Friday, 29 August 2008
They’ve written for Babyface and Teddy Riley, but now they’re stepping out from behind the boards. With their big pop hooks and Maroon-5 like melodies, we predict Irish trio The Script are about to be rather huge. Hattie Collins speaks to Mark to find out the craic!
Three-piece Irish band The Script are the latest buzz in the pop world. The Hoosiers asked them to support them on tour, Radio 1 playlisted them months in advance, while radio stations in their homeland even started a campaign to get the boys to No.1! “It’s funny,” says Mark, the group’s guitarist, who alongside drummer Glen and singer Danny is also producer and songwriter. “We’ve seen how it happened so fast with the Hoosiers and I’d be lying if I said we didn’t fancy a bit of that, but at the same we hope people get into the music with us first,” he says cautiously. “Then again, there’s nothing you can do about it I suppose, because the record label is really trying to make a load of money off you so... “
Indeed, they might not have too much choice in the matter. Especially when people get to see them live, where they really excel. Tracks like We Cry, for example become even more amazing when you hear Danny in the flesh and see how the band bring the music to life. It’s led to them being compared to everyone from U2 and the Police to Maroon 5 (but not fellow Irish-ers Westlife or Boyzone, thank God!) It’s also a sound a lot of hip hop and R&B heads will appreciate. “When I talk to anyone at the label they tell me not to mention hip hop and I know it’s a million miles from f*cking hip hop, however our roots and how we put stuff together is influenced by that,” Mark insists. “For example, we take a hip hop loop and then Glen will walk in and play over that. I grew up on Tribe Called Quest and then Common and Eminem and Kanye - all of us have always had a passion for the rhyme of hip hop, so we tend to use a melodic flow and a low bassline. Live, we push our kicks and snare and bass, rather than having loud, screeching guitars and banging drums.” It’s fair to say someone like Kanye might like the Script, right? “Well, yeah, hopefully,” nods Mark. “I think he’d be a great match for us. He went down the wrong road using Chris Martin,” he adds with a laugh. “He should have used us - he would have got a cooler song!
Danny and Mark met 15 years ago, when Mark sold Danny ‘some gear.’ We clarify exactly what he means by that, but apparently it was actually Cubase-based, nothing dodgy. A few years ago, Glen came onboard and the boys started to think about turning themselves into a production outfit rather than a group. “We got major interest when we were younger in Ireland,” Mark remembers. “We had a friend who knew U2’s manager, Paul McGuiness who really liked what we were doing, but felt we were a bit young and we needed to experience more in the production world. So we went to LA to work.” They jetted off to Hollywoodland, where they ended up working with the likes of Babyface and Teddy Riley, who they met after flying down to Virginia and ‘Turning up at his door with our guitars on our backs. Literally.’ They wound up doing some writing and programming while Riley worked on the second Blackstreet album and then got more work with other beatmakers. Ultimately though, they felt unfulfilled working for other people. “We got sick of writing a really cool song to then have some sh*t singer come in and do a crap job,” admits Mark. So they stuck Danny out front and began crafting gorgeous compositions.
“I think we encapsulate everything that’s going on in modern music,” says Mark. “People might not want to admit it, but everyone’s tastes have gotten broader. We’ve found a way of encapsulating all the best of those styles into a sonic fingerprint in a new sort of way. I hope we deliver that quality in music.”
Earlier this year, Danny suffered a collapsed lung, while Glen smashed his head open on the floor of a pub toilet. Is Mark worried he might be next? “I wasn’t until everyone kept saying it to me,” he exclaims. “Hopefully I’ll go down in style though – I’ll get a massive electric shock on stage instead of something sissy,” he grins. “Maybe we could set up a mad person in the audience to pop me or something?” Sorry Mark, the only pop you’re going near is the top of the charts (groan).
Who would you like to read a bedtime story to?
I’d have to do it without my missus slitting my throat, but lets say, anything with a heartbeat! Nah, I suppose Kelly Brook is nice.
How’s the groupie love so far?
Well, we’re getting sent a lot of strange pictures. Actually, there was a young girl in the show last night. She was all flirty and then she lifted her top up and on her stomach there was an arrow pointing down and it said ‘Insert here.’ I was like ohhhh-kay!
Thursday, 28 August 2008
The buzz started when their first single, “We Cry”, reached the Irish top ten in April. In July, the second single, “The Man Who Can’t be Moved” did even better and peaked at number three. By August all the escalating hype was reaching fever pitch- and sure enough, their debut album shot straight to the top spot in both Ireland and the UK in the first week of it’s release. Since then the noise surrounding the band had become an all out frenzy and The Script have gone viral – as in something thoroughly infectious!
