Settling down into a phone interview with Sports Teams’ frontman Alex Rice, he informs me that the band is now – finally – back home in Harlesden, London. The six-piece band have just finished a hectic tour with The Magic Gang before finally heading back to London after Neighbourhood Festival this weekend. On being asked how they found the city, Rice tells me the newly opened venue YES is “really great, I really liked playing there”. Quickly becoming a new favourite in Manchester, it’s really no surprise at all.
I move onto the band’s origins at the University of Cambridge, asking what it was like to form a band whilst juggling student life. The frontman laughs as he recollects the coming together of the group, saying “when I tell you that we couldn’t play, we really couldn’t play. I don’t think we could even play a chord between us”. Bandmate and multi-instrumentalist Ben Mack often spent sets “rapping over the top”, he adds.
Rice recalls that they liked to “make a bit of a show” of their sets – I can almost hear him smile down the phone when he tells me “I don’t know what your friends are like, but with mine it took them a lot to get them down to listen to us”. Picking up on this recurring theme I ask him if friendship is key to their band’s rising success. “We couldn’t really be in any other band. Without sounding trite about it, it really is important to us. We’ve all lived together in Cambridge and we all live together now, but we’re still very separate people with separate music taste and dress sense… I think that gives people a bit more to buy into.”
I switch the interview in the direction of musical influences, asking if they see themselves as a punk band. If you search their name on Spotify, after all, their 90s-referencing track ‘Kutcher’ appears on the Punk List. The frontman laughs. “Do you really think we’re punk? We don’t see ourselves as that at all. We’ve never felt punk… We feel very lyrical and very English in how we write. I think we’re more humorous than angry.” He cites American artists, specifically band Pavement, as major influences of their soundscape.
I move on to ask about the tour they’ve just been on with The Magic Gang. “They are honestly one of our favourite bands”, Rice exclaims, going on to talk about how on the last day of tour, “[Jack Kaye] let me on stage to sing ‘How Can I Compete’ with them. It was just the best time.” He then mentions that the band are venturing on another tour with girl band Hinds in November: “I think we’re very similar bands, we’re both just groups of friends making music.”
As we reach the end of the interview, I ask Rice about the band’s plans for the future. He tells me they’re writing at the moment with a tour in the pipeline for next year. “We’re getting out of London” he explains candidly, “None of us are actually from London and we want to play all over”. Rice then assures me that a Manchester date is a definite. We can’t wait.
Make sure to catch Sports Team on tour with Hinds at Academy 2, November 13th!