Sunday, 28 September 2008

New Breakeven video

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Tuesday, 23 September 2008

New Sunday Times feature

Not besieged by the death of loved ones, The Script continues to write songs honestly from the heart. MAX KOH talks to the upcoming Irish band about the stories behind the songs

THE Script is Ireland latest music export after U2, The Corrs, Van Morrison, Sinead O Connor and The Cranberries. Mixing soul, pop, hip-hop and anthemic rock dynamics, the band seems to be poised for success with its lead single, We Cry, which is now on the airwaves around the world. At first glance, the trio — Danny O’Donaghue (lead singer, keyboards), Mark Sheenan (guitarist), Glen Power (drummer) — looks just like any other aspiring garage rock band. But a listen to We Cry will reveal a side to Irish music that one has not heard before.

O’Donaghue’s voice is soulful (not unlike neo-white soul boys James Morrison and Jamie Scott) when set against Sheenan’s smooth guitar chops and Power’s controlled funky beats. The song recalls the best of soul music rather than the usual generic rock served by the band’s Irish counterparts. At an interview in Genting Highland recently, O’Donaghue says: “Irish people have soul. It comes from generations of pain, and generations of understanding emotion to be able to physically get that in a solid sound.” We Cry is a special, soulful anthem depicting the every day struggles faced by everybody. It is bleak and assuring at the same time. “Life is not a bed of roses. We all have our own problems and the light at the end of the tunnel may very well be a train. However, we’ll be okay as long as we have each other and together we cry…” explains O’Donague. Its second single, The Man Who Can’t Be Moved, again showcases O’Donague’s soulful vocal inflections and an equally bleak subject. The song, which the band performed at the recent MTV Music Awards on the hill, is about a man who waits desperately for his lover. Despite the bleak nature of their songs, the band members are friendly and chatty. O’Donague was all smiles and very obliging during the photography session. “Did you get a good shot? Do you want to take another one,” he asks before posing again.

Both O’Donague and Power (Sheenan was not present) often peppered their answers with jokes. It felt like an informal chat with some Irish lads in a Dublin pub. They even offered me a sip of coffee. “Have some. It’s definitely one of the best coffees I’ve had,” Power says. “Don’t worry. We did not do anything to the drink.” O’Donague first met Sheenan in their early teens in Dublin. They shared their love for music and often wrote songs together. “I bought a music software called Cubase from Mark (Sheenan) when we struck up a friendship over that. We often wrote music together and thought of ourselves as producers until we realised that Ireland was a little too small for us. We felt we could not progress without moving out of the country,” says O’Donague who, by then, was making demos for other artistes, with Sheenan as a backroom team.

“So we moved to the US where we spent a little time in Orlando before setting up a small studio in Los Angeles near the beach. Sheenan knew Glen (Power) from back in Dublin and he told me that he was a talented musician,” says O’Donague. “So we got him to fly in from Dublin and we sort of jammed out together in the small studio. The first song we played was actually The End Where I Begin and it was then that we realised that we had something really special here.” Power was a prodigy of sorts on the Dublin scene, having played from the age of 15. He even built a home studio. But things changed when he met the guys. “It was like I found my home at last.” That was 2005. With all the pieces in the right places, they spent a couple of months searching for the right sound for the band. However, tragedies began to besiege the band. Sheenan’s mum became terminally ill and the band returned to Dublin so that he could spend time with her. Ten months later, she died. Not too long after that, O’Donague’s father died unexpectedly of a heart attack. “We came home so that Mark could spend some time with his mother. Little was I to know that I would spend quality time with my dad as well,” O’Donague recalls.

However, out of the tragedies, songs emerged. “Each song is like a self-contained story. The music is like the soundtrack to the words and a song is a like a mini film. That’s how the name of the band came about.” Power adds: “In Ireland, people commonly say ‘what’s the script today?’, you know, like ‘what’s going on today?’.” The band is inspired by things they see or do every day. “It may come from a line from a book or even in the middle of a fight with your girlfriend or something. “Imagine the girlfriend screaming ‘are you writing a song or something?’ in the middle of a fight and I’d say ‘no, I’m just writing a list of presents I’m going to get you’,” says Power.

Jokes aside, the band wants to write songs as honestly as possible. O’Donague says one of the most poignant songs on the album is The End Where I Begin, a direct result of all that’s going on in their lives. “Sheenan wrote that song out of a direct reflection of what he was going through with his mother. It was important for him to get it into the music. The deaths and all things that happened actually cut down all the fake things in your life and help you to see things as they are,” says O’Donague.

