It all started with Jesse McCartney—let Sophie Allison, the 21-year-old singer behind Soccer Mommy, explain: “My brother’s pre-school was having a benefit show, and there was a kids band playing country music. I saw a signed guitar there, and I wanted it really bad, so my parents got it for me,” she said of how she started playing music. “It was a really cheap toy guitar, basically, but I started playing it and eventually got a real guitar when I was like five or six. I was learning songs that I liked, like Jesse McCartney’s ‘Beautiful Soul.’ I really wanted to learn that and ‘Fall to Pieces’ by Avril Lavigne.” So yeah, you have a former member of defunct boy band Dreamstreet to thank for one of 2018’s most introspective, complex, and acclaimed albums.
The singer is sitting at a low booth at Skinny Dennis, a country-themed bar in Brooklyn, where she was headlining at Music Hall in Williamsburg. It’s almost exactly nine months to the day since Soccer Mommy released its first studio album, Clean, a 10-track indie rock LP full of hazy, contemplative songs that range from the rocking lead single “Your Dog,” on which Allison opens with the line, “I don’t wanna be your fucking dog,” to the slow-building fan favorite “Scorpio Rising.” (“When I wrote that song, I knew the emo bitches were going to love it,” Allison said with a laugh.) Next year, the band will continue on the road as the supporting act on a leg of Kacey Musgraves‘s world tour, and begin working on the band’s follow up album. But for now, she still has to get through what was truly a whirlwind year.
In the season of year end lists, Clean has ranked high just about everywhere, from the New York Times (where it was named the best of the year) to Rolling Stone to Pitchfork. “It’s been really cool,” Allison said. “I didn’t really expect when I was making Clean for it to be high up on any lists.” Instead, she aimed for an album that sounded like “the feeling of being at home in Nashville in the summer and hanging out with friends on summer nights,” which, it turns out, is a feeling lots of people respond to. The band has been on the road for nearly the entirety of 2018, playing with everyone from Phoebe Bridgers to Paramore, with just a few days off here and there. “It’s been really fun. It’s exhausting, obviously, but i like touring a lot. I wouldn’t really want to be doing anything else.”
The band also got a test trial of what next year’s run with Musgraves will be like when they opened for her European dates earlier this year. “We reached out [to her],” Allison said. “We e-mailed them and were like, ‘We’ll do anything.’ That’s how we ended up getting these dates coming up, and they also offered us the Europe stuff [earlier this year]… It was so great to watch. I played solo for the first two [shows], so it was a very chill set for me. It was really fun to then watch her set.” Musgraves and Allison even choreographed some dances moves for a cover of ‘Nsync’s “Tearin’ Up My Heart” in London.
Beyond touring, Allison hopes to also begin working on new music in the new year. “I’m really excited to record again,” she said. “I think i have a chunk of time in a couple months where I’ll be able to do it. It’s really not that far away.” And beyond that, she just has one ultimate goal: to play at the Bronze should that Buffy: the Vampire Slayer reboot ever come to fruition. Joss Whedon, if you’re reading this…