After being one of the breakout acts at last year's Electric Picnic The Strypes return this year armed with a record deal, a soon-to-be-released debut album and the countless air miles that their non-stop touring has brought them. Fast becoming one of Ireland's bigger musical exports, John Balfe caught up with the band's bass player Pete O'Hanlon for a pre-Electric Picnic chat.
John Balfe: You played a bunch of shows at Electric Picnic last year. It seemed to me, from my perspective anyway, that Electric Picnic was a bit of a coming out party for you guys. Would that be fair to say?
Pete O'Hanlon: Yeah it was one of the biggest things we did last year. We got three shows over the three days and it was probably the best response we got at the festivals that year and we're looking forward to heading back this year.
JB: Electric Picnic is just one of a string of high profile shows you're playing nowadays. How was the Blur support slot in Kilmainham recently?
POH: It was amazing. We're big fans of Blur and a lot of Graham Coxon's solo stuff. Just to share the stage with [Blur] was amazing and Graham watched the show from the side of the stage. He was a lovely lad and said that he was really impressed, so that was really nice.
JB: The first Strypes release was an EP titled 'Young, Gifted & Blue' which you put out prior to last summer, which swiftly went to the top of the iTunes chart, but when did you really first start to notice the serious traction that the band had picked up?
POH: In September of last year we did a week of gigs in London and there was such a great response. There was interest from Universal Ireland before that but I think it was then that a lot of interested people from the English Universal label and went, 'there's something here' and that was around the same time that we realised that there could be something in this. It's still just us, four friends having fun and being in a band together but it's just a bit more professional at this stage.
JB: Do you find as you get bigger as a band that less people are getting hung up on your age and starting to talk about the music more?
POH: I like to think it's more the music and the band speaking for itself more so than the age. When we started, of course because we were only 14 or 15, but we're pushing 17 or 18 now and it's becoming less of a 'thing' at all. It's just fellas in a band now. It does overshadow a lot of interviews. Like, 'it doesn't matter where they've played or what they've done, they're only 14...wow!'. It's very annoying, no artist just wants to talk about how old they are.
JB: Because of the fact that the rhythm & blues movement was so expansive during the 60's and 70's there's still presumably a treasure trove of music that you'll potentially love that you have yet to hear. Do you have a Spotify account?
POH: Yeah we recently got one, they're so handy! It's not too good though apparently for the artist but for the punter it's great.
JB: How do you feel about that, as someone who's a fan of the service but also on the other side of it as the artist?
POH: We don't mind! When you listen to it on Spotify, you're still hearing the song whether it's there or on YouTube, which is free. We don't really rely heavily on sales, it's just people coming to gigs, that's all we really care about.