IRISH YouTube sensations Rubberbandits keep their masks on, but leave their horse outside ready for a quick getaway after bamboozling Claire Smith with their trademark flights of fancy
I’VE rarely been so excited as I was to be in the crowd for the Rubberbandits’ first ever show at the Edinburgh Fringe. Horse Outside – their runaway hit about a boy who picks up a bridesmaid at a wedding despite having a horse instead of a car – still makes me crease up with laughter ever time I see it. They now have 23 million hits on YouTube, have had a No2 hit in Ireland, won the Chortle Award for musical comedy and are developing a show for Channel 4.
But don’t ask them to show you their faces because they won’t do it. Whippet-thin Mr Chrome – the bare-chested dancing one – and musical marvel Blind Boy Boatclub refuse to be seen or interviewed without home-made masks created from supermarket carrier bags.
Today Mr Chrome is sporting a Morrisons number while Blind Boy has gone for the classic Tesco look. As we walk outside the Gilded Balloon to take pictures for The Scotsman most people stare in horror – but a handful of fans run up grinning and the pair good-naturedly pose for photographs.
Their minder or “executive nanny” refuses to be named – but then I realise I’ve seen him before. “You’re the priest. You’re the priest in the Horse Outside wedding,” I say. “My, you’ve got a good memory,” he says. “I’ve watched that video 200 times,” I tell him.
So, first things first. Why the plastic bags? “What we wanted was the worst costume in the world,” says Mr Chrome. “And also we wanted to attract women – because women like shopping,” says Blind Boy. They once fooled the Daily Mail by sending out a couple of decoys to get snapped by the paparazzi. “They looked like a Belgian spiv and a hipster lumberjack. But that’s the picture they printed and said it was us.”
At least, I think that’s what they said. It’s hard to know, because they speak incredibly fast and in broad Limerick accents. They speak together, finish each other’s sentences and wander off into hyperactive and very funny flights of fancy. I sense they are goading each other to make every answer more ridiculous than the last. Before long my head is spinning.
I tell them I loved their song Spoiling Ivan, which is about a forbidden love between a lager-drinking man and a boy he meets in a park. Mr Chrome (I think) says: “If you find a child and have good fun with them there’s nothing wrong with it. But if people see you with a child with a face covered in chocolate and a load of balloons, they think there’s something wrong.”
Boat Boy chips in: “It happened before when we were spoiling a child and he flew away. That led to a song called Flying Body, which we never released.”
So how would they describe their music? “It’s like Riverdance on hash,” suggests Blind Boy. “Or it’s like Snoop Dogg went to a summer camp in Ireland.” They say they are influenced by UB40, Dylan Thomas, Steps and Jean Paul Sartre, but mostly by a talking tree in their garden which gives them ideas. They want their shows to be like “a really confusing rave. Good confusion though.”
The Rubberbandits met in school and started doing prank calls and releasing them on YouTube. “We can’t do them in Ireland any more because people know it’s us and they just start asking if we can give their nephew a T-shirt.”
They tell me they weren’t allowed into school but used to pop their heads through the windows. That may be why they remain convinced that Mary Poppins and Morgan Freeman are members of the IRA – the ’Ra as they call it in their song Up Da Ra.
Since leaving school they say they got married. “We are not gay. We married for tax reasons. We got married in a hot air balloon. You’re allowed to get married to a man in Ireland if you are more than 11 feet off the ground. It’s a loophole.”
Desperate for a bit of reality, I bring the subject back to plastic bags. Blind Boy says: “I think people think we are burn victims who have been sponsored by big corporations.”
So have they changed since the phenomenal success of Horse Outside? Blind Boy says he never watches it. But Mr Chrome still likes to see it. “It’s like looking at a photo album, because all our friends are in it.”
Has money changed them? Blind Boy again: “It has. We eat money now. We are so busy we have started eating money. We call it capitalist lettuce.”
I tell them I loved the fact for last night’s gig the audience was standing up. “Last Halloween we did Full Mooners with Andrew Maxwell. That is the last sit-down comedy club we will ever do.” says Mr Chrome. Blind Boy says: “When you get booked for stand up it means everyone’s sitting down and we are not going to do that any more.
“We are not comedy, we are song and dance men,” says Blind Boy – prompting Mr Chrome to claim, not for the first time, that Iggy Pop is his dad.
So will they ever emerge from behind their plastic bags? “Never!” they cry in unison.
Mr Chrome says: “Every comedian we ever meet says: “You lucky bastards. It gives us freedom. You get to be well known but at the same time you can do what you want. We can go and buy peas – if Jimmy Carr wanted to go and buy a bag of onions it’s all, ‘Tell me a joke about onions’.”
I’m seriously flagging. The Rubberbandits have run me ragged. Anything else they’d like to tell me? One of them (by this time I’ve no idea which) says: “I think if you break it down to sex, drugs, rock and roll and the IRA we’ve covered everything.”
• Rubberbandits will perform at The Scotsman Best of the Fest, Assembly George Square, Monday 20 August, 2:15pm. Rubberbandits is at Gilded Balloon Teviot, until 26 August. Today 10:30pm.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 2 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 21 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 5 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West