Over the past few weeks they’ve been everywhere- radio, television, newspapers, magazines, message boards, you name it. The truth, however, is that The Script are an instant success story about 10 years in the making. It’s a new twist on an old rock ‘n’ roll fable. Vocalist Danny O’Donoghue and guitarist Mark Sheehan grew up together around the James Street area of Dublin. They formed MyTown, a boy band whose career was orchestrated under the Principle Management umbrella- who also, of course, handle U2.
After that unsuccessful stint attempting to outdo Westlife and the Backstreet Boys, the pair worked as a songwriting and production team, with considerable success, working with Teddy Riley and The Neptunes, among others. But when they met drummer, session musician and fellow Dub, Glen Power, the three clicked socially, personally and musically – and thus The Script was born.
If the media hype, a number one album, a show in Marley Park and an upcoming tour wasn’t enough to content with, the afternoon we chat, Mark is anxiously waiting for his wife to give birth “at any moment”. Ah Bless. Nobody told them there’d be days like these!
The Script are a little bit pop and a little bit R ‘n’ B. They are bright, polished and write songs that have a knack of insinuating themselves into people’s heads. They call it ‘Celtic Soul’. Yep, I’m not quite sure what that is either, but this much I can say: their music is hugely accessible and radio friendly, like an Irish OneRepublic. But that’s never stopped the local snipers from taking pot shots: if the success seemed quick, the attendant begrudgery has been even quicker.
We can’t ignore them, so let’s have a look at the criticisms that are being slung about like snuff at a wake.
Criticism number one: despite the Celtic Soul tag, The Script have been accused of not sounding Irish. Like The Thrills before them, they’ve been derided for sounding too American, specifically for being Maroon 5 the 2008 edition. It’s a familiar old refrain, alright….
“We may have an American, polished sound,” says Mark, “but we lived in America for ten years. That’s where I learned to produce records. What was I going to do? Take all that experience and then reverse it?”
In any event, he isn’t going to be boxed in by other people’s narrow horizons.
“What is Irish music anyway?” he asks. “I love Christy Moore. To me he’s a rapper - he’s one of the best rappers in the world. I love Aslan – they express themselves with great accuracy. I’m really into the Coronas and I think the Blizzards are really good as well. But in the middle of that you have the Republic of Loose – I love what they’re doing. Is that ‘Irish’? Mary Black hits me in the heart. I love that kind of stuff as well and I love the differences between all those artists.”
Mark sees what The Script are doing as very much a product of modern Ireland. His attitude on the subject is impressively bolshie.
“Everyone I know in Dublin listens to pop music. They love their Coldplay, their Kanye West, Justin Timberlake or their U2 –they love all that stuff. I think we’re absolutely a reflection of that new Ireland. We’ve been compared to all kinds of people – U2 meets Timbaland, Kanye West, Coldplay and yeah, Maroon 5, fair enough – but when people listen to the album they’ll change their minds. At least we’re not being compared to Val Doonican, or that kind of shite!”
Criticism number two is that Danny and Mark’s boyband past in My Town casts a long shadow. Mark is unapologetic. In fact he isn’t remotely concerned with how the MyTown afterburn might affect The Script’s credibility.
“People don’t take us seriously to begin with” he says. “We write pop songs. We write love songs. We write songs about breaking hearts and what we’ve experienced, and that’s it really.
But that past experience of the pop genre is fascinating nonetheless. Marketed as R ‘n’ B in the States and a pop boyband in the UK, My Town fell between two stools and failed to capture the public imagination. But here’s the rub: they may have been sucked into the belly of the beast – but they made it out the other side because they are musicians first and foremost.
“You get into the industry and you have an idea of what it’s going to be like and it’s nothing like you think. We thought that we were going to be able to express ourselves musically with My Town, but that didn’t happen. Of course there’s a formula and that’s fine, there’s a place for that, but when Danny and I saw what was happening we bailed.”
The lads don’t regret the experience. At the time, Mark says, they were desperate for success. Having grown up poor in working-class Dublin, all they wanted to do was get to America. With that out of their system, they are back fresher and stronger. If My Town were an R ‘n’ B boyband, Mark sees The Script not so much as a change in musical personas, but a progression – and in a sense The Script represents a serious step forward musically.
“I wouldn’t change anything. We learnt so much in those years. And so what? You know the Ting Tings were originally in girlbands and boybands. So was Duffy.”
Having said that Mark’s not keen on the music of manufactured acts created by shows such as The X-Factor.
“I don’t watch it, I don’t read about it. It’s not something I’m into. I’d prefer if it was more about songwriting, or real artists – but I suppose it can’t be. It’s about spring-boarding people to pop success and it has it’s place, just like Westlife and Shayne Ward have their place.”
As far as Mark is concerned, The Script are a world away from the likes of Ireland’s two big boyband exports, Westlife and Boyzone.
