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The Script’s Danny O’Donoghue, Mark Sheehan and Glen Power

The Script’s Danny O’Donoghue, Mark Sheehan and Glen Power

The Script’s Danny O’Donoghue, Mark Sheehan and Glen Power

When The Script's guitarist Mark Sheehan was asked about terrorism by his eight-year-old son, the thought of having to come up with a suitable answer frightened him to the core.

Sheehan - who, along with his better-known frontman Danny O'Donoghue, spent years scraping by as budding songwriters in Los Angeles - knew there was only one way he could channel that fear.

His bandmates were quickly on board. Their new record, the first since 2014's No Sound Without Silence, sees the boys from Dublin leave behind their "music as escapism" mantra in order to confront political and social change.

Ethos

"We were in America when Trump was inaugurated and there was rioting on the streets where we had been that day and that really drove home there was something there," says O'Donoghue, sitting with Sheehan and drummer Glen Power on a sofa in Sony's London HQ.

"This was the first time the news had penetrated our ethos and our consciousness as we were coming into the studio.

"Normally it was very easy to leave that stuff at the door and talk about our own feelings and what's going on in our lives, but it's been impossible not to get caught up in it."

Poignant too was the question from Sheehan's son.

"That scared the s**t out of me," the father-of-three says. "How do you translate that and explain that to a young kid without sounding preachy or uninspiring him?

"I want him to go into a school with Muslims, with Catholics and I want him to treat them all with love. So the only way I knew how to do that was to write a song about it."

That song became Freedom Child, which in turn quickly became the album's title. It was the fastest decision on a record's name reached by the band, who will next year mark 10 years since their debut release.

"It's very important for us and we know having that as our album title means we will get asked about this everywhere and it will go down in print and kids will hear these songs," says O'Donoghue.

"These are all things we know will happen and I'm really proud of that."

Growing up here in the 80s and 90s, the threesome are acutely acquainted with the impact of terror, political division and the long time it can take for wounds within communities to heal.

"We grew up under it and we're aware of it a hell of a lot more on the social impact that it plays in the years afterwards," O'Donoghue says.

"It can only be through a new generation and education that change will happen."

But, with the band approaching their forties, they have also seen their homeland come through the other side of the Troubles, interjects Sheehan.

"Twenty years ago, you wouldn't have had the number of Irish people coming to England as you do now," he said.

"If they did they'd have been considered terrorists. It's so integrated now and I think when that does get threatened we do need the community to notice that and talk about it."

The band's stock in the US is huge and O'Donoghue (38) is adamant that the band are not targeting any side but are trying to bring people together.

"We're not red, we're not blue," he says.

"We're in between, saying we all need to come together and talk about this because you're ruining your own streets.

"There clearly is a divide, maybe Trump is or isn't the cause, maybe social unrest got it to that point but we need to talk to each other," he says. "We can't have that stand-off because we've seen it through history time and time again.

"Rioting gets you nowhere, stand-offs get you nowhere. To be a band with a message I thought was very important this time around."

It's an interesting approach. While artists from Katy Perry to Jay-Z are aligning themselves politically at a time of international turmoil, the Dublin trio are eager to highlight the importance of crossing the divide to educate, particularly with the younger listener. To attract them to their music, they decided they needed to evolve.

"We were asking ourselves questions," O'Donoghue told a small gathering of journalists around 10 days before our interview at a preview of the new release.

Electronic

"Where is our place in music? Where do we fit in music now?"

These questions prompted the rockers to offer their own take on EDM [electronic dance music], which is booming among a young audience. The band, eager to speak to youth perhaps more than ever, decided to approach the genre.

Instead of throwing away their instruments, they have hijacked EDM's mentality and approach on a couple of tracks. They rafted in some older ska and reggae elements and the result is more of a hat-tip to EDM than abandoning their rock roots altogether.

It's not an approach to be sneered at. Coldplay's decision to collaborate with EDM-pop duo The Chainsmokers saw the band, led by Chris Martin, again evolve and continue to attract new audiences.

"Coldplay are at the forefront of it," says Sheehan. "They are embracing modern music and, if you don't, then you stop becoming relevant unfortunately."

His frontman explains that the band have actually taken a chaotic approach to delivering hit tracks by releasing several versions of a song on streaming services, with the hope that one of them will gain traction.

Chilled

"We know there's lots of playlists and different types of people listening to different playlists, so we've produced a regular version of the song," O'Donoghue said.

"But we also have an acoustic version for the chilled playlist and we have dance remixes, so we're trying to be omnipresent because any one of these songs can become the hit," he says, before joking (perhaps with a hint of sincerity) if one becomes outrageously popular they will claim it as the real version.

As keen as they are to talk about Freedom Child, the band are visibly far more excited about getting back on the road.

Other than one or two album preview gigs, they've not performed live in two years and Power's eyes light up at the thought of returning to the stage.

"I'm dying to get back out there," he says. Clapping his hands together in excitement.

O'Donoghue adds: "It's the thing you miss the most when you're at home. It will come to eight or nine o'clock and I'll be like 'why do I feel like I need to be somewhere right now?'.

"It's part of a routine and to not do it for two years is hard, that atmosphere in the room as the lights go out."

Exhaling, he claps his hands again and adds: "I swear to God I can't wait for that feeling."

Freedom Child is out tomorrow


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