The new Try-Hard interview is here, the first acoustic act that i’ve interviewed. Mathlete, Christian’s (Speedboat Salesmen) acoustic project.
Hello Christian, can you introduce yourself please?
Hey, my name is Christian Sinclair, a film student and pizza enthusiast who plays music under the moniker of ‘Mathlete’
I know a lot of people know you from the 2-piece emo band “Speedboat Salesmen” but I want to steer as clear of that as possible, but what made you want to start Mathlete while being in “Speedboat Salesmen”?
I’ve always loved playing acoustic shows and the intimacy you can get from them. I played some really bad anti-folk for about a year before Speedboat, just doing shows and stuff under my own name but to be honest, I was still learning guitar and only knew about 4 chords ha.
I gave that up and ended up decided to start an emo band and originally wanted to play bass and do vocals but ended up playing guitar and because of that my guitar playing improved. After a while, I felt I’d reached a decent enough level to attempt acoustic again.
Where did the name Mathlete come from?
An underrated TV show called Freaks & Geeks. The protagonist Lindsay Weir is on the Mathletics team and I always thought it sounded cool. Also, in high school I was never good enough for the sports teams but I did several out of school events for academic stuff so Mathlete seemed a fitting name for me
Your second release Body Of Water, was released on 1st March 2012, how did you feel people received this 3-track EP? Did you get a lot of great feedback on it?
It’s more of a first release to be honest as prior to that I just posted one or two demos that I’d take down after a few weeks and now there’s 2 up that I’m semi happy with.
The feedback for Body of Water has been really good! I’ve had a lot of comments about my singing improving and Fears of the Deep especially has gone down well and seems to be the equivalent to what Man the Fuck Up was for Speedboat Salesmen in terms of catchiness.
Did you think that you improved as a song writer through Mathlete and between that short space between your two releases?
I recorded Body of Water with my buddy Bob Cooper and that alone taught me a lot. I originally planned to self record everything for Mathlete but Bob was great person to work with as he kept pushing me, especially with the vocals to make them as good as possible. I don’t think the songwriting has changed as such, but my mentality has and I think I take it all a bit more seriously and try push myself more.
What are the subject matters you usually focus on during writing?
A lot of the writing has been about growing up and getting my act together. All of speedboat’s stuff was pretty melodramatic and just self pitying boy likes girl stuff which almost became a joke to me whereas I try be more mature with Mathlete and so far I’ve covered a lot about my fears, worries and general thoughts on trying to be an adult and dealing with the ‘real world’.
Have you got any releases planned for the future?
I set myself a goal to have a load of new songs written over the summer and then to record them at the end of it or through the process of it. I’ve currently got about 3 full songs, 2 half finished and a load of little riffs and pages of lyrics so I’ll release it at some point but in what form has yet to be decided. Keep your eyes peeled….
When are your next shows that you’re playing? Are they with any bands you’ve been wanting to play with as Mathlete?
Mathlete shows tend to be last minute affairs in people’s kitchens, though I’m playing with Tangled Hair, Shoes & Socks Off and my buddy Sorry, No in Manchester in September so I’m looking forward to that.
I’d love to play with Owen, haha who wouldn’t? Into it Over it was also one I kind of idealistically dreamed of playing with….but then I played with him in May which was quite surreal. I feel like I’ve played with most of the best acoustic acts in this country as well through luck and chance so I’m not sure where I go from here….surprise me world!
When you play shows, do you much prefer to open for bands or play on a bill with a bunch of other acoustic artists?
Other acoustic artists, purely because of the mood of the show. I’ve been to and played too many shows with bands where the crowd is eagerly anticipating some big wild show and just talk through your set because you’re the dude with the acoustic playing quiet music.
How’s the scene in Manchester for acoustic music? Would you urge more kids to start picking up an acoustic and experimenting?
Better than expected to be honest. I’ve been lucky enough to play some rad acoustic house shows (twice with PJ Bond who is the greatest dude) and I tend to dislike open mic nights because they can be a bit cliquey, but Acoustic Wednesdays at the Tiger Lounge is a great night run by a great guy and there’s always a really nice atmosphere
Who are your biggest influences? They don’t have to be bands or artists, they could be things around you.
Music wise I think Mike Kinsella is an obvious one, though also Walter Schreifels, who influences most things I do musically. As I said before, growing up has been a big thing for me writing wise, so moving to Uni has been a massive influence as I’ve come to a new city, learned loads and made lot’s of new friends, started a band and played around the country. Then, I’ll come home and see people who are stuck in some weird limbo and going nowhere. All this influences me I guess.
If you could release a split with any band/acoustic act, who would it be and why?
I’d say Owen but I’d be scared of my side been totally in the shadow of his side haha. I’m not sure, maybe The Album Leaf but then again I’d have the same problem as with Owen….this is a hard one….
Are there any labels/zines/bands you’d like to recommend?
Lake Michigan and My Father Before Me, for being fellow acoustic emo type dudes who’re lovely people. PJ Bond for being the best dude to play shows/generally hang out with. Rosie Kerr for putting on mint acoustic house shows, some of which I’ve played and also generally for putting up with me drunk in her house in the past. Bob Cooper for being Bob Cooper. Also, to whoever agreed to put me on with Into It Over It, I’m still not sure how I blagged that show. I always miss people on these, sorry!
Last question, if you could tour with any four bands to any four locations, who, why and where?
Owen, PJ Bond, Steven Gray and Walter Schreifels. Owen and Walt because I love their music, PJ because, like I said, he’s an awesome dude as well as a great musician and Steven because he played some shows the other month and I want to hear him acoustic and see if it’s as good as Dikembe/Wavelets haha, also I generally would like to hang out with him without an ocean between us ha.
Somewhere in Reykjavik as that would be beautiful and nice. Treehouse Café in Bradford as it’s in my hometown and it’s incredibly intimate. Somewhere in Gainesville as I really want to go there and Steven can show us all the cool places to go and uhm….house party in Manchester?
When? Can we do this right now?!
Thanks Christian, Try-Hard wishes you all the best in your future endeavours.
No worries! x
Photo Credit: Peter Kopek