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.


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