Go-faster Strypes: plugged-in Cavan boys go for the record
A frantic year for the teenage quartet culminates in the release of their amped-up, proudly retro first record
The resulting record is a rambunctious, amped-up slice of rhythm and blues, with a sprinkling of classics by the likes of Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters alongside eight original tracks that are in keeping with the rock’n’roll standards that have long filled out their live show. The fact that their own material sits comfortably alongside the classic songs in tone and style is seen by some critics as proof that, on record at least, The Strypes are most notable for their skilful retro-mimicry.
“What usually happens with a band when they’re our age is that they’re playing all the covers that they love, then they hit late teens, early 20s, and start writing their own stuff, and then they start getting noticed,” says O’Hanlon, answering the charge with the sort of self-assurance that typifies them. “But we got picked up that bit earlier on, so it’s been compressed.”
That precocity has earned them a lot of respect from elder statesmen of the music world. Earlier this month, Elton John showered them with praise: “They’ve just got so much energy. If you could plug them into the grid they could power London.”
Alex Turner is such a fan he invited the band to support the Arctic Monkeys on their forthcoming tour of the UK and Europe, as soon as they return from a sold-out tour of Japan.
The momentum of their meteoric rise will be difficult to sustain as they grow into their 20s, but so far the Strypes have remained remarkably grounded. Despite the acclaim at Glastonbury and the high-profile TV appearances, O’Hanlon and Walsh agree that one of the highlights of the year for them was on an altogether more modest stage, in a small marquee behind Blessings Bar in Cavan at the beginning of August.
It was an unadvertised homecoming gig, with Chris Difford of English New Wave luminaries Squeeze warming up the crowd, and hundreds of people crammed in to catch sight of the local heroes up close.
“That was probably gig of the year so far. It was friends and family, all those people who’ve known us since we were very young. It was just great,” says O’Hanlon. “Whenever we go back to Cavan, it’s very much normal life. Parents treat us the same, and because it’s such a small community, you’re still the same lad, you’ve just got a job now.”
“Normal life is sacred,” says Walsh. Their precocious maturity, it seems, isn’t just restricted to their stage performances.
Snapshot is out now