“The meaning behind that song is that you can see death as an end but it can also be a form of rebirth. And as we sing those words every day, we believe that this is what our parents wanted for us — a rebirth — the end where I begin.” The Script’s two singles, The Man Who Can’t Be Moved and We Cry — are receiving extensive airplay on the radio. The band’s self-titled debut album is in the stores.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Irish examiner

With the exception of U2 and a clutch of vapid boy bands, it has been many a year since an Irish act has topped the UK album charts, but a relative unknown group not only managed the feat, but actually managed to hold onto the spot, beating off competition from such celebrated names as Abba, Coldplay and Welsh soul star, Duffy.

Almost as impressive has been their assault on the singles chart, with two of their tracks currently holding fast in the Top 40, and receiving heavy rotation on virtually every major radio station in Europe.

Dublin band, The Script, are currently riding a wave of publicity and popularity that genuinely has them in poll position to be the proverbial "next big thing", with one of the members of the band recently revealing that they currently sit third on Sony Record's priority list behind Leona Lewis and Rihanna.

So why are their achievements currently greeted with only tepid praise in their home country?
Is it a case of our noted sense of begrudgery or does it have something to do with the old adage, which states that if things seem to good to be true, it's usually because they are.

The seeds of the Scripts' beginnings were sown when teenager, Mark Sheehan met fellow Dubliner, Danny O'Donaghue, when the former advertised some studio equipment that he had for sale.

What began as a simple transaction turned into a blossoming friendship, when the two realized just how committed each was to a career in music.

Teaming up in the area around Guinness' famed, St. James' Gate brewery, the pair were looking to escape their inner city surrounds according to Sheehan, who once recalled: "I'm not trying to romanticize it, where we grew up was a s**t hole, it was stealing cars, all the usual b*****ks, but music gave me a sense that I could break away. I know it sounds like a cliché, but to me, as a kid, that was my way out."

Although such comments can hardly be construed as 'romanticizing' his hometown, they might explain why certain people in Dublin have a hard time supporting the act, and while music did see them achieve their desired escape, the manner by which they achieved it might also offer another clue as to why the musical fraternity of Ireland is a wee bit skeptical of their explosive success.

In 1996, both became part of the Louis Walsh-managed boy band, Mytown, and were quickly signed up by Universal Records, who were eager to cash in on the burgeoning public demand for acts more renowned for their looks than their talent.

Although the four-piece were undoubtedly guilty of crimes against music (even going so far as to cover Wham! track Everything She Wants), all the members could play their own instruments and choreographed all their own dance moves, which certainly puts them ahead of the likes of Westlife and Boyzone, if only just.

The euphoria only continued when the band was sent to the US to begin work on their debut album with acclaimed producer, Teddy Riley (Blackstreet), although the fickle nature of the world of pop soon became painfully apparent when label suits began to grumble that the album was too pop for the US and too R'n'B for European audiences.

Like it or not, this band is struggling to shake their 'manufactured' label and too many of their statements still sound contrived.

Ultimately, the decision was made to cut Mytown loose and the dream was over before it ever truly started.

The silver lining on this particular cloud was the fact that the band had made many contacts in the US and even used their advance money wisely, so O'Donaghue and Sheehan decided to remain on in the States in an effort to salvage something from their career.

Over the next several years, they would chart a meandering course as they gamely tried every which way they could to get back in the game, first settling in Orlando and then leasing an apartment on Venice Beach, where they built a tiny studio and began working with new bands, in addition to remixing tracks.

They even managed to spoof their way in to a studio run by Pharrell Williams and his Neptunes associates, after the Irish pair simply called to the studio door and asked if they could help on a voluntary basis.

Soon they were learning at the feet of a master and though they were living a "hand to mouth existence", their ascetic life was worth it, as they generated more contacts and absorbed all they could about cutting-edge production techniques.

Soon they were remixing tracks for names like Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, in addition to working on a retainer for Jive Records, where they assisted new acts in developing their sound.

It appeared that their career in the US was ready to take off once again but fate dealt the band another rough hand, when Sheehan's mother was diagnosed with cancer and the pair traveled to Ireland, in order for him to spend some time with her.

Upon returning to native sod, the duo continued to work with new Irish acts from a home-built studio, but they had also begun to entertain notions of performing again, inspired in many ways by Glen Power, a multi-instrumentalist who the two men met in Dublin.

Soon the band began writing at a furious pace and with the makings of an album put together, they began canvassing interested parties and one of their US contacts put them in touch with Sony/BMG print, Phonogenic, who signed the band earlier this year and advised them to move to the UK.

