You would not believe the number of hours we’ve had the title-track of Sprints’ debut EP ‘Manifesto’ on repeat since it first landed last November. It’s properly addictive, cathartic stuff, and – bold statement alert – you’ll be able to count the number of better debut EP title-tracks released in the past few years on 0 hands. That’s right, 0 hands. There’s a lot of fun in songs that are basically a great big ‘fuck off’, y’know?
Here, vocalist Karla Chubb talks us through the entire four-track release, track by track.
‘Manifesto’ the EP is supposed to serve as an introduction to Sprints, and I think it does that well. We wanted something that could act as a solid foundation for us to build off in future – not even just for fans to understand our sound but also ourselves.
The EP as a whole is a real moment in time. Initially recorded pre-pandemic, it’s a perfect reflection of our lives at that time. Dealing with work, anxiety, writing lyrics in pubs, struggles with online relationships, seeing a city in crisis etc. With how rapidly things are changing, there’s almost a hint of nostalgia to it which is insane to say about a time 6-12 months ago, but that’s how rapidly our lives have progressed since we released the first single from it. It’s simultaneously exciting and terrifying, but we can’t wait for people to consume it as a whole, and show where we’re going next.
I don’t want to speak for everyone in the band (but think I am) when I say ‘Drones’ is probably our favourite track on the EP. I know much like parents you’re not supposed to have a favourite child, but I guess we’re just terrible parents. Writing ‘Drones’ and recording with Daniel Fox marked a real turning point in the band. It was the first real collaborative song by myself and Sam, the first really industrially influenced track and our first step together into a much darker and anxiety-inducing space.
Dan really helped us introduce texture and some more creative elements. The large drone we hear on the bass under the line The church bell rings was actually a total accident that happened in the studio when Sam hit a pedal. But now it’s one of the best bits.
The track itself is super biographical. Sam sent me a demo of the track on WhatsApp while I was in the pub watching a match. I listened to it and immediately loved it and was threatened by it. I was threatened by Sam’s talent, his ability to play every instrument, write, produce. Imposter syndrome really struck home hard, and instead of running from it, I ran into it. I wrote the lyrics on the spot on my phone and sent them back, and that was ‘Drones’ done, in a matter of minutes. The song is all about tackling that immediate threat to ego and addressing it head-on.
I think we purposefully wanted ‘Drones’ to bleed into ‘Swimming’ as they’re so similar in a lot of ways. ‘Swimming’ was written really similarly, almost on the spot. I was getting the bus to Jack’s house where we used to rehearse, and there was news of the grant approved by the city council to build a White Water Rafting Centre for about €25 million. Now, I don’t know about you or most people, but Dublin and White Water Rafting aren’t exactly synonymous in my head, but it enraged me, immediately. Here we were in a city with a rampant drug, housing and homeless crisis, massive underfunding to the arts and mental health services and an unbelievable rental crisis. I got the idea for ‘Swimming’ pretty much immediately and hummed the melody and chorus into my phone and scrambled some lyrics. When we got to Jack’s, it really flowed (pardon the pun) out of us all, I think. The duelling guitars between myself and Colm is probably one of my favourite parts of the song. It really lets us go wild life and vent all frustrations. Lyrically, it’s super pointed and obvious, but I liked it that way. The metaphor calls directly back to the moment, and I wanted it to be really blunt. I literally had four coins in my pocket on the bus to Jack’s, so that’s where that came from. So deep, right?
The White Water Rafting funding has since been axed. Praise be.
I feel like there is such pressure with any titular track, and to be completely honest, I never liked ‘Manifesto’ until super recently. Jack will tell you probably better than anyone that I am my own harshest critic and I tend to get sick of songs very quickly or not think they’re good enough. I feel like I put a lot of pressure on myself as a woman in music, and particularly this heavier genre of music we’re in, to not just be good but to be great. I thought the simplicity of the song, structure or lyrics could be looked down upon. I’ve since grown to realise that sometimes writing simply is the hardest and to be proud of our work. The neverending battle with imposter syndrome lives to fight another day…
I don’t think it was until we really started to play it live that I grew to love it. I think it was Bob, who directs the majority of our music videos, said it was his favourite song. Those small bits of validation really help you look at it from an outsiders perspective and not your own skewed view.
Lyrically and sonically, it’s really straightforward. A direct response to what was going on in the city ahead of the Repeal Referendum where we were fighting for women’s rights to abortion. We really wanted to replicate that marching, walking, chanting feel, which I think is reflected well in myself and Sam’s vocals and almost beating rhythmic lines. No Sprints song is complete without a Colm crescendo, of course, so the insane solo allows for a moment of reprise.
Is this the dark horse of the EP? I feel like it probably is. It’s the only track we haven’t released but also the one I’m most interested in seeing people’s opinion of because it’s very different in a lot of ways to the other tracks. I think this is probably the song with the most pop sensibilities in terms of vocal or melody. It’s actually sung rather than that rhythmic talk-sing style I usually use (hat tip to Patti Smith). I think we wrote this while I was listening to a tonne of Just Mustard, so the very shoegazy, almost dream-like breakdown was super inspired by their album. Jack is also a massive Just Mustard fan and knew exactly what we were going for, but I think the really spacious drums and bass are my favourite part of the track. And Colm’s droning guitar that’s verging on whale sounds. It was a really fun track to record and allowed for a lot of fiddling with pedals.
Lyrically I think I need to explain this track because it can come off really creepy sounding when you listen to the lyrical content hahah so bare with me. It’s inspired by the idea of online dating and friendship culture. How we think we know people, or how we perceive people online. Whether it’s friends, partners, people we’re interested in, often we develop these perceptions of their personalities through their social media, and when their actions don’t match up with our sometimes deluded perceptions, it can be a recipe for disaster. I really wanted to push this to the extreme so it’s written from the perspective of a person in love with someone online, whose life they’re watching unfold online and grow jealous or are driven mad by the unrequited infatuations. I’d die for you, lie for you, wait out in the middle of the night for you or Ashley. I said I’d always catch you sleeping, obviously pushing that voyeurism and stalker angle slightly.
The namesake for the song is Ashley Benson for no other reason than I think she is stunning, and I wish I knew her, but alas, I can only watch her through a screen.”