“There’s a demographic for those bands. It’s not something I’d listen too or enjoy, but if my son grows up listening to say, Shayne Ward, I’d prefer that than him listening to Eminem talking about chopping his wife up, putting her in the boot of his car and driving her over the fucking bridge. It’s music for a demographic – it’s like when kids grow up they love Barney, or Bear in the Big Blue House. That music is for younger people, and I think there’s a place for it.”
Unfortunately for the MyTown graduates, their boyband history mean that they got lumped in with the likes of those manufactured pop acts. Despite the fact that they had some high-profile fans and collaborators, there was an assumption that they were a bunch of talentless robots, stuck on the road to nowhere. Wrong, it turns out, on all counts….
After MyTown, Danny and Mark stayed on in America writing songs and producing music. This was mostly a hand-to-mouth existence, as Mark describes it, but it allowed them to work with some pretty heavyweight names and the lads learnt their craft with the likes of Dallas Austin, The Neptunes, Rodney Jerkins and Teddy Riley.
“Meeting Teddy was amazing,” Mark grins. “From when I was a kid I wanted to meet him, just to say thank you for all the music. We went around and he was watching “The Sopranos” but he invited us in. We were chatting, then Danny and I were playing guitars. He gave us the confidence that maybe we could do something. I mean, who were we? Just a bunch of lads from Dublin, and having someone like that interested in us opened a lot of doors.”
The third criticism is predictable: that the songs are shiny, emotionless, middle–of–the–road numbers. While there’s no denying that on first sight The Script look like pop-by-numbers, the songs and music were written by the band as a response to what were difficult personal circumstances – money worried, unemployment and bereavement – and that they have something to say about those thornier than average themes in a pop context. Within the space of just over a year Mark lost his mother and Danny’s father died of a heart attack. That their songs are genuinely written from the heart is, according to Mark, what the fans like about them.
“I think the songs are really honest and that’s what people have picked up on. When we were writing them we were in a dark place and I think that comes across, that genuine emotion.”
For Mark, songwriting is all about accessing an emotional response.
“I always say that our formula is like no formula. Sometimes Glen will have an idea or Danny will. It’s kind of like divining – when I feel the hairs on the back of my neck then I know we’ve got something.”
Criticism number four is that The Script are a bunch of pretty boys, an accusation – or rather a compliment! – which Mark thinks is hilarious.
“I look in the mirror and think, look at the state of that!” he laughs. “I’m 28 years old and I’m losing my hair. We admire people like U2 and Coldplay – not as heartthrobs – but because of the way they carry themselves through the industry with great dignity and I guess we try to act like that.”
Err…I think it might be the fact that Danny – the photogenic dark haired singer- looks more like a young Fergal Sharkey beautifully re-imagined as a noughties teen idol.
“If girls want to like Danny, because he looks a certain way, they’re welcome, but I know what he’s really like. He’s a messy bollocks!”
And finally, criticism number five is that The Script got signed before paying their dues on the live circuit- success being unacceptable until you’ve hauled equipment in and out of venues such as Whealan’s or the Spirit Store the requisite number of times. But in the past few months, the lads have been touring with the likes of The Hoosiers and The Zutons, did the summer festival circuit including a headline spot on the iTunes festival and a well received at this year’s Oxygen.
“The Irish shows are always the most important to us,” Mark asserts. “Before we went on stage, there were maybe about 200 people in the tent at Oxygen, and I thought ‘Oh no, Ireland hates us’! But then about five minutes before we went on, the place filled up and they were turning people away.”
Next up is a tour around Ireland, the UK, Europe and Japan, with plans to conquer America slotted in for next year.
“We always say the only place success comes before touring is in the dictionary. You have to tour in order to get the music out. We’re getting released in America on Paddy’s Day. We’re doing gigs in New York and Boston on the same day, which will be a big launch for us. In the meantime, we’re promoting the album here and our tour kicks off, which is huge for us. We’ve been in the shadows of other bands in the past while – and now it’s time for us to step out.”
If their success in slamming straight in at number one in Ireland and the UK seems almost indecently easy, the band aren’t taking anything for granted. The industry, as Mark notes, is fickle and the pressure to deliver one commercially successful album after another can be overwhelming. But for the moment, he’s not worrying about that.
“I am really just happy about being employed, you know,” says Mark, in a way that is genuinely disarming. “That’s all I focus on. I could be digging holes, I could be out there working on building sites with my brothers, but I’m so lucky that I’m working in an area that I love and I’m able to be creative in.”
The Script write pop music. They don’t pretend it’s anything grander and nobody seems more surprised about their current popularity than the band themselves.
“We made this album in a shitty shed on James Street and the idea of it being played on the radio, and the music getting out there, and people coming to see us, we’re like – “Holy shit, this is great!”
