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Flipping The Script - Danny talks to Eamon Sweeney


Mark, Denny and Glen from The Script

Mark, Denny and Glen from The Script

Mark, Denny and Glen from The Script

The Script aren't exactly the coolest band in the universe, but singer Danny O'Donoghue couldn't give a damn. He tells Eamon Sweeney why he won't be settling down to have kids just yet.

Danny O'Donoghue is a lucky guy, and he knows it. "We have seen so many of our favourite bands come and go after one or two albums," reflects the fortunate singer, who appears not to be taking anything for granted.

He's right. Many Irish bands have been down this road before and never got a chance to make a fourth album. To cite just one example, The Thrills went from multi-million selling sensations to getting unceremoniously dropped in the space of a few short years.

It has been a phenomenally successful stint at the top for Danny O'Donoghue from Ballinteer, Mark Sheehan from James Street and Glen Power from Stillorgan, to put it very mildly. They've sold 300,000 albums in Ireland, plus a whopping 4.2 million worldwide. Their worldwide track sales are approaching a staggering 15 million and streaming stats and YouTube hits are up in the billions.

"We've really put in our dues over the last six years," O'Donoghue agrees. "We've taken it from being a small band from Dublin to the dizzying heights of where we are today, but I still see loads of places where we could improve."

The naysayers will undoubtedly have a good sneer at that one, but it seems that the more flak they receive, the bigger the Dubliners get.

"Over time I think people will realise that we aren't trying to be what critics and reviewers want," O'Donoghue offers. "We are an unashamedly pop rock act that writes songs from the heart. I was told by a lot of people in the industry that if you get a five-star review, you might sell forty or fifty thousand records. If you get no stars or one star, you'll go through the f*cking roof."

O'Donoghue is taking a break from a studio session in London to chat to INSIDER about tomorrow's release of their fourth album No Sound Without Silence and a sold-out show in Dublin Castle this weekend. Last year, O'Donoghue left The Voice as a mentor after a very successful two-year stint.

"I want everyone in the world to hear my music, so doing The Voice was an automatic choice for me, especially considering that there are no shows like Top of the Pops or CD:UK left anymore. We never courted the press by falling out of clubs and calling up paparazzi to take photos of us, so we had to find another way to increase the band's profile. It was a very obvious thing to do, although I don't do Celebrity Big Brother or those other reality shows. I think The Voice had a great synergy with the band. I got in and got out. If I'd done it for four years or more, I'd start to become part of the BBC establishment."

Despite not being papped left, right and centre on a daily basis, Danny is undeniably the most recognisable face of The Script. "I gave up my anonymity a long time ago," he agrees. "When we weren't on The Voice, probably two out of ten people at most would recognise walking down the street. After The Voice, babies in prams with soothers who couldn't even talk started pointing at me.

"The lads wouldn't go out with me for a long while because as soon I'd walk in somewhere the room would come to a standstill. That's the big difference of people knowing you from your music and television. Music fans tend to be very cool. They just say hello and say they are into the music, but people who just know you from the telly might interrupt you in the middle of your dinner to take a photo."

Danny's late father Shay O'Donoghue played in a band called The Dreams. He died on Valentine's Day, 2008 at the young age of 63. 'If You Could See Me Now' from the last Script album is a moving tribute to Shay, and also Mark's deceased parents. O'Donoghue received another scare last year when his mum Ailish suffered an aneurysm. While thankfully she's well on the road to recovery, the last few years outside the band have been an emotional rollercoaster.

"I've been through a lot this year with my Mum and a lot of my friends have been through harrowing times," Danny surmises. "You question life and death all the time, or whether there is a God and where do we go, or are we going anywhere? Well, I think whether you believe in God or not, our molecules are going somewhere. I believe we are more than the sum of our parts and love is more tangible than this world can hold.

"When I wrote a song called 'The Energy Never Dies' on this album, it was a release. Basically, I'm getting at the notion of not fearing death. I find real solace in the thought that someone's day could be brightened up by it in the way writing it helped me. The trick is to get something really complex into a pop song."

Another sentiment O'Donoghue explores is his Irish identity on 'Paint the Town Green'.

"We've always been the Irish band that sounds American," he ponders. "We've never had shamrocks or shillelaghs on there, but every time we play, there's a huge sea of Irish. We meet a lot of ex-pats and emigrants everywhere, which of course is hardly surprising considering that so many people emigrate every week.

"We were nervous about playing it at first in case people thought we were playing up to the Irish thing, but then we realised, 'F*ck you, we are Irish.' If anybody can sing an Irish song, it's the f*cking Script!"

The Script juggernaut doesn't look like slowing anytime soon, but does Danny have a plan B if it were to grind to a halt?

"Myself and Mark have a publishing company and fingers in a lot of pies," he answers. "We'd love to start a label. Actually, we did, but then The Script happened, so it all went on the back-burner. At some stage I'd love to have a smaller label deal with a major, which a lot of big acts have nowadays. I think I have a good ear for A&R and picking a single. I wouldn't say I have the coolest ears in the industry, but I know what it takes to get played on radio. That's not being formulaic or cheap or selling out, but it is being very smart in where you are going to get your money from. Fingers crossed, we'd end up with a big roster of acts at some stage, but I feel like we're only right in the middle of what we want to do."

Unlike his bandmate Mark Sheehan, O'Donoghue doesn't see himself starting a family in the immediate future. "Mark does it amazingly well," Danny says admiringly. "He is blissfully married and has three wonderful children. I can have a lie in some mornings, but he can't. For the foreseeable future, [starting a family]won't be happening. I'm not in a relationship. I'm just chilling and I'm not dating any one person. I'm not actively out there looking for The One. If it happens it happens."

As some readers ponder what Danny might be getting up to after his big show this weekend, he reveals that the band were approached with an intriguing idea to kick-start a revival of live music at one of Dublin's most historic venues.

"It came up in conversation with Denis Desmond (MCD boss) that Dublin Castle was available and they were looking at putting on gigs there again," Danny reveals. "The Castle is right in the heart of Dublin, so we figured it's exactly where we want to play to start this new thing. We're incredibly proud of what we've achieved so far so we want to celebrate that in our own home town."

The Dublin Castle show sold out in three minutes. I think it is fair to say you could put all the assets resting in NAMA on No Sound Without Silence going straight to number one next week, but Danny is in no doubt what the most important thing about being in The Script really is.

"We were hanging out with our fans at a BBC Radio One Live Lounge session yesterday," O'Donoghue says. "This girl gave me a letter. She wrote that she was lost and didn't think there was any way out, but she listened to the new single 'Superheroes' and it was what she was wanting to feel for her whole life.

"F*ck reviews and critics and all that stuff," O'Donoghue concludes emphatically. "We've said that before, and we probably will be still saying that throughout our career. I know all about the fanaticism of some fans and so on, but I will take that at face value. If someone walks up to me and says we've changed their life, I'll take that with me to the grave."

No Sound Without Silence is out tomorrow. The Script play Dublin Castle on Saturday.

Irish Independent