“There’s a big hip-hop influence on this new record…” - hmv.com talks to The Strypes
Not one member of Irish rockers The Strypes has reached the age of 20 yet, but they’re already entering their fifth year as an established band. After making a splash with their debut EP Young, Gifted And Blue, the band have progressed from live sets built around covers of classic blues tracks to a forward thinking rock and roll band.
Their new album Little Victories (which you can preview and purchase on the right-hand side of the page) hit shelves on Friday (August 21st) and we chatted with guitarist Josh McClorey to find out all about it…
Your new album’s finally out in shops, you must be delighted people are finally able to get their hands on it?
“Once we got the album finished we just want to get it out and to be able to start touring it again. We just want people to be able to get to know the new tunes so they can come and see them live.”
How long did the album take you to make?
“The initial demos started in May of last year, we had a month off then to write and then it was straight into festival season, after we finished that bit of touring we were able to start recording properly in September. We’d go in for a week, do two or three tracks, then we’d got away and tour again, come again a couple of weeks later for another session.”
Did that work well? Did you mind having to stop and start like that?
“It was good, I did a lot more writing for this album than our first one, I really tried to do as much as I could so having that time in between to take time away and piece the album together properly was really valuable.”
How did you want the album to move on from your debut album Snapshot?
“Just naturally. The main thing was some new influences, there’s a big hip-hop influence on the writing style on the new record, I just love how the lyrics sit over the beats and I wanted to try some of it. I want it to sound ballsy and just make a good Strypes record.”
When you first came to public attention, it was for your covers, which were pretty much exclusively from the 50s and 60s, are you finding yourselves as songwriters still?
“I suppose so. The whole writing process is really where you have to find yourself as an artist. You need to find out what’s unique about your playing and songwriting and hone in on that. I think this time round I did a much better job on that. We’ve all branched out individually quite a bit and we bring a lot more to the table these days, it’s a lot more unique than the first record, it belongs more to us than to a combination of our influences.”
Do all the tracks come from you?
“I write all the songs, there’s one tune on the album that Pete (O’Hanlon, Bass) has written, but aside from that it’s me. Demos are normally me on acoustic guitar and a drum loop, it’s interesting taking songs that start as quite often just lyrics with a drum loop and then taking it to a full rock band. They start as these mock hip-hop tunes and end up sounding like Led Zeppelin.”
Did getting more experience as a touring band feed into your songwriting?
“Yeah, in terms of writing riffs it definitely does, I know what will make people jump up and down at a gig or a festival, but the main thing is probably the fact that we’ve just got a lot better as players. Everything comes easier now.”
What kind of album is this lyrically?
“It’s a lot more of a personal album than the first one. Pretty much every track feels very unique to me. I didn’t really write any of my own experiences on the first record, it all happened so quickly it was a rush to write the tunes so now I’ve had a bit more time to think about what I want to write about. There’s way less generic shit on there then there would have been in the past.”
You’ve been on tour a lot, it must have tempting to write a lot about buses and airports...
“Much as I can only write about what’s going on around me, I can try and focus on the bits that aren’t boring. It’s mostly about trying to have a relationship while you’re in a band, how difficult that can be.”
You’ve talked about listening to a lot of hip-hop, which rappers were you able to really take inspiration from?
“Not lyrically, it comes from a very different place, I can’t really write about the hood, I don’t come from one, but the flow I can take stuff from. I really like Childish Gambino’s flow, Jay-Z’s Black Album, this time I listening to a lot of Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino, I love how they create rhythms with the lyrics as well as the beats.”
Did it give you a new respect for lyrics? A lot of the early songs you were doing were quite punchy and raw...
“It definitely did. I’ve always been big into lyrics but when we started it was a lot more in your face. I’m very happy with some of the lines, there’s an Elvis Costello influence and Alex Turner is a big influence on me too, always has been.”
What are your plans to take the album out live?
“We’ve a tour coming up in September across the UK, then Europe in October and then out to Japan. It’s been really good, but it’ll be the first time we’ve not road tested these songs live, so that’ll be a lot of fun.”
Do you think you’ll look to follow this album up quite quickly?
“I’m already writing again, but I’m not sure when we’ll go back and do another one. I’m happy to just collect songs and keep touring…”
The Strypes’ new album Little Victories is out now.