Bunched together in the corner of the backstage bar Sports Team are preparing to go on stage at Truck Festival in the affluent village of Steventon, Oxfordshire.
The six-piece indie band have come far since their formation at Cambridge University and later that July day have a huge crowd singing every word back to them in the Market Stage.
Sounding like a mix between Weezer, Blur and er, Robbie Williams, they’re riding a wave of popularity with their jangly pop tunes.
We caught up with singer Alex Rice, drummer Al Greenwood and bassist Oli Dewdney just before their set to talk about their busy festival season and why you need to offer more than just music to fans to stay successful...
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How are we all?
Alex: Yeah we’re good we slept in the van last night but we went for a nice swim this morning at Henry’s old colleague’s girlfriend’s parents house so we’re feeling refreshed. It was quite transactional, eight of us piling in swimming, wash on, showers.
How’s your festival season been?
A: Really good. Truck feels like the best place where indie bands are king and you’re still a hero in the bar afterwards to some middle class kids in bucket hats and sports jackets. Truck gave us a break too so it feels special to us.
What else do you have coming up?
A: We’ve got a festival every weekend pretty much. Reading and Leeds is the big one. We’ve got our first Ireland date too which is exciting.
How do festival crowds compare to your own gigs?
A: I think it’s pretty similar you always get a weird split of kids at the front who destroy themselves in the mosh and then you get the Idles fans at the back sipping craft ale.
Do you all party hard?
A: We try our best but we are pretty soft haha. We’ve got a DJ set tonight, it’s Oli’s world cup final.
Oli: Yeah I’m just using the band to launch my DJ career so this is step one on that ladder. It’s my debut and I only had a DJing lesson last week.
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Seems to be the way these days. Any new music coming from you guys soon?
A: We’re trying to record an album in between festival shows so we are working with a guy called Burt Read who’s worked with Courtney Barnett and Rolling Blackouts. He’s over from Australia so we have a little window with him to try and cram it in. We’ve also got our trip to Margate coming up - we hire a double decker bus and bus our fans down there for the day.
Do you get to decide what you want to do, promo wise?
Al: Yeah to some extent. We set up our own label Holm Front in order to be able to do more of what we want. It enables us to put out bands we like and what we want to promote and that’s what we’ve done with the coach trip and got bands on the line up we like and sign. It’s good.
Did you know you wanted to do that from the start?
A: It’s just one of those things. People want as much to buy into as they possibly can have around a band and if it’s seen on social media as being accessible, we try to offer everything, you get a full service!
Do you go out and discover bands for yourselves?
A: Kind of. The last one is a pretty good example. I think you can get quite boxed in if you live in London listening to the same sort of stuff and going to the game venues but if you go abroad - the band we’ve just put out Personal Trainer we found in Amsterdam.
We were staying with our mates Pip Blom and they were like, ‘do you want to do this show at our rehearsal studios?’ And Personal Trainer played before us. We were like, we’ve got to get them over and now they’re getting 6Music play. We think they’re great and we’re giving them an audience to some extent.
That must be nice to help each other up the ladder...
A: Yes definitely! And we can just take cool new bands and make it all about us, haha!
Describe your ideal gig...
A: We’ve always wanted to play Knebworth like Robbie Williams peak era. He had harnesses, a dated stage show with bikini clad girls behind him. We definitely want that sort of scale, it’s what we’re about; streams and being played on Radio 1 is great but it’s when you see people right in front of you that it feels very real.
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Best festival set you’ve ever seen?
Al: We saw Steven Malkmus at Best Kept Secret. He’s a massive influence on the band and it was awesome to think you’re getting to a similar level. Also, Sheryl Crow at Glasto was life changing. She’s very talented and looks fantastic for her age.
She's amazing! What’s the best festival show you’ve played?
A: Weirdly we’ve kicked off in Holland Belgium and we played two shows there called Best Kept Secret and we had 10,000 people in front of us just going for it knowing all the words. It’s when you don’t expect it and imagine 50 people turning up that is. We did Rock Werchter as well and we played main stage. 80,000 cap - it was amazing. It’s when it’s a surprise that it feels good.
How was Glastonbury?
A: Hot. We didn’t approach it very tactically at all. We turned up on the Thursday and really enjoyed ourselves and then had to stumble the rest. We played a secret set at the Crow’s Nest at the top of a very punishing hill and then Saturday we had a show but had to leave immediately to go to Rock Werchter on a 12 hour drive we were pretty broken.
How are you with hangovers?
A: Pretty good... I mean, we fight a bit.
Al: We’re less patient with each other for sure.
Must be good being a big band though if you get annoyed with one person you’ve got plenty to choose from!
Al: Yeah we can just split up into two separate bands, haha!
Rob: We don’t actually talk to each other unless it’s in an interview.
It must have been hard to all meet for rehearsals at the start when there’s so many of you.
A: Yeah it was particularly because we graduated at different times. Henry’s from Cornwall and Al’s from Leeds so just trying to find time - we basically didn’t rehearse we just did gigs with no rehearsals a lot of the time.
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Stay in touch with Sports Team's Holm Front label HERE.
Words: Lisa Higgins