Belfast Telegraph

Young Cavan band The Strypes prove kids' musical indoctrination is a dad thing

By Mike Gilson

I went to see a band called The Strypes at the Limelight last week. You may have heard of them. They're four lads from Cavan who play old rhythm and blues classics and a smattering of their own tunes with incredible dexterity and energy.

What's even more remarkable is that they're all 16 and 17 and look it. In fact, the bassist could pass for 12.

The Limelight was packed and the boys had a lot of gauche charm. Guitarist Josh McClorey imitates Dr Feelgood's Wilko Johnson, stalking the stage with a manic stare, defying the punters to take him on, quite hard to pull off for someone who looks like he's just lost his milk teeth. He plays a mean guitar though.

I was reading an interview with them the other day to find out how these boys came to worship the blues of Chuck Berry, Howling Wolf and Bo Diddley, among others. Those guys could be The Strypes great-great-grandfathers.

The band really are a throwback, but in an age of mindless electronic dance music, they are catching on fast. Elton John and Paul Weller are big fans and they've already played Glastonbury.

The answer soon became clear. They like that music because they had no choice. What they said reminded me of my own sons.

You see, The Strypes play unreconstructed blues music because that's all their dads listened to. But those dads also did something that I did, too. They forced that love onto their sons.

And the venue for this indoctrination was exactly the same for them as for us. The car.

When kids are young, it's really hard to keep their attention for five minutes, so that you can impart your infinite wisdom onto them.

When they get to around 10, it becomes almost impossible. Except, of course, in your car.

The vehicle that is your only fiefdom. Whose controls, air conditioning, windows, speed and, most importantly, music system are your sole domain, the one place you are allowed to be, indeed properly revel in being, a dictator.

So even from an early age, when frankly they should have been listening to the Wheels On the Bus, or maybe the Disney Songbook, they were getting Velvet Underground and Talking Heads. On full blast. It's a man thing, really. You couldn't ever imagine a mother doing that to her kids, could you?

Forgetting for a minute the differences between men and women when it comes to music (a subject far too deep and potentially controversial to go into here!), many fathers have a gene that obsesses about music and makes them want to pass that obsession on to their offspring.

As cavemen, we handed down vital hunting and fire-making skills to our young so they could survive. The most important stuff I think I ever imparted was that it wasn't worth listening to Lou Reed after his Velvets days, Public Image Limited were better than the Sex Pistols, the Congos were better than Bob Marley and that the Postcard Record label of Glasgow (home of Orange Juice and Josef K) was the lost world of post-punk genius. Hardly put food on the table, would it?

Now all is different. They tell me what is good, contest what used to be accepted pop wisdom and, while still liking a lot of that old stuff, insist they have moved on to a higher plain.

The Strypes are still a little too young for such disloyalty. But a warning to their dads. That day is coming.

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