And it is. The begrudgers may carp, the reviews may be ambivalent, but the public have spoken – and the public have anointed The Script as this year’s success story. Teenage girls may get their knickers in a twist over Danny and the videos may take advantage of that fact, but writing The Script off as a cynical A&R concoction designed for nothing more than to extract the maximum amount of disposable income from our wallets is unfair in the extreme. Their ballad-y sound may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but so what? They do what they do well – heartfelt tunes, lush singalong choruses and shiny American production values. Chillax man, don’t be a hater.
Wednesday, 27 August 2008
With a debut album in the pipeline, the Script look forward to the next chapter
May 18, 2008
In the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios, the Script are sitting on stools, squirming through a Q&A session with the DJ Simon Mayo that involves revealing the most-played songs on their iPods and which of the trio is the chattiest. When the front man, Danny O’Donoghue, is asked to describe the Script’s sound, he steals a cheesy quote about “a new sort of Celtic soul” from the band’s own press release, then, embarrassed, buries his head in his hands.
The nerves, the stools, the Smash Hits-style questions and the fact that all three are good-looking lads from Dublin would lead a casual observer to conclude that the Script are Ireland’s latest boy-band export. Except they are in the prestigious, if slightly shabby, BBC studios to record a concert for Radio 2, in a slot that recently featured Duffy and Adele, and when they start to play they sound like a hip-hop-infused Maroon 5.
Far from a manufactured act, the Script consists of a pair of former R&B producers - 25-year-old O’Donoghue and the shaven-headed guitarist, Mark Sheehan, 27 - plus the funk drummer Glen Power, 28, a former session musician they met through a mutual friend four years ago. Their debut album, The Script, due in August, was entirely written, played and produced by the trio, mostly in O’Donoghue’s studio in a shed in Dublin’s run-down St James’s Street. That they are now tipped for fame in Britain and America has left the band more bemused than big-headed.
“Our only ambition was to get one of our songs on the radio,” says Sheehan. “Now, every day, we hear that more stations have playlisted the single, or Yahoo is broadcasting one of our gigs, or Perez Hilton has us on his home page. When we supported the Hoosiers in March, we didn’t expect anyone to know who we were, but we had every song sung back at us. It’s almost going too well. We’re waiting for the bad news now, because none of us believes this can continue.”
Yet the success of their debut single, We Cry, looks set to snowball. The album is stuffed with similarly catchy songs that blend hip-hop, soulful pop and 1980s rock with tales about characters they know from Dublin.
Sheehan and O’Donoghue met in their mid-teens, when the former advertised studio equipment he no longer used in Dublin’s Buy and Sell. O’Donoghue - whose pianist father played with Tom Jones and Roy Orbison - answered the ad and bought the home studio, with which, two months later, the pair began writing their first songs. Both had dropped out of school by the time the U2 manager, Paul McGuinness, took on their band Mytown and, having secured a major-label deal, sent them to America to work with a host of Alist R&B producers.
“We had produced our own demos,” recalls O’Donoghue, “but the label thought Teddy Riley and Dallas Austin could polish our sound. Our songs were soulful hip-hop, or so we thought. In the end, the album never came out. In the States, they said we were too pop. Over here, we were told we were too R&B.”
Rather than return to Dublin, the two set up base first in Orlando, then LA, where they built a tiny studio in their flat in Venice Beach and began picking up production work. “There was nothing glamor-ous about it,” says O’Donoghue. “We’d get a remix in January, and that would pay the bills until March. We had to become jacks of all trades. One day, I’d be on turntables for TLC or remixing Beenie Man, then Mark would do some programming or get a gig playing a guitar part. We were mostly scraping by.”
A remix for Justin Timberlake got them hired by Jive to help the label’s new pop signings establish their sound, but by then they were sick of writing for other artists. “We always write from our own experience,” says O’Donoghue. “When someone else sang our lyrics, they never came across as we intended.”
The Script formed almost by accident when Power, who was still based in Dublin, came to stay with his friends for a fortnight’s holiday. Rather than sunbathe, as he intended, he was taken straight from the airport to a jam session. A few hours later, the trio resolved to become a band. Their first demo tape got them a record deal, but just as they were about to begin recording, Sheehan’s mother was diagnosed as terminally ill and the guitarist decided to return to Dublin. His bandmates opted to move with him - the Script’s debut album was written between Sheehan’s hospital visits.
“I would spend every night at mum’s bedside, writing down how I felt while she slept, then go straight to the studio,” he recalls.
“There were so many emotions rattling round, the songs poured out of us. We Cry came from walking down St James’s Street early in the morning, smelling Guinness from the brewery and watching girls who should have been at school pushing babies in prams.”
The band’s storytelling songs inspired the name the Script. “We’d walk past girls with babies called Mercedes or Diamond,” says Sheehan. “You can laugh, but the reason these girls give their kids ‘expensive’ names is because they honestly believe they are giving their children a better chance in life. In no way are we looking down on them.”
