Shortstraw just dropped their latest album "YOUTHLESS" which is now available on iTunes. The Pretorian had a chat with them about staying young as your growing old and keeping up seriously funny appearances.
So, how’s Shortstraw doing these days? Any crazy 2014 stories you want to tell us?
We’re doing well thanks. The rash has cleared up.
Where are you guys from and how did the band form?
We’re based In Joburg, Greenside. It actually started in 2007 with Al and Oliver, then they realized they needed more people in the band, so Jay and Phil joined and they recorded the first album “You’re Underfed, I’m Wonderful”, near the end of that album Jay and Phil left to pursue life. Russ joined on bass, Gad on keys and Tom on guitar. In 2012 that line up recorded “Good Morning, Sunshine”, and in 2013 Olly left and Jake replaced him and recorded “Youthless” the new album that will be released in Jan 2015. Like sand through the hourglass so are the days of our lives.
Tell us a bit about “Youthless”?
Its been in the making for a while now. It will be released in January 2015, but you can pre-order it on iTunes from the 15th of December. The sound is a little more grown up and evolved, but still has the fun that we write music with.
Where did you record and who produced the album?
We recorded at a studio in Rosebank, JHB called Highseas Studios, owned by Jacque Du Plessis. They did our last album and we really love working with them. This time we had a new face Adrian Erasmus who was awesome and we all get on really well. Jacque and Al (lead singer) did the producing, everyone pitched in ideas, but Al and Jacque did the major producing.
Can you tell us some more about the producer?
Well Al is the singer and original member, and Jacque owns Highseas, which is an amazing space for creativity and writing to come out. We’ve all worked together before so working on the album together was effortless.
What’s the song writing process like? Who writes the songs and what kind of environment is the best source of inspiration?
We all write the songs together, someone might come up with a riff or melody then we flesh it out as a band. We have a practice room that’s called ‘the hamster cage’ because it smells like one. But I guess where ever we are the best source of inspiration is each other.
How do you stay fresh and original?
We tend to listen to new things and try different styles, even if it is just for fun. Being open to different types of music and influences is important.
What would you say if someone accused you of being derivative?
Probably come back with a mom joke. But seriously, these days pretty much everything has been done, but just not by you. So no matter what everyone brings their own particular style to something.
Your music is happy and uplifting with lots of catchy hooks. Do you ever worry about not being serious enough?
No, never. Music is always meant to be enjoyed. We enjoy playing it and we have fun, and we have never taken ourselves too seriously. That’s who we are.
What’s Shortstraw’s deepest song and why?
Most probably “Good Winter” from the new album, It’s deep. Just listen to it.
To me, Shortstraw fall into a very specific genre. Desmond and the Tutus are also in that genre. The genre doesn’t exactly have a name. If you had to give it a name, what would you call it?
Many people name it ‘indie’, which is a very broad genre. We played with that and called it ‘indie-bele’ because of the African influence.
Who’s the greatest band or musician in South Africa? Could be dead or alive.
Wow there so many! Maybe Fokofpolsiekar, mostly because what they have done for Rock music in this country.
Can you tell us an inspiring story?
Every night in my dreams
I see you, I feel you,
That is how I know you go on
Far across the distance
And spaces between us
You have come to show you go on
Near, far, wherever you are
I believe that the heart does go on
Once more you open the door
And you’re here in my heart
And my heart will go on and on
What does your dream gig look like and who would share the stage with you?
One of our favorite bands, Weezer, have this massive boat that they cruise around throwing awesome parties. That would be awesome!
What do you guys think of Pretoria? Do you have a story that to you define your experience of Pretoria?
We flippen love PTA! Its always such a vibe. This last Park Acoustics was flippen awesome! It was really special.
Which South African city has the best crowds and why?
Its funny most of the student towns really know how to party. Grahamstown has always been a wild party.
What’s the story behind the band’s name?
Provincial Pea-Shooting champs 2006.
Why do you think music is so important to people?
Because it is a creative release of emotion. Music can be sad or happy, it can make you want to dance it can make you want to cry. It sometimes says things you want to say but just don’t know how. It’s music, everyone understands it.
QUESTIONS|Ivan Serfontein PHOTOS|Hanro Havenga