In February, we saw the release of a brand new single by cockles, named Sour Pearls. The single release is combined with the video release for his song called Small Talk.

Sour Pearls was written by frontman Alastair Thomas after a particularly shit day when everyone seemed to annoy him. Featuring a 90s grunge sound, mixed with some pop-punky influence, the single pays homage to the music Alastair listened to while growing up.

“The song is about being a grinch, but still having that special someone in your life. ‘I loathe everyone, well maybe not all people, but it’s pretty much everyone but you. And all dogs too.’ My favourite line that I’ve written is in there, which is ‘all I fear is the smell of toast’, which is based on the fact that you grow up fearing seemingly real things like snake bites and shark attacks, but now that I’m older I’m just worried I’m about to have a stroke every time I smell burnt toast.” says Alastair.

Turning out a lot heavier than initially intended, Sour Pearls almost didn’t make the album but with a catchy chorus and relatable lyrics, it soon turned out to be a crowd favourite at shows.

“This song is for anyone who has ever had a bad day. Or has ever driven in traffic. Or has ever gone to home affairs.”

SMALL TALK was basically the reason Alastair started COCKLES.

“I’m not what you would call a great socialite. Like, I don’t enjoy small talk. I’m really bad at it. This song is about some classic encounters. It’s about being bad at small talk and awkward conversations in general.”

Any non-extrovert, and maybe even some extroverts will enjoy the song. When Alastair had to describe the song to someone who has not heard it before, he’d first ask them about the weather and what they do for a living. Then the conversation would taper off into an awkward silence.

The video for the song was shot in January 2019 at Sylvia’s Market and Hell’s Kitchen. Alastair directed the video himself and it was shot by Frank du Toit. The song itself was always written with the video in mind, so the shoot followed the song and its lyrics and features strong inspiration from Flight of the Conchords and a bit of Lonely Island. All the cameos in the video are played by members of the band.

With that said, I caught up with Al about a few things and what he has been up to…

As the frontman of both Shortstraw and Cockles, how are you ensuring that Cockles has its own identity and separates itself from Shortstraw?

It comes down to the way I’m writing the songs I think. With Shortstraw, we’ve been writing together as a band for the last 3 albums, so we tend to bounce ideas off each other and really collaborate on it. With cockles. it’s just me, so plenty of self-doubt and selfishness at the same time. Lyrically I’m also doing some of the ideas that were a bit too weird for Shortstraw.

Shortstraw started touring again recently. Will Shortstraw ever make a full comeback? Or are you mostly focussing on Cockles now?

Ja, I don’t know if Shortstraw will ever come back fully, our day jobs are keeping us super busy at the moment. So I’m quite consciously trying to keep cockles. as casual as possible or I might burn out. I’m just trying to have jols with my pals while making music, which is kinda the reason I enjoy playing music.

I’m sure you might get this question a lot, but I know some people are still wondering, why the name Cockles?

It’s a combination of the fact that the songs are meant to warm the cockles of your heart and also cos it has the word cock in it. So I’m writing these personal, kinda emotional songs, but I can’t shake the immature high school kid in me either.

Touring wise, do you prefer to do it alone as Cockles or with the band as Shortstraw?

So I write the cockles. stuff on my own, but I don’t play solo. I’ve put together a band with some of my favourite people who double as fantastic musicians, which makes playing together a hoot. That being said, the Shortstraw boys are my brothers, so it’ll never get old going on tour with them.

Shortstraw made it pretty big overseas, especially in Japan. Would you ever try and do the same with Cockles and start touring overseas?

Ja, Japan is amazing. If there’s ever an opportunity for cockles. to get there we’ll take it in a heartbeat, but I’m not actively pursuing it.

Now that you’re in two successful bands, what’s next?

Fuck, some sleep would be amazing.