“It’s so hot, and you’re all standing here doing this,” Sophie Allison said to the crowd who braved temperatures nearing 100-degrees to catch her set at Pitchfork Music Festival. The 22-year-old who performs as Soccer Mommy has amassed a devoted following in just a few years with a series of earnest EPs and her 2018 debut album Clean.
Allison’s introspective songwriting and indie-rock guitar riffs have also attracted the attention of artists like Liz Phair, Paramore, and Kacey Musgraves, all of whom she has toured with. We caught up with Allison backstage at Pitchfork in the midst of a summer tour, beating the heat with Goose Island Wit Awake witbier, while we chatted about recording her new album and developing a taste for beer at an early age.
There are so many great artists in Nashville across the musical spectrum. How did growing up there influence you as an artist?
It’s weird. There are so many different genres that I can’t say I got super influenced by any single one. I think that hearing southern music and country music, stuff that has this kind of bluesy, southern feel that’s really big in Nashville, even though it wasn’t something I was into when I was young, it kind of got into my soul.
Sometimes, I do feel like there’s a little piece of southerness in my music. I think the landscape of the south affected the way I write imagery. I tend to think that when I describe nature in my songs it feels southern. That’s home. That’s what I feel comforted by.
There’s that, and when I was a teenager I was involved in the local punk scene and garage-rock scene, and that music influenced me. It’s obviously not what I make, but it kind of got me into making the type of music I do make. It made me find bands like Sonic Youth and Sleater-Kinney, which definitely stuck with me.
I know you recorded a new album. What can people expect from the sound?
It’s not going to be super far off from Clean, but I feel like we used new sounds like new synth tones and stuff. It feels very early-2000s and it’s got a good atmospheric-ness to it. I think the songwriting has stepped up a lot too, both lyrically and the music itself. I think I’ve grown.
What did you learn from the Clean recording process that you took into the studio?
I learned a lot about the kind of stuff I want in there and how to make something sound the way I want it to sound. With the new album there’s new ideas. I feel like there’s more electronic glitching and weird noises that kind of call back to early-2000s stuff.
What kind of early-2000s influences were you vibing with?
Just the pop stuff I grew up with. The sonics of that sound very specific to that era. It’s not like I’m writing an early-2000s pop album, but I think that stuff was what I was listening to as a kid during the simplest time in my life. It was ingrained in me really early. Stuff like Avril Lavigne, Hillary Duff, or Ashlee Simpson.
I have had beer since I was five.”
You’ve been legally able to drink for over a year now. Do you remember your first drink?
I have had beer since I was five. I know that sounds crazy, but my parents would let me have a sip of wine or beer, and I loved beer when I was really young. I really liked it. Obviously, I wasn’t getting drunk.
What did they drink?
My dad would drink Bud and stuff. Just like gas station beer, he wasn’t drinking IPAs. I really liked it. I would always want to steal sips of his beer. So my first drink was probably really young. When I first drank, was sixteen on Halloween. That was whiskey. It wasn’t beer, unfortunately.
Has your taste changed at all from drinking in college to becoming a touring artist?
Oh yeah, I used to really not like beer. I liked it when I was a kid and then I didn’t really, and now I love beer and I drink beer all the time. I’m trying to cut back, because it’s so many calories. Drinking a ton of beer is like eating ten meals. I kind of casually drink more than did in college. It’s fine, I don’t get wasted. You can casually drink some beer and it’s cool.
What kind of beer do you usually reach for?
I really like Mexican lagers or pilsners. Something really light. I either like that or a stout. I don’t really like mid-range stuff like IPAs that much. I either want a Guinness or a Modelo. It’s one end of the spectrum or the other.
When you’re touring, do you have any time to seek out beer in different cities?
Yeah, when you have free time, it's so easy to grab a beer at the venue or at a pub nearby. I feel like we do that all the time. Then you just have to try stuff, not just Bud on draft. If they have a wide selection it’s fun to try out whatever you want.
I go to this place Brown’s Diner that has Bud on tap. It’s the coolest place in the world.”
You’ve already toured with some incredible artists early in your career. Who would you most like to have a beer with?
That’s so hard. Maybe Tori Amos. That would be really cool. I would want to pick her brain. I wonder what she’s like. Or Carrie Brownstein would be kinda cool. Or Corin Tucker, anyone in Sleater-Kinney.
You’ve performed at many different kinds of venues from doing really intimate shows, to opening for bands in arenas, to festivals. What’s your preferred style of show?
I really like a theater. It’s my favorite to play a 900-cap room. It’s a nice sweet spot. You can not be wearing in-ear [monitors] and the room will still sound really great. If it’s filled, it feels big. Once you get to amphitheaters, you lose a little bit of the sound quality and the intimateness.
If anyone is going to Nashville, do you have any local beers to recommend?
There’s one [brewery] called the Bearded Iris, which is really good. They have an IPA, which I don’t usually like, but I like this one. They have it at this place called MAFIAoZA’s, which is an Italian bar and pizzeria. They have it at another place called M.L. Rose. That’s a local one that’s good. There’s not another local beer that I usually drink, but I go to this place Brown’s Diner that has Bud on tap. It’s the coolest place in the world.