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Earning his Strypes

Pictures: Laura Jennings

Josh McClorey told David Hennessy about his new music, why he had to leave his former successful band The Strypes and what advice Paul Weller gave him when he was considering his options.

After touring the world with the Strypes, scoring three Top 10 albums in Ireland, along with a UK No.5, Josh McClorey ims now going it alone. After launching his debut solo project last month with Everything Was Easy, Josh has just followed it up with the first track he ever wrote imagining his voice on the final product, Crazy.

Josh told The Irish World: “It was probably the first time I consciously thought, ‘This will be something for my solo project’. I think it was the first time I had ever thought about my voice being at the end of it because every other track I had ever written before that was always for the band and for different singers.”

And Josh corrects our thoughts about the song being about him diving into a solo venture due to its theme of being overwhelmed.

“No, I wish I could add layers and depth to it but I would be lying,” he laughs.

“It’s about the way you sometimes let your mind travel a bit further forward than the reality of the situation, thinking two months down the line or three years down the line. It’s more being overwhelmed by a situation. There’s almost a negative to that sometimes: Not living in the present that you get caught looking ahead and then not actually see what is in front of you.

“Certain people get overwhelmed by a positive interaction and then that interaction becomes a different thing in their head. It’s not just personal experience. I know a lot of people who are the same, get quite invested in things quite quickly. It’s quite endearing but also isn’t always the best thing.”

hat is not to say that Josh has not been nervous about going solo although he has been gratified by the positive response to Everything Was Easy. He explains that there is nowhere to hide when it’s own vehicle.

“Definitely more nervous, nervous about putting stuff out there again.

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“The response was definitely lovely and really encouraging. It exists now as its own thing whereas it only really existed in my own head for two years while we were creating it. Then once it’s out there it’s out there. It is really encouraging and I’m really grateful that people like it.

“When you’re in a band, there’s a detachment you can have from it whereas this is my name that I’m putting to this thing. It’s also the first time I’ve really sung. I’ve always been very shy about singing and felt very nervous about it. I didn’t actually really sing at all until I was 15. I was too shy about it.

“That kind of made me nervous but I always knew that I had to release music after the band but again that’s what I kept waking up to. Having my voice on it and feeling comfortable with my voice is a really nice thing. I’m definitely nervous but it feels very good.”

We would have heard Josh’s new material much earlier if the pandemic had not struck.

“We had initially thought about releasing in March/April and then once everything happened we kind of said we would just take a step back and re-evaluate what we want to do.

“I ended up doing quite a lot of writing. It’s been a pretty productive period as well as just re-evaluating what’s important. I asked maybe a month and a half in, ‘What is the thing that keeps coming back and what do you keep waking up wanting to do every day?’ Thankfully it’s tunes.”

Josh with his former band The Strypes.

With Josh as lead guitarist teenage band The Strypes burst onto the scene in 2013 with their 60s/70s-inspired sound taking their debut album into the top five in both Ireland and the UK. The band would also count Elton John, Jeff Beck, Alice Cooper, Paul Weller, Noel Gallagher, Dave Grohl and Roger Daltrey among their well known fans. They would follow it up with two more albums before announcing they were calling it a day in 2018.

Josh explains they had grown out of the band they formed as children and that it had just run its course.

“We spent ten years in the band together. We started playing music together before we had developed our own identities. You use your teenage years and I guess your early 20s to really figure out exactly what you want to do and who you wanna be.

“We all absolutely loved it and loved the music that we were making and then as we got older and got into different stuff, we wanted to do different things.

“Most bands last three years and make a record but thankfully we managed to do ten and make three records. It was pretty great. We just decided there was no point in moving forward with something that we all weren’t passionate about anymore and I think from, at least my perspective but I think from all the boys’ as well, we’re all far happier now than we would have been when we were at the end of the band. We knew we didn’t want to do it anymore.

“I’m glad we made the decision and I’m glad we made the decision together. I think in a couple of years we will definitely all look back and be able to be incredibly proud of it for what it was.”

While Josh is going solo, his former bandmates have returned with a new outfit named The Zen Arcade.

“For now I think we’re all trying to get our new things going. I’ll be able to look back and be incredibly proud but right now I’m just trying to look forward.”

Josh got advice from someone who knows all about going solo as he is good friends with Paul Weller and featured on his recent number one record On Sunset.

“We spoke on the phone a couple of times just before we were breaking up. We knew we all wanted to do it but it’s quite a nerve racking scary experience. It was quite scary so it was nice to have somebody like him who has obviously been through that exact thing and has gone on to make music that is wildly different from what he did with the Jam. To get the advice from him was great.

“He basically just said, ‘You have to do what you feel is the right thing to do. Don’t worry about being scared, don’t worry about whether you think this new thing will be successful or not or anything like that. Just do the thing that makes you happy’. It was lovely to get that advice from someone who has done it and it has worked out for them.”

Josh moved to London last year but has been at home in Cavan since the pandemic hit: “I literally went home for my brother’s 21st birthday in March and then I’ve just been home since. I’ve been back over a couple of times to get bits and bobs and I still have a place there but it makes more sense to be in Ireland and around family at the minute while there’s really nothing happening.

“At the beginning it was a little bit frightening but I’ve been very lucky. My family are great so we just all ended up back home. I feel a little guilty saying it but we had a pretty okay time because we were all just spending time together that we didn’t really think we would have again.

“I definitely feel a lot more connected to everybody in Cavan than I probably ever have. I’ve never really spent this much time in Cavan. Since I was 14, I haven’t spent six months in Cavan. It’s this thing I never thought would happen again and I’m really grateful for it. When you’re left with nothing, ‘Who do you find those strong and happy relationships with?’ Thankfully again, it still is my family and friends.

“I love London. It wasn’t like walking into a brand new environment because we had spent so much time there before and got a really good base of friends there. Moving over was just sort of like moving into a bedroom as opposed to staying on a couch.”

Josh lives with singer-songwriter Declan McKenna among other creative people.

“It’s been phenomenal and pre-all of this happening, it was an incredibly vibrant place, lots of gigs to go to and lots of musicians to meet and lots of interesting people. I’ve falle into a really, really good group of friends there too. My housemates are all really great people. Everyone’s really creative. It’s spurred me on.”

Paul Weller is not the only collaboration Josh has lent his guitar to in recent times as he co-wrote Yungblud’ s Strawberry Lipstick. The two performers met at a songwriting retreat in the UK when they were both teenagers.

“We met seven years ago and we just became friends. We were the only two kids there. We just gravitated towards each other.

“It’s great to be involved with something like that. I’ve known Dom for years and he’s a really, really lovely kid and to see him be really successful is great.

“It’s nice to be able to have my fingers in a load of pies, to actually do a load of different projects whether it’s playing for Paul or writing with Dom or whatever. It’s opening up the spectrum for me and making what I do on my own more clear too.”

Crazy by Josh McClorey is out now.

For more information, click here.

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