You sit there looking and me thinking, who still uses the word ‘heck’. Well, meet Shortstraw, a 5-piece afro-indie pop rock band from Johannesburg, who are making serious waves in the indie music scene. This quirky, feel-good band, who’s personalities are as absorbing as their music, started off as a 2-piece drum/acoustic guitar band, with Al (lead vocals and guitar) and Ollie (drums and backing vocals). They formed in 2007 but only officially started performing in 2008, adding a guitarist and bassist before recording their first album ‘WE SLEPT THROUGH IT ALLl’. The band eventually split for work and travel reasons, leaving best mates Al and Ollie to continue the journey alone for some time.
In 2011 the band officially became a 5-piece, fuller sounding and stronger than ever with Gad on keys, synths and backing vocals, Tom on lead guitar and Russ on bass, forming this dysfunctional/crazy pool of talent and ambition. Having toured a bit with their first full release, ‘YOU’RE UNDERFED, I’M WONDERFUL’, they admitted
“People around the country need to know that we’re as excited to play live shows as we are to have our music recorded. No matter where you are in the country, you’ll always play a show to someone who has never heard of you and that’s the kind of exposure we need to be creating”.
They have slowly been taking advantage of the growing indie scene, especially in Cape Town (largely influenced by bands like Desmond & The Tutus, who made indie cool again), and are actually in the Cape as we speak.
Over the last year or so, the band has been writing new material and just finished recording their second album, called GOOD MORNING, SUNSHINE. Asking them how the public has received the new release, they said,
“Better then we could ever have hoped for. It really has been great. We’re so proud and happy with the end product. It’s nice to get the recognition that we feel we deserve for it. It’s super swell!”
Coupled with opening for The Kooks in Johannesburg last week and winning the MK award for ‘best indie band’, Shortstraw have arrived on the scene and are here to make you dance.
Their new album was recorded at High Seas Records in Rosebank,Johannesburg, with the band spending two weeks in studio and another two weeks mixing the album,
“We’ve done the album really quickly, which has prevented us from sitting on anything for too long. It’s often when you have too much time, that you suddenly create problems with songs. With this, we were just like, ‘Fuck yeah, that sounds rad! Track that shit! Done.”
Previously, most of their music was recorded in their old guitarist’s bedroom, with them doing the entire recording themselves due to a low budget. With this album they had some money to spend, so after searching for a place to record, they finally found High Seas to be the perfect place for them,
“We highly recommend their studio to any band out there. For realsies!”
Jacques ‘Jambo’ Du Plessis and Marc de la Querra from High Seas Records have predominantly produced the new album. Darryl Torr also had some production input on the track called ‘Gimme My Fix’ and Teejay Terreblanche was involved with ‘Bikini Weather’ Shortstraw adds,
“We developed the new sound over the past year and a half and we wanted people to hear how we’ve progressed. We’re really proud of it! In terms of inspiration for the songs, it’s pretty much girls and partying. We pride ourselves on our live show, and we wanted that to come through on the album.”
Coming a long way since 2007, Shortstraw have played at Jo’burg Burning 2 and 3, Oppikoppi Smoorverlief, The Converse Street Party, The Free Bacardi Party and most recently opening for The Kooks at the #5GumExperience in Jo’burg, blowing us away. They have also played alongside some of the best local talent like SHADOWCLUB, DESMOND & THE TUTUS, WRESTLERISH, DANCE, YOU ON FIRE and many more. Loving what we saw when they opened for The Kooks and briefly hearing them on Catherine Grenfell’s show on 5FM, we knew we needed to chat to these rock-n-rollers.
Here are a few questions we threw at them:
- Why the name ShortStraw?
We were once in this tapas bar in California drinking cosmopolitans and Martin Short came up to us and asked if we he could suck on our used straws. We put those two together. He’s weird.
- Who are your musical influences?
So many, and they’re all different. Foals. Paul Simon. Little Comets. Kurt Cobain. Johnny Clegg & Juluka. The Beatles. Taking Back Sunday. Bon Iver. Dave Grohl. Kanye West. The list is endless. Any band we’ve ever listened to is going to have some impact on our music, whether it’s conscious or not.
- To date, what has been your best gig / achievement as a band?
Opening for The Kooks last weekend. By far!
- Bikini Weather, where did the moves originate?
The moves in the video? We were pretty drunk haha
- GOOD MORNING, SUNSHINE – how has the release been greeted by the public?
Better then we could ever have hoped for. It really has been great. We’re so proud and happy with the end product. It’s nice to get the recognition that we feel we deserve for it. It’s super swell!
- Where do you see ShortStraw in 5 years time?
Writing jingles for hemorrhoid cream haha. I don’t know, hopefully headlining SA’s best festivals, in between touring the rest of the world!
Currently on a tour with their new album, GOOD MORNING, SUNSHINE, the boys will be hitting a town near you, from the Western Cape, through the Eastern Cape and Durban, then back to Pretoria, with a stop in Bloem, before ending with their album launch in Jo’burg. So if you are anywhere near these town, here is where you can catch them:
25 April 2013 – Bohemia, Stellenbosch (LAST NIGHT)
26 April 2013 – Mercury Live, Cape Town
28 April 2013 – The Brass Bell, Kalk Bay
30 April 2013 – Surf Cafe, Plettenberg Bay
2 May 2013 – Barmuda, Port Alfred
3 May 2013 – Champs, Grahamstown
4 May 2013 – Live The Venue, Durban
10 May 2013 – Arcade Empire, Pretoria
11 May 2013 – Mystic Boer, Bloemfontein
31 May 2013 – Town Hall, Johannesburg
GOOD MORNING, SUNSHINE Track Listing:
1. Couch Potato
2. Gimme My Fix
3. Good Morning, Sunshine
4. Cold Shoulder
5. Bikini Weather
6. Mo Money (ft. Zubz)
8. Say My Name
9. Boxing Day
10. Wedding Blues (ft. Shane Durrant)
12. 127 Hours
GOOD MORNING, SUNSHINE will be available at all their shows and also for download on Band Camp – download the album for FREE, but a DONATION would go a long way to helping this rad band reach its goals.
Be sure to watch SHORTSTRAW’s latest music video for Bikini Weather here:
written by: Mixed Apples
photography by: Christelle Duvenhage