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On very little sleep, and after about 15 hours of driving, Boston’s own new wave emo punk band, sports. stepped onto the low-rise stage of Berklee College of Music’s Café 939 with a packed house of eager listeners ready to rock out.
The band showed up on Friday, March 25, after playing a show in North Carolina the night before—which was the final night of a two-and-a-half week tour with the band Perspective, a lovely hand to hold. A tour on which the members of the band say they learned a lot about themselves and life on the road.
“This was only our second-ever time taking an extensive tour,” said John Blank, drummer for sports.. “So it was a good learning experience being out there on the road.”
|From L to R: Ward (guitar/vocals), Blank (drums), Duffy (bass).|
Sports. consists of Blank on drums and backing vocals, Kris Ward on guitar and lead vocals, and Sean Duffy on bass.
I was able to chat with the members of the band immediately after their eccentrically energetic performance, which showcased a fine-tuned, tour-tight sound that audiences don’t often get from young dudes like these. They were surprisingly enthusiastic for functioning on very little sleep—a reality I contributed to the men being finally done with their three week tour now that they were home in Boston.
However, hailing from Chicago and sporting a Blackhawks beanie, Ward is the only member of the band not from the Massachusetts area.
“It’s funny because we often get compared to CSTVT, which is out of Chicago; but I don’t think we sound anything like them,” Ward said. CSTVT (previously, ‘castevet’) is a now-dormant emo band that was on the emo-haven record label, Count Your Lucky Stars. Ward does admit that a major Chicago influence does derive from Into It. Over It.—another member of the Count Your Lucky Stars family.
While Ward brings the emo essence to the band, Blank claims that it’s the Boston influences that give the band’s sound its true edge.
“Sean and I definitely bring an east coast grit to things,” Blank said, “not that Kris doesn’t have that—but we are used to much more aggressiveness.” Duffy explains that his big influences came from the early easy-core bands like Four Year Strong and Dance Gavin Dance.
“I thought all of the dudes in those bands were rock stars,” Duffy said, “but then I realized, nah—they’re just a bunch of dudes.”
|Album art for Demon Daze, by sports.|
Last year, these dudes released a dynamic debut LP titled Demon Daze on Broken Rim Records—which is a Quincy-based record label that agreed to put out the band’s LP on the terms that they would tour to support it. Hence why the band is hitting the road more these days—especially with a looming 45-date tour this upcoming spring.
Ward explained that the album was originally titled “Talk Radio,” but that the title never seemed to stick until a friend jokingly suggested “Demon Days,” based on the well-known Gorillaz debut LP. Yet, Duffy had no idea that the Gorillaz album even existed and suggested that the band move forward with the title for the LP.
“It’s funny to me because on the album we have songs called ‘Matt Damon,’ ‘Spooky Damon,’ and ‘Good Will Haunting,’” Blank said, “so the Matt Damon theme grew out of us pronouncing ‘demon’ as ‘Damon.’” Ward said the idea of titling it “Damon Daze” definitely crossed their minds, but they went against it, despite knowing the quirky name would have certainly fit the band’s quirky style of meshing math rock, pop punk and emo.
|Album for the 3-way split with Lions & Perspective.|
The band has recently released a three-way split with the bands Lions and Perspective, A Lovely Hand to Hold—also released on Broken Rim Records—in which all three bands contributed two songs to create a truly cohesive and inspiring listen. The vinyl press has a gorgeous screen-printed B-side of animal cutouts.
All three of the bands fall into this new wave amalgam of emo that encompasses many more layers than those who remember the days of Dashboard Confessional, Jimmy Eat World, and Brand New.
“It’s very fun to be a part of something very fresh right now,” Blank said, claiming the new wave of rock and emo has brought about many new approaches to existing within the scene.
“We are just writing music that is fun for us to listen to and to play live,” Ward said. “It’s nice to not think of being confined by any sort of boundary of genre.”
And that’s all you can ask for from a young band with a promising future. It’s exciting to hear these dudes discuss their music and direction in such optimistic ways because of the difficult state of the music industry. Having sat down and discussed life with them, it’s clear that they are ready to keep having fun, playing tunes, and being dudes.
UPDATE: The band’s debut EP, “We’ll Get to it Eventually,” was just pressed for the first time by Broken Rim Records along with a number of demos and rarities. CHECK IT OUT HERE!