The Strypes have been hailed as one of most exciting rock bands to come out of Ireland in years. Now Cavan’s fab four have arrived in Australia. Pádraig Collins caught up with drummer Evan Walsh.
Teenage blues band The Strypes – who are touring Australia’s east coast – are the best thing to come out of Cavan The Fireflys in the 1980s. Who?
Drummer Evan Walsh – all of 17 years old – has good reason to know all about The Fireflys.
“My dad was the bass player in The Fireflys,” he tells the Irish Echo. “All our parents played in bands. Some were more successful than others. The Fireflys got the farthest out of Cavan. They did reasonably well and had a couple of independent singles out and appeared on the Late Late Show a couple of times.”
Like father, like son, The Strypes have also negotiated that most Irish of rites of passage by appearing on the Late Late Show.
“The first time we went on we were nervous enough, but we’ve been on it three times in the last two years, so the novelty wore off, for want of a better phrase,” says Walsh. “The Late Late is probably one of the only opportunities for bands to be on national telly, so it’s a really good outlet for Irish bands.”
The Strypes have also been on two other television shows with similar names; Later… With Jools Holland in the UK and the Late Show with David Letterman in America.
“They were both really good experiences. It’s a great feeling to be doing telly; Jools in particular because his show is something we grew up with. We all had it on in the house when we were growing up and we all knew Jools as a character. My dad is one of the co-managers of the band and the other co-manager is Chris Difford who used to play with Jools Holland in Squeeze,” says Walsh.
“Doing telly is a funny thing though; there’s as much hanging around as there is in any other part of this job. With the Late Show we didn’t even get to meet David Letterman. The only contact with him was when he came over at the end of our song, but it was still a good experience. It’s a great thing to be a part of, to play in the Ed Sullivan theatre, where so many great bands have played.”
Every teenage boy standing in front of a mirror dreams of releasing a record and touring the world, but for The Strypes it’s the reality. Does it blow their minds?
“When you’re thinking about doing something and then you actually do it, it’s never going to be exactly how you imagined,” says Walsh. “We really enjoy the gigs and recording, but touring is more of a deadpan, serious business than a lot of people imagine. When you’re getting up at half five in the morning to get a flight to Spain you’re not thinking ‘This is what I’ve always dreamed about’. But in the main we’re having a really good time. We’ve been friends for years, so it’s great to in a regularly touring band with a record out.
“It’s a good feeling to be in a band that has a following. We have some people who travel from all over to come and see us. We played in the Town Hall in Cavan last Christmas and people came from Japan, which is pretty mind-boggling and an enormous waste of money. People also came from the UK, Germany and all over the place just to see us in Cavan. It’s a bit of a weird feeling,” he says.
It is important to the band to have their music out on vinyl.
“Downloads are all very well, but from the point of view of having made the music it’s nice to have a bit of plastic and a cover, so we can go ‘That’s our single and there’s the art work’. It feels much more real when you see the vinyl. It feels more legitimate, like ‘We have actually put something out’,” says Walsh.
The modern reality of illegal music downloads does not concern the band too much. “It’s not really keeping any of us awake at night. We don’t spend too much time thinking about it,” says Walsh.
“Because of downloading the notion of making any substantial profit from record sales has kind of disappeared. If there’s any money to be made out of it – and it’s a very hard business to make any money out of – it’s from gigs and touring.”
The band is very aware that image matters.
“It’s something that we’d be quite conscious of. It’s better when a band looks like a band. It gives you a bit of a license to create an image for yourself,” he says. “The way bands like The Clash or The Ramones dressed is an influence on us. It’s something we would have thought about a wee bit, looking a bit left of centre.”
Despite being signed to an English record label, the band hasn’t moved from Cavan.
“We’re all still living at home,” says Walsh. “It makes more sense really. We don’t really spend much time in London at all. Since we’re touring so often, when we’re not away we might as well be somewhere familiar. We’d all rather just be at home where we have family and friends.”
But have they experienced any begrudgery at home?
“Well it wouldn’t be Ireland if we didn’t. There’s been a bit of that kind of thing, a couple of people begrudging just for the sake of it,” he says. “Irish people revel in not liking things. I know I do. And it’s all the better to dislike something if someone local is doing it, because you can get really annoyed and on your high horse about it. But the majority of people from Cavan, all over really, have been very supportive. It’s rare enough that we’d be stopped, but if we are it’s someone saying ‘Fair fucks to ye lads’.”
Walsh has relatives in Australia, but as bad luck would have it they won’t be at the gigs.
“I have two cousins working in Perth. It’s Murphy’s Law though, when we go to Australia it coincides with them going home for a wedding.”