Blindboy Boatclub (left) and Mr Chrome (right)
|Genres||Comedy hip hop, hip hop, satire, prank phone calls|
The Rubberbandits are Irish artists, a comedy hip-hop duo from Limerick. 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. The group have described themselves as artists, and have referred to their movement as "Gas Cuntism".
Chambers and McGlynn met while attending Ardscoil Rís, Limerick. Primarily a satirical stage and television act, they have performed throughout Ireland, the UK and the US with shows at events such as Electric Picnic, Oxegen and the Bulmers International Comedy Festival. The Rubberbandits first rose to prominence in December 2010, when their 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, and also won an IFTA award for "Horse Outside".
The duo have also been involved in television, creating sketches for RTÉ, MTV and Channel 4, writing and starring in a Channel 4 comedy pilot, and writing and narrating the ITV2 series The Almost Impossible Gameshow.
Formation and initial recognition (2000–08)
Formed in the early 2000s, the Rubberbandits initial 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 Da 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.
Television and YouTube exposure (2010–11)
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. 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. 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 demand for physical stock which the distributors struggled to keep up with, as many stores were sold out of the existing stocks.
The Rubberbandits won an Irish Film & Television Award in 2011 for "Television Moment of the Year". Not appearing at the awards ceremony, the Bandits did an acceptance speech from "the moon" which was cut back from live broadcast on RTÉ 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 and went on sale in 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 appearances (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.
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.
The Rubberbandits have contributed sketches and music videos to the RTÉ comedy series Republic of Telly, including the "Horse Outside" video. In 2011, they created a series of webisodes for MTV. They also created a series of shorts titled Comedy Blaps for Channel 4, directed by Declan Lowney.
A half-hour Rubberbandits television pilot, also directed by Lowney, aired on Channel 4 in November 2012. However, the network did not order a full series.
In 2015, the Rubberbandits wrote and narrated the six-episode series The Almost Impossible Gameshow for ITV2. In December, a second series was announced. On 31 December, RTÉ2 aired The Rubberbandits Guide to 1916, a one-off documentary on the Easter Rising written and performed by the duo. Writing in the Irish Independent, critic Ian O'Doherty said of the documentary "The Rubberbandits may well have created the most informative programme on the Rising we will see all year. In fact, it may well be the best thing to appear on RTE this year, full stop. It will certainly be the funniest."
Since 2014, the Rubberbandits have described themselves as artists rather than comedians. They refer to their movement as "Gas Cuntism", and have variously described it as "Dada and Fluxus on a horn" or "a form of Dole Queue Dada". Speaking to the Limerick Leader, Blindboy Boatclub stated that the "movement is now funded by the Arts Council of Ireland". In a 2016 interview, he summarised the purpose of the group's art as "Distracting ourselves from the inevitability of death, and having craic."
Writing for the Irish Independent, Brendan O'Connor noted the dark undercurrent and Situationist elements to the Rubberbandits' work, suggesting "Limerick Gothic" as a label for their aesthetic, to contrast with the "rural Irish gothic" of Patrick McCabe's The Butcher Boy. In 2015, O'Connor suggested that the Rubberbandits had inspired fashion designer Christopher Shannon's autumn/winter 2015 collection, which featured models wearing plastic bags on their heads. Noting the duo's transition from "hijacking" Spar, Tesco and Centra bags to using bags from JC's supermarket and Chicken Hut, O'Connor praised their interest in local communities and small business, and suggested that their manifestation of "pound shop rage" would lead to further influence in fashion.
Blindboy Boatclub has criticised the art establishment in Ireland, saying that:
"[Galleries and museums] preach only to the converted. They remind us of churches, pure solemn and inhabited by very silent people who don’t open their mouths, for fear that someone else might find out that they don’t fully understand the art that’s on display. Art galleries in Ireland are like big vegan churches, and the curator always wears black, like a priest, and the visitors are there for the free wine. Most people who attend Irish galleries are other artists, and they all whisper to each other about commissioning opportunities inside imaginary confessional boxes."