In contrast to their initial move all those years before, this excursion would have a much happier ending.

In April, the band released debut single, We Cry, which went top 15 in the UK charts, and followed it up with The Man Who Couldn't Be Moved, which secured the band their first top 10 hit.

Even more impressively, their eponymous debut album entered the charts at #1 upon its release two weeks ago, and it continues to sit there at the time of going to press.

So where are the love and glowing commendations?

Undoubtedly, the roots of the reluctance of some music fans to embrace this band must lie in its dubious pop past, and their propensity for referring to their music as "Irish Soul" sounds like something they have been told to say by a label.

Like it or not, this band is struggling to shake their 'manufactured' label and too many of their statements still sound contrived.

Consider O'Donaghue's recent declaration that: "These songs have lifted us through the clouds in life and relationships. It's a great feeling when fans say they can relate to them. I've had guys say they gave our song to their girlfriends as it helped them explain what they wanted to say."

Not any guys I know, but it is becoming patently obvious that the fairer sex do not have the same reticence about loving the Script.

One only has to look at the teeming mass of females at their gigs, hear their pensive lyrics or listen to their sound (which could concisely be described as Maroon 5 meets R'n'B with a dash of The Fray) to realize that The Script are not really out to catch the attention of those with two chromosomes and more power to them.

Make no mistake, some of the members of The Script may have failed the first time out but this time, they are going to be huge.

Soldier magazine

JUST as it seemed 2008 was to be the year of mediocre new bloke bands singing instantly forgettable songs, The Script rode into the top ten on a fresh lyrical sound wave.

The Dubliners’ innovative debut single, We Cry, which deftly smoothed U2 rock into Eminem rap, took radio stations by surprise. But the UK audience was more than ready for the more soulful The Man Who Can’t Be Moved, which sailed to the number three slot in the charts and then refused to budge.

The best was yet to come. The self-titled debut album from the three gifted – not to mention gorgeous – guys swept away the competition to chart at number one. Flowing over starved eardrums like warm honey, the diverse tones of their 11-track CD have rescued UK music from a desert of blandness.

But what set the talented trio in gold medal position is their intelligence, thoughtfulness and grace. It’s enough to make any red-blooded female swoon and the fact that they unknowingly ooze sexiness just adds to the appeal. The complete package with bucket loads of X-factor has finally arrived.

All three members hail from humble roots, which have kept them grounded in their new-found fame. Guitarist Mark Sheehan grew up in the rough end of the Irish capital and quickly realised music could lift him out of the poverty. He met fellow teenager and now lead vocalist Danny O’Donaghue in a run down area of Dublin.

Sharing a passion and talent for music, the pair struck up a song writing and production partnership. A chance invitation to go to the US led to the duo collaborating with RnB legends Teddy Riley and Rodney Jerkins. They found their musical rainbow’s end in American black music.

“Danny fell in love with the vocal acrobatics and conviction of the soul legends. I liked sample-based music and fell in love with Hip Hop and RnB,” Mark told Soldier, adding that a youth spent submerged in the likes of Busta Rhymes and Dallas Austin, who has worked with Aretha Franklin and Pink, is clearly reflected in their music.

“We always loved the classic delivery of Stevie Wonder and loved the idea of rugged drums and bass beneath it.”

Mark and Danny worked in Los Angeles producing demos for other artists until fellow Dubliner Glen Power joined them. Regarded as a prodigy on the Dublin music scene, drummer Glen clicked with the pair and the trio produced three songs in just one week.

“Danny and I had spent so many years working together that it was tough for Glen to slot in,” explained Mark, when asked if three was an unworkable number of members for a band.

“Creatively we stay honourable to what we feel is moving us musically. Usually, if one of us is not feeling a song, then we don’t do it. We tried loads of fourth members but no one clicked.

“We waited until we had a substantial amount of music before deciding on the band name. We noticed that there was a story theme throughout – a narrative perspective and different take on love songs and they felt like a little script. Plus, when greeting each other we usually say, ‘what’s the script?’ meaning what’s happening, so it just felt right.”

Listening to the album for the first time felt right and turfed all the usual boy band preconceptions out the window. The Script’s contrasting music styles deliver something new and exciting every four minutes and they are really bothered by what they sing about.

“Danny can’t sing anything meaningless. He really sounds bad if a lyric is not emotionally charged and my only justification for pain is art. Music was always a way for us to vent and you can only write from your experiences. I guess we’ve been through a lot and we draw from that,” said Mark, adding what his hopes are for their debut album.

