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The day the Bandits came calling

Despite espousing the virtues of owning a horse over a car, The Rubberbandits didn't arrive on horseback when I invited them for tea in my family home.

I'm glad they didn't. I was already having difficulty explaining to my mother why there were "plastic face men", as she put it, in her living room.

Thankfully they were polite and courteous, even if they had just been ejected from a pub in Dundrum -- the dress code didn't permit plastic bag facewear.

The owner obviously hadn't see them on The Late Late Show.

The Limerick lads were among a homegrown coterie of guests, including Mary Byrne, Saoirse Ronan and Johnny Logan.

"We seen Mary Byrne. She asked us why we weren't wearing Tesco bags," says Mr Chrome about his Late Late debut. "Johnny Logan was wearing loads of make-up and was really sound."



Backlash

However, he was disappointed to discover that the green room is, in fact, red.

"It looks like a dictatorship. It's Ryan Tubridy's face all over the wall. You have to say a prayer to Saint Ryan."

The Rubberbandits were unmasked last week as Dave Chambers (Blind Boy Boat Club) and Bob McGlynn (Mr Chrome).

Paul Webb who plays the priest in the video (and moonlights as their Willie O'Dea impersonator) also dropped in, sans mask. He regularly checked the YouTube hits for Horse Outside and fielded calls from journalists eager to speak to the comedians.

Thanks to The X Factor backlash, Irish patriotism and a general mood of divilment, Horse Outside has become an unlikely internet sensation. It's clocked up nearly three million views on YouTube and, at the time of writing, has overtaken Matt Cardle's When We Collide on the Irish iTunes charts. What's more, a string of celebrities - Westlife and Dara O Briain among them -- have pledged support via Twitter.

The song received more attention when Joe Duffy took calls from concerned citizens who said children must be protected from a song that promotes drug use and shows a complete disregard for the wisdom that you should never put your head inside a plastic bag.

However, Blind Boy eloquently explained the ironic value of the song to an increasingly exasperated Duffy, proving that The Rubberbandits are as intelligent as they are amusing.

While the lion's share of our conversation is unprintable, they complimented the "command of line" of an abstract painting on the wall, debated the merits of Cava over Champagne and scolded me for giving the dog chocolate -- "it contains theobromine which is toxic to animals".

When I asked Blindboy how be would describe himself, he replied: "I would acquaint myself with a man who writes books and manuscripts as a profession and then I'd remove him completely from my life. That's how I'd de-scribe myself."

Their work ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous. Up da Ra is a satire of armchair republicanism; Bag of Glue is about anaesthetising oneself so as to enjoy a lustful encounter with a larger lady.

They claim the plastic bags are a boon to their success with the opposite sex. "I wouldn't disappoint them by taking the mask off," says Mr Chrome. "We have to blast the smell of women off us every evening with the lady hose."

However, they only have eyes for one woman: RTE broadcaster, Anne Doyle. "I'd like to take her out for a nice piece of fresh cod and a walk in a winter wonderland park," says Blindboy.



Lampooned

Asked whether Bag of Glue was inspired by their own chubby-chasing encounters, Mr Chrome explains: "We could be whalers whenever we want. You can have sex with a woman's personality. The mind is a penetrative object."

Former Minister Willie O'Dea is also the subject of one of their songs, but he has proved to a good sport, even coming to their defence in the now infamous Liveline phone-in.

"I can laugh at myself," said O'Dea. "I was remorselessly lampooned by them and I didn't ring you. They portray me selling hash and swearing on my tash that it's decent hash."

Mr Chrome claims he has known O'Dea since he was seven. "He called to my house when he was canvassing and my dog bit him. I bought a bicycle off him in 2003."

They also claim to know Marty Whelan, citing a long-standing debt to him as the reason they wear the plastic bags.

The Rubberbandits are on a tight schedule, so after a few glasses of bubbly, it is time for them to leave. What's next, I ask them before they go. "January," Blindboy reminds me.

hnews@herald.ie


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