The members of the Irish rock ’n’ roll group were just 16 and 17 when they shot to chart success. EDWIN GILSON catches up with them to discuss the pitfalls of the music industry and fighting for their autonomy

DURING my conversation with The Strypes’ Evan Walsh, he mentions his band’s links to The Beatles, Bohemian Rhapsody and The Killers. This illustrious name-dropping reveals the crazy, rock ’n’ roll life of the four unassuming boys from the small town of Cavan in Ireland.

“It’s nice to put your hometown on the map,” says drummer Walsh. “Cavan is a sleepy town. You never hear, ‘oh yeah, so and so is from Cavan’.”

That’s all changed. In the last few years, The Strypes have shared a stage with Brandon Flowers and co at Hyde Park, recorded in the room where Queen created their masterpiece, and played in the same theatre that the “fab four” captivated the world on the Ed Sullivan show in the 1960s. Four months after The Strypes released their well-received third album Spitting Image (with Kings of Leon producer Ethan Johns at the helm), Walsh finds himself pondering the drastic differences between his life and that of his friends.

“We don’t have a nine to five existence and we don’t have to worry about college fees. Compared to people our age, we’re in the middle of our careers.” This is coming from a 21-year-old.

The Strypes came to public attention when their debut album Snapshot – full of characteristically choppy guitar riffs and driving rhythms – went to number five in the UK charts. The group may not share the concerns of other young adults, but that’s not to say there haven’t been difficulties in their journey. Specifically, they have found the music industry tricky to navigate at times.

“We all have a lot of dislike of the ******** in the music business,” says Walsh. “We’re not at home in that world. Being in a band is fantastic but being in the music business can be really bad at times.” Although he mentions no names, Walsh is largely referring to the creative restrictions often imposed on artists by record labels. He says he and his band have had to fight to keep control. “A lot of stuff nowadays is almost co-written. We’ve been in that situation in the past. We’ve had to maintain our autonomy. We found ourselves in situations when we thought, ‘this isn’t how we saw our careers panning out’.”

Fortunately, The Strypes were left to their own devices to record Spitting Image, an album that Walsh thoroughly enjoyed making for a number of reasons. They laid down the tracks at Rockfield Studios in Wales, following in some pretty famous footsteps.

“We recorded in the same room as Bohemian Rhapsody,” says Walsh. “The only thing that remained from that time was the piano. The first two Oasis albums were done there, too.” This was hardly The Strypes’ first brush with fame. In 2014, they played a song on David Letterman’s much-loved US chat show. The circumstances were far from ideal, though. A week before the show was filmed, Walsh’s finger swelled up to three times its normal size because of a broken tendon.

“I could only do one song without severe pain,” laughs the drummer. “My finger was in a splint.” Walsh says the Letterman performance was a “highlight of our lives”, notably stopping short of saying it was THE highlight. The band have had a lot of moments to choose from over the past few years.

“We’re very lucky to have been to all of these places and experienced all these things,” says Walsh. “We know we have a pretty unusual lifestyle.”

The Strypes
Concorde 2, Brighton, Wednesday, 7.30pm, for more information and tickets visit or call 01273 673311