Then there is the album track Rusty Halo, which refers to their Catholic upbringing and the sense that they may already have sinned too much to get to heaven. “It’s about us scouring the Bible to find a loophole that gets us out of going to hell,” explains Sheehan. “Unfortunately, we’re still searching.”
The temptations, you sense, will only become trickier - the Script’s MySpace friends are almost entirely female, while their recent appearance in a Bebo online soap saw them cast as the pop-star heart-throbs they are about to become. Their current concerns, however, are more commercial than carnal. “We tried to bet on We Cry being a hit with Paddy Power,” reveals Sheehan, referring to the Irish bookie. “But they wouldn’t let us wager on our own song. We thought if the music doesn’t work out, we should make some money in the meantime.”
I try to tell them they no longer need to scam, but the unassuming trio are unwilling to believe it.
The Irish trio's version of David Bowie's Heroes has been selected to represent the world-wide event in four years.
The rockers are at No1 in the album chart with their self-titled debut album and at No2 in the singles chart with The Man Who Can't Be Moved.
But they were shocked by the honour because they originally recorded Heroes as a joke.
Drummer Glen Power said: "We were just messing around when we decided to record it and it doesn't even really have a proper drum beat.
"We really just put it together using a foot pedal for the beat."
Singer Danny O'Donoghue added: "We wanted to cover it because we just thought it was a great song. It's the only cover we've ever done and we can't believe it's just been taken on for the Olympics."
The band, who formed in 2001, are shocked at how popular they've become. It took a gig in Scotland for the friends, who used to produce music for The Neptunes, to help them realise they were firmly on the road to success.
Guitarist Mark Sheehan said: "One of the big turnaround points for us was when we toured in Scotland with the Hoosiers.
"We were at the Carling Academy in Glasgow and we got a big shock at the response from the Scots fans.
"There were nearly 2000 people at the gig and they just went nuts for us.
"It was an amazing reaction and we all went out afterwards to celebrate."
The boys were so delighted they even decided to try Scots delicacies haggis and deep-fried Mars Bars.
Mark said: "Glen thought the haggis was lovely - like pudding."
And Mark had another cause for celebration this week when his wife Reena gave birth to their first child.
The couple have been married for three years and met in the US when he and Danny were writing and producing material for other bands as well as The Script.
And the musician told The Razz: "I've roped Danny into being godfather. I'm expecting him to stand in where I can't.
"It'll be a real responsibility considering he is still a child himself. The only other responsibility he has at the moment is his utility bills.
Tuesday, 26 August 2008
Irish trio The Script are making their presence felt with their honest music from the soul.
One glance at boyishly handsome Danny O’Donaghue, frontman of Irish band The Script, and you’d probably hear the alarm bells go off and think: boyband. But nothing could be further from the truth.
About a decade ago, O’Donaghue, 25, and The Script guitarist Mark Sheehan, 27, were in a boyband. Remember the group, Mytown? Well, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t because they never made it big anywhere even though they did come to Malaysia, twice.
The break up of Mytown turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it led to O’Donaghue and Sheehan’s sojourn to the United States where they worked as producers, alongside many top R&B producers, such as The Neptunes, Teddy Riley and Dallas Austin.
“When we did this earlier, we were very young and we did not have as much control as we have now.” said O’Donaghue when The Script came to town recently. “I mean we were in a band, a pop band, and we got a small taste of the industry. Then we decided to break up the band, and Mark and I went off and produced. We spent a long time in the (United) States (working) with (producer) Teddy Reilly (who produced artistes like Michael Jackson and Jay-Z) and Rodney Jerkins and all these different people. We were just kind of learning the craft.
“This time around it just means so much more because we’ve had so much input from the start – the name, the music, the videos, we produced it ourselves – it really feels like it’s a part of us rather than us just being a small part of something big like how it was before. We really feel like we are on the start of something amazing. And I am a little older and a little wiser, too,” said O’Donaghue.
Experience, exposure and perhaps maturity led the two back to writing music again; they hooked up with drummer Glen Power, 28, who had a reputation as a prodigy in the Dublin music scene, to form The Script.
Earlier this month, O’Donaghue and Power were in Malaysia for the MTV Asia Awards at Genting Highlands where they performed their second single The Man Who Can’t Be Moved to rave reviews; Sheehan unfortunately could not make the trip as his wife was about to deliver their first child.
“I am sure he is kicking himself, wishing he was here with us.
“Mark is a big reason we are here. The guy is just relentless kicking us up in the morning. He is the glue that sticks us all together and he is really, sorely, missed.” said O’Donaghue.
Pegged as the band to watch for, the Irish trio are making waves in the international music scene. Their first single, We Cry, peaked at No.9 on the charts (where it remained for 30 whole weeks) and The Man Who Can’t be Moved is still enjoying lots of air play on TV and radio.
