They may be thriving on Twitter, but The Original Rudeboys’ fan base is not confined to the social-media generation, frontman Sean Arkins tells JIM CARROLL
THERE’S NO SUCH thing as an overnight success, but you can understand why people bang on about such a concept when you come across The Original Rudeboys. In the space of a few months, the Dublin trio went from jamming tunes that were a mix of soulful acoustic folk and smart hip-hop in their bedrooms to a run of sold-out live shows and festival appearances.
Frontman Sean “Neddy” Arkins will always talk in interviews about how they met up at a house party in East Wall in early 2011, banged out a few songs on acoustic guitars and rocked on from there.
It’s a great – and true – story but not the full story. For a start, Arkins, Robert Burch and Sean Walsh had known each other for years. “We’re all from Ballybough, and myself and Burch went to school together and would hang out together at breaktime and all of that,” says Arkins. “Walshy was in St Joseph’s, which was the same school as my brother, so we knew each other.”
All three also had previous musical form. “Burch was singing in local bands and I was doing hip-hop, but it was bedroom stuff. I only did three or four gigs over a couple of years, because I wasn’t actively looking for gigs. If I was bored and I wanted to get stuff of my chest, I’d write a song and record it on a cheap PC with a crappy microphone I got from the pound shop.”
Walsh, meanwhile, had the ukulele. “He got it as a present from his da, I think, but it was a joke and he just left it there. When he did pick it up, he learned how to play it from watching videos on YouTube. The night we were doing the first Stars in My Eyes video, he popped around to borrow a PlayStation game. We were slagging him off about his ukulele, but he added a riff over the start of the song and it was brilliant so he was in the band.”
That video was the beginning of what has turned out to be a winning social-media campaign for the band. “When we put the first YouTube video up, we got 100 views the very first night. That was cause for celebration, so we went out and had a few drinks. When we came back later that night, it was up to 1,000 views and it just went on from there.”