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Young, gifted and signed up to Mercury

Story by Damian McCarney

Wednesday, 12th December, 2012 12:47pm

Young, gifted and signed up to Mercury

In the picture L to R are Strypes lawyer Kieran Jay, Oswin Brunner (Mercury lawyer), The Strypes, and Mark Crossingham of Universal Music, Ireland.

Damian McCarney

The Strypes have signed a five-album record deal with major record company Mercury. The contract was signed in the Clarence Hotel in Dublin last Friday, bringing an end to the race among a clutch of major labels to have Ross Farrelly, Josh McClorey, Peter O'Hanlon and Evan Walsh on their books.

Audiences at The Strypes' recent London gigs had been dominated by leading music industry figures, lured by the band's reputation for breathing new life into old school rhythm and blues. Due to their strong bargaining position, The Strypes were able to secure a commitment of at least "two firm albums" with Mercury Records UK, and whose portfolio include the likes of Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Chuck Berry and Justin Beiber. There is then an option of a further three albums.

Under the terms of the contract, they will have as much input into their future direction as the company, which was essential in persuading them to sign, according to bassist Pete.

"They said everything that we wanted to hear," Pete told the Celt. "The amount of control we have is the best bit," adds drummer Evan.

"We're not going to be made do anything we don't want to do."

While Mercury, which is part of Universal Music, offered the best commercial deal, guitarist Josh says the label's international status also helped to seal the deal.

"Everyone said the same things: that they didn't want to put us under pressure for writing, or put us under pressure to become huge instantly - they wanted to build it gradually and have a good foundation. But I think it was just Mercury's power -the international aspect is a big thing."

Because they have been in protracted negotiations with a number of companies, when they did finally put pen to paper, it didn't feel like a landmark occasion for Pete.

"It wasn't as momentous as I thought it was going to be," he says honestly. "I thought that it would feel class. While it was nice, it didn't feel like - this is a moment!

"It's a relief that it's done, and now we can get down to working hard," he adds.

And it is work now as Josh, Pete and Evan have all left school to pursue their musical careers, while Mercury are obliged to provide a tutor to assist Ross complete his Junior Cert exams this coming summer. It seemed inevitable that they would have to end their studies, as they have played over 160 gigs in the last 18 month. They fully intend to continue to pay their dues.

"That's the important thing - that we're not going to be pushed straight into instant fame," says Evan. "It's going to be a slow build; it's going to be getting in the van and going around the country for the next 18 months or however long it takes."

"We've no aspirations to be jet-setting rock stars," adds Pete.

What do they aspire to?

"To be the hardest working band in the world."

Currently their workload is dominated by promoting their new single, Blue Collar Jane, but with the amount of media attention they are enjoying, it may not be too strenuous. When the Celt spoke to them on Monday, they had just come home from playing the Morning Show on TV3, and BBC Radio 1's Zane Lowe had played their track Can't Judge A Book, they are due to be featured in the next edition of Mojo magazine, and the Observer newspaper has requested an interview - following up The Guardian's recent flattering profile.

"Vogue's looking for a picture for the 2013 hotlist!" says manager Niall.

Blue Collar Jane is the first release The Strypes have penned themselves. That it's reached number one in the Blues Chart goes some way to confirming the band can build on the success they've enjoyed with covers of lesser known rhythm and blues tunes.

"Because it fits in quite well with the set, it just feels like you are playing another song in the set," says Josh.

Single sales are likely to enjoy a further boost with the imminent release of the new video - a compilation of live footage captured by Cavan filmmaker, Finn Keenan. Finn has been employed by the band's managing company, Rocket Management, to also produce a fly on the wall documentary charting their journey in gigging around Britain, three planned trips to America and Japan over the coming months. Sure to be included will be The Strypes' gigs in Whelan's, Dublin on Tuesday, December 18.

"It feels like a big one - first proper headline gig in Ireland," says Evan.

In a year littered with highlights, such as gracing Other Voices, releasing an EP, meeting heroes Jeff Beck and Chris Difford of Squeeze, returning to where it all began on The Late Late Show and making their debut at Electric Picnic. One moment however stands out above all others:

"Playing Abbey Road with Paul Weller," says frontman and Beatles devotee, Ross.

Hopefully their new record contract will help ensure 2013 will produce even more highlights. One of them will surely be their forthcoming album. In the New Year they hope to record 14-tracks which, according to Josh, will stand as a "snapshot of the live-set" with a pulsating mix of originals. While singles may be released in advance, fans are likely to have to wait until August for the finished album.

"We're definitely going to record as live as we can, and we've been talking to some big name producers," enthused Josh.

Tickets for the Whelan's gig on Tuesday, December 18 are selling well and are available at Ticketmaster.

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