Dublin trio O.R.B. (the artists formerly known as The Original Rudeboys) will play one of their most high profile concerts to date next week when they play support to Kanye West and Pharrell Williams at Marlay Park on Wednesday 2nd July. This gig comes on the back of what has been the most successful few months in the band's short career so far, after bagging the much coveted Meteor Choice Song of the Year award and releasing their second record 'All We Are'.
John Balfe caught up with Neddy Arkins and Sean Walsh from the band for a chat in advance of the Marlay gig and talked about their fondness for Kanye, why exactly they changed their name and their thoughts on the Meteor win.
A new album just released and a massive support slot with Kanye & Pharrell in Marlay Park next week. All must be pretty good in the O.R.B. camp right now?
Neddy: It's getting back on the road now. We've had two months off quietly rehearsing but it's full steam ahead now and we're ready for it.
Presumably you'd both be fans of Kanye and Pharrell?
Sean: I went to see Kanye West back in 2007 or 2008, the Glow In The Dark tour and a couple of times since. I'm a major Kanye West fan. I've got everything he's done, I just think he's ahead of the game.
Neddy: He's a fangirl!
Sean: I'm not just saying this; I genuinely listen to the man daily.
What is it that you like about him so much, can you define it?
Sean: He started off as a producer instead of a rapper and his production is crazy - the stuff he thinks about putting into the music, before even the lyrics, is next level.
What did you make of Yeezus?
Sean: Class. Dirty. It took me a while but when I finally got in there I loved it.
Both Kanye and Pharrell are known for their collaborations, so if it came down to it who would you prefer to work with?
Neddy: If you were looking at it from a marketing 'get your name out there' kinda thing, I'd probably go with Pharrell. But from a fan point of view, Kanye.
Who do you reckon is the better producer of the two?
Sean: Oh, that is a tough question!
Neddy: Who's the better hitmaker? Pharrell.
Sean: Pharrell has worked with everyone. Kanye's stuff is [very much his own thing], you'd know it's Kanye West.
Now that your second album has been out for about six weeks or so, is this the record you had in your head when you first sat down to write material for it or did it evolve organically along the way?
Sean: I think with this one it evolved on its own.
Neddy: There were some songs that we could pinpoint exactly how we wanted them to sound but then there were others that got legs of their own and went in different directions. You don't want to box these things in, just let it happen. And then shoot it down if you think it's shit!
How often does that happen?
Neddy: A lot!
Sean: We have no qualms in saying: "that's shite"!
Neddy: If two of the three say it's shite, it's shite. It gets the bullshit out of the way.
Have you been encouraged by the response to the record from fans?
Neddy: We've seen a lot of stuff on social media because we haven't been back on the road yet. It'll be nice to get back touring and see the reaction face-to-face, but from what we have seen online has been really positive.
It must have been a nice lead-in to the album being release when you won the Meteor Choice Song of the Year prize back at the start of the year?
Neddy: It was really encouraging because this album has a bit more of polished sound compared to the first one. We were second-guessing whether people were going to like it but to get Song of the Year, especially among the other acts nominated, was amazing. It really opened our eyes to the support we have. It was crazy, a great night. There are loads of bands who can't even get radio play and here we are with a trophy which says 'Well Done on the Good Song'.
I remember a couple of years ago you guys made headlines by turning down a support slot with Chris Brown in The O2, in what would have been your biggest gig at the time. Interestingly, I think you gained better publicity by NOT doing the gig than if you had done it.
Sean: The irony of it was that we don't even know how this got out there. We just sent an email back...
Neddy: ...we just sent a mail back saying, 'thanks for the offer but it's not for us at this time'. We didn't specify the reasoning but [his alleged domestic abuse] was the reason.
Sean: I'm sure his management were a bit shocked as well that a small band from Ireland had said 'no' to him.
Neddy: We had a song out at the time called 'Blue Eyes' which is about domestic violence and it wouldn't have worked if we had supported him.
Was deciding to say no to the Chris Brown gig a difficult conversation between the three of you?
Neddy: We got an email in the back of the van on the way to a gig and we got a mail asking us if we were interested. We talked about it for about an hour and weighed up the pros and cons. We'd never played The O2, it was a big deal.
I suppose the best thing is to do it on your own terms. If you're going to play The O2, do it when you really want to do it.
Sean: We got to it with The Script.
Neddy: That's something we can look back on, it was great craic.
What was the reasoning for the name change from Original Rudeboys to O.R.B.?
Neddy: The kids who come to our shows shorten everything on the signs and hashtags and all that. That was one side of it, the other is that there was a gig we did and there was these two lads in their 50's, skinheads, we're expecting this random ska band. One of them actually danced! We were talking to them afterwards and he said, "ah fair play lads, it's not my scene. I thought we were coming to see a ska band. Fair play anyway".
What was going on in your lives before you started the band?
Neddy: I was doing college, my second year.
Sean: I was in between going on the social welfare and working with my dad in an office, so it wasn't that exciting.
Neddy: Rob, the other lad, was working in Tesco's.
What have you got coming up for the rest of the year?
Neddy: The Olympia is the next big gig coming up on the 5th of September, an all-ages tour. We're getting announced for some festivals in the UK soon too. We're going to be going between the UK and Ireland for the next year, I reckon.
Sean: We're signed to Warner's in Australia, so we're going to have to go back there at some point too. The seeds are planted.
O.R.B. will play Marlay Park alongside Kanye West and Pharrell Williams on Wednesday 2nd July. Tickets are on sale now.