Why The Rubberbandits Are Too Big, Too Brilliant, To Flourish In This Strange Little Country

By niallharbison

December 20, 2016 at 12:10am


The most creative people Ireland produces are never celebrated on our own little island.

We tend to toe the line that Bono is a tax-dodging prick, while the rest of the world adores him. James Joyce was the greatest writer of his generation, but he produced his best work in bourgeois Paris, and Roy Keane had his life-defining moments in Turin and Saipan.

Despite being held up as a place for creative people to flourish Ireland is more of a breeding ground and an anthesis for creatives rather than a land where the very best are encouraged to grow and prosper. And the latest case in point are the Rubberbandits...

Now like myself the first time you saw them was probably in the video above. Fucking hilarious we'll all agree. I went down to see their latest project, a 'musical', at the weekend and I was absolutely blown away. I knew to expect pistol totting, off-colour jokes and the usual shock humour at the Abbey – but I din't expect to see a couple of lads working at the height of creative genius.

I'd never been to the theatre in my life (shock horror as a 35-year-old I know) but I laughed, cried, roared and screamed with horror at this performance. In fact, I felt moved in a way that's only happened twice in my life: once at the RDS when U2 were in their pomp and Bono called the White House live on a satellite phone, and then again seeing Shane McGowan play a gig at the height of his powers out in Melbourne.

The only other time I came close to feeling excited about Irish creative talent was back in 2011.

I'd had a bag of cans and a few, um, smokes... when somehow the YouTube algorithm served me up a video by the Original Rude Boys. As you can see below it was a bit of creative genius. A few lads rapping about a subject close to their hearts. It probably would never have gone further than Ireland either way, but the money men of the Irish music scene decided to throw the cash behind them and before you knew it they were on FM104 and playing every festival in the country.

Their demise came about as quick as they appeared and they were last seen being "moulded" into some sort of quasi shitty boy band. Dead on arrival.

The reason I share the Original Rude boys is because the Rubberbandits dedicate a song to them in the musical. They don't explicitly put the boot in and I'm pretty sure I'm the only person in the audience who knew that the dig was directed at the system and not the lads themselves, but it is a great analogy of Irish "talent".

See the problem with the Rubberbandits if they have one is that they are too smart. They are proper poets. Proper artists. Screaming out for artistic integrity in a world obsessed by X Factor and Olly whatshisname. They could be opening shopping centres or making a couple of grand DJing in nightclubs but they choose the craft over the fame.

It sounds like hyperbole to compare two lads wearing plastic bags and getting cheap laughs about abortion to the greatest people ever to come out of Ireland but these lads are the real deal.

Horse Outside and teaming up with Russell Brand and being bigged up by Noel Gallagher are only warm-up stunts for this bunch. I don't know where it will go from here (my hunch is this "musical" will get a lot bigger) but I think I saw something game-changing on Saturday night in the Abbey. They might not be the Rubberbandits, they might not have another viral YouTube hit, but the lads will do something amazing that defines the world creatively. Of that I am sure.

Unfortunately given our relationship with world changing creative artists in Ireland they'll probably do it abroad on someones else's dollar. Keep an eye on them because genius, It Lives Amongst Us.