Feature: Aubrey Straw In The Age Of Revolutions

Words: Matt Innes

Welsh indie stalwarts Aubrey Straw have craftily distilled their entire history as a band into their new album ‘There’s A Revolution In Sight v5’.

It’s an album that revels in the glory of the past while embracing an uncertain future, perfectly encapsulating the spirit of Aubrey Straw and the journey its collective members have taken together as a band for close to three decades.

“We all look a bit older, that’s for sure,” founding lead singer Phil Vat laughs.

“But I’d also like to think we have the same swagger about us. Just a tad less obnoxious and a bit more savvy.”

Change has been an ever-present force in Aubrey Straw’s existence right from the beginning. Since their formation in 1997, Aubrey Straw have undergone multiple personnel changes resulting in five different versions of the band over the past nearly thirty years.

Now in v5, Aubrey Straw take another stab at igniting a rock and roll revolution with an album that features members from every incarnation of the band.

“There are songs from every version of the band included in the tracklist and we’ve remastered the recordings with modern day tools,” Phil explains.

“One track is the odd one out as it was never actually played live back in the day, [lead single] ‘Imperfect Spheres’, was produced in lockdown in 2020 by sending ideas and files back and fore. Therefore, it is a product of v5.

“The majority of songs were written between 1997-2003, using a variety of different methods from writing lyrics first and putting music to them, to finding melodies in acoustic or full band jams and writing lyrics later based on developing themes. This furnished our diversity.

“Now, we don’t jam as much but the landscape of technology has changed so much that we don’t necessarily need to. We’ve had the luxury of our experiences and can project to those times in the comfort of our own home studios, and without needing to pay to go into a recording studio anymore.”

For Phil, ‘There’s A Revolution In Sight v5’ takes pride of place in the Aubrey Straw discography.

“Creatively, it sits at the top,” Phil says.

“All our other releases have been EPs and singles, and so the quality of content is increased by virtue of the quantity of songs and how they’ve been carefully positioned on the album as if it were a vinyl edition, with Side 1 (tracks 1-6) and Side 2 (tracks 7-12).

“It also has not had to rely on ‘A Soldier Coming ‘Round’ being on it,” he continues.

“Whilst this was our most popular song across all versions of the band, it became a bind having to play it to expectant audiences when we’d felt we’d moved on from it. And it always kind of overshadowed any new musical directions we were attempting.”

There has never been a ‘plan B’ for Aubrey Straw, no exit strategy nor contingency. Operating without a safety net has been the band’s modus operandi, one that has allowed them to retain an enviable foothold in the dynamic landscape of modern music even as the ground shifted under their feet.

“Whenever someone left the band, it was like a stripping of assets as all band pics, videos and recordings became obsolete,” Phil says.

“We needed to retain our ‘no plan B’ mantra, play down the change of personnel like it never existed and build up our assets again. Image seemed to be everything.

“Now, in 2024, image is not as important. But legacy is, both for ourselves and for young bands growing up in Port Talbot, to be proud of their heritage and so be encouraged to progress their original music without pretending they’re from Swansea or Cardiff.”

These days, members from all versions of Aubrey Straw contribute to various aspects of the band, with Phil donning multiple hats as songwriter, lyricist and manager. Whatever form the band takes, Aubrey Straw have never wavered in dedication to achieving their vision.

“We still have the same professional ethos when it comes to the presentation of the songs and commitment to a shared goal,” he says.

“It’s just a different revolution in sight and previously devalued assets have increased in stock.”

‘There’s A Revolution In Sight v5’ is imbued with a distinct ‘90s nostalgia, owing to the vibrant cultural and political backdrop against which Aubrey Straw formed – a time period fondly remembered by Phil.

“Growing up through the Madchester scene and becoming empowered with opportunity during Blair’s New Britain and the Brit Pop era made the ‘90s a special time to have musical ambition, however delusional it may seem now,” he says.

“There was even a Cool Cymru scene developing with bands like Manic Street Preachers and Super Furry Animals replacing Tom Jones and the Alarm as people’s primary associations of Wales and its musical heritage.

“Alas, as we were to find out, scenes can only accommodate a finite few at the top end. We also endeavoured to be a little different to the rest, with variety of song styles that made it interesting for us but also hard to pigeonhole for those who would buy and sell us.

“We all wanted to be famous, we wanted that to be our jobs and there was no plan B! So, even though we partied hard, we also had a professional ethos when it came to the songs, performing them with gusto and promoting ourselves as the future or rock and roll with a revolution forever in sight.”

And that revolution will endure as Phil and his compatriots continue to produce and release new music.

“I have between 15-20 other previously unreleased songs from Aubrey Straw in various states of production, with 10 mastered and ready to go in another album,” Phil explains.

“We’ll probably look to release it at the same time next year. It will be called ‘Extended Pleasures’

“We’re also writing some new songs. One currently being whittled, that I’m particularly excited about, is ‘The Sympathy of Others’.”

‘Become What You Are’, the new album from The Daisycutters is available now via MADCAP Global Music, JB Hi-Fi and independent music retailers.


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