Dream pop band Sports formed in their small town of Norman, Oklahoma and have been playing together since grade school, yet their novel take on the dream pop genre remains excitingly fresh. Consisting of brothers Jacob Theriot and Cale Chronister, the trio first made headway with their 2015 debut album Naked All the Time. In the years to come, the dream pop trio would deliver two more much-applauded releases, 2016’s People Can’t Stop Chillin and 2018’s Everyone’s Invited, each of which would see Sports venturing into newfound territory.
Everyone’s Invited, in particular, served as a noted departure for the band, as the trio explored a range of funk influences to deliver one of the most unique dream pop projects of the year. Despite their increasing notoriety in the world of indie pop and amongst music tastemakers, including an upcoming performance at Tropicalia Fest in Long Beach, CA, Sports has retained a somewhat enigmatic persona. This may have something to do with their fashion attire of choice–cowboy hats and sequined suits. Whether it’s their impeccable fashion choices or shimmering dream pop that drew you into their world, or you’re discovering them here for the first time, we’re happy to let you know a thing or two about Sports as we sit down with the trio behind the band.
OTW: So, all of you started playing together when you were still in grade school, but at what point did you decide to form an actual band?
Cale: I saved up 200 dollars to buy a Toys R Us drum set, so I could start a band and that’s how I met Christian. He was just another guy at my school that played guitar, and I met Jacob because he was his brother. It’s like we were only friends cause we wanted to start a band.
OTW: Do you all still play the same instruments as you did when you first started?
Jacob: Yeah, I wanted to play guitar, but he played guitar and of course I didn’t want to do the same thing as him. I don’t know I felt like I just was naturally more of a bass player at the moment. It just felt right
Cale: You had to be bass.
OTW: Your sound has evolved quite a bit, especially on the latest album Everyone’s Invited. It’s very synth heavy, but was it always that vibe? Or did it take a while to get to that sound?
Jacob: Well we’d been playing for 10 years so, we didn’t even know that music existed.
Cale: We were playing pretty much guitar-heavy songs but we were like 13 listening to just whatever was on the radio.
Jacob: Going back and listening to it though, it’s still kind of impressive. The songwriting wasn’t that bad.
Cale: We were good for our age.
Christian: And I think once we all got laptops and recording software, that’s when like the synth stuff started. Pirating software cause we couldn’t afford it yet.
Cale: We actually made an EP where we mic’d the drum set with all our different rock band mics.
OTW: Will we ever see that album released?
Christian: it’s out under a different name.
Cale: If you find it, you deserve to find it.
Jacob: if you find it, let us know we want to hear it.
OTW: So when did the name Sports come about?
Christian: We switched cause we wanted a name that was like you said it once and knew exactly what it was.
Cale: We had like 12 names.
Jacob: Sports was the beginning of us taking it seriously. We had just written Naked All the Time and a few months before we released it, we changed names. It was like, “Ok we need to completely rebrand ourselves this will be the beginning of our career, taking it seriously and making this is our job.”
OTW: We’ve heard tale that the name Sports ironically comes from you three not being amazing at sports.l
Jacob: it is true, but that’s not why we named our band Sports.
Christian: I played football up until ninth grade, but I think I just looked in the mirror and I was like, “I don’t think I’m a football player.
Cale: it’s ironic cause my dad’s been a basketball coach my whole life, and their dads are also huge sports fans. So, we’re making money with Sports.
Christian: “My kids are in Sports.”
OTW: And were you parent supportive throughout the whole decision to pursue music?
Jacob: I’d consider myself pretty lucky that my parents didn’t push their agendas onto me, which is nice.
Christian: “Just get good grades and stay out of trouble.”
Cale: They didn’t pressure college either. I went to college for a semester, and it was my parents who were kinda like, “Hey if you don’t like it, you can drop out.” And it actually empowered me to just do music.
Jacob: Luckily, none of us were crazy rebellious or anything. Looking back, I kind of wish I was a bit crazier.
OTW: is that your biggest high school regret?
Jacob: Yeah, I should have been pranking more. It wasn’t that big of a deal to get in trouble.
Christian: Senior year, I started doing slightly more crazy things. In the computer lab, I would turn everything over. That’s as bad as it got.
OTW: Less of a question, but I once included your song “You Are the Right One,” off your first album, Naked all the Time, on a mixtape for a girl I was seeing.
