Soccer Mommy Returns to Australia
“I’m just excited to play to people that this will be their first time hearing a lot of the music”
Photo Credit Sophie Hur
First appearing on Australian stages in 2019 for Falls Festival and headliner sideshows is beloved indie rock artist Soccer Mommy, who will be returning this month performing for fans in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, and on the Perth Festival lineup.
Releasing two studio albums color theory (2020) and Sometimes, Forever (2022) and playing shows alongside the likes of Paramore, Vampire Weekend, Kacey Musgraves, and Phoebe Bridgers throughout the past four years, audiences can expect to hear some of her most sophisticated songwriting backed by an impeccably refined live show this February.
To celebrate her return, we jumped on the line with Sophie Allison (a.k.a Soccer Mommy) to chat all things touring and returning to Australia.
I thought I’d start off today with the last time you were in Australia, 2019 for falls + headline shows, which seems like only yesterday but was years ago - what are your favorite memories from that experience?
My tour manager and sound person in America is Australian, and the first time we met him, he was our Australian tour manager. So it was really fun and it was just like, you know, that was our first time traveling with him. So we got to know him, and also he just kind of took us to a bunch of places. We spent New Years in Australia, I remember that, and we were at an airport hotel and we all just got like a bunch of champagne and were sitting in this hotel. But yeah, it was great. I mean, it was so cool to see more of Australia because we'd only been for Splendour. Also, yeah to get to know Todd, and he showed us around and took us to a bunch of places. I had the best honey chicken I've ever had in my life in Australia.
And you’ve been incredibly busy since then and have released a lot of music, like 2 albums worth, what are you most looking forward to bringing to you Australia fans this time around?
I think the show has grown so much, on top of the fact that obviously there's a lot of new music, it's a different band with multiple new members, and it's gotten so tight. Just even the shows that aren't the best shows feel good. I’m just excited to play to people that this will be their first time hearing a lot of the music. In America we didn't do much touring around Color Theory, but we did get to do one tour. So yeah, I think it’ll be really fun.
So when you’re on tour, how do you approach coming up with the set list? Is it kind of collaborative with your band, or do you have something in mind?
It's slightly collaborative, I usually write it and kind of show everyone, and am like “do you have any changes?” mostly based off of, we use a lot of different tunings and we have different guitars, we have someone who plays guitar and keys. So I try to write out an idea based on my tunings and what would keep me from switching guitars every two songs and try to write that out and then show it to everybody, and if people want to flip some things around, we do that. Then we just start trying it and if something feels like it shouldn't be where it is, you know, try moving it. So it usually takes a couple of shows to kind of get it just completely locked in when you change the setlist.
Yeah, so what you’re saying is by the time you get to Perth it’ll be perfect (laughter)
Oh it's already ready! You guys are gonna get the very, you know, perfected version of the show.
Oh beautiful, and does that change much, do you ever look at spotify or statistics and be like “this city really likes this song”, does that information change anything, or is it just “this is the setlist”?
I don't really look at any of that, I mean, I know obviously I try to play pretty much all the singles and often just kind of watch the crowd and if people are really loving a song. It's like, “wow, that one’s really popular”. I definitely, you know, you notice when fans pick up on a song that wasn't even a single and I always want to play those. But really it's just I try to play pretty much the entire new record every time at the beginning of a new album tour. And then just kind of pick the favorites from the last times we were touring that we already know is really doing well from other albums.
Yeah, that's amazing.
So something I’ve noticed quite a bit now, which might just be specific to Perth because we’re so isolated, but with more international and even national touring artists again, fans are just so keen to interact with musicians at shows. So how's your experience been with fan interactions in the US and do you have any wholesome stories to share?
Honestly, I don't interact with fans as much as I used to because while there are a million wholesome fans, there's also weird fans, and also it can be exhausting, if you do that at every show it’s exhausting. But, I do love getting to have like one or two that I see the day of the show, whether I'm at a coffee shop nearby and someone comes up. Maybe I’m at a restaurant or maybe even like, there are definitely times, just the other day I was just outside and someone came up and was like “hey, can I get a picture”. It’s always really sweet. Someone did, something really sweet that happened recently was that someone, that actually, I wish this fan could hear this because I still have this on my pedal board. Someone gave me a little rubber ducky, and they like put it on the mic stand, and I just put it on my pedal board and It's been sitting there ever since. So, yeah.
