(photo: Shervin Lainez)
“I love when gas stations have pumpkin seeds,” Soccer Mommy’s Sophie Allison tells me over the phone, recuperating at home in Nashville after a successful first SXSW. She’s getting ready to buy her own tour van before setting out for the West Coast in support of her official studio debut, Clean, out now on Fat Possum. I had the opportunity to catch up with her a few days before the band hit the road.
Sophie felt rested from “a good night’s sleep,” even though she had just returned from Austin. “It was a good first South By, for sure. I mean, it was exhausting, but that was much expected.” Soccer Mommy made a big splash at Fader Fort with powerful live renditions of Clean tracks like “Your Dog” and “Scorpio Rising.” Between performances, Sophie spoke with the likes of Nardwuar as well as Tyler Andere from PORTALS.
“My boyfriend Julian Powell plays lead guitar. Graeme Goetz plays bass, and this guy Ryan Elwell is drumming.” Julian co-starred with Sophie in Soccer Mommy’s video for “Your Dog.” “He’s the dead guy!”
I first caught onto Soccer Mommy’s music in early 2016, when Mat Cothran tweeted a link to songs from my bedroom, a two-part follow-up to the debut songs for the recently sad EP, fresh off Soccer Mommy’s Bandcamp page. “Yeah. That was definitely a moment,” Sophie remembers. Now, the band’s current tour is selling out fast, and she’s also opening for Liz Phair this summer. “I’m pretty excited. I mean, that’s kind of like a — not only a dream tour to see, but to get to be on it is pretty amazing too. I get to go, like, every night! It’s great.” Soccer Mommy’s upcoming April 7 show at Bottom of the Hill with Madeline Kenney and Rose Droll sold out just a few days after we spoke.
Dreaming up lyrics and melodies at as young as five years old (“What the heck is a cowgirl / What could it be?”), Sophie acquired her childhood guitar at a benefit show and has been rocking ever since. Sophie learned to play drums through her many summers spent at Southern Girls Rock Camp while growing up in Nashville. “At the end of the week there’d be a huge performance and every band would play one cover song that they learned throughout the week. It was really fun,” Sophie reminisces.
After graduating from Nashville School of the Arts, Sophie purchased a TASCAM four-track recorder and started recording songs from her bedroom, where Soccer Mommy was born (the band name, for the record, comes from @sopharela’s Twitter name, not the other way around). “I was kind of starting to get into the local DIY scene with my friends who recorded their own stuff. I just wanted to do something really simple, to see if I could start getting into it,” Sophie recalls, uploading demos “just to kind of get it out there and practice experimenting with these songs.”
As Soccer Mommy was starting to connect with fans online, Sophie moved to New York City in August 2015 and began studying Music Business at NYU. Just a few months after uploading her first EPs to Bandcamp, Sophie was invited to play her first Soccer Mommy show at the Silent Barn in May 2016. Shortly after, Sophie got in touch with Warren Hildebrand of Orchid Tapes, who subsequently released Soccer Mommy’s June 2016 solo effort For Young Hearts on a limited run of collectible gold cassettes. The introspective heartache of the lyrics combined with captivating guitar hooks offer emotional catharsis at a unique, yet universal level, solidifying Soccer Mommy as a voice that deserves to be heard far and wide, by hearts young and old. Sophie was also running her own DIY label called Soccer Tapes at the time.
Silent Barn is now set to close its doors within the next month, and Sophie stresses the fragile importance of sustaining inclusive spaces for emerging artists. “