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Saturday 24 September 2016

Strypes: 'We live with our parents, who cook and clean and do everything for us'

big interview

Strypes; Ross Farrelly, Evan Walsh, Josh McClorey and Pete O'Hanlon
Strypes; Ross Farrelly, Evan Walsh, Josh McClorey and Pete O'Hanlon

The Strypes are in a giddy mood. Squeezed onto a couch in Whelan's, where the young Cavan rockers have been answering questions all morning, this is their final interview of the day. They talk fast. They crack jokes. They look the business. They are, very clearly, the best of buds.

All of which suggests that any tensions we might have witnessed in last month's acclaimed, Julien Temple-directed BBC4 documentary, The Strypes: Best Thing Since Cavan, was merely a bad day at the office.

"We'd a little tiff," guitarist Josh McClorey (19) says. "We're a band, and we're four lads around the same age with very strong opinions so, like, how is it not gonna clash at some point?

"The conflict was mainly between ourselves and the record label trying to meet each other's various demands or standards," adds bassist Pete O'Hanlon (19).

"Learning to cope with people saying 'you should be doing this'," says drummer Evan Walsh (18).

buzz

The tensions, they explain, might have been exaggerated a little. Whatever the case, scenes of a band struggling to please both themselves and their label, whilst recording the follow-up to their 2013 debut album, Snapshot, made for interesting viewing.

Besides, a tour around Ireland fixed things up. "The Cliffs of Moher seemed to sort everything out," smiles Josh. "They're quite calming in their ferocity."

Indeed, there's still a buzz around The Strypes - a frighteningly talented gang of childhood friends who first came to prominence following the band's blistering live cover of Bo Diddley's You Can't Judge a Book by the Cover on The Late Late Show in 2012.

Tipping their rock 'n' roll caps to The Yardbirds, Dr Feelgood and Chuck Berry, The Strypes (fronted by 17-year-old vocalist Ross Farrelly - reserved today, but an animal on stage) may have been born out of time, but they were good enough to be signed to Elton John's management company while they were all still in school.

Now the classrooms are behind them and The Strypes are growing up. The celebrated covers are still exceptional, but the focus is on original material.

Second album, the tentatively-titled Little Victories, is due this summer. According to Master Elton, it needs to sell more copies than its predecessor. Well, obviously.

"I think there's a lot of pressure on other people with this album," smiles Josh. "If it was to completely flop, we'd still be going out and playing shows and still be making records.

"There's obviously a pressure on people in the industry because they're the people who are making money out of us. We've done what we wanted to do, we made an album we're happy with and we're going to tour for the rest of the year, so we're grand," he says, laughing.

Again, everyone loves The Strypes. Their tour diary is full up for 2015, taking in a major support slot with Foo Fighters at Slane Castle on May 30 (Dave Grohl is a fan). But even if they did make it all the way to Letterman in NYC with Snapshot, things have yet to go supernova.

novelty

"I was completely happy with how [Snapshot] did," says Pete. "It exceeded my expectations." Ross pipes up, finally. "We had a bet to see where it would go in the charts," he adds, "and I guessed 11. It got number two."

"You can't be disappointed with that," Evan says. "We didn't win a s**t load of awards or anything, but is that the mark of a good band or a good album?" No, it most certainly isn't.

The boys have proven themselves. The age/covers novelty is a thing of the past.

The Strypes are a cracking rock band - simple as. Their guitarist pops up on the new Paul Weller album.

They're huge in Japan and they haven't yet had to up and move to London - something that Elton John previously insisted upon.

"I don't know how essential moving somewhere is, because with the internet and social media, you don't really need to be in a social hub," explains Pete.

"I didn't really agree with the way Elton said 'you need to move to London to be a serious band'. Why?"

"I don't really think about it, because at this age, I'd be still living at home," adds Ross. "So I'm gonna live at home and get my mum to do my washing for as long as possible."

"I was well up for moving to London for a while," says Josh, "and then I went to Shoreditch and it was just like the trendiest place of all time. It was just rotten. It was just like big beards and it was horrible.

"So I don't understand why you'd wanna be in that scene, because there's nothing original about it.

"There are more original people in Cavan than there are in Shoreditch. Being comfortable and being with friends and family is way more important when you're not on the road."

They're wise lads. They have good people around them (Evan's dad, Niall, is the band's tour manager). Again, if the rock 'n' roll dream were to come crashing down tomorrow, there would be some initial concern. Ross jokes that he might have to get a job in a deli. But they'd be fine.

"We're actually in a much better position than a lot of bands, because if it did completely f*** up tomorrow, we're still all 18, 19-years-old, it's not like if this all went to s*** tomorrow and I was in my 30s and I hadn't done anything.

"We have no responsibilities," he continues, "like, we live with our parents, our parents cook and clean and do everything for us. We're in a very good position. Time is on our side."

They also have heads on their shoulders - no self-indulgent, over-the-top, clichéd lifestyles for these boys.

"We only do things that we generally want to do," says Evan, "so I took an oath years ago that I wouldn't be a coke head.

"I think it's very strange that, with the music industry and bands, it's like alcoholism and drug addiction are glamorised and seen as, like 'oh a cheeky sort of add-on', where you can like inject heroin in between your toes when you're not rocking out. I really hate that."

"It doesn't exist anymore," says Josh of rock 'n' roll debauchery. "People think it still exists, but it doesn't. We've never come across a band who had mountains of cocaine. It's just normal."

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