Critics, unsure of how exactly to categorise their music, have described their sound as being “a little bit Timbaland, a little U2 and a little Sting”. Some say it’s “celtic soul” while others describe their music as being “a juxtaposition of hip-hop lyrical, R&B and rock”.
For the boys, it’s just honest music from the soul.
“It’s an honour to be in the same bracket or to be named (in connection) with these guys. They are all our heroes and if I met them I’d probably stutter,” said O’Donaghue. “We listened to The Police, Stevie Wonder, Genesis, and U2 – they were a massive influence. When I saw what they (U2) could do, I thought if they could do all that, then maybe I could do that, too,” said Glen.
Jokingly, O’Donaghue added: “But I’d like to think that somewhere, Sting is sitting in a room getting interviewed, (being told) ‘you know you sound like Danny O’Donaghue from The Script?’ ”
Although humbled about the comparisons, the boys are determined to create their own sound and carve their own place in the industry.
“I think there is a space in the market for a band that has lyrics that mean things, a band that is being very honest.
“We also want to get the message across that we have feelings. A lot of men have deep feelings,” said O’Donaghue.
Added Power: “And that it’s OK to cry.”
The two explain that when We Cry was first released in Britain, the band got some flak for “being wimps”.
“But I just want to say that we are even stronger because we cry,” said O’Donaghue.
Working on the songs is a collaborative effort with all three Dubliners playing an equal role in the writing and production work.
“I think individually we have our strengths and when you put us together, we are just stronger as a force. I think we are clever enough to know that this is something special that we’ve found with the three of us. And it’s a lot more fun, too,” mused Power.
Added O’Donaghue, “We were all friends first and to be able to go around the world with your friends and play music and have fun together, it’s fantastic. I’d never want to do it on my own ... it’d be too lonely.
“Travelling is really hard sometimes and being with your friends helps you keep going. I cannot imagine doing something else.”
So, did the name The Script have anything to do with them coming from Ireland, the land of many literary geniuses?
“No, we basically started in LA where everyone is looking for ‘the script’. Our songs are stories and miniature ‘movies’ so that’s how we came up with the name The Script.
“The other names we came up with before were really bad: Versatile, Hank Wangford and the Rambling Turkeys, and Atlantic Fantasy. So when someone suggested ‘The Script’, we all jumped on it!” explained O’Donaghue.
“A lot of people believe we sound very American because the music is very polished. I don’t know whether to feel bad that nobody would think that something good can come out of Ireland but everywhere we’ve gone around the world, people have been surprised to find out we are Irish.
“Mark and I also spent a lot of time in the (United) States soaking up American culture, and the stuff we were producing just ended up having a bit of a sheen to it. We just felt that these sounds and the way the album was produced was the best way to get these songs out,” said O’ Donaghue.
While they are enjoying the buzz – their recent tour with N.E.R.D, the success of their first two singles and the release of their debut album, media attention like never before and red-carpet appearances – the trio aren’t going to lose sight of the big picture.
“We want to play on stage and have an impact. We want to hit them (fans) you know ... we want to make the hairs at the back of their neck stand up and we want to make people go, ‘Wow... I feel the same,’” said O’Donaghue.
So we give Mark a chance to reset the balance: let him pick a fantasy name and a fantasy script to his fantasy life story. This is how it goes:
"I'm called Mike Machine. The band comes about when we somehow find ourselves on a stage brought together by the gods of ROCK! and play the best songs ever heard. On the bill are David Bowie, Kanye West and John Mayer. Kanye joins us for We Cry. He raps the middle eight. And since we're wishing, I flew there."
Truth, though, is very often stranger than fiction, and The Script's story supports that old adage. Their current lifestyles couldn't be further from their childhood years; the band's singer and keys man, Danny O'Donoghue and Mark were raised in the rundown James Street area of Dublin, in the shadow of the Guinness brewery. They bonded over music; Danny studiously became a proficient singer and Mark turned to music to avoid getting dragged into a life of petty crime.
"Dan grew up loving the vocal soul legends, like Stevie Wonder, while I always had a huge interest in hip-hop and R&B. We naturally grew up in a rock climate in Ireland loving artists like David Bowie, U2, Missy Elliott, Bob Marley, The Police... I think we tip our hats to those guys."
The pair showed an early flair for writing and production and were invited to America to collaborate with the likes of The Neptunes (Pharrell Williams), Dallas Austin and Teddy Riley. That's when they met multi-instrumentalist Glen - another Dubliner abroad, who had earned his crust as a session musician for 15 years.
"We all had a jamming session in LA, which some of our current songs came from. It was those songs which got us signed and the chance to write and produce our own record."
They started touring, taking to the road with many of the people they'd earned production credits with.
"We thought we where being nice by not asking for a rider and letting people decide what they felt we should have. All we got was alcohol. I'm not complaining, but do you think they heard our accents?"