In 2015, the act represented Ireland at the Venice Biennale alongside fellow Irish artist Sean Lynch. In the same year, they contributed two videos, "Spastic Hawk" and "I Like to Shift Girls", to an installation in a Japanese art gallery. Boatclub explained that they were comfortable exhibiting in this case "because we believe the creative turn was not necessarily the works we had placed in the gallery but, rather, the act of participating." They have also performed musical comedy on the Abbey Theatre's Peacock stage and are credited as being the first to perform a comedy gig in Shakespeare's Globe theatre.
|2011||Serious About Men||16|
|2010||"Horse Outside"||2||160||Serious About Men|
|2011||"I Wanna Fight Your Father"||6||—|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart.|
- "Rubber Bandits & Ray Foley-Union CY – 9 euro". ulsu.ie. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
- "London One More Time !". therubberbandits.com. 20 January 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
- Swords, Warren (19 December 2010). "Rubberbandits 'not up-front' over filming in my church, priest claims". Daily Mail. London.
- Irish Independent – Jokers unmasked as middle-class lads – 17 December 2010. Independent.ie. Retrieved on 7 September 2011.
- Owens, Alan (17 February 2015). "The Rubberbandits take the Fistfight to the Abbey". Limerick Leader. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
- "Rubber Bandits plays Electric Picnic 2009". Electricpicnic.ie. 6 September 2009. Archived from the original on 21 December 2009. Retrieved 15 January 2010.
- "MCD.ie". MCD.ie. Retrieved 15 January 2010.
- Hendicott, James (22 March 2012). "The Rubberbandits – Live in NYC". state.ie. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
- The Entertainment.ie annual awards. Entertainment.ie. Retrieved on 7 September 2011.
- Winners of the Irish Film & Television Awards IFTAs | Irish Film & Television Academy | Irish Film & Television Awards. Ifta.ie. Retrieved on 7 September 2011.
- "Playlist for Put the Needle On the Record with Billy Jam – March 27, 2009". Wfmu.org. Retrieved 15 January 2010.
- "Interview with the Rubberbandits – Peoples Republic Of Cork Discussion Forums". Peoplesrepublicofcork.com. 23 November 2009. Retrieved 15 January 2010.
- "Cheebah and all that – Limerick, Ireland: Too Many Gee". Cheebah.typepad.com. 10 September 2008. Retrieved 15 January 2010.
- NewsWhip Ireland | What’s trending, right now. Newswhip.ie (9 February 2011). Retrieved on 7 September 2011.
- "Warlords of Pez and The Rubberbandits, Twisted Pepper « Drop-d – Music Magazine | Gigs | Reviews | News | Interviews". Drop-d.ie. Retrieved 15 January 2010.
- "The Rubberbandits are heirs to the Irish tradition of great, unsettling satire". London: telgraph.co.uk. 23 January 2014. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
- pappyodaniel. "Rubberbandits – Up Da Ra – a Music video". Dailymotion. Retrieved 15 January 2010.
- "A Note on "UP DA RA" – MySpace-blog | van Rubberbandits 28th dec Mystery tour, Limerick". Blogs.myspace.com. Retrieved 15 January 2010.
- "Rubberbandits and Choke Improv: events coming up this week – The Limerick Blogger Archive". Limerickblogger.ie. 29 May 2009. Retrieved 15 January 2010.
- "Nialler9's Songs of 2008 | Nialler9 Music Blog | MP3s | Videos | Reviews". Nialler9.com. 16 December 2008. Retrieved 15 January 2010.
- My ones to watch for 2009 | Nialler9 Music Blog Archived 3 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
- Hallinan, Cian (2010). Giggle Gigs. The Dubliner, Evening Herald 2 September 2010, Issue 113, p. 48.
- Limerick Leader – Rubberbandits and Oscar have a Wilde time at the 'Phil' – 21 September 2010. Limerickleader.ie. Retrieved on 7 September 2011.
- 5 Satirists Attacked by People Who Totally Missed the Point – January 2011. Cracked.com. Retrieved on 7 September 2011.
