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
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”.