How did it measure up to Pharrell's rider? "Put it this way, I don't think you could bite into their fruit, your teeth would smash. Too many diamonds."
How would you describe your music?
"This is music for the head, heart and feet. We wrote this music through some of our darkest times (including the loss of Danny's father and Mark's mother) so I think people will relate to us. Check out The End Where I Begin and Breakeven on the new album. If they don't get you, you just can't be got."
With their eponymous debut album storming the charts, the boys have already got their eyes set on world domination. They're doing well over here and are big in Germany (Mark's second favourite place in the world so far). But if America birthed them, then America is the logical country to want to crack - so how's it going? "The reaction from the US has been very strong so far. Top blogger Perez Hilton (who gets 35 million hit a week) just gave us his front page recently, out of the blue, so that helped - big time."
MOST bands couldn’t give a two-fingered salute about who buys their music. As long they’re buying the music and funding the coke habit, who cares, right? Mark has an astonishingly acute idea of who is buying their music.
“Admin staff who are on their first serious career move and finally care about their career and are going to live shows with couples or mates. We used to think it was the 25- to 35-year-old girls, but we hear a lot of guys out there, too. From being a producer, I have to watch how every genre works. You’re creating a vehicle for a song."
At the grand old age of 28, Mark and his bandmates, singer/pianist Danny O’Donaghue and drummer Glen Power, are just starting out as a band, after a decade spent producing and generally being a jack-of-all-trades in LA studios. In his buttery Irish brogue, he cheerfully admits that he was the breed of producer who became one “because my career as an artist didn’t kick off”.
They’ve only just released their second single (The Man Who Can’t Be Moved) and their first album, but their careers seem to be on fast-forward. Their energy crackles down the phone. Tipped as a “next big thing” by Radio One, they’ve supported The Hoosiers and appeared at the MTV Asia awards. The first band to stream a concert via Yahoo Messenger, they’re astutely aligning themselves with the MySpace generation.
Mark and Danny, 27, have been friends since about 15. Quickly establishing a writing partnership – and with the encouragement of U2 manager Paul McGuinness – they spent some of a publishing advance on a trip to Virginia Beach, where they blagged their way into R&B producer Teddy Riley’s studio. The result was a succession of jobs in the US working on pop and R&B records with Riley, The Neptunes and Dallas Austin.
“It was so demanding. One day we’d be working with computer programs and the next day writing or doing vocals. Anything to keep the lights on. We were bottom feeder producers. At one end, we would hang with Justin Timberlake and Britney but we were mainly sent to work with all the new artists. Actually, we were supposed to produce Britney but there was a major hurricane so we didn’t get her physically in the studio. We were struggling. Danny had come to LA because there were bigger industry possibilities, and I was sick of Danny not getting a break and I wanted to produce a record for him. Within four hours of jamming in the studio, the three of us really had something. A big producer told us he knew someone in the UK who would sign us and put our records out, so we went to London and The Script was born.”
Their time producing has the happy side effect that their record label, Sony BMG, allows them a very long leash.
“We deliver it to the record label and they put it out. We have complete control. I can’t begin to tell you how much freedom they give us. I’m booking studios myself to keep costs down now and they know I won’t overspend.”
Their heads-down approach to music-making means that some aspects of popular culture pass them by.
A recent faux pas at the iTunes festival earned them kudos in certain circles.
“It was a huge gig for us and we got to headline. We didn’t realise that Peaches Geldof was a presenter. We hadn’t a clue who the woman was. She was giving it the ‘Oh, you’re Irish, my dad’s Irish’ routine, and we were like ‘Okaay’. Later, we found out she meant her dad was Bob Geldof.
Mark is missing another huge gig now in Asia – but he has another big gig going on in London.
“My wife and I are expecting our first baby in two weeks, so I stayed here in case the little critter comes along. We’re expecting a boy, judging by the scan. But I’m missing the band. It’s terrible, every gig seems the most important gig. But I told them to go ahead. It’s all good.”
Monday, 25 August 2008
When the Irish born but London based trio, The Script, unleashed their debut single "We Cry," the world was definitely being thrown a huge sonic red herring. Who would have thought that such urban inspired soul music could have come from Ireland - the land of shamrocks, leprechauns, the Corrs and U2?
Despite their lineage, Danny O'Donoghue (vocals), Mark Sheehan (guitar) and Glen Power (drums) are no strangers to the music of American soul, hip hop and R&B. For one, Danny and Mark have studied intensively under the watchful eyes of famed producers such as Rodney Jerkins, the Neptunes, Teddy Reilly and have been rolling in the Los Angeles music scene as songwriters and producers for years. Spurred on by Danny's urge to return to the limelight, the band roped in drummer Glen and started a new sound dubbed "Celtic soul" that they wholly call it their own. And make no mistakes about it. The Irish have soul, as we found out from Danny and Glen themselves at the MTV Asia Awards.
