

Still, the buildup to the mo­ment when they ac­knowl­edged their feel­ings for each other was in­deed a stress­ful one, made more so by the fact they’d known each other since child­hood. Nel­son re­veals his up­bring­ing left him with all sorts of fears, anx­i­eties, and bag­gage, for which song­writ­ing be­came an in­valu­able cop­ing mech­a­nism. As BATS was com­ing to­gether, Net­ter­field was able to read be­tween the lines to fig­ure out what was go­ing on in the mind of the man who’d go from long­time friend to even­tual hus­band.

“Tim would show me the songs mix by mix,” the key­boardist says. “So I def­i­nitely had a bit of in­sight into where his head was at in the year or so lead­ing up to the con­ver­sa­tion. That was a great source of so­lace when I was de­cid­ing how I would go about say­ing what I needed to say to him.”

With the ben­e­fit of hind­sight, Nel­son’s lyrics seem to send a loud and clear, boldly au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal mes­sage. Con­sider the down­tempo first track, “Chasin’ ”, which starts off with the lyrics “I don’t even know/what I want out of life, what I’m chasin’/is it hard to see me go?/’cause I miss you when I’m gone.”

On the post-com­ing-to­gether side of things, there’s the in­can­des­cent synth-pop cel­e­bra­tion “Give It to Me (Like You Mean It)”, with lines such as “Come away with me/nowhere else I’d rather be” pos­i­tively drip­ping with af­fec­tion.

“That was writ­ten on the other side of com­ing out, and it’s one of the songs that kind of ush­ered in a new phase of where I was as a per­son,” Nel­son re­lates. “It was me get­ting used to peo­ple un­der­stand­ing who I was a bit more, and my un­der­stand­ing who I was my­self.”

What ul­ti­mately shines through on BATS is a sense of joy that over­rides the darker mo­ments. Nel­son sees that as part of a theme run­ning through Cub Sport’s win­ningly vul­ner­a­ble first al­bum, This Is Our Vice, as well as a BATS fol­low-up that the group has al­ready recorded.

“Peo­ple ask me what the ‘vice’ in This Is Our Vice refers to,” he says. “I think that fear was our vice. Even look­ing at the song ti­tles, the record was a bit of a downer. It feels a bit neg­a­tive, which is an hon­est rep­re­sen­ta­tion of where I was at and my per­cep­tion of the world at the time. BATS is a tran­si­tion into a lighter stage. And I feel like this next record will com­plete the jour­ney. It still has depth, but the out­look is more hope­ful.”

Net­ter­field sug­gests fans are see­ing a Cub Sport that’s grown more self­con­fi­dent in ev­ery phase of its ca­reer, a re­flec­tion of the bonds be­tween not only him and Nel­son, but also their band­mates Zoe Davis (key­boards) and Dan Pu­usaari (drums).

“Our mar­riage hasn’t changed the dy­namic of the band—i feel like it’s more am­pli­fied what was al­ready there,” he says. “We’re stronger than ever—not just our mar­riage, but also the four of us. In the last year or so we’ve be­come com­pletely in­de­pen­dent and self-man­aged, so it feels like ev­ery as­pect of our per­sonal and pro­fes­sional lives as Cub Sport has been strength­ened. It’s been a tran­si­tion from liv­ing in fear to con­quer­ing that fear with love.”

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