The Rubberbandits are a comedy hip-hop duo from Limerick, Ireland. They were formed by Blindboy Boatclub (real name Dave Chambers) and Mr Chrome (sometimes Bobby Chrome; real name Bob McGlynn). On stage and in interviews, they conceal their identities with masks made from plastic shopping bags. The unofficial third member of the group is Willie O'DJ (real name Paul Webb), a Spin South West disk jockey who wears a mask caricaturing local politician Willie O'Dea.
Chambers and McGlynn met while attending Ardscoil Rís, Limerick. Primarily a satirical stage and television act, they have performed throughout Ireland, the UK and USA with shows at events such as Electric PicnicOxegen and the Bulmers International Comedy Festival. The Rubberbandits first rose to prominence in December 2010, when their latest music video, "Horse Outside", went viral on YouTube. They have since won awards for both their music and comedy. In 2011, the duo were declared "Best Irish Act" at the entertainment.ie awards, beating competition from such acts as Villagers, Fionn Regan and The Script and also won an IFTA award for their television work.
The act has been commissioned by the television networks RTÉ,MTV and Channel 4. The Channel 4 shorts were directed by Declan Lowney, who previously won a BAFTA award for his work on Father Ted. A half-hour television pilot, also directed by Lowney, aired in November 2012. Channel 4 has stated that the pilot has "series potential".
Formation and initial recognition (2000-2008):
Formed in the early 2000s, the Rubberbandits initial success and exposure arose from recorded prank phonecalls. These prank calls featured on a number of Irish and international radio stations, and became something of a memetic phenomenon in Ireland in the early 2000s. In fact, phonecalls were their primary content until they became a musical stage act in 2007, though they continued to use the prank recordings of as part of their stage act.
The Rubberbandits developed a comedic style that is satirical, surrealist and crude, drawing comparisons to satirist Flann O Brien. The track "Up The Ra", employs the literary device of the unreliable narrator to lambast the Irish phenomenon of armchair republicanism. Their work explores a number of themes that are of significance to Irish urban youth, including drug abuse, interaction with the Garda Síochána, and violence.
Nialler 9 of State magazine included one of their tracks in his top 20 albums of 2008, and listed the Rubberbandits as his number two "international act to watch for 2009".
Television and YouTube exposure (2010-2011):
The Rubberbandits' 2010 appearance at Electric Picnic was cited as one of the top picks of the event in The Dubliner supplement of the Evening Herald and amongst those who came to watch their second show of the weekend were Seasick Steve and James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem. This show followed their Friday night headline slot at the Little Big Arena. In September 2010, they were invited to speak at the Trinity College Philosophical Society - following previous guests such as Jonathan Swift and Nelson Mandela. They were also later listed by the website Cracked.com as the top "most misunderstood" satirists.
In October 2010, they began a weekly slot on the RTÉ Two television comedy show Republic of Telly where their first clip "The Rubberbandits' Guide to Limerick" received over 100,000 YouTube views in the 7 days after broadcast.
Their music video "Horse Outside", featuring Irish model Madeline Mulqueen, was released on 8 December 2010 via iTunes. The video premiere was on Republic of Telly that night, and within 72 hours, it had reached 530,000 views on YouTube and became the top rated YouTube video in Ireland. In just over two weeks the video reached more than four million views. International press (such as the Spectator and CNBC) picked up on the phenomenon running blog pieces on the video and its content. Paddy Power placed the track at 8/11 and as favourite for Christmas number one single in Ireland. However, the effort fell short, losing to The X Factor winner Matt Cardle by over 25,000 sales. The Bandits single was hampered by weather affecting deliveries and an unprecedented demand for physical stock which the distributors struggled to keep up with. Most stores were sold out of the existing stocks of the single, which originally had only 5,000 available.
The Rubberbandits won an Irish Film & Television Award in 2011 for "Television Moment of the Year". Spurning the awards ceremony, the Bandits did an acceptance speech from "the moon" which was cut back from live broadcast on RTE but went viral on YouTube.
A subsequent single was released in February 2011. The single, "I Wanna Fight Your Father", focused on forbidden love and the lengths to which one might go to win over the disapproving family of a would-be lover. The video was posted on the Rubberbandits YouTube channel on 24 February 2011 and went on sale on 25 February 2011. Within 24 hours the video had garnered 170,080 YouTube views. The music video for an alternative version of the song as Gaeilge (in Irish) was released on YouTube on 3 March to promote Seachtain na Gaeilge. A new video Spastic Hawk emerged from the pair in October 2011, followed in November 2011, by the single Black Man.
UK and festival successes (2011-present):
The Rubberbandits have headlined large student events such as the NUI Galway Arts Ball, and as the closing act at the Trinity Ball in Dublin - where they performed after acts such as The Streets and Jessie J. Sold out shows at Irish venues such as the Tripod in Dublin, Pavilion in Cork and Black Box in Galway and appearances at UK Festivals, Relentless NASS, Reading, Latitude and Leeds followed throughout 2011 before a sold out show at the Olympia in Dublin in October. In November 2011 they embarked on a 9 date UK tour playing venues such as King Tuts in Glasgow, the 02 in Oxford and XOYO in London.
An appearance at the Oxegen festival in July 2011 saw a crowd of over 20,000 gather; According to promoters MCD it was the biggest crowd for an opening act in the history of the event.
The Rubberbandits wrote and performed three shorts for Channel 4's Comedy Blaps, with Sideline, who produced the shorts, becoming the first Irish production company to have a scripted comedy commissioned by the British TV station. These gained over a million views on line and were aired on Channel Four TV on Friday 18 August 2012 as part of the "Funny Fortnight" season.
On 2 December 2011, their debut album Serious about Men was released. It was reported on the Today FM Ray Darcy show as being the biggest pre-order Irish album of the year.
In August 2012 they performed a series of 12 shows at the worlds biggest Arts Festival, The Edinburgh Fringe, and gained traction with sold out shows, an appearance on BBC3's "Best of the Fringe", and a number of favourable reviews. On 25 August 2012 they were presented with the Malcolm Hardee "Most Original Act on the Fringe" Award.