In The Middle with The Strypes

The Strypes must be one of the most grounded bands around. This is somewhat surprising considering they rose to fame in their early teens and have gained fans such as Elton John, Dave Grohl and Noel Gallagher. The four-piece band from Cavan, Ireland, spoke to me before their Brudenell gig about their new album and what it was really like growing up in the spotlight.

Forming a band seemed like an inevitable fate for The Strypes as they all come from musical families. While this may have helped inspire their passion for music, bassist Pete O’Hanlon said how they were not forced into music and that they got into pub rock bands such as Dr Feelgood and The Kinks on their own. These appear like unusual influences for young teens, yet these well dressed, bluesy musicians helped them to forge their own identity. While seeing 13-15 year olds in a band may normally induce an eye-roll, The Strypes’ polished image and highly accomplished sound helped set them apart.

Being pulled from school by their parents to pursue music may seem like an unrealistic teenage dream, but this was a reality for The Strypes. Guitarist Josh McClorey said how leaving school to focus on the band was extremely exciting and “the best thing that ever happened” to them. Since then they have achieved international success, released multiple albums and toured with the Arctic Monkeys. In addition, they are playing with Liam Gallagher later this month in Ireland which they are “really excited about” and see it as a “cool opportunity” rather than intimidating.

Minus lead singer Ross Farrelly, the band first performed at a school concert with Pete as the lead singer (despite being “so bad” at keeping in time). Although they began touring as kids, they explained how the experience hasn’t really changed much since being old enough to drink as they prefer to socialise with support bands, such as Man and the Echo, rather than clubbing and drinking. This added to the list of things that separate them from other young male bands. Rather than choosing a glitzy lifestyle in LA or London, they keep ties with their hometown Cavan. For instance, they told me their recent music video for ‘Behind Closed Doors’ was filmed in the town hall 10 minutes from where they live, and they collaborate with family and friends for on the road support and shooting music videos.

Starting from a young age has its advantages, yet Pete mentioned the possibility that they could have been “spent by 17”. Luckily, now all in their early 20’s, this is far from the case as they are still going strong with tours in America and Japan as well as the release of their most recent album, ‘Spitting Image’. Drummer Evan Walsh said that the songs on this album were mostly written by him and Pete, the first time they have collaborated on so many songs. With influences from late 70’s new wave acts, the band’s favourite tracks from this album include ‘(I Need A Break From) Holidays’ and ‘Behind Closed Doors’. The band claim writing albums gets harder each time as “you have your whole life to write the first album and only a year to write the second”, said Josh. Due to the positive reactions from critics and fans, it seems their good ideas aren’t drying up anytime soon.

They have filmed a series of endearing short videos called ‘The surprisingly dull adventures of The Strypes’, showing the band keeping themselves entertained through the more mundane parts of touring, such as travelling and early starts. Despite this, they appear to love touring as recount their packed schedule for the rest of the year.

Pete described one of their more exciting touring moments where they recently got their own plane to fly from Newcastle to Dublin. The only downside was the plane was “no bigger than a minicab” and Josh even compared it to the airplane from the kid’s TV show ‘Come Outside’.

They claim to have never experienced pre-gig jitters, even as kids, and only think about the gig afterwards. Josh said that “people are going to like the set or they are not going to like the set” and that they have played enough gigs to be confident in their performance. Despite their upcoming international tours, Pete said that they have been looking forward to their gig at Brudenell Social Club as they have heard “loads of good things” about it.

Josh told me how they like being busy and how they will “begin recording the day we finish touring”. They are in touch with what fans want, and unlike other bands who can keep fans waiting for a new album, Josh said the “quicker we can get them out the better”.

As well as being accomplished beyond their years musically, The Strypes are easy-going and professional in person and keep going from strength to strength in their careers.

Lucy Ingram

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