Tales from The Script

From jam­ming in a shed in Dublin’s Lib­er­ties to mak­ing mu­sic with the likes of N.E.R.D. and Teddy Ri­ley in LA, The Script have be­come dab hands at the mu­sic busi­ness, writes Brian Boyd

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

POUND for pound, the best song­writer at work to­day is Ryan Ted­der. You don’t know his name, but you’ve prob­a­bly heard one of the songs he’s writ­ten al­ready to­day on the ra­dio and you’ll most prob­a­bly hear an­other be­fore the day’s out. Best known as the front­man of One Repub­lic, Ted­der has not only had hits on his own with Apol­o­gize but he has also writ­ten Bleed­ing Love for Leona Lewis and Love Like This for Natasha Bed­ing­field, among oth­ers. At one point last year, three of his songswere num­ber one at the same time in the US, the UK and Ja­pan.

Ted­der’s ex­cel­lence lies in his abil­ity to art­fully merge to­gether frag­ments of soul, r&b, and rock/pop and put a con­tem­po­rary beat un­der­neath ev­ery­thing. It’s this sort of sound that the new three-piece Dublin band, The Script, are chas­ing on their epony­mous de­but album. Indier-than-thou crit­ics may sneer at the pop sheen of their am­bi­tions, but hav­ing al­ready had one ma­jor ra­dio hit with We Cry, The Script are in­tent on carv­ing out a place for them­selves in the rock/pop elite.

The band, who are all from The Lib­er­ties area of Dublin, are Danny O’Donoghue (vo­cals), Mark Shee­han (gui­tar and pi­ano) and Glen Power (drums).

As they busy them­selves notch­ing up more “sin­gle of the week” ac­co­lades from UK ra­dio (where they are now based), Mark Shee­han is tak­ing a bit of time out to re­flect on the “crazi­ness” of the past few weeks and the band’s rather ro­man­tic be­gin­nings in a shed in the back of a house in Dublin 8.

“I was al­ways mess­ing around with mu­sic since I was a kid,” says Shee­han. “I had th­ese key­boards and would prac­tise away in this lit­tle shed in The Lib­er­ties. But I al­ways knew that the mu­si­cal ideas I had in my head wouldn’t sound quite right if they came out of my own mouth. Just by co­in­ci­dence, one day I ad­ver­tised that I was sell­ing some mu­si­cal equip­ment – I was 16 at the time – and this 14-year-old kid came to have a look at it.

“He was telling me how he was a singer and all of that, so we started mess­ing around with songs to­gether. Now he’s the lead vo­cal­ist in The Script.”

Some­thing about their pop/rock sound made them re­alise early on that the US would be a more wel­com­ing place for the type of mu­sic they were try­ing to cre­ate.

“Through a friend of a friend we got to meet Paul McGuin­ness,” says Shee­han. “My­self and Danny went into his of­fice and played some of our stuff on acous­tic gui­tars for him. He was very help­ful. He pointed us to­wards a few pub­lish­ing com­pa­nies in the US, and even­tu­ally we got this pub­lish­ing deal over there which al­lowed us to de­velop a song­writ­ers”.

De­vel­op­ing your­self as a song­writer in the US mu­sic mar­ket ba­si­cally means you’re work­ing as a waiter, but hav­ing al­ready amassed a bit

of tech­ni­cal know-how, Shee­han and O’Donoghue found them­selves work­ing in record­ing stu­dios. “We got a big break early on and got the chance to work with a re­ally fa­mous pro­ducer called Teddy Reilly in Los An­ge­les, who at that time, had just fin­ished pro­duc­ing a Michael Jack­son album,” he says. “It was prob­a­bly the gift of the gab that got us the gig. Most days, we would be just mak­ing the tea, but other days we would be in­volved in pro­gram­ming or ac­tu­ally play­ing on a record. A fan­tas­tic learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for us both.

“From there, we made a few more con­tacts and then got some work with The Nep­tunes. But it was still very hard go­ing and we did re­ally strug­gle at times. A few years in and a drum­mer friend of ours from Dublin, Glen, de­cided to come out to try and get some work, and that was the mo­ment the band was com­plete.”

Un­usu­ally for the mu­sic in­dus­try, The Script signed a ma­jor-la­bel deal with­out first hav­ing toured (a la­bel nor­mally wants to see if a band can play live be­fore com­plet­ing the deal).

“It was strange,” says Shee­han. “You know what they al­ways say – ‘the only time suc­cess comes be­fore tour­ing is in the dic­tionary’ – but I think now with the whole MyS­pace revo­lu­tion, record la­bels are hav­ing to do things dif­fer­ently and do things like sign­ing a band be­fore they tour. New tal­ent has to be de­vel­oped in new ways th­ese days. But I think the la­bel knew that we would be able to pro­duce the album our­selves, so that was one hur­dle out of the way, and when­ever we came back to Dublin, we could al­ways sell out Whe­lan’s, so that helped too”. The band’s first sin­gle, We Cry was re­leased last April and was a top-20 hit in

the UK, thanks to a big sup­port cam- paign from BBC Ra­dio 1 DJ’s.

A gui­tar pop/neo-soul track, it was dis­tin­guished by its per­fect pro­duc­tion val­ues. But given their work in Los An­ge­les, that was hardly a sur­prise. “We can pull out a few stu­dio tricks when we need to,” says Shee­han.

A very un-Ir­ish sound­ing record, the band’s de­but album is awash with po­ten­tial sin­gles, and al­ready US ra­dio is show­ing a good deal of in­ter­est.

“Ob­vi­ously, be­cause of our work in the US, the album was al­ways go­ing to have a sort of Amer­i­can sound,” says Shee­han. “I think there’s a big dif­fer­ence be­tween Amer­i­can and Ir­ish and Bri­tish mu­sic. It’s re­ally all to do with the place­ment of sounds and how you record them. Con­trary to pop­u­lar opin­ion, Amer­i­can al­bums are rawer sound­ing – typ­i­cally, they’d use a lot less mi­cro­phones over the equip­ment in the stu­dio. What­ever pol­ish­ing you hear on the fi­nal track, is all done in the mix­ing process.”

The band have just fin­ished a tour with N.E.R.D which was a real case of friends re­united all around. Back in their Los An­ge­les stu­dio tech­ni­cian days, Mark and Danny had worked with the band on one of their al­bums. “We turned up for the first show and they were go­ing ‘I can­not be­lieve it’s you Ir­ish guys again’, so that was great fun be­ing on the same bill as some­one we used to work for,” Shee­han says.

As to where The Script are lo­cated on the mu­si­cal land­scape, all Shee­han knows is that “the kids in The Lib­er­ties th­ese days are all lis­ten­ing to 50 Cent, Ma­roon 5 and Coldplay, but I can hope that they can give us a lis­ten too”.

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