I caught up with The Original Rudeboys – Sean “Neddy” Arkins, Rob Burch and Sean “Walshy” Walsh – in Dublin’s city centre (where else!) just ahead of the release of their new single ‘Never Gonna Walk Away’.
The single is out next week on November 22 and it is already getting lots of airplay. The Dublin trio also has a sold out date in The Olympia Theatre on the horizon on December 12.
After a great chat, the verdict is in: The Original Rudeboys…a great bunch of lads!I suppose I will start at the beginning, how did you form The Original Rudeboys?
Neddy Arkins: When we formed [the band] it was 2011 but before that we all grew up with each other, doing our own thing musically. We are all close mates, so a lot of people ask us why we didn’t start the band earlier, but it happened at the right time and the right place to do it.
Rob Burch: It happened organically. It was a realisation when we just jammed one night, we knew it was time to continue to write and play music.The name suggests ska music and culture, but you don’t make that type of music. Where did you come up with the name The Original Rudeboys?
Rob Burch: It’s so boring, it’s so, so boring. We got it off a t-shirt.
Neddy Arkins: It was on a t-shirt I got in a high street shop and the night we were thinking of band names, and a lot of bands will relate to this , we were arguing over names and we just decided to go with The Original Rudeboys, mostly because we liked the sound if it. We knew about ska. Our brothers listened to it did so we were aware of it, but the name came from the t-shirt. We don’t do ska music, but we have had a few older gentlemen showing up at our gigs expecting a ska band. One of them told us he came expecting ska and he didn’t get it, but what he did get he liked! That was great to hear and he was probably the oldest dude we’ve had at a gig, and he said that himself….If I was wearing this t-shirt we would have been called Boston!There is already a band called Boston!
Neddy Arkins: Is there? Apparently there is also a whole genre of Original Rudeboys too!Yeah, from the 70s I think, and you’re right, I believe there are a few Rudeboys knocking around too. How would you describe your sound?
Sean Walsh: I don’t think we have a sound, that’s the beauty of it. We go into the studio and we are open- minded to any genre of music or any music that we are into. What we are feeling at that time we are going to try replicate and make and create fresh. We are definitely very open in that sense.
Rob Burch: There is definitely a mixed bag with sound. If you were to tie it down to a few sounds, you may say its pop, rock, hip-hop, and most of the songs have those three elements but you can’t tie it down to just one genre…that way it does not box you in as artistsIt’s the best approach to music as it gives loads of scope for evolution and development as artists too.
Neddy Arkins: Yeah we have always said that from day one. People loved the sound of the first album, it’s very raw with a lot of acoustic material but don’t be surprised if the next album is heavy German techno! It will not be that, I can state, on the file! It will not be that but anything is possible.I will call the article “The Original Rudeboys NOT to release a heavy German techno album”! I love the ukulele and think it is a very happy sounding instrument, how did it become such a signature of your sound?
Sean Walsh: I started the uke after seeing a video on YouTube of a guy playing ‘She’s Out of my Life’ by Michael Jackson; he was an Asian guy it had about 600 views. And when I saw it I thought “This is unbelievable”, this instrument is tiny, it has four strings and it sounds so good. I was doing nothing at the time, I had dropped out of college and I was on the social welfare so I said I’d do something with my time so I decided to learn an instrument and it turned out to be the ukulele that’s why it came out on the first album and now the second album.You put your first song and video on YouTube. Do you think that the existence of YouTube and the online culture in general is responsible for your success and is the way forward for new bands?
Neddy Arkins: Yeah, definitely.
Sean Walsh: Everyone is on the internet these days. I read somewhere – on the internet (!) – that more kids are on the internet now than there are watching TV and listen to the radio. The internet is the new television and radio for musicians. It is the new platform to get your music out there. It is free as well…well, €40 a month with Eircom Broadband!
Neddy Arkins: It’s the best and worst place.You played the now infamous Swedish House Mafia gig in the Phoenix Park. What do you think happened or was it exaggerated by the media and social network sites?
Rob Burch: Yeah, absolutely nothing. My younger sister was at it, she was 19 at the time, and she said she did not see one thing at it. She had a fantastic day, the weather was unbelievable on the day, it was probably one of the nicest days we had in weeks. For weeks and weeks before it was raining so much that they were worried that the stage could not even be set up. I think it was blown was out of proportion by the media, and controversy sells.
Neddy Arkins: I noticed that a lot of news reports talked about where it was located and that it was near town and made out that was part of it, but if you put 60,000 people in the Vatican and give them alcohol, you’re going to get a fight. If it was reported that it was a great day, which it was, no one’s interested in that. It was blown way out of proportion.The Slane Girl incident, I’m not sure if ‘incident’ is the right word, shows the ugly side of today’s online culture. I know, Neddy, you said that the internet is the best and the worst place. This is definitely the dark side of the media, especially social media; it went viral and was all over the media in such a short space of time. It was horrific and the lowest of the low.
