Photography: Dillon Steele
Sports Team’s story is pretty enviable. Six friends – vocalist Alex Rice, guitarists Rob Knaggs and Henry Young, bassist Oli Dewdney, drummer Al Greenwood and percussionist Ben Mack – met while studying at Cambridge University, formed a band and performed for fun. They went on to quit their day jobs, move to London and make music, performing all through this year’s festival season. They’ve just finished their tour with Hinds, the beginning of which is documented in the following photos.
Sports Team quickly attracted the music press with their revivalist guitar-pop sound, bluntness and wry humour. Intentionally or not, they are quintessential indie. The band has also grabbed attention for frontman Rice’s live performance style, swaggering and swooning across the stage as the rest remain mostly static. Sonically, they are reminiscent of Pavement and Parquet Courts, but with song titles like ‘Margate’ and ‘Stanton,’ their lyricism is exceedingly British. In fact, much of their songwriting is sentimentally about the UK, with its drab seaside towns and commuter trains. Although satirical, they manage to avoid bitterness and cynicism. Much to the six-piece’s their amusement, ‘Camel Crew’ was picked up as a ‘diss track’ about the South London music scene they often get associated with – despite living in Harlesden.
Go on tour with Sports Team from the comfort of your own sofa, or wherever you are.
Sports Team with single, 'Kutcher'
Madeline O'Keefe: You look like you’ve had a great time on tour, while still managing to capture the exhausting, less glamorous aspects of life on the road. Will you talk me through the tour?
Alex Rice: We’re writing this as we're about to board the first of three ferries – Hull to Zebrugge. Sitting watching the Grinch in the queue to get on now. We’re quite excited for the next twelve hours. There’s an onboard casino, bingo and… ‘Open mic opportunities.’
Madeline: And how has it been playing with Hinds? They look pretty fun to hang out with!
Alex: They're great. Carlotta and Ben have agreed to set up a salon together so they're obviously getting on. We've had a good extended entourage too, including Spanish comedian and household name Jorges Cremades. It's been a laugh a minute.
Madeline: Tell me about their ‘Party Planet’ day festival in Hackney.
Alex: Nice day in all. We're all getting a bit of cabin fever having only seen each other for so long now so when we get back to London and see some mates we get a bit giddy.
Madeline: What was your favourite place you visited on tour?
Alex: We stayed with one of Al's friends at Ashford in the Water (Peak District). Popped into the pub that Jarvis Cocker frequents after a good walk, that was nice. We're trying to stop where we can. Bamburgh on the way to Scotland for as a good one.
Madeline: Do you have friends dotted around that you get to see when touring?
Alex: Yep. It's one of the few advantages of all being from different places. Al’s mates from Leeds have given us some of the livelier nights of our careers.
Madeline: Where was the karaoke? (Good song choice by the way!)
Alex: The pictures are from Manchester, I heard Henry do Natasha Bedingfield’s ‘Unwritten' three times that night. One of the worst of my life. At least the bar had a fun vibe though. Rob and I went and had a crack at Let Me Entertain You the night before in Leeds. Booed off. Pretty vicious stuff.
Madeline: Did you manage to explore a few places then?
Alex: Yeah, it was nice to finally see Luton.
Madeline: What’s the first thing you do when you get back from touring? The pictures make it look as though your tour diet consisted of booze, chicken and chocolate.
Alex: To be honest, we've never really done a proper tour before – not out for a month, anyway. I suspect we'll be extremely unwell. We’re trying our best though. Al and I are doing eight minute ab exercises every morning.
Madeline: You’ve recently been on the cover of DIY and So Young. How does that feel?
Alex: Real two thumbs up stuff. Bit worried about the six-page verbatim interview.
Madeline: You met while studying at Cambridge… What made you decide to take the band further, even quitting your post-grad day jobs?
Alex: It's quite fun bowling round the world with a gang of mates. We definitely appreciate it more for having tried office life for a bit too.
Madeline: What would you be doing if you weren’t in Sports Team?
Alex: Oli was working packing boxes, but a robot replaced him at the warehouse. Maintaining that robot I reckon?
Madeline: You’ve just started a label, Holm Front. How did that start?
Alex: We wanted to have a way of putting our money where our mouth was a bit more, backing bands we like. Ugly, who we put out, come from Cambridge and supported us at Scala.
Madeline: What’re you up to next as a band?
Alex: Just announced our headline tour in March, the big show in London is Electric Ballroom on the Friday night. We're in the U.S. for SXSW that month too.
Big money moves and power play stuff, really.
Madeline: Top five new artists to look out for?
Alex: Ugly, Squid, Sorry, The Orielles, BTS.
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