“To me this album represents fearlessness,” Cub Sport vocalist Tim Nelson tells Apple Music. The singer points to the lyrical focus of the Brisbane band’s fourth LP, LIKE NIRVANA, in which Nelson confronts “a bunch of things that have been hard to acknowledge throughout most of my life, and things that I’ve probably been scared of expressing.” Certainly that’s the case in the song “Confessions,” in which Nelson–who came out at 25 and identifies as gender free–sings, “The truth is I look unbelievable but I hate my body/The truth is I’m looking for myself and I can’t see it in anybody.” The musical abrasiveness of that track is at odds with the rest of the album, which for the most part operates in a soothing, warm indie-pop glow. “Some people might consider some of the musical choices risky,” says Nelson, “but playing it safe has never been what Cub Sport has been about.” Here, the vocalist talks us through LIKE NIRVANA track by track.
Intro “‘Confessions’ was originally the opening track, but I feel like this album as a whole is much softer and warmer than ‘Confessions’ is as a stand-alone track. And when people put this album on, I want the first thing that they hear and feel to be this warm sound. A central part of this album is love, and I want that to be the first message that comes through.”
Confessions “There’s a lot of pain that I got out in writing this song. And it feels like such an enormous release of a lot of heaviness that had been weighing on me. Over the past few years I’ve focused a lot on the uplifting parts of what I’ve been going through, and I wasn’t acknowledging the shadow side that exists alongside that. And acknowledging some of those darker feelings and some of the harder things I was experiencing in this song made me feel much better.”
My Dear (Can I Tell You My Greatest Fears) “As a child I probably appeared confident up until the point I started to realize I was queer. I think it’s about my inner child and the way that I started to suppress my true self, and the real me had to sit and wait for the time to start the real story, basically.”
I Feel Like I Am Changin’ “It’s about learning to love where I’m from and love being at home. After years of nonstop touring…the more that we were away, when we’d come home it really started to feel like a warm embrace and I started to see Brisbane differently. It’s about gratitude and changing the perspective to one of abundance and acknowledging and appreciating the magic of life rather than looking out and wishing you had more or something different.”
Drive “It’s another love song for Sam [Netterfield, Nelson’s husband and Cub Sport keyboardist]. Basically it’s saying, ‘Sometimes I still can’t believe that you care about me.’ When something is just so wonderful that it’s like, how am I the one that’s experiencing this?”
Be Your Man “Sam and I wrote this song together. Sam played those first two chords on a Rhodes piano when we were at a studio in LA. I was freestyle singing over it, and it really flowed very quickly. That chorus just came out, and it felt so anthemic. I think that this song is maybe my best songwriting ever.”
Break Me Down (with Mallrat) “Grace [Shaw, aka Mallrat] and I are really good friends. When we ended up making this song, I thought that I had already finished the album. And then the song opened up something in me and I ended up writing a bunch of the other songs that are on the album. This is another song about how incredible Sam is and how it’s like, being on the receiving end of such an incredible love is almost like, ‘Do I even deserve this kind of thing?’”
Nirvana “This represents a shift in perspective. There’s the lyric in there–‘free myself from ego’s chains’–and I think that’s a big part of what this song and album is about. Moving into a place where I’m not basing how I value myself on how I’m perceived by other people and on the satisfaction of my ego, but rather looking inward for that.”
Saint “‘Saint’ is tied into that theme of ‘Nirvana,’ of raising myself up rather than feeling like I need to be raised up by other people. And it explores feelings of inadequacy that I’ve felt around growing up not being a masculine man, and the embarrassment I’ve felt about that and learning to move past that.”
18 “This ties together a few of the themes on the album. It’s about feeling gratitude for everything we have and an acknowledgment that this could be everything we ever have, right now, and that it’s already everything I dreamed of.”
Best Friend “‘Best Friend’ is about when Sam and I first started hanging out. I wrote it on our one-year wedding anniversary. When we first met, Sam had tried out for a dance school on the south side of Brisbane, and he got into it and I knew I wasn’t going to see him that much after he started. And I was just so scared of losing this incredible thing that we had going on and I more or less convinced him to not take the offer at the dance school just so we could keep seeing each other every day. It’s basically about that being one of the first times that I experienced love for who I actually am.”
Be Your Angel “This song feels very ethereal and angelic and light, and to me it’s about the feeling of connecting with someone beyond this physical realm when it truly is like that soulmate, where you feel each other’s energy. It’s basically about intense, all-consuming love and a feeling of being whatever that other person needs you to be.”
Grand Canyon “I wrote it for someone in my life who has been through an unfair amount of hard times. This person is one of the brightest lights in my life and such a source of love and kindness, and they’re such an incredibly selfless person. It feels like they’ve been held back by so many unfair things, homophobia and health issues. I wanted it to be a song of empowerment and encouragement for that person, and it’s ended up being that for me at times at well.”


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