Sports’ 2015 debut, All of Something, played possum for a full minute, as guitarist/singer Carmen Perry crept in softly with a mischievous whisper over a meek guitar. And then, once you were lulled into their dreamy calm, bam!—the band hit you with everything they had, repeating the verse with ten times the volume, showing off the cracks and imperfections in Perry’s voice as she twisted through the line, “I really hope you don’t lose.” On their new, third record, Slow Buzz, the band is now called Remember Sports, and, in case you do not in fact remember Sports, they provide an instant reminder by pulling the same, familiar trick. Just after passing the minute-mark on their opening track, “Otherwise,” a drum-fill kicks in and the band takes off at lightning speed, again showcasing Perry’s wildly unpredictable vocal range.
What started out as a fun college project among friends has proven itself to have more potential than the members anticipated. The proof of their initial lack of commitment is right there in their former, flippant band name, which is not only astoundingly unGooglable, but was also already claimed by another band. Now armed with a tweaked name and new members, Remember Sports is intent on taking themselves a bit more seriously since their days at Kenyon College. They’ve relocated from Ohio to Philadelphia and are ready to give their band the old college try. Or, more accurately, the old post-college try. Their commitment is starting to show, too. While Slow Buzz stays true to the endearingly scrappy sound the band established three years ago, they try a few new tricks on for size towards the album’s end, as they stretch out a bit. “Unwell,” the album’s four-minute closer, swings big with a long build-up that creeps into an all-out sprawl.
We caught up with Perry about this new phase of Remember Sports. Slow Buzz is out on May 18 from Father/Daughter Records. Listen to it below.
Noisey: Have you gotten the hang of doing press yet?
Carmen Perry: It’s definitely gotten easier. But we didn’t have anything going on for so long that the first couple of interviews we’ve done recently, we’ve had to relearn how to do them.
I imagine you’re getting asked a lot about the name change, so I’ll go ahead and ask too: How’s the name change working out?
It’s been good. Actually, not a lot of people have asked about that, specifically. It was something that needed to happen for a long time. I think the name Sports was sort of a testament to how unseriously we took our future as a band when we first started playing. If any of us had known that we were gonna keep playing after we graduated college, we would’ve spent a little more time picking the name. [Laughs]
Besides the band name, are there any other growing pains that come with underestimating the potential of the band?
Yeah, when we we first started out, it was me and Catherine [Dwyer], who’s still in the band now and then our two other friends, Benji [Dossetter] and James [Karlin], who we don’t play with anymore because they’re doing other stuff. So it’s definitely weird to have a different band. And Jack [Washburn], who plays guitar in the band now has been our friend since college and we’ve known him for a long time. Connor [Perry], who plays drums with us, has been with us for like a year and he’s Jack’s friend from growing up, so he’s still a familiar face. But yeah, not being the same entity we were when we started out feels like a big change. We really just started playing because we wanted to make music with our friends, and that’s still what we do, it’s just funny to all of us how this has grown and shifted into more of a job.
Is that limiting or defeating to think of it like a job?
For me, not really. Even if it is more of a job than it was before, it’s still not really a job-job, because it’s still fun most of the time. I have another job that I do when we’re not touring. It’s kind of weird to be in this space where my main thing is playing music, but I also have to do other stuff for money. I can’t get a real 9 to 5 day job because I leave a lot. I think that’s the weird thing. When we were in college, it was something we did as a hobby, but now we have to make money to live, which is something a lot of bands go through, and we’ve been lucky to make it work as long as we have.
What kicked it off in your mind where you thought you could do this more seriously?
We recorded our first album at school at our school’s radio station, and just put it on Bandcamp. And I think Jessi [Frick] from Father/Daughter bought a tape, and we noticed that and filed it away mentally. It was my senior year of college, so three out of four of us were graduating and then Jack was a year behind us. We had a new album to record and we started recording at our school radio station again, and then we were like, “You know what? Why don’t we do this for real this time?” We got Kyle Gilbride on a whim to see if he’d be interested in recording and it wound up working pretty perfectly. We did a tour out to Philly right after we graduated and recorded it there. When we finished it, we were like, “OK, now what?”
We’d been talking to a few labels prior to recording. There’s one bigger one that I won’t mention by name, but they were really interested in putting out an album by us, and we were talking to them for a while over email. And we were like, “We don’t live in the same place, we’re not sure what we’re gonna do after college so we’re probably not gonna be able to tour that much.” And immediately they were like, “OK, nevermind then, bye!” So after we recorded the album, we got in touch with Jessi again and we were like, “We don’t know if we can tour that much.” And they were like, “That’s fine, I don’t care.” We’ve been talking about Jessi a lot in interviews and how much they’ve changed our lives, because without them, I don’t think we’d have gotten the attention we ended up getting. It’s crazy to think of how much it changed the game for us.
You moved recently from Ohio to Philly. Was that primarily to focus on the band?
Yeah, it was. It’s funny talking about it now, because it wasn’t anything where we were like, “We’re gonna move to Philly and we’re gonna keep doing this band.” It was sort of, over the course of years, figuring out what we were gonna do. And Catherine was like, “I’m gonna move to Philly, I think.” And I was like, “OK, I’m gonna move to Philly too then.” And when Jack was graduating, he was like, “I guess I’m gonna go to Philly, also.” So I think it was more implied that we were gonna keep the band going, rather than explicitly stating it. Philly had been on our radars—me, especially. A lot of the bands I really loved in college lived in Philly.
Who were the bands that attracted you to the city?
Definitely Hop Along and P.S. Eliot and Swearin’, which is why it was so cool to record with Kyle. That was the music I loved the most and it just seemed like something I wanted to be a part of.
A few songs on the new album detail a break-up. What’s the effect of writing songs about break-ups? Do you find it cathartic when you have to sing them and do interviews about them? Or does it feel like you’re dragging out something you’d rather leave behind?
It definitely feels cathartic. That’s why I got into songwriting to begin with. I was having all these feelings and emotions I didn’t know what to do with, as a teen and a young adult. For me, it’s just a good way to work through stuff, but also have a record of how I was feeling at a certain time. My mom thinks I’m an early hoarder and a packrat—I like keeping all my stuff around. Songwriting sort of feels like that to me. If I write a song about a particular time while I’m in it, that is something that I can have forever to remind me of who I was then and what I was thinking and feeling. Certain songs that were really emotional to me once, when you get over that thing, it feels less emotional. I don’t feel bored by anything I used to feel, it’s just funny to realize one day that it doesn’t mean the same thing that it used to.