Lambs to the slaughter


‘Go easy on these lads, okay? They’re only, like, 15,’ implores the editor as she sends me on a fool’s errand to Cavan to get The Strypes’ opinions on Jack White’s new album. Sod that, says DARAGH DOWNES, let’s put these upstarts through their paces. The Album Club takes no prisoners

BAH HUMBUG, we said as we hit the M3 for Cavan on a wet Thursday. What was it our editor had said before kicking us northwards for the night? “Go easy on these lads, okay? They’re only, like, 15.” Which kind of raised the question why a bunch of semi-articulate teenagers who only do covers should be invited to be Album Club guests in the first place. Who cares if they’ve played the Late Late? Who cares if they’ve hit No 1 on the iTunes blues chart? Who cares if Glen Hansard thinks they’re the bee’s knees? As distinguished YouTube commenter threefour99 recently pointed out, The Strypes are more like a manufactured boyband than a real group.


And what’s this cod about us having to make the trek up to Cavan to do the interview? They’re just back from London and are up to their eyes with radio and TV commitments? Oh, boo hoo. They’ve got school in the morning? Cry us a river. Next they’ll be complaining about only getting three or four days to live with the Jack White album. Talk about high maintenance.

We’re met at Cavan Cathedral by the band’s manager, Niall Walsh. He asks us to follow him to their rehearsal space a few miles out of town. Aha, so this is how it’s going to be, is it? A clinically stage-managed affair, with Monsieur Svengali up ahead controlling every little move. No doubt he has his charges well prepped with bullet-point handouts. No doubt he’ll be sitting in on the session to help “clarify” any issues that might arise.

Well don’t worry, we’ll put these boyos through their paces – editor be damned. The kid gloves are coming off. By the time we’re through, even Tony Fenton will have seen through their schtick.

As soon as we reach Strypes HQ, the band tell us they don’t just want to review Blunderbuss, they want to record their own version of one of its songs. As in: in front of us. It’s going to be an even longer night than we thought. The track they’ve chosen is the old Little Willie John standard, I’m Shakin’. They start setting up and, in the time it takes most bands to get the kick drum miked, they have the song recorded, mixed and videoed.