Young tigers earn their Strypes

The Strypes’ front man Ross Farrelly considers what life would be like right now for the four-piece if the blues hadn’t captured their hearts.

Young tigers earn their Strypes

They’d certainly still be in school. “I’d maybe have a summer job,” the 16-year-old offers a little uncertainly, adding a rueful laugh. Instead of kicking their heels around their native Cavan, the Strypes have been winning more converts around the UK to their rhythm and blues-influenced sound, culminating in playing a packed tent at the John Peel Stage in Glastonbury.

Were they over-awed by the occasion? !“We’ve been playing for three years now so we don’t really get nervous anymore. I just feel normal before I go on. So it’s pretty easy,” says Farrelly.

But don’t take his insouciance for indifference. The Strypes are living the dream and Farrelly knows it. “It’s an experience that not many people get to have and it’s really enjoyable. And once you’re up onstage, you know it’s a feeling that’s kind of hard to explain. You’re making people happy and providing an alternative to that pop side of things and all the manufactured acts.”

Having formed in 2008, the last 18 months have seen the band, who range from 15-18 years in age, step up their activities as they bring the blues gospel to a new audience. Since the release of their self-produced EP of blues covers, Young, Gifted & Blue, in April 2012, the quartet have been winning over fans from Jeff Beck to Elton John.

As one would expect, most of their audience would be old enough to be their parents, or indeed grandparents. “Most of the older people come up and say, ‘You are like the Stones. You remind me of when I saw the Stones in 1965 in Ireland’, that sort of stuff” notes Ross.

That demographic looks set to come down in age when they take to the road supporting the Arctic Monkeys on their UK tour in October and November.

Says Farrelly: “It’s amazing to be picked for that tour because if we had have picked anybody to go on tour with this year it would have been the Arctic Monkeys because we’re huge fans.”

As part of a band that made a huge impact at a young age, Farrelly is impressed by how the Sheffield band has developed.

“You listen to the first album and you listen to the latest album now and it’s actually amazing how much they’ve developed and how better they’ve gotten. And the song-writing and the lyrics have just improved by miles.”

The Strypes have also developed, as evidenced by their recent debut single, the thumping ‘Blue Collar Jane’, which went to Number 1 in the iTunes blues chart. Not that the Strypes are a band that has cared too much about the charts. Each of the group received their musical education from parents’ record collections, particularly that of drummer Evan Walsh’s dad, which exposed the youngsters to the Rolling Stones and Dr Feelgood. “I wouldn’t have gone deep into the blues before I joined the Strypes,” admits Farrelly. “They’ve kind of had the biggest influence on me with music.”

* The Strypes play the Galway Arts Festival Big Top, supporting Grizzly Bear on Friday, Jul 19. They will also be supporting Blur on their only British Isles gig this year in IMMA on August 1.

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