Neddy Arkins: Yeah, the poor girl and it’s the same thing as the Phoenix Park gig. When it first came out the media were going along with it and they when people started realising that this girl might be really effected by this, the same media outlets were saying it’s not cool, you know, she might harm herself. I have one in particular, but I won’t say which one, that completely changed its attitude to what happened in a few hours. Contradicting bastards.Yeah, I think more responsibility needs to be taken by the media in general instead of jumping on scandal bandwagons.
Neddy Arkins: Yeah, absolutely.
Sean Walsh: The power of the media! To the media (raises glass)!You have also played some really impressive support slot this year, like withg The Script earlier in the year, as well as The Game, Professor Green and Damien Dempsey. If you could play with or support any band on the planet who would it be?
Rob Burch: Coming up soon, Ed Sheeran is playing Madison Square Garden. We want to play a venue like that with an artist like that.
Sean Walsh: We got to support The Script, one of the biggest bands in the world. If you asked us that question a year ago, we probably would have said The Script. We went to see U2 in Croke Park a few years ago and The Script were supporting them and we weren’t even in a band at the time, we hadn’t even thought of the band.
Neddy Arkins: We were fans of The Script before we knew them, but there is always a much better connection when you know the three of them come from across the road. They were always in our top band to support. We knew we would get on great with them and we did. If we could have supported The Beatles we would have loved to! Imagine us going out rapping before The Beatles came out!!I think that sounds tremendous!
Neddy Arkins: That’s the great thing about Beatles fans: they are very open to all music.What music does the three of you as individuals listen to and do you have the same tastes in music?
Sean Walsh: This morning, I went from Luther Vandross to Lauryn Hill, Kayne West. We all grew up in households were music was a big thing, and it could go from The Dubliners to some 80s pop. It doesn’t make a difference once it sounds good and the music is good, we are open to it. I never cut myself off from any type of music, because why would you?
Neddy Arkins:I range from anything from Paul McCartney to a DJ called MK. He is huge in Ibiza, not my type of music at all on paper, but I was listening to it and it was awesome, so it really does vary, any type of music goes for us.
Rob Burch: For me it goes from anything like 50 Cent’s Hustlers Ambition and I’m big into the new John Newman record. I love to get a new album and press play on it and play it through.
Neddy Arkins: And as a whole we all listen to The Beatles.The Beatles were so progressive and ahead of their time in their approach to music and what they incorporated into it and its evolution. As a rule, I am very suspicious of anyone that does not like The Beatles.
Sean Walsh: In terms of production as well, what they did in the studio was second to none, albums like Sgt. Pepper completely changed music.
Sean Walsh: A lot of the youth don’t and we’re trying to get it back out there, and we will, don’t worry we will! All music is relative once it sounds good it does not matter where it comes from.Did you see Paul McCartney on The Graham Norton show last week, what did you think of the new song?
Rob Burch: It is probably his best for a long time.
Sean Walsh: Is it off the new album? I have seen the artwork on his new album. I can comment on that…it is awesome, with the neon lights.Your new single ‘Never Gonna Walk’ Away is out on November 22. I know back in March this year you sold out two gigs in The Olympia Theatre and you have another gig coming up, also in the Olympia, on December 12, which is also sold out and a nice way to wrap up the year. It has been such a successful year for you, will you be adding a second date in December and can we expect a second album in 2014?
Rob Burch: Early next year will be the new album. We plan on obviously getting the single out in November and then maybe to release a second single before the album drops. The album is pretty much finished we just need to touch it up over November and December and get it out we will get it ready for release in the New Year.
Neddy Arkins: We are roughly aiming for April next year. That’s ball park. People are convinced if you sell out a gig that you immediately put on a second date. We decided not to. We said that with the new album we are going to tease it out, you know, and there is a heavy demand for a second night but we are going to stick to our guns. We promised one night only for our fans. So hopefully the fans will go away after the show and love the new songs.Final question…did you expect it or are you surprised at how much the band has taken off?
Neddy Arkins: I’m more surprised at how we have progressed. Being in a live show and listening to the lads and sometimes I listen to the album and I have to step back and think is this us? Did we really make this? Can’t believe we came up with it that that is us and I am well impressed.
Rob Burch: That’s exactly it, and perfectly said we… are surprised and so happy with how well we have progressed.The new single 'Never Gonna Walk Away' is out November 22. The Original Rudeboys play The Olympia Theatre on December 12. The gig is sold out.