SHORTSTRAW’S new album, Those Meddling Kids, has been a year in the making. The Indie band has been releasing one single a month, with its own artwork and music video, since September 2016. It’s all rather old school for a band which has been topping the charts since its launch in 2007, writes ESTELLE SINKINS.
Speaking ahead of their Mill Sessions’ gig at the Midlands Forest Lodge in Caversham on August 13, lead vocalist, Alastair Thomas, said it had been a challenging experience.
“Last September we didn’t have enough singles to release a full album, and we didn’t want to do an EP, so we decided to take a different tack,” he explained.
“We decided to release every song as a single and give it the chance to shine. That’s not because we believe that every song we write is a hit, but rather because we know that some songs on an album can get a bit lost.
“By doing this project we have been able to work with lots of different designers and filmmakers. Our idea was to release 12 different music videos in a year. Sounds easy but it wasn’t. Our budget dried up pretty quickly and we have had to get quite creative!”
A quick look at the band’s Youtube links and you’ll get a very good idea of what Thomas means. The video for the song Jetlag has a real late 80s, early 90s feel, while some of the imagery for Our Simple Minds is likely to disturb those with a sensitive nature.
“It’s been a whirlwind, a real rollercoaster ride. We won’t be doing it again but it’s been a good experiment,” he said.
On the plus side, the long lead-in time for the album has given the band the chance to stretch themselves musically.
“We haven’t stuck to one genre,” Thomas said, “and because we didn’t write and record it all in one go, the album is a bit all over the place — in good way! We’re definitely looking forward to sharing the new songs with our fans.”
Some of the tracks have already been given an airing in Europe. Shortstraw played a host of shows in Germany, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom recently and they’re keen to go back for another stint to build up their following.
“We don’t want to get bored, so we need to keep pushing ourselves. Touring is one way you can do that,” the singer said. “Most of the gigs we played were quite small compared to the crowds here in South Africa, but it’s pretty normal for overseas. The difference is that even in an intimate gig you have an amazing sound system.”
Now that they’re back home they’re planning to promote Those Meddling Kids — and those of us living the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands will get the chance to hear them firsthand at The Mill Sessions concert.
“I love the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands,” said Thomas, “and I’m looking forward to playing at Midlands Forest Lodge. We’ve performed in ‘Maritzburg and at the Pecanwood Beefest [near Howick] before, but never in the Midlands proper.
“Fans can expect a full electric set from us… it’s going to get quite loud! We just want to get people on their feet and dancing. Sunday is going to be a funday!”
The band — which is made up of Thomas (vocals and guitar), Tom Revington on guitar, Russell Grant on bass, Jake Rubinstein on drums and Gad de Combes on keyboards — will play a mix of songs, including the top 40 hits Good Morning Sunshine, Bikini Weather and Couch Potato.
Opening for the indie rockers will be local lads, Strings Attached. Tom Usher (guitar, ukulele, keyboard and voice), Takalani Tshivhase (guitar and voice) and Lesedi Letebele (drums and keyboard), brought the house down at the Michaelhouse Music Festival rock concert earlier this year.
The Mill Sessions’ gig will take place at Midlands Forest Lodge in Caversham on Sunday, August 13. Gates open at 12 noon, with the music starting at 1.30 pm. Food will be available, along with craft beer from the Balgowan Brewery.
Tickets are R110 pre-booked and R150 at the door (limited number avilable). To book phone 033 234 4524 or email email@example.com
- Keep in touch with Shortstraw through their Facebook page: shortstrawband or follow them on Twitter @shortstrawband
- Check out the music video for Jetlag at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUU_ZhStn3U
Did you know?
Shortstraw won two MK Awards for best album and best video in 2014. The same year the band was nominated for a MTV Mama for best alternative group.
Their third full-length album Youthless debuted at number one on the iTunes Album Chart on the day of its release in 2015.