They’ve done the hard graft and have plenty of celebrity approval, but Mark Sheehan tells Kate Rothwell why the Script are still in awe and a little afraid of their own fame.
THE SCRIPT DON’T sound like the next big Irish thing. Vocalist Danny O’Donoghue and guitarist Mark Sheehan’s years spent working as producers in America has resulted in an R&B influenced sound that would never be instantly associated with their home town of Dublin, but has led them to success far beyond our own shores.
Officially recognised as the ‘Best Selling Irish Act of 2008’ by the World Music Awards, the trio have amassed fans all over the globe not even eight months after the release of their eponymous debut. With record label giant Sony behind them, a number one, multiplatinum album already in the bag and radio stations not seeming to go an hour without playing ‘The Man Who Can’t be Moved’ or ‘Breakeven’, times couldn’t be much better for this band. Yet while they might have secured a slot supporting Take That in Croke Park this summer, don’t expect to see them headlining the O2 arena any time soon.
“We’d die a death on that stage, that stage would swallow us up. I think as a support act we’d survive, give us maybe another album and we could do things like the O2 arena, but up until now 5000 capacities are quite enough for us to handle.”
Sheehan spoke to Otwo the day after The Script played their biggest gig to date at the Manchester Apollo, and admitted that performing to such a huge crowd is something that they have yet to become accustomed to. “Last night was a big shock to us, not that we were scared, it was just like holy fuck, this is a big audience, they’re going nuts. I suppose you have to be well seasoned to kind of experience that kind of mass of an audience.”
The admiration of one particular fan is going to bring the band to an even greater audience, but this particular performance won’t be on a live stage. Instead, The Script will be beamed onto many tv screens when their appearance in the fifth series of hit MTV show The Hills is aired. It was thanks to The Hills star, Sony rep and big time fan of The Script, Audrina Patridge, that the band also landed a place on the show while playing in LA. “She’s our actual Sony rep, so by that very nature we’re sown into the show and they come to our showcase.”
“We’d die a death on that stage, that stage would swallow us up”
Mark however, isn’t quite as big a fan of the show as Audrina is of the band. “It’s a fantastic show in the amount of people it reaches but no, it wouldn’t be a show I would personally watch at all.” And as for the The Hills’disputable ‘reality’ status? “Ah semi-reality” he laughs, “I’ll give you that much.”
Audrina is not the only celebrity to endorse The Script; the band has also received the nod of approval from R&B megastar Pharell Williams, but their acquaintance is far from a recent development. “Pharell was someone we met probably about ten years ago now I’d say, in America. He was very new, only starting out as well… where it came full circle was when we were in England they [N.E.R.D] requested us to support them, so that was really cool for The Script.”
With or without the help of their high-profile connections, The Script’s popularity is, without a doubt, ever increasing in the United States. A life of touring and making TV cameos is a completely different experience to Sheehan and O’Donoghue’s relatively unknown years in the States, when they learnt their tricks of the trade working as producers.
This period of experience might have proved vital to their success, but it wasn’t all easy. “We got bossed around, we got booked out, we got fucking kicked around the studio for the past ten years… all that sort of stuff I suppose influenced [us] the most, and I think that’s what The Script is, an amalgamation of all those years of hard graft.”
While they were slaving over the musical grindstone, Sheehan began to realise that his childhood was drastically different to that of many Americans. He insists that his childhood was a happy one, but the move to America made him view those years of his life in a different light.
“It’s only when I went to America and I realised how fucking spoilt they are and how well they have it that I kind of realised it… and I mean more of that in the options areas, not that we were all starving in Dublin.”
“We got fucking kicked around the studio for the past ten years”
Growing up in a disadvantaged area is what Sheehan feels gave him the driving ambition that has gotten him to where he is today. “I suppose in retrospect, I think what Dublin did to me was give me the proper hustle mentality that you have to get up every day… work every day, get what you need to get and create opportunity.”
Opportunity knocked for Sheehan and O’Donoghue as members of pop group Mytown, who had hopped on the boyband wagon just a few years earlier, and who could have given the Backstreet Boys a run for their money. It wasn’t to be and other projects ensued, but Sheehan sees The Script as anything but a succession to Mytown; the two bands are, according to him, entirely separate entities.
“I wouldn’t say it was a progression at all, I wouldn’t say either band are connected in the slightest. Only by default it happens to be that the two of us were in one and now are in another.”
Mytown is for Sheehan just one part of his youth, and not a defining period in his career. “We were writing for our generation and that was what was fun and that was what was cool… I’ve been in loads of bands throughout my career. I don’t sum my career up based on what everybody else knows, I sum it up from what I know. And what I know is that for the past eleven or twelve years I’ve been producing in a studio, and that I think defined my sound more than being in a boyband when I was a kid.”
Things have changed drastically for Sheehan since the days of ‘Party All Night’ (a Youtube-must for any Script fan),while the concept of ‘pop music’ has also altered over the last decade. The Script might not be Mytown, but they do find themselves listed among Westlife and Boyzone as nominees for ‘Best Irish Pop Act’ in the Meteor Music Awards, where they have also secured a nomination for ‘Best Irish Album’.
Mark concedes that a Meteor gong or two wouldn’t go astray. “It would be lovely to get the old Meteors, that’d be brilliant”, but there is one nomination that he has had some issue with – The Choice Music Prize. He had never heard of the prize before yet Sheenhan has heard far too much of the hype since their album was nominated for the 2009 award, and decided that he’d simply rather not win.
“I kind of got to the point where I said ‘I don’t want it actually, if they’re going to be that sour about shit I don’t want this award, I really don’t. Keep it away from me, it’s tarnished, tainted. We wanted to win something that we deserve and we want to win something that we deserved for a reason.”
Viewing the prize as potentially favouring obscurity over quality, Sheehan is no fan of what he calls “head up your arse music”. “It’s just so confusing, you sit there and get caught in this best album sort of situation… I don’t class our album by any means as the best album, I’m just having a laugh – hopefully everyone will understand that we’re just happy to be nominated with all those other acts, because at the end of the day, we never expected to even be this far with it, we really didn’t.”
The Script has come far in what might seem like a short space of time, but after more than a decade of dedicated work in the music industry it seems that the band has finally scaled the dizzy heights of success.
While The Script’s story is looking towards a happy ending, it may be that the best is still unwritten.