A few weeks ago the QMU was graced with the presence of the young Irish band The Strypes. The old-school, bluesy quartet recently released their second album, Little Victories. It proved a powerful comeback after the success of Snapshot, defying the all-too-common trend of bands recording a second LP too quickly and falling short of fans’ expectations.
Unlike Snapshot, Little Victories contains no covers. Though it loses some of the original blues sound, fans will not be disappointed with the new content. Though many tracks retain the same fast-paced energy of the Blue Collar Jane EP, what really makes the album is the addition of more personal songs such as ‘Scumbag City’ and ‘Lovers Leave’, and the variety of styles used throughout.
The Strypes have been praised by the likes of Elton John, who said watching them play is “kind of other-worldly. Their musical knowledge of RnB and blues is at least equal to mine and probably Mick [Jagger]’s or Rod [Stewart]’s, and we’ve been around for centuries.” As if that wasn’t impressive enough, you might want to consider that they’re probably younger than you – ageing from 17 to 19 – and absolutely charming.
qmunicate grabbed a word with two members of the band, Ross Farrelly (vocals) and Pete O’Hanlon (bass), about the new record, their influences and what it’s like touring away from home.
qmunicate: Let’s start talking about your new album. I got the impression it was a lot more emotional and raw than your first one – what are your feelings about it?
Pete: Yeah, well most of the songs were written by Josh [McClorey, guitar/vocals]. I think he kind of delved more into his own psyche; I suppose they’re much more relationship-based than a couple of the ones on the first album, but I think it’s more his path, his experiences in life so far. I think he’s delved into that for inspiration, which is always good.
As a band clearly influenced by Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters and Dr. Feelgood, how do you guys feel about the modern rock and blues scene? Are there any bands on the scene at the moment who you’re listening to or taking influence from?
Pete: There’s a couple of bands. There’s a band called The Bohicas, and Slaves as well, but there’s not a lot of bands we’d go a long way to see. Nothing that’s really exciting us, really-
Ross: But you know, The Black Keys, Royal Blood, The White Stripes and Jack White and all that sort of stuff we really love.
Pete: It seems fruitful enough. People always say “there’s just not enough guitar bands”- there are. They’re just not massively successful, but that’s the industry conspiring against guitarists.
Do you find your audiences vary a lot in age?
Pete: Yeah, you do get that. Very early on it was more music fans who’d come along but since then it’s really kind of grown to a more widespread age of appeal. It’s like everyone gets it! It’s not like anyone over 30 isn’t allowed to go to a gig, that’s not really fair. I think if you’re putting bums on seats then it doesn’t really matter who they are.
You once said that the further north you go in the UK the crazier the audiences are. Since you’ve been to Glasgow before, do you find us particularly wild?
Ross: The first proper UK tour we did, the gigs were mental, but when we got to Glasgow there were kids taking up and throwing up on stage and chanting for like 5 minutes straight, and even after we were finished they were chanting on the way back out the venue and onto the street. It was crazy!
Pete: Down south as well, because that’s where the industry is based, a lot of the gigs are haunted by people from the office – you get these people in the audience who just stand there being like “Yeah, they’re alright”. Why would you pay money to see an “alright” band?
University students sometimes find themselves getting quite homesick. When you guys are touring do you ever miss Cavan or does it just make you appreciate it more when you go home?
Pete: We do miss it but we do get home regularly enough. I don’t know, at the same time we’re at the kind of age when you’re away a lot anyway so you just have to get used to it – the job demands it. You do miss home but when you’ve been back for a few days you do kind of go “right well I’m tired of being home now, I want to go back out again”.
I read that ‘Scumbag City’ is about Cavan though-
So do you guys have a sort of love/hate relationship with the place?
Ross: I think he [Josh] did. I think it happens with most teenagers, wanting to move out of their hometown – they hate it and they want to get out. And then I think it was because we were touring so much and we were away for so long that when we came back you realise you do miss it and it’s actually really nice when you come back. So I think that’s why at the start of the song it’s “You want to get out” and by the end it’s “You want to stay”.
From their music to their modesty there’s not one part of The Strypes difficult to like, so if you enjoy rock, blues or just a good mosh pit, make sure to catch them next time they’re in Glasgow.