Express in your best vocabulary as possible: Just how excited are you guys to be here?
Glen: We are amazed to be here. We woke up in the morning and we said to each other when we were having breakfast: "We can't believe that we are in Malaysia doing what we are doing right now." It's great!
Danny: We haven't seen enough of Genting yet but we've taken a trip down to see the Kuala Lumpur Tower yesterday. I have to say that it's breathtaking! We have been up and down the mountain four times now!
This year, we have an award category of Favourite International Artist In Asia. Will The Script work overtime so you can come back and grab a piece of the pie next year?
Danny: Next year, we want to come back and sweep all the awards! To be honest, we are honored to be presenting three awards at this year's ceremony. So we get a good taste of what it feels like to hold that trophy before we give it to someone else!
Another award is The Innovation Award. In your opinion, what can an artist do to constantly push the envelope and be a source of innovation for their peers and audience?
Danny: A big part of the band is the music, no matter what. And stop trying to conform. Take a hip-hop mentality, which is taking different kind of music, different styles and different genres and create your music.
Glen: I have drummers that are idols of mine and I've taken a bit of their styles and incorporate it into my style. Because you are never going to sound like anybody else - you are always going to be you, regardless of what you like and what you do.
And here's an age-old question that bands always have to answer - How did the band name come about?
Glen: The band started in Los Angeles and in L.A., everyone is looking for the next big script or movie. A lot of our songs are like little stories and mini-movies. So when I called Danny in the morning, I'd ask him, "Hey Danny, what's the script today?" and we say that all the time. So one day, we just discovered that everything is pointing towards that name. And so, we name the band The Script!
There can be many different formations for a band. Why did you decide to be a trio?
Danny: We have a session bass player and when we were recording the album, we figured that within the three of us, there're enough personalities already. For our record, we programmed the bass. But for live shows, you will see that we have a session bass player with us.
Glen: Danny and Mark have been together for eight or nine years so they are a very tight unit for anyone to come and walk into that. When I met the guys, we just clicked and blended together very well. It's very hard to find that fourth member to do so we just decided to say as just three guys. It works so well!
Speaking of chemistry, Danny and Mark were together for eight or nine years...
Danny: That sounds like we are married to each other! (Laughs)
More like in a boyband? I remember your days from MyTown.
Danny: Nice! Were you a fan?
I did like some of the music when I was younger.
Danny: But you are okay now! Same like me! (Laughs)
Glen: You had the therapy!
Do you guys talk about that? 'Coz I don't see you mentioning about your MyTown days anywhere.
Danny: Not really. It has never come up. It was what it was. At that time, we were kids and we were just having fun making music and we ended up getting a record deal. We got to travel to places that we would have never seen. It's part of growing up.
Having been in the industry for so long, what's the biggest lesson that you've learned?
Glen: To never say never and to never take no for an answer. And to have faith in yourself. When you think it's time to give up, just keep going. You never know that the extra little mile that you go, can be the turning point of your whole career.
Danny: If at first you don't succeed, try and try again. And if that doesn't work, kick the f**king door! (Laughs)
After being a songwriter and producer for so long, what made Danny and Mark want to get back in the limelight and start a band going again?
Danny: It's the undying need in me that I want to be heard by a lot of people. Some people want to be a star. I need to be a star. I need go up on stage and do this. Otherwise, I don't feel like it's me anymore.
Glen: He has to do it! (Laughs)
Many people have listened to the song "We Cry" and couldn't believe that such soul is coming from three Irish guys. Has that twist helped the band in any ways?
Danny: I think it has! The critics back home have called us "the new blend of Celtic soul." It is all but a label. People are more shocked than anything. Being Irish really helps us sell because our reputation precedes us.
Glen: And I don't think they expect such a sound would come from an Irish band.
You are a perfect marriage of soul, R&B, rock and pop. Should music even be pigeonholed into genres?
Danny: We don't want to be pigeonholed at all. That's why when people say "How do you define your music?" We don't. We leave that to the listener.
Glen: I think it's a human thing to try to pigeonhole. We just try to write good songs. If it sounds like a rock song, we go after it. Wherever the good song is, that's where we go.
What's the key to people's hearts when it comes to music?
Danny: Honesty! Be as honest as you can.
Cheesy as it may sound, how true is the statement "Music saves!" for the band?
Danny: Absolutely! Being able to go in and write your feelings down on a piece of paper rather than keep it all inside is great. It's going to come out. But it's where and how you channel that.
Glen: I'd say, through the years, it has saved us more than we even know.
What can we expect from your self-titled debut album?
Glen: I would say you can expect music for the head, heart, hands and feet. And you can expect three guys bearing their souls with honesty. It will be a rollercoaster ride of the emotions of the soul!