Dundalk ‘cutest rappers’ Charles and Andrew Hendy are traversing the land building a cult following with their hip hop comedy outfit TPM and a folk offshoot, The Mary Wallopers. We find them in their natural habitat with their van, which has broken down.
It’s half past seven on a Saturday evening in the car park outside St Patrick’s Parish church in Dundalk and Charles and Andrew Hendy’s Ford Transit van isn’t budging. This is the one they bought ten days ago in Belfast and is meant to take them to Glastonbury. But more pressing, it’s the taxi they are meant to be using in 50 minutes to bring people to the BYOB gig they are putting on in their gaff with the Bleeding Heart Pigeons. A half hour and can of Lynx later, to see if they can fire up the fuel pump and get some diesel into the engine, and it still isn’t working. Their brother comes to collect them.
This is a slice in the life of the Hendy brothers who are snowballing their following across the land through their infectiously witty hip hop swagger as TPM and their ravishingly beautiful folk incarnation as The Mary Wallopers. Having taken Trabolgan by storm at It Takes A Village in early May and whipping Body and Soul into a frenzy last month, the brothers are fleshing out and fulfilling the promise they first delivered back in 2015 when All the Boys on the Dole, their first track, went viral after being filmed on the streets of their hometown. Now after clocking up thousands of miles playing every joint in the land and armed with their charm and rich guttural accents, their organic DIY hardwork is gathering momentum and attention.
TPM stands for ‘Tax Payers Money’. “It’s a kind of a shit name,” professes Andrew. “We made our first song and we weren’t a band or anything and two days later I was busking with my band and then me and Charles played All The Boys on the Dole. Some young lad recorded it on his mobile phone and suddenly it went viral (96,027 views on YouTube). Then we had all these newspapers asking after our name. It was easy to come up with.” They’re just as happy to be called Two Pints of Milk or Two Pretty Men.
“All the Boys on the Dole was written in a slump of depression, sitting in a broken car with no money, nowhere to go and no end in sight. It is a response to the idea that if you are in our situation you are worthless. You are NOT worthless.” states their bandcamp page.
The Dundalk Democrat has called them “the town’s answer to The Rubberbandits” but they are also akin to the O’Donovan ‘rowing’ brothers wielding mics rather than oars. “I don’t think we’re as surreal as the Rubberbandits,”says Charles. “We’re a bit more gritty. You can tell The Rubberbandits were in art college if that makes sense. We’re like the working class version.”
Tracks such as Eat that Curry, Cash in the Claw, Fuck RTE (who have just blocked them on twitter) and Sexy Priest has seen them amass an arsenal of smart, witty, and acerbic tracks which form a bum shaking set. Working with their mate Jack (DJ Snakey Bastard) who layers beats from when “hip hop didn’t have any money” and with cameos from Robbie, their ‘Curry King’ mate, TPM stride the stage with customary swagger, alert to each other’s presence with sibling guile. They are, in their own words, “good entertainers”. Their distinctive presence is amplified today by a look – sandals and white socks offset by a cardigan, polo neck and tartan trousers (Charles) and velour jogging pants and shell suit tracksuit top (Andrew). These are the spoils of a Galway gig spent in TK Maxx. They have it. They know it. They flaunt it.
“Growing up we were smoking joints in the shed together and making music,” says Charles. “There were seven in the family and our oldest brother had a pirate radio station and would be putting on raves and into the Dead Kennedys and R’n’B. We weren’t brought up with trad like it was Gaelic. We were into everything – Jamaican dancehall, hip hop and some country. It was all DIY and a problem with authority.”
After going their separate ways to be with former, briefly, loved ones, they reconvened in Dundalk in 2015. “I was living in the Netherlands and Andrew in Hong Kong.” says Charles. “I’d went to BIMM and I hated it,” he claims. “I was 18 and didn’t wasn’t to live at home,” adds Andrew.
Invariably, they attract a cast of characters into their orbit, genuine friends and fodder for material.
Whilst having a pint in Toales’s, an assuming trad bar on Crowe Street, a punter sidles up to our conversation to compliment them on their Glastonbury fundraiser there the night before. Did you like us? asks Andrew. “Fuckin’ deadly man” is the succinct reply. This aligns with their own take on Dundalk, “Fuckin’ great. It’s shite as well.”
