All in The Script
The Script mean business. It's rare to meet three people who are so passionate and focused in any walk of life, let alone the notoriously fickle world of music and showbiz.
As I'm entering Windmill Lane Studios for a playback of their eagerly anticipated second album, Science and Faith, I'm greeted by lead singer Danny O'Donoghue. I remark that this is the first time I've been in the relocated Windmill (the space that U2 made world famous is now sadly boarded up) since a recording of a Snow Patrol radio session back when that band were just another bunch of young hopefuls from Norn Iron. "No pressure then!" he beams.
Danny's ambition sums up the band's collective get-stuck-in attitude. They've already blazed an impressive trail for a band that's only been together for approximately five years. On the eve of the release of the so-called difficult second album, there's a palpable sense of pride and enthusiam rather than nervously looking over their shoulders. The old maxim atttributed to Elvis Costello that you've a lifetime to write your first album and six months to do your second doesn't fully apply to the Dubliners.
"I don't think we would have stepped out of the studio until we felt proud of it and the songwriting and production were up to a certain scratch," Danny maintains. "We didn't write our first album until 2005, when we started getting our chops together as a band and that album was recorded over the bones of a year and a half. Most of that time was spent in bereavement, as my father passed away in the middle of doing the record and Mark's mother had passed away four months previously."
Life's trials and tribulations inspired their breakthrough single We Cry. "I was going in and out of James' Street because my mam was terminally ill," Mark Sheehan explains. "I'd been walking up and down the street and I found myself coming up with the lyrics listening to my headphones. When I got back to the lads, Danny just started riffing on that and that's how the song got out."
Moving from bereavement to the recession, The Script have authored another great single with For the First Time, which must be the only song on heavy radio rotation at the moment with such topical subject matter.
"You can't help yourself soaking up your environment," Mark continues. "The climate now is tough for people. It's no longer a ticker on Sky News or a headline in a newspaper. It's actually happening and people have to deal with it. It really struck me because when we left Ireland to tour, the Celtic Tiger seemed to be quite strong. We came back and some of my friends had lost everything."
The video stars Eve Hewson, daughter of a certain Paul Hewson, best known to the world at large as Bono. Eve has justed landed a big role opposite Sean Penn in This Must Be the Place, so it's a canny bit of business for The Script to nab her first.
"It was the director's idea to approach Eve about it," Danny reveals. "We'd seen her showreel and she's a fellow Irish person, so we thought, 'yeah'. It was a six-minute short about two people from Ireland living in America. The idea is that we'll present ourselves in different ways and use all the platforms we can to launch a band from in the modern age. You need to prove that you have content as a band and hopefully we'll be able to show that The Script are more than just a band."
Science and Faith is brimming with quality content. "In October last year, we were presented with this beautiful chance to hire a studio in Santa Monica," Glen says. "It was amazing. We'd get up every morning and just jam. We got the guts of three songs down very quickly. It started to come hot and heavy after that."
"We got back to Dublin for Christmas and the plan was to take a week or two off to chill out and press palms with everyone who'd got us here," Danny continues. "We like to think of The Script as this swan gliding across the lake, but you don't see all the people paddling away frantically. People have loaned us money, given us couches to sleep on and driven us to gigs. We love to come back and share our experiences with all those friends and family. That's when we noticed that the recession had hit really bad."
"We really weren't fully aware of it at all," adds Glen. "We were all phoning up each other going, 'Have you noticed this? All my friends are out of jobs'."
"I remember being in a pub across from my girlfriend's house having a pint watching Man United," Danny recalls. "I was coming towards the end of my drink and this guy comes over with a full pint for me. 'Thanks, do you know me?' 'You don't know me but I know you,' he says. 'I lost my job two months ago and with my last pay cheque, I bought a ticket to see you and The Coronas in The Olympia as you're my two favourite bands. I knew times weren't going to get good for a while, so I felt like going out on a bang. I'm buying you that pint to thank you for that send off because it meant so much to me.' It was unbelieveable. This guy was 40 or 50 odd. It hits you in the heart."
Not everyone shares this enthusiam for Ireland's leading pop rock band. When the band first emerged, one astute review said, "A lot of people are going to hate The Script, a lot of people are going to love The Script".
After garnering a Choice Music Prize nomination for their eponymous debut, some forums and message boards went into overdrive with anti-Script sentiment.
"To be truthful, I didn't really know what it was all about!" confesses Mark. "I heard about it from friends and they were far more riled up about it than I was. I started to look at the forums and comments and you can only laugh at that stuff. Let's say they were food awards and you decided only to put Chinese and Indian in there. You don't go and tell people what they should be eating, you offer them a wide choice and you don't call them an idiot if they like food that you don't!"
"There was a sense of, 'How dare they! They're pop! They're shite!'" Danny exclaims. "It came out at a time when there was a lot of bullshit doing the rounds about The Script. People said that we were manufactured and thrown together in a house in LA. Well, if you were manufacturing a band you would have at least put better looking people together who were a bit younger and had a bit more hair!
"We left cool behind a long, long time ago," he continues. "We want to be emotional and heartfelt. I can't be sitting here wearing shades claiming to you that we're really heartfelt! Everyone would quite rightly think I'm a gobshite. I was told not to go on the night because there wasn't a chance that we'd win, but I wanted to go to represent the band and see the other bands. I loved RSAG."
Gaining kudos isn't on the agenda for Danny, Mark and Glen. "We never had critical acclaim," Danny says. "We long for fan acclaim. They're the ones that will come out to gigs and buy your record and make the whole thing possible in the first place. There is a huge amount of people out there who want to identify with something and know they're not alone."
Making this heartfelt, honest connection is sacred to The Script. "We were told this amazing story about a brother and sister who had been split up to different orphanages because their ma and da died," Danny explains. "They lived their lives with different foster parents. The brother started having an awakening and remembered having a sister and wanting to go and find her. He was sitting in a car and heard The Man Who Can't Be Moved and it reminded him of his situation. After not seeing his sister for 25 years, he gave her a card and that song. Fuck a two-star review in a newspaper. That's what's real."
Science and Faith is released on September 10