Sprints: Dublin’s next no-fucks-given guitar heroes

Each week in First On, we introduce a shit-hot artist you'd have no doubt have seen opening the bill for your favourite bands. For now, here's the first word on Dublin's Sprints, whose raucous energy refuses to be hushed by lockdown

“I’m scared for my liver and body,” laughs Sprints vocalist Karla Chubb at the thought of eventually getting back on the road next year. This minor reservation comes as little surprise given that the Dublin four-piece’s music carries a primal spirit perfect for messy nights out and crushed tinnies adorn the cover of one of their latest singles ‘The Cheek’.

Having rapidly announced themselves as the next big export from Dublin’s thriving scene with their first two singles, it’s been a strange time for the band who rounded off recording their forthcoming EP on the day before lockdown in March. Catching up with NME over Zoom from their respective homes, Chubb and bassist Sam McCann are quick to stress that authenticity is the driving force.

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“What’s been most important in shaping Sprints is almost the idea of not trying to write anything specific”, Chubb explains. “We just go in and are super authentic, I’ll just write really bluntly and honestly from the heart. We call it pub chat, it’s just whatever issues or events, or anything happening in our lives affecting us and our friends. That could be political, socio-economic, people annoying me in a bar.”

The grungy and motoric latest single ‘The Cheek’ comes as a fuming middle finger to a particular type of asshole. Chubb says this was born from her own experiences. “I label myself as bisexual and I have a girlfriend and you tend to be hypersexualised a lot. You get to a point where you’re fucking sick of it. Like you can’t go to a bar, hold each other’s hand or do anything without some creeps interrupting.” This is driven home in the song with witty and pile-driving lines like; He said baby are you straight? I said bi, bye, bye.”

“I’m quite private naturally but it is important for me to flag these things because it’s annoying and it’s not right,” she says, “Even though we’ve made great social strides, there are days where you’re conscious of holding each other’s hands walking down the street or you’ll always think twice about doing it in a specific bar or you won’t kiss in front of a group of people, or you’ll get jeered at and you get the occasional slur. I’m strong enough now to not put up with any shit and if anyone says anything to me in the bar I’ve got no qualms in telling them off.”

Credit: Conor O’Beirne

Time spent in the local also forms a glue for the band to create and share their ideas. A track from the forthcoming EP was written in the pub around the corner from Karla’s house. “Not to play into the Irish stereotype but a lot of our social life did revolve around the pub”, jokes Chubb. “Whether that’s going to watch the match or playing gigs, it’s about the social meeting spot, the drop in and you don’t know what’s going to happen. It helps being around the energy and the buzz of the city, that’s what inspires most of the songs.”

The bustle of the Dublin scene in recent years has also made their vision seem all the more tangible. McCann says the likes of Girl Band and Fontaines D.C have done a lot of heavy lifting for the scene. “It’s amazing to actually see people do it and see those steps, with bands like Just Mustard and Silverbacks and Pillow Queens as well. It’s really inspiring and it’s like an affirmation that makes you believe it’s possible.” Karla adds. “It really gives you the drive to keep going and push, it’s super realistic for us to tour the UK, maybe the US and do the festival circuit in a couple of years. That doesn’t seem like such a pipe dream anymore.”

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An awareness of post-punk forces around them has also been a defining factor in their sound. Karla is quick to name checks IDLES as a touchstone. “They’re massively influential for us. It’s that balance of trying to find them and LCD Soundsystem.” Her rhythmic vocal delivery is drawn from some heavyweights too, “Patti Smith and David Byrne as well – I think cadence and rhythm are so important, it helps me get the words out and say more in one song.”

On their forthcoming EP, the band have kept up their raucous blend of post-punk and grunge. Chubb enthuses, “We wanted to show the breadth and depth of the work and there’s naturally a lot of personality in the music. I think it’s an inherently Irish thing to take the piss out of everything we say and there’s an element of sarcasm there.” They also tackle some more pressing issues. “We have a song which is more about the economic crisis in Dublin right now, it’s not trying to be preachy, it’s just our observation and experience of it.”

For now the band are waiting to regain their momentum on all fronts, whether that’s meeting Nice Swan label mates in real life or getting back to creating. “We’ve learnt so much, you fuck up all the time in music, you don’t know how stuff works and you learn constantly. We realise this is our serious go at it now, I can’t wait to get back to it, as much as it’s terrifying to get up onstage afterwards I miss that rush of ‘Holy shit, you actually did something.’”

Sprints’ ‘The Cheek’ is out now

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