“Be yourself” is classic advice and the perfect go-to mantra in virtually any situation, but it’s often easier said than done. Many artists develop their individual style and sound over time, and for Cub Sport, the journey of self-discovery was especially profound.

Cub Sport is an alt-pop quartet from Brisbane, Australia, and their story is as intriguing as their music. The band members met as classmates and have grown together as artists, songwriters and friends. That growth is incredibly evident on the band’s sophomore album, BATS. When discussing the album, vocalist Tim Nelson shares, “It feels much less guarded than previous releases. BATS is a very real, unfiltered reflection of the last couple of years of my life—sonically, emotionally and lyrically. To me, BATS feels like the true arrival of Cub Sport.”

Nelson incorporated a lot of personal experience in his lyrics, and in letting his guard down while writing and living, his life changed. “Writing and recording what ended up being BATS was my way of processing what I was going through at the time,” he shares. “Listening back to these songs has helped me understand what I was feeling. I couldn’t have imagined sharing a lot of these songs with the world as I was writing them, but by the time we were ready to release another album, I’d come to a place where I felt comfortable sharing this side of myself—it feels really good to be so open.”

One of the stand-out tracks from the album is “Chasin” –a beautifully vulnerable track about Nelson’s then-secret love for bandmate Sam Netterfield (aka Bolan). “I wrote ‘Chasin’ after being away on a writing trip for a couple of months. While I was away, I came to the realization that I was in love with my bandmate/best friend Bolan which was exciting but also terrifying,” Nelson reflects. “I wrote ‘Chasin’ about my struggles with my sexuality, my feelings for Bolan and the direction my life was taking.”

It took a year for Nelson and Bolan to share how they felt about each other, but the result was worth the wait.

“A year after I wrote it, we both came out to our family and friends and learned to embrace our true selves,” Nelson says. “Another year later, we got engaged. Being together and living as our authentic selves brought on a new creative energy and a clearer creative vision. It really does feel like a new era for Cub Sport—we’re super excited about what’s happening and where things are heading!”

While incredibly personal and self-reflective, BATS is meant to inspire and encourage listeners in similar situations. “For me this album captures my journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance, which is something I’m really passionate about now,” Nelson reflects. “I feel happier than I ever have now that I’m living as my true self. I want to inspire people to embrace and embody their true selves and reach that place of happiness and peace with their identity—whatever that may be.”

As 2018 begins, Cub Sport is eager to share the album and their message of love and acceptance with as many people as they can. “It’s pretty special having the beginning of our love story documented like this and now we get to play these songs and share it with the world,” Nelson says. The band will be bringing their headlining BATS tour to the U.S. this spring, and the group is simply ecstatic to connect with a whole new audience.

“Developing a culture of inclusion and love is really important. For us, the community and culture of inclusion that surrounds Cub Sport has become as important as the music we’re making,” Nelson says. With BATS especially, the band wants everyone to embrace their true selves and live without remorse. And for anyone struggling with this, Nelson offers this advice, “You’ve been born the way you are for a reason and you should never feel like you need to hide or repress your true self. Surround yourself with people, art, writing and music that makes you feel good.”

A version of this interview ran in the current print issue of Substream Magazine