Earlier this year I saw The Strypes for the first time at McGrory's in Culdaff. I had heard of the band but wasn't familiar with their music. What I witnessed that night blew me away. I promised myself that the next time they were playing nearby I was going to catch up with them if possible and see just where they are headed in the music world.
Shortly after that night it was announced that they would be a support act for Foo Fighters at Slane this summer. These guys were going up in the music world!
So when I heard that they were going to be playing The Nerve Centre in Derry, I knew that I just had to catch up with them. Sure enough, they were very obliging to my request, and on Wednesday night last, I did just that. I met and chatted with the four Cavan lads that are The Strypes!
On meeting the lads in Café Nervosa at Derry's Nerve Centre, I immediately felt at ease. The guys are similar in age to my three sons so I'm well used to the banter and chirpy cheek of guys this age! These folk were no different!
I told them that I'd seen them in Culdaff a number of months ago and asked how it compared to Slane. Evan was quick to tell me, 'It was good, but not as good as Culdaff!' What a humble young man! Of course he was messing, but it was clear from all four that they did indeed enjoy the gig at McGrory's immensely. However the Slane gig met their expectations. 'Slane was incredible. It was a fantastic day. The set went well. Everything that could have gone right, went right', Josh said.
I then proceeded to tell them that I was intrigued with the age range that go to their gigs. In Culdaff I noticed the majority of the crowd were young but there was also the element of 40+ right up to 60+. And I saw similar on Wednesday night waiting on the gig in Derry. Just what is it about The Strypes that they attract such a vast range of ages? 'Our music is universal. If you put bums on seats, it's regardless of age. Music is never age specific, it's whatever you're into', says Josh.
The lads are forever messing and when I said that I believe the've come a long way since their last gig in Derry, which was December 2014, they immediately respond with, 'But we're back here'. Of
course they're back here, it's Derry!
'With the experience of being on the road and gigging, we're progressing and maturing more with our music. This is our college years. With the gigs at present, we put on the party and people come. We're loving the experience.'
I asked the lads where their favourite place to play has been to date (they were supposed to say Derry/Donegal), and the overall response was united...Hull being the answer. 'We really enjoy there. Just a nice down trodden atmosphere. The gig just goes mental. It's like anywhere in Ireland. Cavan and Dublin just feel like coming home and it's always great.'
So being on the road so much, do they all get along? 'Yeah', I'm told, 'we've always done it. We've been friends since we were kids and suppose the only difference is now, being professional musicians, we live in each others pockets and have all that added pressure. But we get on great.' They clearly do. They're so in tune with each other and it's clear to see they enjoy and appreciate what each brings to the band.
How's the new album, 'Little Victories' going and what's different about it? In unison they say, 'songs'! I walked into that one! 'Seriously though, it's going great', Pete tells me. 'It's entirely new. Some tracks sound completely different than others. It's two years on from our first album and it's much more of a studio album. We've got new sounds and recorded it in London. That was an experience in itself. Being in that buzz was really inspiring.'
So Wednesday night was kick-starting the new tour of the UK and Ireland. The lads were clearly looking forward to getting on stage. 'After this we then head off on a European tour in October and then Japan in November. Japan is wierd. It's so efficient and the crowd go just mental.'
I decided to leave the lads at this and let them get ready for the Derry gig.
The Blue Jeans and The Mighty Stef were supporting The Strypes on Wednesday night and were excellent support acts.
Just after 9.45pm The Strypes came on the Derry stage. The full house went completely 'mental', as the lads would say. I stood back for a time and just watched the audience. Young and old (or should I say mature) were in awe of the talent that was on stage. The chemistry between the guys was simply electric. Vocally, Ross excelled and Josh assisted. It was a very fast, enthusiastic and energetic set. New and not so new tracks were played. The crowd loved it all. One guy said to me that he felt they were imitating the Artic Monkeys. I disagree. These guys are finding a sound of their own. They're young, passionate, and engaging with their audience. They're definitely a more grown up sound from I heard them last. The set is very much packed with what The Irish Times said , was ' lip-smacking guitar licks, strong melodies and strident anthemic indie-rock chimes.'
Whether The Strypes are imitating their heroes as many argue, remains to be seen. After seeing them on Wednesday night I believe they really are coming into their own. Their fan base truly love what they do, so time will tell if they succeed. It's a tough business to break, but to date, The Strypes are striving to excel. Will they do so? We have to wait and see. But one thing is for sure, these guys love what they do and from what I saw, they are very much rooted in their love and passion for music, and the world really is their oyster. Now it's up to them to prove the critics wrong! I believe they will!
For more photos of The Strypes at Nerve Centre, Derry, see North West Culture Gal FB page.