Their appreciation of the musical forefathers belies their years, along with their musicianship and industry-savvy approach, yet for The Strypes, age ain’t no thing when it comes to good ol’ rock’n’roll on their debut LP, Snapshot. ALI HAWKEN reports.
As a young group of lads hailing from Cavan, Ireland, the subject of The Strypes’ relative youthfulness has rarely escaped an interview, yet with half the band’s members having now reached the age of majority, this particular focus seems entirely irrelevant.
You need only look to their influences – the blues of the early Stones or Eddie Cochran, the raw punk of The Sex Pistols or The Undertones – to see that much musical greatness over the decades has come from the youth, for the youth.
“I guess it’s kind of fallen out of fashion for young bands to be getting their name out at our age,” offers drummer Evan Walsh, when asked what he makes of it all.
“Our big point of reference when people say that is you look at the punk rock bands, the majority of them were under 20 when they were making albums. The Undertones or even The Sex Pistols – I think Johnny Rotten was about 17 when they came out. That’s the whole point in that music movements are youth movements as well, so generally it’s about teenagers. Rock’n’roll when it came out in the ’50s, that’s what the whole intention was: it was aimed at teenagers, but as generations have gone on, it’s a more broader age that people are interested in.”
Had their chosen genre been the mainstream-manufactured pop of bands such as those generated by the X-Factor machine, perhaps their age would seem of no relevance to the media. Yet attempting to tackle the heart-wrenching emotiveness of the blues (in its truest sense) is ambitious for a group of teenagers who, lacking the decades of emotional hardship experienced by other blues artists, might be taken as insincere.
“It’s kind of like treating blues music in different ways: you can have the power and intensity of someone like Howlin’ Wolf, he can be really raw and passion and blues howlin’ – we obviously can’t do that for a number of reasons – or you can use the basis of it to create your own thing and your own songs,” Walsh explains.
“We were influenced by the music that was around us growing up because our parents were big music fans. We got very heavily interested in rhythm and blues, early ’50s rock’n’roll, ’70s punk and new wave, bands like Dr Feelgood, the early Stones’ stuff, The Byrds and The Animals, punk bands like Johnny Thunders and The Undertones, the original blues singers and real rock’n’rollers like Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Eddie Cochran.”
The Strypes have always worn their influences from decades gone by on their musical sleeves (even their name is a shout-out to bands like The Byrds and The Beatles), and while they find some of their contemporaries exciting musically, they strive not to be influenced by them.
“While there are people around that we like what they’re doing – Jack White, The Black Keys, Jake Bugg, and The Jim Jones Revue are an English rock’n’roll band that we all quite like,” Walsh offers, “we wouldn’t take a very strong influence from any contemporary bands because that would seem too easy, to say we’re influenced by some of the biggest bands at the minute, you’re not digging too deep, not doing your own thing. You can be similar, musically, in some ways or play the same style, but to find our own unique influence is what we’d be interested in.”