Concert Spotlight: Interview with The Script

Returning to Rock Radio City

Irish pop-rock band The Script are back with their fifth album Freedom Child (released 9/1) and they return to Radio City Music Hall on September 29. The “Superheroes” band continue to be the act that lift the everyday person. Comprised of lead singer Danny O’Donoghue, guitarist Mark Sheehan and drummer Glen Power, The Script have always been songwriters and musicians who discuss the human condition – dealing with heartbreak on “Nothing” and “If You Ever Come Back,” friendship on “Millionaires” and hardship on “Breakeven” and “For the First Time.”

Ska and reggae have long been at the heart of The Script’s sound and Danny’s voice, and it’s no different on new single “Rain,” where the band stretches even further with a reggaeton beat and a crowd-pleasing party melody. Both Danny and Mark spoke with New York City Monthly about their thoughts on the Big Apple, how their songs reflect several classic artists and why their new album has such depth to it despite the many up-tempo tracks…

Your breakthrough was nearly 10 years ago, in 2008. Fifth album Freedom Child signals a new sound at least with new up-tempo “Rain.” What is most exciting for you guys in terms of returning on the scene since it’s been a couple years?

Danny O’Donoghue: I think the most exciting thing is getting back on the road again. We’re all musicians at heart. We’ve all really enjoyed the ride we have been on. I think taking a break was really to evaluate what we’ve done.

For me, you will always know music is exciting because it’s the only reason we would come together to do an album. I guess that signified the new era. You need to go away to come back again. The thing I’m most excited about is coming back with new music, that’s what got us excited in the first place, getting songs out there for people. It feels like we’re back releasing our first material again.

Mark Sheehan: As for a band that is established, you would think it would be easy or easier, but it seems just as difficult because you have to take a hard look at yourself where you’re a traditional band playing traditional instruments, and there’s less places for us. Unless you can sit between Drake and Justin Bieber, it’s hard to have your sound out there.

The production can change over time; it can be a reggae song, it can be a punk song, a dance song, but the song that sits on that vehicle is just songwriting. We thought about how we fit in this vast and changing landscape. I think the first single and the whole album is a good example of what we wanted – a socially-conscious record. With a lot of music out there on these modern platforms, party songs do really well; it’s hard to get something with a deeper meaning on the radio. We looked at the production and the vehicle which carries the songs, but we tried to keep our messages the same.

What makes playing New York City different than playing other cities?

Mark: It’s a big, scary city that all the way through your life when you’re a foreigner, it’s almost like a flagship city for America. We’re geographically closer to New York than most cities, but it was the mecca for music for so long, even though Los Angeles and Portland and Nashville had their own scenes. It was where every record label was and venues were. There’s a mystique about it. It’s the only place in the world where it makes me feel very comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time.

The buildings and everything feel larger than life, but you go sit in a bar and everyone is so nice and real. New Yorkers have that big larger-than-life attitude. Everyone comes to see our shows there, so you don’t want to fuck up in New York City; all the reporters and label people come to see us.

Danny: I think it’s the culture and the heritage there. New York is a place, and Boston is a place there’s a lot of Irish people. I have always equated America with New York. Even though Washington is the capital,  New York is what you grow up watching. LA is where they make the movies, but New York had the skyline and for us, particularly coming from Ireland, New York is where the Irish people emigrated to so it’s always had the energy in our mind. You don’t get anywhere especially because it’s such a concentrated place of talent. With Adele or Justin Timberlake down the street, you better put on a good show because they can head a few blocks down and find something better. It kind of puts you on edge and puts a bit of crazy in the air to make sure you do a good show.

You have played Radio City, Terminal 5, Highline Ballroom. What does it mean to be returning to Radio City?

Mark: It’s such an iconic venue. There’s rarely venues that sonically are as enjoyable for the band as much as the audience. It creates a magical experience for fans. We’re moving air at the end of the day, and when we’re in the room together, it’s a classic venue that stands the test of time. It’s so amazing as a fan to watch a band play.
I remember seeing John Mayer there many moons ago and we had just played there and couldn’t believe how well the sound was for me on stage and then in audience.

Danny: Well to me, against how famous that is, there’s amazing stars that have graced that stage. I love how that room sounds as well. It’s nostalgic and a great room in terms of sound. There’s a magic in the air. You roll up to the club and you see your name in lights; it’s a surreal moment.

The Script music definitely heals. It is a reflection of our lives, love, loss. Besides your own music, what are a couple acts that always seem to cheer you up or make you feel hopeful, past or present?

Danny: Coldplay and U2 because they are quite worldly and socially conscious. But I just think music in general, it doesn’t have to be uplifting for me. Someone that always gets me going if I’m ever feeling off creatively is Bob Dylan. The craftsman that Dylan was, he has a big cult following and it’s cool to say you like Dylan, but if you actually read the lyrics to “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” it’s unbelievably deep.

Mark: Songwriting has got to be key and hold strong and true. And U2 have always managed to speak to people quite humbly. There’s something real nice about the working-class nature of Bruce Springsteen, who I listened to when making this record. He reminds me of where I grew up in Dublin and not making you feel weird about where you’re from. I love artists like that because it’s more inclusive music.

“Written in the Scars,” “United” are two songs that were already teased to fans. What else can listeners expect on the new album?

Mark: I’m super excited. Every album for us can relate to everybody. The song “Freedom Child” came to me when my son asked, “Dad, what is terrorism?” That really scared me coming from my seven-year-old boy. Tolerance is what’s lacking right now in our community. “Freedom Child,” it’s super exciting when people hear it; it’s protecting our freedom and young people doing all those things that you feel like you shouldn’t be doing right now, but we wanted to encourage people.

Danny: “No Man Is an Island” is a bit of a faster song; it’s the perfect meld of what this album is supposed to be. A really smart lyric, the production is regressed. It’s the band playing an up-tempo ska song but I think people will find it really fun. At the end of the day it’s The Script at the top of it.