From Arthur J. To Off-Broadway
The Script in Dublin
Dublin Act The Script Arrive In New York
By Mike Fitzpatrick
Irish three-piece act, The Script, will perform a one-off show in midtown Manhattan this weekend, taking the stage at west-side venue, Terminal 5 (610 West 56th Street, Between 11th and 12th Avenues) on Sunday, December 6th.
The band, consisting of lead vocalist Danny O’Donoghue, backing vocalist/guitarist Mark Sheehan and drummer/percussionist Glen Power, hail from James’s Street in Dublin’s inner city, not far from the Guinness brewery at Saint James’s Gate (hence the lame headline accompanying this article, see Arthur J. is the first name of, oh never mind) have endured a hectic 2009, coming into the year at the top of the British album charts with their first album (‘The Script’) and finishing it off with a number of shows across the US.
In between, there was a stint supporting Sir Paul McCartney on five American dates (including the first concerts at New York’s Citi Field stadium), opening for U2 in Dublin’s Croke Park, five hit singles, an album that went four-times platinum in the UK, and eight-times platinum in Ireland, their songs being performed by unknowns on ‘talent’ show ‘X-Factor’ and by themselves on the Playstation game ‘FIFA 09’, appearances on Letterman, MTV and VH1, and now, an interview right here with, well, another bloke from Dublin.
Despite the hectic schedule (his, not mine) we were able to catch up with Mark Sheehan for a quick chat before the band’s New York show.
Mike Fitz (MF): You’ve a couple of big days coming up in New York, you’re on Letterman this week?
Mark Sheehan (MS): Yeah, can you believe that? I think it’s most shocking for us, because it’s been such a staple show for us, we all watch it, you know, we’re all fans of the show. So that’ll be a bit of a crazy one.
MF: The Script play some acoustic versions of your songs on the band’s website, is that something you regularly do?
MS: What we generally do when we write a song is, we’ll always try to do a video for it and put it online to see what people think. You know, get a bit of feedback, and that’s what’s great about the Net, we’ve been doing that from the start. We just jam a few songs, and put them up there, it’s all part of the process, we get feedback from people on the spot.
MF: Are there plans for an unplugged-style recording down the road?
MS: Well, we never really saw ourselves as an unplugged type of band. We always thought of ourselves as a live, you know, full band, but then, it’s so handy to travel with just a few pieces of equipment. We’ve been doing a lot of that in America, where we arrive at a radio station and play, we’ve been having a lot of fun with it. Then we”ve been finding ourselves at Irish bars all over the country doing it too. It’s becoming a bit of a thing for us, and we’re really enjoying it.
MF: As regards your own sound, there’s the obvious pop and rock influence, but there’s a little R’n’B flavor there too, how did that develop?
MS: I think it evolved from our early passion of wanting to move to America in the first place. With all that soul and R’n’B in mind, and hip-hop, which we were generally into. As well as that, it was a lot cheaper to make that music too, at the time, if you wrote a song back in Ireland, you’d have to get a whole band in to play on it, then the studio time was so expensive. Just to do drums alone, you were up there at 1,500 to 2,000 (euro), whereas with R’n’B and hip-hop, you were able to program it and programs were cheaper, it was just so much more accessible for young acts. We found a love for that type of music and came to the States and studied it.
MF: Following the success last year of your debut album, what does the coming twelve months hold for The Script?
MS: I don’t know, we’re just trying to stay focused on coming up with more product. We’ve been in the studio for the past three weeks, and it’s the first time in a few years, that we’ve had the chance to write again. Although, we’ve been writing on the buses, trying to get ideas down, then when we were in Paris we’d a day in the studio, and two days in Sydney, that kind of thing, but never really a proper run where we could go in, set up our gear, leave it there and come in every day and be creative. So, we’ve had that chance in the past three weeks, and it’s been great. So, the next couple of months, we’ll be doing more touring in America, and generally thinking of music for the next record as well.
MF: The next album is scheduled for release sometime late next year?
MS: Yeah, we’re looking at 2010, but who knows!
MF: You’ve been involved in the music business for a long time, do you think it’s changed a great deal since the days of MyTown?
MS: Yeah, I think it’s changed drastically. There’s a hell of a lot of changes. Record labels are a different beast today than they were years ago. There’s been huge changes in a relatively short space of time, but I guess that’s competitive business for you at the end of the day.
MF: You’ve not been without hardship though, particularly yourself and Danny. Have your own personal tragedies contributed to what makes up The Script?
MS: Yeah, I mean, I think, with The Script, it’s always been like therapy sessions for us, you know? It’s been a punch-bag that we come to, it was always, for me and Danny, to let out all our anger through music, or all our emotions through music, all our conversations were more like therapy when we were going through all our stuff. So, I suppose the band is the sum of all its parts.
“Ireland has been going through a major change in music over the past couple of years. I mean, a lot of music is now a lot more accessible for young kids, to make themselves in their bedrooms. Myself and Danny typified that in a lot of ways.”
MF: Then of course, in December of last year the band’s album hit number one in the UK. How was that news received?
