Catching up with Cockles

Cockles’ debut album – The World’s Best Narcissist – was release at the end of last year. We caught up with Alastair Thomas to find out more.

First off, congratulations on the release of debut album.

Thank you, that’s very nice of you to say.

So, it’s been 7 years since we first interviewed you (with your then little-known band called Shortstraw). How is this project different to that one?

Yuss time flies hey. It’s actually not that different to the stuff we were playing when we first met you. I’m writing everything on an acoustic again and churning out some ideas that were a bit too weird for the later Shortstraw albums. Then I’m writing and recording all the other instruments (except the drums) myself, which is something I’ve always wanted to do.

How have you changed/grown since then?

I’ve definitely gotten older. Like my back hurts and I’m tired always. But I think I’ve also grown as a songwriter, I’m trying to tell stories now more than just coming up with a hook.

I’m writing and recording all the other instruments myself, which is something I’ve always wanted to do

Very tongue-in-cheek the tracks on this album. Do you ever see you yourself making any ‘very serious’ music – or is your musical expression that of your silly-side?

I’ve always kinda written both, like, there are tracks on this album that are actually pretty serious. God Knows is about a wee existential crisis and coming to terms with the concept of death and Dick Dastardly is a good ol love song. We’ve pretty much always had a serious song or two on the Shortstraw albums as well, but they tend to go a bit unnoticed. Maybe I’m just better at the silly stuff.

Where was The World’s Best Narcissist recorded?

High Seas Studios in Parkmore, Johannesburg with old pals Jacques Du Plessis and Gavin Flaks (who are both part of the live band).

What is your most favourite part about being in the studio?

I love the freedom of being able to experiment with any sound while you’re going. Like, ‘What would horns sound like here?’ ‘I dunno, let’s add them in and see’. Anything goes and the imaginations flow and it’s just a rad, creative space. I also got to record the drums on joshin’ around which was a trip.

Anything goes and the imaginations flow and it’s just a rad, creative space

The early lyrics of Narcissist brought to mind lyrics from a Kaiser Chiefs ditty “Oh, and my parents love me…Oh, and my girlfriend loves me”. Were you inspired by this song, or is it just a crazy coincidence?

I definitely wasn’t consciously inspired by that song, but it’s all mind games, maaan.

We love the dance moves whipped out in the Narcissist video. Are these your go-to dance moves in real life? Where can we catch you doing them live in real time?

I actually hate dancing, so you won’t see them until I’ve had a few toots.

Well then, we’re off now to order in some tequila – let’s get this party started!

The band has changed a bit since your first gig. Is this line-up now the final one?

So the band is more like a squad. I didn’t want to put too much pressure on anyone to play shows, so basically I just asked a bunch of far more talented musicians than me if they were keen, and everyone who was bok joined the cocksquad. So we mix and match a bit from show to show. If we get the chance though we’ll be an 8-piece.

I actually hate dancing, so you won’t see them until I’ve had a few toots

Having being front man of a successful band with screaming groupies everywhere you go – would you say this has made you into a bit of a narcissist, or have you kept it real?

We’re not nearly famous enough to be narcissists.

If people want to see what you are up to where can they find out information and get hold of your music?

facebook.com/cockles
instagram.com/cocklescocklescockles
youtube.com/cocklesmusic

Interview by The Original Colette Carr