Interview: War Stripes

Aaron, Ciro and Kai became War Stripes after responding to online ads seeking a ‘dirty rock and roll band’. After putting a handful of demos out on their Soundcloud page and finally agreeing on a band name, the trio are all set to play their big debut show at The Castle Hotel in Manchester. I caught up with the boys to find out more about War Stripes.

How was War Stripes formed?

Aaron: I got in touch with bassist Ciro based on an advert he posted on He was looking for a ‘dirty rock and roll’ band and I liked the sound of it. I always wanted to sing and play guitar for that kind of band so I reached out – although since then we’ve refined our sound a little bit. We chatted for a while before putting a new ad out for a drummer and Kai jumped on board! The three of us met at Pirate Studios in Manchester for a jam and haven’t looked back.

Is there a story behind the band’s name?

Aaron: We had loads of ideas for band names. It was really difficult to whittle it down so we decided to make a shortlist of three names each and go from there. The process felt too contrived and time consuming so one night at practice, Kai just said “How about War Stripes?” after we were joking about wearing war paint for our gigs. We were so sick of discussing names by that point that we all just agreed to go for it. It kinda stuck from there.

Kai: I liked war paint but it’s already taken. So this was the next best thing.

What music did you listen to growing up and how much effect does it have on the music you make today?

Kai: Growing up I just listened to whatever was on. Recently though I’ve been listening to a lot of gachi and I think that shows a lot in my drumming.

Aaron: Personally, It’s so important to keep my inspirations varied musically. I’ve always been interested in rock, pop, indie, punk, folk and hip hop – so long as it’s different and has emotion, I’m into it. I think that shows in our tunes. I’ve recently been paying attention to lots of rock music because I just want to be as good at writing rock songs as possible.

Ciro: Growing up I liked a lot of heavy music and still do, although I have mellowed out now. But I like listening to a lot of rap and melodic, grungey, heavy stuff. For example, Professor Green and Beartooth.

For readers who haven’t listened to your music yet, how would you describe the War Stripes sound?

Aaron: People who’ve heard our stuff think it’s really different, and can’t pick out another band that we sound like… and neither can I. I struggle to define our sound but we’ve got elements of lots of different music. We try to be catchy and accessible whilst keeping all of the high energy and the velocity of a heavy rock band.

Kai: It’s like a really tasty homemade chicken soup. A good consistency, is what I mean.

Which of the tracks you’ve recorded so far are you most proud of?

Aaron: I really like ‘Bad Energy’. It’s a really fast paced, energetic song about trying to escape a toxic relationship. I wrote the song around a bass riff that Ciro came up with. We pay homage to this by opening the song with the bass riff.

Ciro: I’m proud of all of them because we have each put a bit of ourselves into them but, I’ve got to say Bad Energy too. After being in bands for years and then finding one that actually want to work on riffs you do instead of throwing them away like a cheap drink. It’s such a nice feeling to not only have people show an interest in your ideas, but to turn them into a giant song like Bad Energy is now. It’s one of the greatest feelings ever.

Where do you find inspiration for song writing?

Kai: I often just take inspiration from myself and then email the lyrics to Aaron so he can take the glory.

Aaron: Sure! I tend to write lyrics that fit the intensity of the music and each song usually has an overall lyrical theme. I find myself writing sad or negative songs based on the nature of our sound. Hitting my own nerves and emotions generally makes for interesting songs. I’ve tried to break that spell with our latest demo release ‘Wasted Days’ which is intentionally uplifting and motivational to keep things balanced and varied.

What festival or venue do you dream of playing?

Kai: Tomorrowland.

Aaron: If we ever played a Reading or Leeds festival I could die a happy man. On a slightly smaller scale, I’d love to play at the Albert Hall in Manchester. Our first gig is coming up in a few weeks at The Castle Hotel in the Northern Quarter and I’m buzzing for it. I’ve seen tonnes of my favourite artists play there so to be playing there is kind of surreal and fitting.

Ciro: I second Reading and Leeds festival. There’s been so many bands that have played there that have influenced me over the years like The Offspring and Sum41, even Tenacious D. So to play a festival that big would be awesome. Also, Slamdunk Festival would be a cool one.

What live shows have you got planned?

Ciro: Our show at The Castle Hotel is with City Glow on the 18th September. It’s a main support slot, which is huge for a debut gig. I’m just really excited to play our music that we’ve spent so long perfecting.

What band would you love to go on tour with?

Aaron: For me, either InMe, Jamie Lenman or Don Broco would be amazing.

Ciro: I’d go for Marmozets, Billy Talent or Lacey Sturm.

Are there any other new bands from Manchester we should be keeping an eye out for?

Kai: Cosmo Calling are sick.

Ciro: Hyena Kill! I’ve known them for a few years and they’re doing incredibly well.

Finally, what’s next for War Stripes?

Aaron: World domination! One small step at a time though. We want to do as many live shows as possible towards the end of the year and record some professional tunes.

War Stripes support City Glow at The Castle Hotel, Manchester 18/09/18: