Wrap Up And Watch Out: The Original Rudeboys
The Original Rudeboys are not your average music act. Haling from Dublin, this three piece acoustic hip-hop band have already managed to secure a completely independent, number one selling album in Ireland – and they now have Great Britain firmly set in their sights. Not convinced? Ask yourself when you have ever seen an Irish indie/hip-hop band rap, play the ukulele and still manage to maintain serious credibility? The Wrap Up’s Trina John-Charles investigates…
The Wrap Up: Hey guys! Could you all introduce yourselves and tell us what element you bring to the band?
Sean W: I’m Sean and I play the ukulele.
Sean A: I’m also Sean [laughs] and I do the backing vocals and the rapping.
Rob: I’m Rob and I sing and play guitar.
TWU: Could you tell us the story behind your name?
Sean A: Rob and I were at a house party and we were both wearing t-shirts from a certain high-street store that said ‘Original Rudeboys’ on them. There were a couple of girls around us and we just started singing and they were like, ‘you guys are awesome, what’s the name of your band?’ We weren’t in a band at the time, but we just said ‘we’re called The Original Rudeboys. This is our official merchandise. We’re really big on the underground scene...’ [Laughs]. It worked because they were like, ‘wow! That’s awesome!’ Three or four months later the band formed and we thought it was only right to stick with that name.
TWU: Those girls may have been trawling the internet trying to find your merchandise! Say sorry, Sean A.
Sean A: Yeah I know [laughs]. They were so impressed I couldn’t really tell them. I’m sorry. I really am actually.
TWU: Your band has a hip-hop edge, but you also have a ukulele player. What made you decide to learn to play the ukulele of all instruments, Sean W?
Sean W: Once I left school I really had nothing to do. I was unemployed and I wanted to do something productive, something to pass the time. I came across a video online of this bloke playing the ukulele and it was honestly the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. He blew me away! I’ve been playing it for about two years now, but it was probably about three months before I could do anything decent on it.
TWU: Do you find it difficult to incorporate that kind of instrument into a hip-hop sound?
Rob: Our music is quite organic and funnily enough, the ukulele just seems to fit in with what we do. I agree it’s different, but so are we, so it actually kind of works for us.
TWU: What do you think of the ‘boy band’ title?
Rob: We are a band of boys... so I suppose we are a boy band? I don’t think we are a typical boy band, like in the sense when they stand on stage and do all the hand movements. [Rob demonstrates].
Sean A: We’re not the Backstreet Boys!
TWU: Music is always going to be pigeon holed. As your sound is quite different, how would you classify it?
Sean A: I’d say indie hip-hop.
Rob: All our songs are different. Some are more rock, some are more pop...
Sean W: We don’t like to restrict ourselves to one genre. We like to play around with everything.
TWU: Your band only formed last year and your album has already gone to number one on both the iTunes and the independent Irish charts. How does it feel?
Sean A: At home we have a really loyal and strong fan base. If we put up a tweet saying, ‘request our song on radio’ our fans will really go for it.
Sean W: Yeah, we were number three in the official Irish charts as well. Madonna was out that week so I think she kept us off. I didn’t really like Madonna anymore after that [laughs].
TWU: Acts like U2 and Maverick Sabre have to come to England first before they are even recognised in Ireland. Why do you think that is?
Sean W: Here, the BBC and people like that strive to get new artists and new acts from England or even the different cities like, London , Manchester, Birmingham played on radio. It’s totally different back at home. Irish radio stations just wait to see what England is doing and copy it. We have to constantly be online asking our fans to request our songs, or do this or that to get the radio stations to notice us. Luckily for us, the fans come out in their thousands and I think that’s how we ended up getting the attention of the radio stations.
TWU: You’ve done a few gigs here in London; what has the contrast been like?
Sean W: I’ll give you an example... a few weeks ago we were playing to over 20,000 people in Phoenix Park, Dublin. This week we were sitting outside, at the back of a venue, drinking cans by a dumpster! [Laughs]
Sean W: We’ve enjoyed playing here. We did a gig recently at The Notting Hill Arts club. A lot of people specifically came to see us, like Fem Fel and Mikill Pane. It was really good to see all those guys, it was a really good night.
TWU: You are Olympic Ambassadors. What exactly is that?
Sean W: It’s very official [laughs].
Sean A: We received a fancy letter from the Irish president of the Olympic Committee. It said that Ireland was sending comedians and musicians over to England to play in the Irish Village for the athletes and fans; we were the music act chosen to represent Ireland.
TWU: Some people seem to have an issue with an Irish accent over a hip-hop beat - what do you make of that?
Sean A: It’s something different and people will always need time to adjust to it. The same thing was said about the English accent over hip-hop when that scene first started to blow up. Most of the hip-hop I listen to nowadays is more likely to come from England rather than the USA. I think eventually people will start looking past the accent and actually listen to what is being said. If they can relate to it, it will appeal to them regardless.
TWU: Finally, is there anything we haven’t covered in my questions that you would really like to say?
Rob: Listen to The Original Rudeboys? Otherwise I’m going to end up outside of a train station somewhere doing this [demonstrates boy band hand movements] for money. [Everyone laughs]
Keep up to date with The Original Rudeboys on Twitter.
Words: Trina John-Charles (@ATrinajcTweet)