They’ve hung out with Britney, worked with U2’s manager and upset Peaches Geldof. Emma Pinch meets The Script.
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.”