Their DIY ethos means they do literally everything from arranging their gigs, transport, accommodation, t-shirts, stickers, whatever it takes to keep the show on the road. “We’re learning as we go along. It’s amazing how many fields you have to become fluent at like graphic design and marketing. So much fucking shit,” says Andrew. It has, of course, led to a moment or two.
“We were asked to do a fundraiser in the Spirit Store around the time I was doing a course in the youth centre, says Charles. “All the kids were mad about TPM so one of the women said ‘ye’d be great to do a set for this fundraiser to bring him home this guy who died abroad’. How do you refuse it? Out of politeness we said ‘yes’. We got down on the night and there was this weird vibe about the place, not much fun, the family was sitting around telling stories about him and on the back of the stage there was this huge projection of him lying on a sun lounger with two bottles of Coors Light and sunglasses on his head with the words RIP underneath.
“Everyone was in good form after a while but just before we went on we were asked if we could leave this young fellow sing a song he wrote for your man. We were like, ‘alright get him on’. This wee angel goes up on stage and sings this song about yer man and about how he’s gone. The family starts crying. And then we come on stage and sing ‘eat curry fucking sauce’, it’s actually like the worst thing. We really shouldn’t be asked to do that sort of thing. She thought it would be a good idea but it wasn’t.”
They had fans travel from Letterkenny to Waterford to see them and from Longford to Cavan. They event were were playing in Leitrim once and recount this couple in their 60s seeing them. “Before the end the husband stormed out and could be heard saying, ‘two lads on the stage talking about their mickeys. How could you jive to that?’” They take it all in their stride.
On the origins of one of their ‘hits’ Eat that Curry, Andrew states, “We used to work in a curry factory – Mr Curry. One night Charles was working the night shift and the only one there. He spilt about 150 litres of oil and said ‘you need to come in here, there’s a situation’. We had to stay up until 5am in the morning mopping it up with cardboard. We wrote the song the following day and quit our jobs.”
The music video saw them round up their mate Robbie who they met at a 21st. “Around the town people were like ‘you have to Robbie in the video. He fucking loves curry.’ He was like. ‘I’ll do whatever you want me to do.’
“We were living in a tiny house in the middle of the town with flourescent lights everywhere. It was like porn so we shot it like a sexual fetish. It’s about how people in Dundalk love curry so much. The video is all these fetish videos we found on the internet. There’s one of this lad sucking up women’s knickers, people popping air out of Air Max. We were trying to find the scummiest ones.”
It’s a quarter past eight when we arrive out to their place outside town. They are going to post on their socials about the gig running late. “It’s usually €6 a head to get in and out of our place (which their van was meant for) and we’re only charging €10 a head tonight cause there’s only one band, so we’ll be only making €4 on everyone who comes out. We just want to pay the lads.” A mate rocks up. His grandparents have just dropped him off.
Their gaff is this old abandoned house down a driveway littered with rusting cards, an abandoned boat, a pub they’ve set up in their living room and a shed out in the middle of a 400 year-old fortification out the back which they’ve converted into a venue replete with discarded sofas, disco lights and religious iconography. They’re using it as a monthly hub to invite acts to play such as Junior Brother, Myles Manley, Jinx Lennon and the aforementioned Bleeding Heart Pigeons.
The following day they are heading down to the Glenties to play The Glen Tavern “a class spot” as The Mary Wallopers. The van is going nowhere and transport will have to be arranged but that’s for tomorrow. “You guys think you can run on excitement,” exclaims their brother driving them out earlier on. And you know this is partly true and that van will get them to Glastonbury. Tonight, though, they’re having a sesh in their gaff.
Post Punk Podge and the Technohippies
Words: Michael McDermott
Photos: Malcolm McGettigan
The Mary Wallopers ep is out July 6. TPM’s mixtape is due for release around the end of July. They plan to have a video for Sexy Priest soon and their mate Graham is filming a documentary on them too.
TPM play Knockanstockan (July 19-21) and Trailer Park at Electric Picnic (August 30-September 1)
Join The Curry Club and Fuck RTE at patreon.com/tpmlaws