MS: Slightly strange, for me particularly, because when it hit number one, I was after having a baby on the same day! So, I was celebrating having my child and a number one record on the same day, which was really bizarre. It took me a couple of months to get used to it. It hit the lads differently, they had to walk out on stage the same day, I couldn’t be with them that day, before 80,000 people and announce that our album was number one. So I think that feeling has been engraved in their brains for the rest of their lives!
MF: ‘The End Where I Begin’ has been used on ‘FIFA 09’, are the band big football fans?
MS: Well, Dan would be. The closest I’d get would be the playstation! It’s funny though, I’ve been playing the game, and our bloody song came on, which was strange! It’s funny that our music is finding its way into weird nooks and crannies throughout the world. We get emails telling us one person sang our song on ‘Pop Idol’ and another did on ‘X-Factor’, next we’ll hit ‘Dancing With The Stars’! Then there was ‘Sober House’, hearing an Irish band’s music on (VH1 show) ‘Sober House’, I thought that was pretty funny.
MF: What do you think of the Irish music scene. Are there many promising acts out there?
MS: There is. Ireland has been going through a major change in music over the past couple of years. I mean, a lot of music is now a lot more accessible for young kids, to make themselves in their bedrooms. Myself and Danny typified that in a lot of ways. There’s interesting things going on, there’s the Republic of Loose, for example, who don’t sound very Irish, but they’ve such a great sound, and are such a great band, then there’s The Coronas, who are very serious about their music, and their lyrics. They’re some of the bands that should do fantastic outside Ireland, then there’s The Blizzards too.
MF: What about old favorites. Do you find yourself going back to listen to music you grew up with?
MS: I find myself going back to classic albums all the time.
MF: You’re a big Bowie fan, right?
MS: Big Bowie fan, I love Bowie, I tend to listen to him a lot. The problem is, I’m a little bit starved for a hero right now in music. There was a day when music was so competitive, it was all about music and lyrics, cool ways of putting things, cool ways of writing and all. Now it all seems to be about auto-tuning a vocal and some bullshit about someone walking down the street going ‘Shawty, you got class!’ That whole thing, it doesn’t make any ****in’ sense! I think hip-hop needs a big ol’ hug at the moment! So, I feel a lot of people around me are going back to their favorite classic acts.
MF: Then, supporting U2 at Croke Park, how was that?
MS: Absolutely unbelievable. I mean, even when we found out about it, we were in the freezing cold up in Cincinnati one morning. It must have been about five o’clock in the morning. It was the only time you’d ever see The Script jumping up and down that early let me tell you. ****in’ over the moon for it. Then we did it, and we’d kind of built it up as being a big monster in our heads. You know, its U2, Croke Park, Dublin, do people give a s*** about us, do they care, you know, all that sort of stuff, going through our heads. Then we walked out there, and the Irish people just went nuts. U2 were so supportive, everybody on the day was just fantastic. I think it’ll be one memory that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. Even watching U2 play ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ at Croke Park had me choked up.
MF: Then you went on to support Paul McCartney in New York
MS: Yeah, we did five dates around America with Paul. That was another masterclass in music. The guy had so many hits, and he had no airs or graces about him. He came into our dressing room without any bodyguards, just (chatting). He was such a nice man, never once directed the conversation towards himself. He wanted to know how we were as people, going from playing small clubs to arenas with him, things like that. It was just such a breath of fresh air, then to walk out and see the man play, Jesus Christ, it was, wow, he played for about three hours, about forty tunes, and every one of them I knew!
MF: How often do you get back to Dublin?
MS: We just left Dublin a few weeks ago, where we did a tour around Ireland. We spent most of our time in Dublin. We’ll not be back until Christmas though. When we’re in England, we’d get back most weekends. Right now, we’re in the far reaches of the world, so by Christmas we’ll have been months away from our families, so it’ll be fun.
MF: When you get back now, are you treated differently, or are you still the lads from James’s Street?
MS: There’s definitely a different feeling, because we’re so big there, and it’s hard to comprehend that I’m in that band, if you know what I mean. When I go home I’ll go down the local with the lads and chill out, and you’re getting forty questions and I’ll try to keep the anecdotes kind of funny, you know yourself, how it is in Dublin, they’ll pull you down so fast! If I even walk into my local with a baseball cap now, they’ll shout ‘Woudja look at ****in’ John Wayne!’ That’s what I love about the Irish sense of humor, John Wayne’s got nothing to do with a baseball cap, but you were in America, he’s from America, you clearly bought that hat in America, so you’re ****in’ John Wayne! It’s great though, it’s a very humbling feeling though. Sometimes it can be hard to go places. Generally everybody knows us and it can get out of hand. We’d be in a bar, and you’ll always get one ***hole!
MF: As a member of the band, is it all work, or do you get to hang out every so often?
MS: We haven’t had time to (hang out) in a long while. When this album got picked up by a label, we made the choice to be extremely happy to be in this group. We’d been moaning about this for so long, trying to get out there in the world. We try to look at it as being happy that we’re employed, because any day it could be taken away from us. It’s taken us so long to get here, the rug could be ripped from under us next week, our next album could be a bunch of crap. We really enjoy it, we’ve taken on a huge workload, and we’re trying to get to every corner of the world. The past few weeks we’ve been in the studio in Los Angeles, down to the beach every day, and recording every day, it’s been brilliant.