Cale: It’s a love song. I love that.
Jacob: You’re not together anymore right?
OTW: Admittedly no.
Jacob: Dang, so it didn’t work.
Christian: She wasn’t the right one.
Jacob: Try again, keep trying.
OTW: Will include it on every mixtape from here on out.
Jacob: That’s actually funny that you say that because we get a lot of people saying things like that. It’s a lot of couples’ song.
Jacob: In Chicago, this couple proposed right before that song.
Cale: The lyrics I were picturing, it was this nerdy kid thinking he could get the cheerleader.
OTW: When it comes to songwriting, is a lot of the subject matter true to life or do you invent characters?
Jacob: I invented a character for the first time on one song, but it’s usually just stream-of-consciousness for me. Sometimes you don’t realize the meaning of it until way later on, or like you go through something and you’re like, “Oh wait that’s what I was writing about subconsciously. It’s kinda weird how that works. Cale’s married so most of his songs are either fictional or about his wife.
Cale: Or girls who didn’t want to date me in high school. There was a lot.
OTW: Your latest album, Everyone’s Invited – where did the title come from?
Cale: I came up with it pretty soon after we wrapped up People Can’t Stop Chillin, and I don’t remember exactly how it came to me, but it’s just like a phrase that I thought sounded like a party, sounded fun.
Jacob: This is after we went through a ton of stuff, like our manager passed away. And then slowly, that name started to make more sense. Like inviting people to be ok with going through what they’re going through.
Cale: And the lyrics are a little more transparent this time, it’s a little more, “Alright, this is what I’m thinking, so you’re invited to see how I’m feeling.
Jacob: Be a part of the healing process. There’s a lot of different things you can take from it. I feel like it fits with the times. Everyone’s trying to be extra aware of everybody being comfortable and not feeling invalidated, and it’s just a way to bring everyone together.
Cale: Honestly, it’s kind of like this mantra I have now when I’m hanging out with people, cause there are so many people that are close to me where it’s like I have to make sure to invite everyone. I actually say it on accident all the time.
OTW: Speaking further on the album, the synth-driven nature of it has earned a fair amount of comparisons to ‘80s music. Was this a particular timeframe that inspired Everyone’s Invited?
Cale: I think we’re more obsessed with the keyboards that were made in the ‘80s than we are actual ‘80s music.
Jacob: I get it. We’re using keyboards from the 80’s, and of course, they’re going to be similar to sounds that you’ve heard before. But we aren’t actively trying to be like, “How can we make this sound more ‘80s?”
OTW: Tell us a bit about Oklahoma, as I’m guessing a lot of people aren’t too familiar with the state.
Jacob: A lot of people are surprised by Tulsa actually. They’ll pass it and be like, “Oh it’s an actual city, there’s like actual buildings.”
Cale: Yeah, like It actually has a downtown.
Jacob: People think we live in teepees, like, no. Did you ride horses to school? No! It’s a normal suburban area where we grew up.
Jacob: I don’t know, there’s this certain kind of mystical, dark vibe to downtown. Whenever I imagine Tulsa, I imagine it at night.
Cale: Have you ever seen The Outsiders? That’s filmed in Tulsa. So, that’s the vibe. I think it does a really good job with that.
OTW: So what’s one thing about the future of Sports that you all are personally excited about?
Christian: Releasing more music.
Jacob: I love touring; I love every process of it all honestly. Whenever we’re finished touring, I’m ready to get back in the studio and start writing. There’s a nice balance I think. I like every aspect of it.
OTW: Who are your Ones To Watch?
Jacob: Yeek is amazing. His new songs are so freaking good. He’s the best
Christian: Keith Charles. He’s going to be putting out a record
Christian: We’re actually going to be working with him when we get back from tour. He’s going to go to the studio that we record in, and we’ll just jam and see what we can come up with.
Jacob: This band, BRONCHO, from our hometown that’s about to release some stuff that’s stupid good; it’s so good. Breakup, some friends of ours in Tulsa. There’s a lot of good stuff coming from Oklahoma right now actually. It’s cool.
OTW: Any final words or anything you want to say to your fans?
Christian: Thank you.
Cale: You’re invited. Thank you. See you soon.
Jacob: Thank you Ones to Watch for liking us. Your office is nice. These chairs are cozy.
Cale: They are. They’re ergonomic
Christian: They have good back support; I need to get me one of these.