Tuesday 10 December 2019

Rudie can't fail in this hopeful Northside tale

THE ORIGINAL RUDEBOYS: Their story is a bit like the band themselves - full of heart
THE ORIGINAL RUDEBOYS: Their story is a bit like the band themselves - full of heart
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

Me stye eye is gone!" says Sean 'Walshy' Walsh in that Dublin-Northside-rap way of talking of his. Sean 'Neddy' Arkins interrupts: "We insist on this being the title of our interview: Me Stye Eye Is Gone!"

The last time I met Walshy - one of the singers in the much-trumpeted East Wall hip-hop trio The Original Rudeboys - was at the recording of Independent.ie's prestigious Windmill Lane Sessions - recorded at Ireland's top recording studio, Windmill Lane on Ringsend Road last week. And despite being indoors the whole time, Walshy wore dark glasses like a proper rock star.

"It's me stye eye!" he protested, clutching his ukulele, as they recorded two tracks - new single Never Alone and a cover of Mr Probz's Waves. Today, then, is proof that he was not lying. In reality, ORB are nothing if not about truth.

As the group's Robert Burch explains, with a wisdom beyond his 25 years: "As musicians we have an unwritten responsibility, because we have a platform where people listen to our music, to get an important message across."

Asked what that message is, Robert answers: "There are a number of messages. On our first album," he says referring to This Life, released in 2011, "we dealt with bullying and racism on a song called Bringing Me Down. We also dealt with suicide and depression on Sunny Days. We spoke about domestic abuse on a song called Blue Eyes.

"On the second album," Robert continues referring to All We Are, released earlier this year, "we went one further and dealt with gay rights and same-sex marriage. So we are constantly trying to get some sort of message out there."

"A lot of things in Ireland aren't really talked about," says Walshy, who is 23, "they get brushed under the carpet."

One issue that ORB were determined to highlight was suicide. In 2009, one of their closest friends - Neddy's cousin, Keith, ended his own life. "Halloween just gone was his anniversary, five years ago," Neddy says. "We used to go out with him every weekend and do what lads do at that age. So we went out on Halloween in fancy dress to a nightclub in Dublin. That night we went home and Keith went off and took his own life.

"It was a big shock to us the next day because he never really said anything to us."

They add that it was hard for them at the time because they "didn't understand why he never talked to us."

"He was always the one with the biggest smile," says Neddy. "He was always joking. You know - if you were down, he was the one who was picking you up. It was a big shock to all the lads and all his family. We thought it was only right that we helped any way that we could. And the only way we knew was music."

"So the proceeds from Sunny Days went to Console and proceeds from the new song Never Alone will go to both Console and Walk In My Shoes, which is about mental health in young people."

"It's a very important issue," adds Robert. "It's like Ned was saying, he always had a smile on his face - but the smile could be a lie. It's easy to smile and lie.

Walshy says that the ORB's new single Never Alone says "you're never truly alone and that there is always someone - family, friends or an organisation - that you can turn to for help and guidance."

Their Northside story is a bit like the band themselves: full of heart. "I met Ned when I was in me nanny's on Portland Row," says Walshy. "I lived in Ballybough, which is where I met Robert."

"That was around the age of eight and nine," says Neddy. "Long time ago. We know each other from childhood. You met these friends around the area and you stayed friends. We bonded over PlayStation and alcohol when we were kids."

"We drank cider when we were underage drinking," says Walshy, before adding with a chuckle that may - or may not - be tongue-in-cheek: "My ma's going to kill me!"

The Original Rudeboys' new single 'Never Alone' is out now on iTunes. They play The Academy, Dublin on December 13

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