Cockles Debut Album
In November 2017 Shortstraw went on a short hiatus. Instead of slipping on some sweats and watching every Keanu Reeves movie ever made, frontman Alastair started a new solo projects Cockles. Earlier this year we had a chat with Al about the making of Cockles and his new pre-show rituals.
Cockles beautifully dissect the balance between self-appreciation and vanity. On the one side, you have The Worlds Best Narcissist. The intro is probably the worlds best ode to vanity. That ethereal ring combined with ‘I wish you were a mirror’ panning through. Shit like that might even make Carly Simon return for one last “You’re so vain” tour.
Then on the other, you have Joshin’ around. A beautiful summary of that kak feeling you get in your stomach when starting a new venture. That dangerous loop of extreme excitement and crushing anxiety that builds and builds. All set to a catchy folk and indie beat. Well done.
What made you want to take the leap and create this album?
Yuss how’s that for a summary… Nail on the head! Thanks for ‘getting it’!
Basically, with Shortstraw taking the hiatus, I finally had the time to work on the stuff that was a little too weird for Shortstraw. I wanted to push myself by writing everything on my own, laying down demos and then recording properly without the comfort of a band to bounce ideas off of. And it’s been a wild ride. A lot of self-doubt and a bit of risk taking, but I think it’s all worked out okay. We’re writing again in the Shortstraw band room, and what’s coming out is pretty much the complete opposite of the cockles. stuff, so it’s been really nice to be writing some diverse songs.
With this album, you wanted to return to the bare basics of songwriting. Just a guy, with acoustic guitar, standing in front of a crowd asking them to love him. I can imagine this must have been a quite freeing and vulnerable experience.
Have you added any new pre-show rituals to your list?
Yeah, the idea was to go back to how I used to write songs when we first started Shortstraw. Not better or worse, just different. And it resulted in a much simpler sound, allowing a bit more focus on the lyrics, which is kinda the focal point of cockles. Leaving me super vulnerable, like an oiled bodybuilder competing in his first competition, who just tripped down the stairs on the way to the stage and landed in downward dog in his speedo with a bunch of muscly dudes staring down at him.
As for pre-show rituals, I’ve been lucky enough to put together a band of some of my closest friends, who double as fantastic musos, so we tend to just have a few drinks and then complain about having to wear polo necks in venues with poor ventilation in the South African summer.
If you had to sum the album up in a Gif, which would it be?
While working on this album, how did you keep your mind from becoming a spinning pinwheel?
I was just really excited about laying the songs down so I could put them out into the world. Every spare second I got, I was trying to write and then spent many hours trying to figure out Cubase and laying down very bad demos, which was actually really fun because I was technically learning a new skill. I’ve got a pretty short attention span, so as soon as I find myself with nothing to do, I’ll get super antsy and then want to do something, anything music related.
Cockles sees you return to the tongue-in-cheeck writing of You’re underfed, I’m wonderful.
Speaking of You’re underfed, I’m wonderful, if you could be any Keanu Reeves movie character for a day, who would you be?
You know it, dawg… kicking it old school. I’d probably wanna be Keanu in Point Break so I could shoot my gun in the air post awesome foot chase.
Alongside your solo debut, Shortstraw is also back on tour!
Bussssssssssssy bussssssy. For the modern day rockstar on the go, what is your favourite meal to start the day with?
A cup of tea and a rusk.
If the good people of the world wanna stay in touch and hear all the latest news from Cockles and Shortstraw, where can they go?
This weekend, alongside Bam Bam Brown, Shortstraw will be blessing Table mountain with some Bikini Weather. So grab your long weekend short and boogie down to Kirstenbosch the 24th of March. Get your tickets right here!
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