“I believe we poured our hearts into this every step of the way. So I think there is music for the head, heart and feet on there and we take you on a real thought-provoking journey. I only hope people give us one listen – I think they will relate.”

Monday, 8 September 2008

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Mark interview - HT&E

Despite the name, The Script don't follow the usual stereotype when it comes to the story of a band.
Three Irish lads from the wrong side of the tracks reach fame and fortune with a number one debut album in the UK and Ireland. The writing team behind The Commitments movie would have thought the plot too outlandish.

Somehow the formula has worked this time with former producers Mark Sheehan and Danny O'Donoghue striking gold after teaming up with drummer Glen Power to create the surprise hit of the summer. The Script's eponymous debut album is a complicated mixture of styles that transcends genre and gives the music press a tough time pigeonholing their vibe. Hip-hop, rock and soul are all neatly wrapped in slick pop production with O'Donoghue's vocals a true asset to the band. We caught up with Mark Sheehan to talk about the album, influences and rock and roll moments...

HT&E: Your debut - do you see it as an album about hope or an album about loss?

MS: I think we have a lot of songs about loss but there's been alot of that in our lives, but there's always an undertone of hope in them. I'd rather people have that than just focusing on the loss, they should hear about the recovery too, or the coping skills. This is what our song The End Is Where I Begin is all about. Every end is also the beginning of something new.

HT&E: As producers originally does that make the writing process easier?

MS: No, production doesn't make the song. A crap song is still a crap song with production, but when the bare bones is a killer song and has that raw emotion then the production only enhances that. In my opinion the production should back the song up, if you're clever with it.

"To me a great song is when you don't notice the genre or production, just the song"
HT&E: Does it make you more of a perfectionist when it comes to playing on the other side of the desk?

MS: Yes, its like a movie producer once said to me, "you never see the movie how everyone else does, you're constanly behind the camera so you have a different perspective" same with music, you dont hear it as a song after picking it apart, its never one unit. You break it up from bass to drums and vocals etc, but then years of production has you listening to FX like reverbs and EQs, that's all we hear sometimes. But you know what? To me a great song is when you don't notice the genre or production, just the song.

HT&E: There’s soul, Hip-hop, rock and more in your songs. How do you define your genre of music? Who are your influences?

MS: It's hard when you're in the band to define what your sound is, we just make music we love. I find it kinda' funny how every interview we do we get called, Timbaland meets U2, or The Police jamming with Kayne West etc. So many comparisons are coming at us but, you know, I think its because people can't put their finger on it - and why should anybody? Its just music. I think we are the Internet generation, like iTunes and iPods, nobody is loyal to a genre any more. In my head I see 50 Cent walking down a New York street with his big platinum chains, bullet proof vest on but on his iPod he's listening to The Sound of Music. Our influences are so vast, being producers it has to be, but we love Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, Bob Marley and Kayne West. Anyone great from hip-hop to rock.

"I got a wee little excited recently and smashed the shit out of a guitar"
HT&E: You’re Irish, you’re within the music industry and you’re successful, what’s your most “rock and roll” story to date?

MS: Apart from the usual hotel parties and drinking sessions that seem to surround The Script... a lot, they are the normal rock 'n roll stereotypes. I got a wee little excited recently and smashed the shit out of a guitar and f**kin' loved it! Cut the shit out of my hand though and then had to go back on stage and play. Something I've always wanted to do but couldn't afford to do it, probably not so rock 'n roll but it was a great release. I may hate myself for it one day.

HT&E: Were you expecting this success from your debut album?

MS: No not at all, you can't predict these things. You hope and wish blindly but you can never know. We made this record in my old shed at the back of my family home in Dublin hoping to one day get played on local radio, and now look! We just cant believe it.

HT&E: What’s on your iPod at the moment?

MS: My most played is probably David Bowie, but I love my Bob Marley too. I've got so much music its sick! Foo Fighers get alot of spins, Jay Z and Nas would be faves of mine too. A bit all over the place really.

HT&E: As producers or as a band who have you most enjoyed working with thus far?

MS: We went through a stage in our lives where all we worked on was Jamaican Dance Hall artist, Beany Man and Mr Vagas etc, but amongst them we worked with a 3 piece girl group that played acoustic guitars and sang like angels, unreal. They where like the Jamaican Destiny's Child. Anyway, I loved it because we where from so different backgrounds yet music was the common ground and they where wicked. They say alot of things that we from Dublin say too. Me this, me that... and ting, tanks and tirty tree. Plus they're into Guinness too!

HT&E: You’re touring for a few months this year, what happens after that? Piss up or back to work (or both)?

