Shortstraw bio pic

Shortstraw are an indie rock band from Johannesburg South Africa.

Shortstraw have earned themselves a place as currently being one of the biggest bands in South Africa, with some of the most loyal fans a band could ask for. After 2014 took the band outside South Africa, Shortstraw continue to bring their uniquely South African “Indie-Bele” sound to the rest of the world.


Shortstraw Toms logo for website


Here comes a little bragging for those needing to see some credentials. Shortstraw is super proud to have so far seen three singles from the 2013 sophomore album Good Morning, Sunshine placed with in the top 5 of the 5FM Top40 countdown, the country’s biggest chart show.

Shortstraw won BEST INDIE at the 2013 MK Awards for the music video for One Long Day, and at the 2014 MK Awards picked up BEST ALBUM for Good Morning, Sunshine and BEST VIDEO for Waterworks. Shortstraw was nominated for BEST ALTERNATIVE at the 2014 MTV Africa Music Awards. In 2015, the band’s latest album Youthless debuted at #1 on the South African iTunes Chart.

Shortstraw has also had the incredible opportunity to have toured with a number of great international bands both in South Africa and abroad, including The Kooks (UK), The Jungle Giants (AUS), Bombay Bicycle Club (UK), Last Dinosaurs (AUS), and the Dune Rats (AUS).


Shortstraw started out as a two-piece drums/guitar band, with Alastair Thomas (lead vocals and guitar) and Oliver Nathan (drums and backing vocals) who have been friends since high school. They started jamming as Shortstraw since 2007 and gigging (officially) since 2008. The two-piece changed to a three-piece when the band called on the bass skills of former band mate, Jason Hartford, and they continued to gig their simple, acoustic music.

The three then began recording their debut EP, We Slept Through it All (2008) with  Chris Brink and Mike Stott (of ‘Tweak’ fame) and finally completed recording in December 2008. Whilst recording said EP, maestro Jay laid down some guitar choons too, and in so doing left the handsome members of Shortstraw in a bit of a pickle… How to pull off this recording in a live scenario? So… along came Phil Brierly. In 2011 Phil and Jason later left the band, and Gad (keyboard and harmony maestro), Tom (lead guitar virtuoso- literally!) and Russ (Bass boy) joined the band. As they joined, the recorded material of You’re Underfed Im Wonderful (2011) was ready to be released.

The new line up started both touring the album and at the same time quickly, and rather excitedly writing new material. 2012 saw the band hit the road, in what was to be a very exciting build up of interest around the band. The venues got bigger, and the crowds started growing. People started recognising that here was a band you can dance and sing along to. The music video for the opening track One Long Day went to nr. 1 on the MK Top 10 Music Videos Chart, and won them an award for Best Indie at the 2013 MK Awards held at the State Theatre in Pretoria. Other than that, the album saw some love on late night rock shows, and student radio stations, but kept Shortstraw like..totally underground and obscure, so you might not have heard of them back then.

In 2013 Shortstraw released Good Morning, Sunshine (2013), an entirely self funded project, which in tern gave birth to the band’s own publishing label Boosh Music. Packed with the new and exciting influences of each band member, the album saw the band confidently enter the mainstream radio waves with the first singles Good Morning Sunshine, and Couch Potato making it as far as the top 5 in the 5Fm Top 40 Countdown. A sneaky pre release of Bikini Weather, also made it to nr. 1 on TuksFM’s Most Wanted chart.

The album was recorded at High Seas Records in Rosebank, Johannesburg has predominantly been produced by Jacques ‘Jambo’ du Plessis and Marc de la Querra from High Seas Records. Grammy Awards winner Darryl Torr also had some production input on the track ‘Gimme My Fix’ and Teejay  Terreblanche was involved with ‘Bikini Weather’. The new members all added their own flavour and it has resulted in a more mature, well-rounded sound for Shortstraw. Lyrically, the band is telling more stories with the new album. Each song has a catchy hook that you can sing and dance along to. Not that that wasn’t the case with the first album – fans can just expect it to be easier with this one. The guitar parts are more intricate with Tom on lead guitar, there are more detailed keys with a full time keyboardist and their growth as musicians since their last offering, is evident.

Shortstraw has had the incredible opportunity to open for a number of great international bands including The Kooks (UK), Last Dinosaurs (AUS), and the Dune Rats (AUS), not to mention being asked to play at all the prominent music festivals in South Africa as well as the Vic Falls Carnival in Zimbabwe

In late 2013, founding member Oliver Nathan had to leave the band for personal reasons, and was replaced by Tom’s old friend Jakey Rubinstein. At the 2014 MK Awards, Shortstraw picked up BEST ALBUM for Good Morning, Sunshine and BEST VIDEO for Waterworks. In 2014, Shortstraw joined Aussie indie hotcakes The Jungles Giants in a capital city tour of Australia. The tour was then followed by a tour through Japan courtesy of Flake Records, who have re released both YOU’RE UNDERFED I’M WONDERFUL, and GOOD MORNING, SUNSHINE in Japan. The rest of the year saw more great festival shows and work on the next album.

2015 kicked off with the release of Shortstraw’s third full length album Youthless, with the first single Heaps Keen, inspired by their time in Australia released in Dec 2014. The album debuted at number 1 on the South African iTunes store.