ABANDOMAN INTERVIEW: I USED TO CALL IT FOLK-A-HOP
Hip-hop and Ireland; two words practically antonymous with one another. Not if Dublin born Rob Broderick or ‘Abandoman’ has anything to do with it. Along with his partner James Hancox, they have won both Hackney Empire New Act of the Year and The Musical Comedy Awards in 2010. Combining comedy and music for sketches that are basically improvised, and, as we found out, usually incorporate the audience throughout, they have new cards to bring to the table. Thank God for that. I seriously can’t take any more McIntyre (everyone knows it’s cool to knock him).
They are regulars on The Now Show and The Chris Hawkins Breakfast Show and have performed alongside or opened for the likes of Mickey Flannigan, Jimmy Carr and Ed Sheeran. They sold out their full run at the Edinburgh Fringe festival, so it’s good news to hear they will be performing at the up and coming Birmingham comedy festival. So, we gave Rob a phone-call for an interview and naturally, squeezed all of the juiciest information out of him.
So Rob, how did the idea come about?
Well, when I was younger I was a massive fan of hip-hop. When I was 13 I got given a hip-hop CD by an older kid. I just loved how verbose it was. It was so different to everything I had previously experienced with music. Everything on the radio was quite sanitised, the language was fit for families and there was virtually no hip-hop. I grew up confidently doing bits here and there. When I was 16 I had a hip-hop band briefly and we did the school battle of the bands. We covered ‘Gangster Rap’ which was huge at the time and that does look ridiculous coming from the voices of two Irish middle class 16 year olds! Then I moved to England and fell in with a rapper called Jonzi D. We toured the country at Jonzi’s direction and that really built up my confidence to start rapping.
Have you ever thought of making your own name for what you do?
I used to call it folk-a-hop! When I started out I was a one-man-band and I used to sample a lot of folk music. To be honest, hip-hop samples from so many different genres that it just falls under the hip-hop banner really.
How do you keep yourself focused under pressure?
I warm up for it. I freestyle. If I’m doing a show at nine, I’ll start free-styling with a friend at about eight. I’ll go on at nine and my brain is usually quite warmed up by that point. It’s probably the easiest way. And it’s something I enjoy doing. I listen to a lot of music during the day and my brain in a way plays its own lyrics. I start free-styling over the track, so it’s something I do anyways.
The Birmingham comedy festival – what can people expect?
Well, as well as the shows always being lyrically new, the style of the show is also new. It’s a show that we built for Edinburgh this year. It’s a one hour musical with a narrative, but all of that is built on the people I meet in the crowd. Its gets sillier and sillier as it goes on which I really love.
Who would win a rap-battle between you and the Sheeranator?
It depends who’s judging. If it was fans of pop music, no matter what I did, Ed would win! Truth be told, I’m not the most aggressive of men, so I struggle to seriously battle rap with anyone. I toured with a battle-rapper for a musical and one of the guys on the tour I shared a changing room with. We tried to battle each other but I’m quite a genial dude, so I’d be like ‘you can’t rap at all, but last night you were incredible!’ So I’d probably start rapping to Ed about how ‘Lego House’ is actually a great song. It could go either way. We’ll try and make it happen.
How did you end up working with Ed in the first place?
Originally we were in a room together with his cousin, who is a comedian. We were on the same bill but didn’t say hello to each other. And then in May 2010 there was a guy called Dan Tsu who put together a hip-hop show for the free festival in Brighton. There were four members and one of them was Ed. He’d just toured with Nizlopi and I thought he was brilliant. He was going around and meeting people, there was huge interest in the stuff. We were aware he was getting bigger and bigger. We saw each other at various festivals over the next 12 months and he invited us to come on tour with him. It amuses me to no end that in 2010 the dude was doing shows for free in Brighton and now he’s playing for the Queen! His skill-set has been built since he was 11, releasing his own EP’s and he’s written so many songs. It makes sense that people are now recognising him. It was interesting touring with him because we’d see him going out in front of five thousand people every night and he was so relaxed. I think a lot of people would find that quite stressful.
Are there any plans for you to release an album?
Yeah. I mean, no. No there aren’t. But there are plans for me to try! I’ve been writing for the last year; song ideas. But I really enjoy the nature of improvising, going onto a stage and going ‘here’s a song, see you later song!’ I love it. I adore it. I adore the idea that the song comes, it’s executed and it’s gone. The idea of sitting down and working on a song again and again until it’s done, that doesn’t suit me. Everyone has different natural abilities. Some people are better writers, some people are naturally more inclined to freestyle and I’m definitely the latter. I don’t know what my album would be. I don’t know if it would be a mess, but I’d like to give it a try.
What are the plans for the future?
There are a few TV ideas that are being discussed at the moment, but I’d really like to write another musical. I really enjoy the process. The last piece wasn’t a comedy. It was more of a drama and I’d love to write a hip-hop comedy that is theatrical with lots of other rappers in it. At Edinburgh I saw something similar. It was a hip-hop adaptation of ‘Othello’ and I really enjoyed it. It was really good.
Personally, I’m looking forward to that. If you missed the duo at the Edinburgh Festival then you’re lucky enough to be able to catch them at the Birmingham comedy festival from the 5th of October. And occasionally they pop up on various TV shows. Here’s to hoping they get their own one day!
Jake Taylor for PPSF, signing off.