Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Interview with the Rubberbandits

I've decided to post the interview I did with the Rubberbandits before Christmas, which was ostensibly to promote their mystery gig. That turned out to be held in a field in Birdhill and involved crucified Santas.. They are nothing if not original in fairness to the lads...

Plastic bag wearing rappers singing about bags of glue.

DJs in Willie O’Dea masks.

Prank phone calls.

Greyhounds called Lavender.

Welcome to the surreal world of The Rubberbandits.

Existing on a plane so far beyond the normal, rational world, are Blind Boy Boat Club and Mr. Chrome, aka The Rubberbandits - two rappers from Limerick who keep their real identities secret and never allow their increasingly bizarre act to drop.

Existing at first as prank phone call artists, whose tapes and CDs were passed from person to person, becoming the stuff of urban legend, the Rubberbandits took tentative steps into the world of ‘gangster’-comedy rap in 2008.

Little over a year later they have played triumphant gigs at Electric Picnic, the Bulmers Comedy Festival - selling out the Academy in Dublin - the Galway Comedy Festival, and they are to appear on Podge and Rodge’s Christmas Special next week. They are also to play a gig at a secret location; a “Magic Christmas Mystery Tour”, the price of admission to which will include “transport there and back, ticket and a slug of a can”.

The gig marks the release of the duo’s EP - “Drawing Pictures of Each Other Smoking Fags”.

In requesting an interview with the notoriously media wary ‘Bandits, I am called to enquire if I would be interested in a tour of Limerick city with the duo. I can interview them as they drive me around, I am told.

Forced to accept - with some trepidation - I leap into a blacked out jeep at the allotted time to be greeted by the Rubberbandits in the back-seat, in full plastic-bag wearing costume.

As it transpires, I can count myself lucky to be treated to such an expedition, seeing as a student journalist from Cork, who requested an interview, was picked up by four balaclava wearing heavies and was forced to face a wall while conducting an interview with the terrible twosome.

This is the Rubberbandits.

“How’s it going kid,” says Mr. Chrome, in that inimitable Limerick accent, emphasis held on the final syllable of ‘kidddd’. What follows is half an hour of hilarity, quick-fire responses to my questions, peppered with obscene language, wit and bizarre references that form a deliberate attempt to stymie any normal question I ask.

When asked about the mystery gig they are to play somewhere in Limerick, Mr Chrome says it will be “magical, its mysterious and it is christmassy”.

“We don't know much about it ourselves because we handed it over to other people, so we haven't a clue. There'll be loads of things there - there'll be fire, bouncers with dickie bows - music by us - music by not us,” adds Blind Boy Boat Club. Chrome interjects: “It is our gift for christmas. It will be unreal. If you like rollerblading, smoking fags, drawing pictures, there will be no better place”.

Reclining back into their seats, the ‘Bandits reflect on a year of “highs and lows”...

“It has had its highs and its lows.. Doing the songs were the highs - what would be the lows?” asks Blind Boy of his fellow ‘Bandit.

“We went to Galway and got threatened by a guy claiming to be Sean Connery, that was a low,” claims Mr Chrome.

“He told us not to leave the hotel, said it would be in our best interest. We crept around constantly with our backs against the wall - he is James Bond,” adds Blind Boy.

A much heralded impromptu stage appearance with Ice Cube in Dublin was clearly a high - with the Limerick duo spending time with the rapper afterward backstage. One wonders what he made of the Rubberbandits.

“Mad laugh. Ice Cube. That was the apex of our career. All downhill from there,” says Mr. Chrome.

Blind Boy interjects: “We went to Ice Cube and showed him how to swing a hurley, again. Honest to god, that was the apex. We could die now.”

His partner in crime laughs to himself: “I got to show Ice Cube how to swing a hurley, and he was sh*t at it. He thought it was a baseball bat, and he says - with those two plastic bags, ye look like the Klu Klux Klan.”

The ‘Bandits made their first ever public appearance in August of 2008 in Trinity Rooms, at a gig that will go down in Limerick lore as legendary - the lads managing a song and a half, but the effect of their appearance, lyrics and sheer brass neck, lit up the stage.

Asked why they moved from prank calls to rapping, they say it was “in our souls”.

“What actually happened was we were up in Dublin settling a bet about crocodiles and we realised that no-one knew who we were, so we decided the best way to do it was to become famous gangster rappers, so that everyone in Ireland would know what a Rubberbandit really is,” says Blind Boy.

For the record - a Rubberbandit is a “ghoul with a bag on his head, who sings songs about glue”.

“Our songs are anthems really, songs that people can relate to, everyone knows a greyhound called Lavender,” says Mr. Chrome. “We are bigger in Dublin than we are here. Dublin go mad for it. It is kind of like - I don't know what you would compare it to, it is like going to the zoo or something for them. They won't come to Limerick, but they are happy when it is contained on a stage.”

Blind Boy interrupts: “Dublin people are always asking me is Limerick like it is portrayed in the media? To be honest the only paper I read is the Daily Sport - and Limerick is nothing like the Daily Sport. Nothing.”

The duo laugh loudly about their time on Podge and Rodge, which will be screened on Stephen’s Day. It is hard not to imagine them all getting on like a house on fire.

Asked if they will ever reveal their true identity, the mood of the interview changes palpably.

“No, never,” whispers Blind Boy. “Not until Marty Whelan agrees that he is alright with the money we owe him. That's the reason. We owe him an awful lot of money, but we don't like talking about it,” he adds.

The Rubberbandits. Sit back, don’t ask questions, just be prepared to laugh. Loudly.

The "Drawing Pictures of Each Other Smoking Fags" EP is available now in Empire Music.

1 comment:

Isambard Chalky Brunel said...

Excellent stuff. They sound bat shit crazy, in a good way