MS: We've actually been touring for over a year now, constantly since V Festival 2007. It seems like there is no end to it either. When we finish our UK and Irish tour were back on the road again around the rest of the world. Live is who we are really, take that away from us and I'm afraid there is no band so we're just happy to be employed to be honest. We fit the piss ups in-between so no worries there.

HT&E: How much of your songs come from real life experiences? There’s a lot of heartbreak in there.

MS: All of them, I've learned that when you don't write from your experiences it just doesn't connect with other people. And if we don't believe it how will you. There is alot of heartbreak in there, yeah but that's life sometimes. Some people are dealt a bum hand sometimes. With me, Its never really "will I fall?", but "how will i get back up?".

HT&E: Thanks for talking to us.

MS: Thanks so much for chatting with me.

Glenn interview - NZGirl

How would you describe your sound?
It’s music for the head, heart, hands and feet. It’s funk/rock/pop/hip hop.

Fav song on the album and why?
‘Breakeven’ – lyrically the song doesn’t get anymore concise and brilliant. When I was first played the song, Mark had already programmed the beat. I heard it and was like, ‘that’s not the way it should be’. The great thing about us is we always change the rules – we’re not afraid to
mix it up. Lyrically the song is fantastic – we’ve all been in a situation where our heart has been broken!

What’s your favourite song right now?
Coldplay’s ‘Lost’. It’s so fantastic and so lyrically brilliant. I play it all the time. It’s my prescription for a bit of soul searching!

Advice for aspiring musicians?
Always keep going, never say no for answer – because right around the corner could be the career break you’re going for. When I was 15 the guidance counsellor at school asked what I wanted to do when I left, and I said music, and she said, ‘What about a real job?’. She told me I couldn’t do music for a living and now look at what I’m doing. Just believe in yourself, there’s no such thing as no. All you’ve got to do is figure out what you need to do to get there!

Breakeven video shoot - Video interview

Breakeven video shoot - ShowBiz Ireland

The Script are probably the hottest band to come out of Dublin since U2 – and it looks like their star is in rapid ascendancy. We caught up with Danny, Mark and Glen on the set of the video for their next single 'Break Even' in Dublin yesterday...

Danny O'Donoghue, Mark Sheehan and Glen Power are three humble lads from Dublin. More importantly, they are The Script. Arguably the hottest young band on the planet at the moment - their last song 'The Man Who Can't Be Moved' was a very much deserved global hit. Quality tune.

The trio invited a lucky group of fans along to the filming of their 'Break Even' video shoot yesterday at a secret Dublin city location. It turned out to be not so secret when we spotted them and their film crew at Whelan's bar... Sorry about that lads!

We're expecting great things from 'The Script' in the coming weeks, months and years. Let's hope they live up the hype and give the U2 boys a run for their money. Sure it's about time someone challenged U2's eternal global domination of the music industry and erm, Dublin hotels... Yeah Script, sell millions of albums and open a hotel. It's every Rock 'n' Roller's dream.

Breakeven video shoot - Daily Star

SINGER Danny O’Donoghue’s ex-girlfriend was almost cast to play his love interest in the video for The Script’s next single Breakeven. The brunette featured in a selection of photos of Irish babes the director was sent by a casting agency.

After filming in New York and LA for their first releases We Cry and current smash The Man Who Can’t Be Moved, Danny, 25, guitarist Mark Sheehan, 28, and drummer Glen Power, 29, were deter-mined to do something close to their roots.

Mark told me: “People keep asking if we were American so we realised we needed to do something about it.”

But frontman Danny was flabbergasted when his old flame was presented as an extra. He admitted: “It brought back a lot of feelings and emotions. “I said all week: ‘I hope it’s not someone from Dublin we know.’ I was watching some demo tapes of the girls who had auditioned and was like, ‘I know her, I know her sister.’”

But he added: “The lead girl, Irma Mali, is amazing and tall like me.”

Female attention is something these lads have to get used to after topping the charts. Their heart-felt songs are connecting with all who hear them. In between takes The Script joked with extras playing a crowd at a gig.

As a speeded-up version of Break Even is drummed out for the 10th time they mime brilliantly. We are in a pub called Whelans, where not so long ago The Script did a gig for real. “Do we sound better now, miming?” laughs Danny. You would never know the singer arrived on set at 4.30am to do cosy shots at the docks with his on-screen lady friend.

Still buzzing from their self-titled album going in at No 1 in the charts – and continuing to sell by the bucketload – the group are on a high. Mark shows me pictures of his new baby Avery, his second son. Clearly fatherhood and selling records are a perfect combination. “Everything is just brilliant,” he admits.