The Strypes: 'We're not the new Beatles'

The Strypes The Strypes (l-r) Evan Walsh, Pete O'Hanlon, Ross Farrelly and Josh McClorey

There are four of them. They've performed at Abbey Road - and now they're working with the man who produced the White Album.

But don't make the mistake of comparing The Strypes to a certain quartet from Liverpool. They are very insistent when they say "we're not the new Beatles".

Start Quote

We see 16-17 as the ideal age for young lads to be playing rock and roll music”

End Quote Ross Farrelly Strypes singer

The group of school friends from County Cavan in the Irish Republlic started touring the Irish festival circuit last summer at the tender age of 15 and quickly garnered attention for their unwavering - and slightly surprising - dedication to the rhythm and blues era.

Music critics declared that the Fab Four had been reborn, but it's not something the teenagers are entirely comfortable with.

"To be honest we think it's quite a lazy comparison," said drummer Evan Walsh.

"We love the Beatles and it's the most flattering compliment you can get, but sonically we're nothing like them.

"We got a much heavier sound. They touched on every genre of music, while we are very much rhythm and blues. It's just inaccurate more than anything else."

Musical heritage

If you've seen The Strypes in action then you'll understand their reluctance to accept the world's biggest compliment.

Their gigs are a throwback to a time that pre-dates even the Beatles, taking inspiration from iconic blues artists like Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry.

Although it's not a sound that is totally original, their youthful energy and impeccable musicianship allow them to reinvent the past.

Rock 'n' Roll's long tradition of teenage icons

  • John Lennon was reluctant to let 14-year-old George Harrison join his new band. They went on to become the Beatles
  • Modfather Paul Weller was 14 when he formed The Jam with his school friend Steve Brookes
  • Sixteen-year-old Paul Hewson joined U2 in 1976 and went on to become the world's best known frontman - Bono
  • Mick Jagger and Keith Richards went to school together but didn't start the Rolling Stones until the grand old age of 19

I saw them for the first time on a very wet summer's day at the Sea Sessions festival in County Donegal last year.

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We think it's about time teenagers woke up and reclaimed rock and roll”

End Quote Evan Walsh Strypes drummer

Our main priority was getting some cover to escape the rain, but we ended up at the most memorable gig of the weekend - four teenagers in sharp suits and dark sunglasses, tearing through a set steeped in musical heritage.

Twelve months on, they have left school, signed a record deal and can count Elton John and Paul Weller among their growing list of celebrity fans.

They'll be back at Sea Sessions next weekend, but this year the next stop is Glastonbury.

Too much, too young? They don't think so.

"That's definitely something that gets said to us an awful lot," says lead singer Ross Farrelly.

"But it's a factor that we see as a bit beside the point. That's not to say we don't like people complimenting us, but we see 16-17 as the ideal age for young lads to be playing rock and roll music.

"In a modern context it might look a bit strange, but if you look at the history of popular music you'll see that most of the 70s punk bands and 50s rock and roll singers were in their mid-to-late teens."

'Jamming'

But where do four small-town boys, pick up such inexplicably good taste in music?

Well it turns out Evan, Ross, Pete and Josh have always been cooler than everyone else.

"We started jamming five years ago," says Evan.

I point out that five years ago, he was only 11. "Yeah, we were still in primary school," he says.

"Our parents were all in bands or roadies at some stage, so we grew up listening to their record collections and we always played instruments.

"A couple of the lads in the band left, and we didn't have a singer. So we asked Ross to join and his voice has kind of grown into that role naturally over the years."

The Strypes are keeping it strictly old school, something for which they are unapologetic.

"We think it's hugely important that young people are exposed to music like that," says Evan.

"People forget that back in the 50s rock and roll was being played by teenagers for teenagers to rebel and express themselves.

"That energy and sense of youth and excitement has been completely lost on the current generation of young people, who seem to take all the gutless pop trash that is shoved down their throat.

"We think it's about time teenagers woke up and reclaimed rock 'n' roll."

Sex Pistols

The Strypes are certainly setting a sterling example for their young counterparts.

Their first EP topped the iTunes blues chart, they've played on Live with Jools Holland, supported Paul Weller at Abbey Road and are currently working on their first album, due for release in September.

The Strypes The teenagers will play the Glastonbury Festival later this month

And all of this while the ink is still drying on their birth certificates.

"At the minute we've been out in the English countryside putting the finishing touches to our album," Evan says.

"We're working with Chris Thomas, who has produced for the Sex Pistols and worked on the White Album. He's interested in making the best record he can.

"We might miss a trick, and he'll say 'arrange it like that instead'. Just little bits and pieces.

"It's funny because you meet these amazing people and they're totally normal. We're always surprised by how nice they are.

"They just have the unusual job of being Chris Thomas or Paul Weller or Elton John."

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