The Strypes

You know what The Strypes are all about. Sure you do. Four Irish teenagers who’ve been playing garage blues since roughly the time they learnt to walk. Thrashing out R’n’B rave ups like a group of mates who’d bunked double Geography to play a quick covers set down the Bag O’Nails club circa 1965. All mini mohair suits, wailing harmonica and punky freakbeat.

Except of course, that’s NOT what The Strypes are all about. Not by a long shot, and with Little Victories you’ve got 12 reasons that prove why.

“That was a pretty consistent misconception of us,” says drummer Evan Walsh, sliding himself onto a chair in a West London hotel. “We were definitely into that sort of thing and we were influenced by it, but we were painted as like something out of A Hard Days Night. Whereas we were in a more Elvis Costello, Dr Feelgood, pub rock vein.”

“If they’d been to the gigs they wouldn’t have said that,” adds corkscrew-haired bassist Pete O’Hanlon. “It’s easy to just look at one photo of a band and be like, ‘Oh I know exactly what they’re about…’”

Some of the things you may have heard about The Strypes are true, though. Yes, the band – Walsh, O’Hanlon, guitarist Josh McClorey and singer Ross Farrelly – started playing together before they were even teenagers, relentlessly gigging around Ireland and quickly becoming the hottest ticket in any town they happened to rock up to. Yes, they arrived like a tin can full of firecrackers on the UK music scene in 2012, blowing any other act you can name off the stage with their frenzied re-imagining of razor-sharp Feelgoods rock and snarling Rhythm and Blues. Yes, their debut album Snapshot deserves to be filed next to other opening gambits by the likes of The Stones, The Yardbirds, Dr Feelgood and The Jam. Guilty as charged.

But then surely the best thing about being 18-years-old with the special spring in your step that only being in the best new band in the British Isles can bring is the sense of adventure that comes with it? The world, as they say, is your oyster. OK, done that. What’s next?

 

What came next is a record that takes the raw power of Snapshot and uses it to fuel a ferocious 21st  century rock and roll hybrid.

 

From Get Into It’s dirty bass groove and the absinthe-stained psychedelic waltz of (I Wanna Be Your) Everyday to the joyous New Wave rush of closer Scumbag City Blues, it’s a record that swerves through multiple twists and turns with a scope almost unthinkable two years previously.  Lift up the bonnet of Little Victories and you’ll find rolling - almost heavy metal like - twin riffing (I Need To Be Your Only), careering punk pop (Best Man), Kinks-esque observations (Cruel Brunette) and deliciously sleazy swamp rock (Status Update) all whirring thrillingly away.

 

Influenced as much by acts like the Arctic Monkeys and George Clinton as the band had previously been by records from Bo Diddley or Nick Lowe, McClorey would sometimes work on demos on his laptop before bringing them to the band who would then turn what he had completely on its head. Other times songs would come from a bass riff, drum loop or a tape splice of something else they had been working on, re-fashioned to create an entirely new idea. Essentially, it was a million miles away from rehearsing old blues covers after school.

"That was the idea, not have a strict purist attitude towards the music, ‘Oh you can only do this or you can only do that,’” notes Walsh. “We didn’t think like that. It’s about expressing your love for these types of music, but not being reverential because you have to carve your own thing.”

Of course, put it to the band that this album marks a stellar leap forward from their debut and they look non-plussed. “We’ve grown up, musically,” says McClorey matter-of factly. “It’s just a progression. It’s like comparing what we were listening to when we were 12 and 13 to what we’re listening to now. It’s obviously going to be different.”

It's different for sure, but it also gets right to the heart of what makes these four people such a great band. Get ready to meet the real Strypes.

 

 

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