Aw, that’s so cute!
And of course, as you said there's a lot of time and energy that goes into touring and the show, do you get much downtime on a tour - and what do you like to do in that downtime?
I get more now than I used to, we started traveling on a bus which gives you a little bit more time. Honestly, I like to find some good local food, I like to try to find what the best local spot is, and the whole band is kind of like that. We're a little bit of foodies, but we're not like highbrow foodies, you know, we want to go to a really nice restaurant and we also want to go to the dive that everybody loves. We try to do that for dinner. I'm always looking for a record store, or thrift stores to go hang out. Good coffee shops in the morning. But largely yeah, I like to take time to get some good food, maybe go to a thrift store or I record store, but also like, sit and play my switch, or watch a movie or something, read a little bit, just, it keeps you from getting exhausted on tour I think, to have that kind of just like normal things as well.
Yeah, what are you playing at the moment on your switch?
Ah, Stardew, Stardew Valley. I also have a Pokémon game that I want to finish, but yeah.
Maybe this upcoming tour, that’s the time.
So you said you like to just sit down, eat, are there any other pre-show rituals you like to squeeze in before a show?
Yeah, I mean, I, you know, I gotta try to warm up my voice a little bit. Like to watch at least a song or two of the opener, when I can't watch it all. I don't drink really before the show, just because my voice would get really worn out. But yeah, I really just try to have some chill time to just relax and warm up, and get excited but not obviously like go scream along to the songs or anything because I would just completely ruin my voice. But yeah.
Yeah, sweet, and do you have any techniques or ways of getting into the right headspace before you perform?
Honestly no, I don't really usually have trouble with it. The worst case is that I'll just be kind of like low energy and then it's like, maybe I should do some jumping jacks or something. Maybe I'll take like, you know, a little swig of whiskey or something and try to like, get myself pumped up. But yeah, I don't know. At this point I think we do play bigger rooms and there's a lot of people so it doesn't feel weird being in front of a lot of people, and it's so tuned in at this point with me and with the band that it feels like something you've done 1000 times, and you kind of just feed off the energy I guess from the crowd and from the other people getting on stage with you.
Absolutely. And that energy and all the experiences from playing live, do you find that inspire your songwriting?
Um, not really to be honest. I don't think so. I feel like it's so separated, like the songwriting is this like very insular, intimate, vulnerable process. Even if it's not a vulnerable song, it's just very like to yourself, you're kind of like trying to string all of these ideas in your brain together, and it's very focused and insular, and I think that playing a show is so the opposite. It's like kind of feeding on, I guess, the opposite side of my personality where it's more enjoying sharing something with other people, and enjoying performing and just that whole energy. That’s beautiful, the balance.
Around the tour, will you get much time to do any sightseeing in Australia and if so, you mentioned Todd’s from here, so is there anything you’re keen to see this time around?
Um, I really want to hold some koalas. I haven't done that. So I really want to do that. Also just, I really like to see whatever area we're in. Like if we're in, obviously I want to go to the beach at some point, but if we're in like a city and we're in a certain neighborhood, it's just nice to explore that area and like, kind of, especially if we're with someone who knows the area a little bit, like hear a bit about the area and check it out. Most of the time venues are in kind of a cool part of town, so yeah, that's usually kind of what we do.
And are there any muso friends you wanna see/ catch up with in Australia?
Not many, because there's only I mean, there’s my agent of course Slony, and when we have toured and played our own shows we had an opening band that was really cool. So we might try to see some of them, they play a lot of music. And yeah, I mean honestly we haven't been over that many times. I don't know that many Australians, there’s just Todd and people I’ve met in Australia that like one time.
Yeah, fair enough! Well thank you so much for joining me and chatting with me this morning, well evening for you, I hope you have an enjoyable rest of the year and an amazing tour in Feb!
Yeah totally! Awesome.
SOCCER MOMMY AUSTRALIAN TOUR
Presented by I OH YOU and Frontier Touring
Friday 17 February
The Triffid | Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 18 February
The Croxton Bandroom | Melbourne, VIC
Tuesday 21 February
The Factory Theatre | Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 22 February
Fat Controller | Adelaide, SA
Thursday 23 February
Perth Festival | Perth, WA