- RTÉ Television – Programmes – Entertainment – The Republic of Telly. Rte.ie (20 October 2010). Retrieved on 7 September 2011.
- The Rubberbandits Guide to Limerick. YouTube (21 October 2010). Retrieved on 7 September 2011.
- News Headlines. Cnbc.com (10 December 2010). Retrieved on 7 September 2011.
- Christmas No.1s Betting. Paddypower.com. Retrieved on 7 September 2011.
- "Rubberbandits hoping for Christmas No 1". RTÉ News. 13 December 2010. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
- Muldoon, Molly (25 December 2010). The Rubberbandits lose out on Christmas number one to X factor winner. Irish Central. Retrieved 25 December 2010.
- New Rubberbandits song to debut on Late Late Show. Joe.ie. Retrieved on 7 September 2011.
- "Rubberbandits unveil new single". The Irish Times. 24 February 2011. Retrieved 24 February 2011.
-  Archived 8 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Rubberbandits steal show as Trinity students have a ball". Evening Herald. 9 April 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
- "Rubberbandits record shorts for Channel 4". RTÉ Ten. 10 November 2011. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- Brian Logan (10 August 2012). "Rubberbandits – Edinburgh festival review". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
- Kate Copstick (20 August 2012). "Comedy review: Rubberbandits, Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14), Edinburgh – Performing Arts". Scotsman.com. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
- "Russell Brand announcing new Trews theme tune". Russell Brand. 29 April 2014.
- Connecting with The Rubberbandits on the Republic of Telly. connector.TV (12 December 2010). Retrieved on 7 September 2011.
- The Rubberbandits Are Taking Over New York on MTV Iggy|Mole Empire. Molempire.com (29 August 2011). Retrieved on 7 September 2011.
- Channel 4 website – Comedy Blaps Concert
- Channel 4 hires Rubberbandits · The Daily Edge. Thedailyedge.thejournal.ie. Retrieved on 7 September 2011.
- Owens, Alan (15 November 2012). "Channel 4 says Rubberbandits pilot has 'series potential'". limerickleader.ie. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
- Owens, Alan (9 December 2015). "Rubberbandits' ITV show renewed for second series". Limerick Leader. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
- "The only history lesson you'll ever need". Irish Independent. 9 January 2016.
- Rubberbandits (30 October 2014). "I'm starting an art movement called "Gas Cuntism"" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Andrews, Kernan (16 April 2015). "'We're not comedians by the way'". Galway Advertiser. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
- Rubberbandits (18 November 2014). "If anyone asks about Gas Cuntism just tell them it's Dada and Fluxus on a horn." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Tipton, Gemma (12 February 2016). "Culture Shock: The dole queue Dadaism of the Rubberbandits". The Irish Times. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
- O'Connor, Brendan (10 August 2014). "There's more to these 'Fellas' than you think". Irish Independent. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
- O'Connor, Brendan (18 January 2015). "Rubberbandits' bag-on-head look is toast of LFW". The Irish Independent. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
- "The Rubberbandits to perform at the Venice Biennale". Limerick Leader. 5 May 2015.
- "The Rubberbandits take the Fistfight to the Abbey". Limerick Leader. 17 February 2015.
The plastic bag wearing comedians have almost sold out three shows at the Abbey Theatre - on the Peacock stage - in March
- "Rubberbandits to tread the hallowed boards of the Abbey Theatre". Joe.ie. February 2015.
- "Rubberbandits: Continental Fistfight". AbbeyTheatre.ie. March 2015.
Continental Fistfight played to ecstatic crowds in the Globe's intimate candle-lit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse – the first ever comedy gig to play the hallowed theatre
- >> IRMA << Irish Charts – Singles, Albums & Compilations >>. Irma.ie (1 September 2011). Retrieved on 23 January 2012.
- >> IRMA << Irish Charts – Singles, Albums & Compilations >>. Irma.ie (1 September 2011). Retrieved on 7 September 2011.
- CHART: CLUK Update 25 December 2010 (wk50)