Island president Louis Bloom has told Music Week that Sports Team are already aiming for a No.1 on their second album after finishing at No.2 with their debut last week.
Deep Down Happy lost out by 571 sales to Lady Gaga’s Chromatica, as the band sold 12,248 units, with 10,309 physical sales making up the bulk of the total. That return represents the highest first week sales for a debut album by a British band since Blossoms in 2016.
Music Week spoke to Bloom, manager Stuart Clarke, Primary Talent International and DHP Family about the band’s “rabid” live following last November. Now, they’ve delivered a chart finish to match an impressive live record that saw them sell out O2 Forum Kentish Town in December.
Sports Team run a WhatsApp group for fans and word of mouth growth has been a cornerstone of Island’s strategy.
Here, Bloom unravels the story of an exciting chart week and looks ahead to the future.
How did you pull off a No.2 chart finish during lockdown?
"We’ve had a solid plan since signing the band, centred around incredible creative and helping build an audience for live. Their fans are so dedicated and are steadily growing into an army. Part of the magic is that there is no distance between them and their fans – like it used to be in the early days of punk, fast, furious and spontaneous. We have been able to feed their insatiable appetite outside of the music and incredible live show with great visuals, unique experiences and lifestyle merchandise. From day one, the band have always had a No.1 in their sights. The fans have bought into their vision and it’s been amazing to watch the energy and commitment from the band, manager Stuart Clarke, the label and the fans to try and achieve this. The band are absolutely delighted and so are we. It was great for guitar music, great for indie retail and great for the charts.”
It was great for guitar music, great for indie retail and great for the charts
Louis Bloom, Island
What does it say about the band, the album and their fans?
“Sports Team have incredible energy and charisma. That was clear from the first moment the Island team saw them play two years ago at The Five Bells pub in New Cross. This was before any music had been released; it was a ramshackle gig, but there was pure magic in the room and we knew we had to sign them. Since then, their live performance has grown into something quite extraordinary and it has been the centrepiece of the campaign. As with anything truly special, word of mouth develops and the fans kept growing. I can’t wait for venues to reopen because the band are going to smash it. The album is a classic debut. Rough around the edges, lyrically inventive and full of raw energy and personality. I remember as a kid listening to Modern Life Is Rubbish by Blur and how they helped bring back that resurgence of UK bands. I’m hoping that this album will endure as one of the brightest sparks in this new wave of alternative music.”
It's your second band-led success of the year after Easy Life. Why are bands working for Island at the moment?
“We are excited by long-term artist propositions, which can come in any form and across any genre. Sports Team are a more traditional band and Easy Life are more of a collective with diverse influences, but either way, they both contain multiple members and are self-contained creative units. That’s what makes both offerings so unique, because there is no compromise on the creative, and you get that extra personality in the songwriting because of nuanced band dynamics and relationships. We haven’t seen that gang mentality from an act in a while and I’m hoping their personalities spread into the mainstream. Both acts are inspiring to work with and the team at Island have been fantastic in helping them deliver at every juncture, to fulfil their vision and bring their music and art to the world.
What's next for Sports Team?
“Music is going to come thick and fast and lockdown has been the perfect time to bunker in and make that next album. Myself, Jack Greengrass and James Talbut from Island and the band are already discussing producer ideas. It will come at the start of next year and we will be aiming again for a No.1! The band have huge ambition and they always talk about playing Knebworth one day. I wouldn’t bet against them.”
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