They are the overnight sensations taking the country by storm. As the buzz continues to grow, The Original Rudeboys discuss their 77,000 MySpace plays and the forthcoming shindig that will see them sharing a stage with 50 Cent.
It’s not often that a band’s rise is as genuinely meteoric as this one. They’ve only been together three months, but they sold out the Academy 2 in under 24 hours, their songs have notched up over 200,000 hits on YouTube and they’ve rocked the Saturday Night Show on RTÉ1. But they’ve yet to release a record, headline a gig or sign a contract. So who the hell are The Original Rudeboys? The description on their Facebook page offers a clue: “Three lads from the north inner City of Dublin, kind of original, not very rude and definitely boys.” But we’re hardly going to let them leave it at that.
Hot Press catches up with Robert Burch, he of the soulful vocals and six-string, on his way out of the studio, where the band have been writing and recording new material for their forthcoming debut album.
“The world has flipped upside down,” Rob confesses. “It’s a totally different life to what I’ve ever experienced. It’s going good!”
Indeed it is. The Original Rudeboys consists of Rob, rapper Neddy Arkins and ukelele player Sean Walsh, all in their early 20s. While they’ve known each other for the guts of a decade, they only started making music together in March after a dodgy dance DJ at a house party prompted a late-night guitar jam in a spare room.
“The DJ was playing awful commercial dance stuff, so Neddy and I slinked off with a couple of guitars and just started having a jam, playing covers and making up songs, having a laugh, y’know?” recalls Rob. “Half an hour later, we had the whole party crammed into the room listening to the two of us! The day after, the band was formed. Ned was wearing a T-shirt saying ‘The Original Rudeboys’ on it – so we went with that for the name. Then Sean came along a couple of weeks later and really gelled with us – that was pretty much it! The first song we wrote was ‘Stars In My Eyes’. It’s about a friend of ours – the rapper Sean’s cousin – who passed away two years ago. We put it out there and people really liked it, so we kept making music. Then we wrote ‘Sunny Days’, which we dedicated to that same friend. It’s been go go go ever since, absolutely hectic. We’re enjoying every minute.”
Musically, the band specialise in acoustic rapping a la early Plan B. While the melodies are infectious, it’s the lyrics that really hit home, telling personal tales about everything from suicide to racism to bulimia to depression to dreams. It’s honest, direct, uplifting stuff.
“We talk about a lot of everyday things and we get a lot of compliments on the lyrics. I think that’s because people can relate to them,” says Rob. “We get compliments on the melodies too – even me Ma thinks they’re catchy!”
While his Ma may be biased, the fans aren’t. The band’s single ‘Stars In My Eyes’ had received 77,500 plays at the time of going to press.
“It’s mad, isn’t it?” says an awestruck Rob. “Our latest track ‘Bringing Me Down’ was released on YouTube just yesterday, and right now we’re approaching 7,500 views [13,409 views at time of writing]. So there are a lot of people out there liking our stuff and waiting for new material, which is an amazing feeling. It’s really down to word of mouth on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter... I think it’s the fans that are growing the fanbase, really. We put the songs out there and they just run with it. The lads have finished college and I’ve left my job – music is our main thing now and we’re concentrating everything on it. We’re spending a lot of time in the studio, we’re constantly writing more songs, and we’ve got the best part of our album picked out already.”
They’re clearly hard workers – if they keep going at this rate, they’ll have a Best Of out by Christmas.
“I don’t know about that,” laughs Rob, “we’re still unsigned! There has been some interest, but nothing to talk about yet. We’re just going to keep making music and hopefully one day we’ll get a record deal. That would be a dream come true. The three of us just love sitting around and making music. We do it most of the day! It’s a joy. If this is called work, then wow...”
In keeping with their turbo-charged trajectory, the band play their first headline show at the Academy 2 on the afternoon of Saturday June 18, their second that evening, and their third the night after that.
“There are a few tickets left for the Saturday matinee and the Sunday night, I think. The first night sold out in under a day. It’s our first headline show, yeah. We’ve done two or three support gigs before and we’ve had fun with it. This will be the biggest. And it’s the first time tickets are being sold on Ticketmaster! It’s going really good. We were announced for the Waterford Music Festival recently, which is being headlined by 50 Cent and Flo Rida, and the Strawberry Festival in Wexford as well, so everything’s flying. When it’s fast-paced it keeps you going, keeps your head right. We’re completely determined to make everything good.”
As Rob himself sings on ‘Live Your Life’, “You can be what you wanna be, just keep that dream alive inside”. This summer, he’s taking his own advice: with a calendar full of gigs and an album on the horizon, there’s no sign of The Original Rude Boys’ dream dying out any time soon.
The Original Rudeboys play the Academy 2, Dublin on June 18 and 19.
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