‘Manchester is unbelievable’: Irish rockers The Strypes all shook up for ‘mental’ Ritz gig

‘Speed blues, new-wave, punk anarchy’ – that’s what is on the bill when The Strypes take to the stage at the Ritz in Manchester this Saturday.

The four-piece band, from Cavan in rural Ireland, burst onto the scene in 2013 with a debut album that re-created the style of ‘60s garage blues-rock and ‘70s new-wave pub rock.

After selling out the Manchester Academy in February 2014, they return hot on the heels of a second album, produced with Charlie Russell and Brad Spence – the team behind albums by the likes of Kasabian and Alt J – which topped the Irish albums chart.

Speaking to MM, bass-player Peter O’Hanlon outlined the band’s excitement at returning to the city.

“The couple of times we’ve played in Manchester it’s been unbelievable, but we’re looking forward to the Ritz.

“We heard people talking about it and it seems like a lovely kind of theatre, so I think it’ll be nice to play there.

“We find that the further north you go in England the more mental it can be so we’ve high hopes for it.”

The gig is part of a tour of the UK with follow-ups in Glasgow, Sheffield, Norwich, Bristol, London and Birmingham before they head to Europe ahead of an eight-venue tour of Japan – where they are curiously popular – in November.

“We’ve had a summer of festivals and travelled around doing one-off gigs in different countries, so it’ll be nice to kind of get on a bus for a few days and nip up and down the country,” he said.

The band have in the past named Elvis Costello and Alex Turner as influences, particularly on lyrics and subject matter, while the new album incorporates an array of individual interests into the melting pot.

“The reaction’s been really quite positive and we were surprised,” O’Hanlon said of ‘Little Victories’, the band’s sophomore effort.

“We pushed the boat out a bit and wondered what the reaction would be, but people did kind of respect our tenacity.

“We were forward and we thought it would be tremendously detrimental to put out another album of the same stuff again because the point was we might as well try something else to try expand our canon.”

With a burgeoning reputation as one of the finest young live acts on the scene, the band love to put on a show and the new album adds strings to their bow in a way that allows for a variety of tempos.

“If you look at the album, and there are live clips and things like that, we pride ourselves on being the best live band we can be,” he explained.

“We engage with the audience which we feel a lot of bands lack in now.

“There’s bands that really stare at their feet a lot, and are really interested by their own shoes, so we enjoy looking people right in the whites of their eyes and giving them a show.”

It’s an outlook that is working as the band racked up an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman in the US plus a wealth of admirers including Elton John and Noel Gallagher, both of whom have been outspoken in their appreciation of the band.

“When people like that say good things about you, like if Elton John says we’re good, it’s not like we should start playing like Elton John, it means what you’re doing’s good and keep it up – same with Noel Gallagher,” said O’Hanlon.

“We were delighted he came along to a London gig of ours a few years ago and he was chatting away to us after, saying to have a good time and how we’re young lads so we may as well go for it.

“It kind of spurs you on and inspires you to think that what we’re doing is the right thing to do and we should just keep at it.”

Their stock is certainly on the rise with positive reviews of the band’s ability to modernise rhythm and blues for a younger generation, a position O’Hanlon relishes.

He said: “I don’t think there’s enough of this kind of music around, there’s a bit of a lack of appreciation for it but I think people underestimate how musically-involved young people can be and think they’re a lost cause.

“We’re not the only people in the world that listened to Dr Feelgood when we were younger and they are the ones we really connect with.”

Limited tickets are still available from Ticketmaster for Saturday’s event, when The Strypes will be joined by fellow-Irish band The Mighty Stef prior to another UK tour early next year.

Image courtesy of Virgin EMI Records, via YouTube, with thanks.

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