INTERVIEW: Mark Sheehan of The Script

The Script is a band with no boundaries. Musically speaking, that is.

The band’s debut single “We Cry” back in 2008 showcased R&B and hip-hop influences, and four years and three albums later, The Script continue to blend elements of these genres together. As guitarist Mark Sheehan explains: “A lot of people think we’re trying to be this rock band, but we’re not a rock band at all – we’re a R&B/hip-hop/pop band. We don’t really prescribe to the rock genre at all.” He has a point. Lead singer Danny O’Donoghue previously referred to it as ‘celtic hip-hop’. There may be difficulty in narrowing down a category to place The Script in, but one thing is certain – the heart and soul of their music is written on their sleeves for the world to see.

Case in point, the track “If You Could See Me Now” on their latest album #3 was noted by the band as a difficult song get through in terms of the writing and recording process. The track is a touching dedication towards Danny’s father and both of Mark’s parents, and steers towards the emotional rapport that the band creates for the listener at such a personal level. Along with drummer Glen Power and the band on tour, this connection is made stronger through their live shows. It is obvious that the fans are every bit as enthused and emotionally attached to the songs as the band is.

I had the opportunity to chat with Mark on the phone just before The Script played at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis on October 26th, and he spoke about life on the road, the touring band, and writing from a personal level.

asapmusicblog.ca: What are some of the highlights of touring North America?

Mark Sheehan: A lot of people ask if the fans differ across the water or around the world. Our music, oddly enough, brings all kinds of demographic out from young to old. If you come to one of our shows you’ll notice that it’s pretty much the same around the world – people want to come out and share and sing these songs. It’s a very strange experience at one of our shows because every single song is being sung to the top of their lungs by all of the audience, sometimes it becomes hard for us to hear ourselves singing and we have to put the microphones out to them. So it’s a real testament to wherever we play in the world that way.

We do love North America, from the food to the long bush journeys – being out there is fantastic. You don’t get that in Europe, you don’t get that in Australia where you live on a tour bus and really soak in the touring lifestyle. When you come to America in general, that’s the way it is, you live on a tour bus. We’ve been living on a tour bus for the past couple of weeks, and will be for the next coming months. For us, going to new city after new city is great fun.

a: Although The Script are best known as a three-piece band, the band actually expands while on tour with Ben Sargeant on bass, and more recently, Rodney Alejandro has been added on the keys. What elements do they add to the live shows?

Mark: I think, sometimes, because we’re producers and songwriters we tend to not think about the band when we’re writing and producing the music – often we just think about the song and if the song is moving us or not. When it comes to playing it live you realize you need bass, so that’s where Ben Sargeant comes in and occasionally he plays a bit of keys as well in the show. Then we have Rodney Alejandro, who is a multi-keyboardist who creates samples, who plays strings live – obviously it gets quite expensive to bring a quartet on the road with us, so we use his four fingers as each person in the quartet, so it kind of goes on like that. He just builds up a soundscape for us that we were never able to achieve before.

a: “If You Could See Me Now” is such a personal song, and you previously stated the difficulty in writing, recording, and performing it live. It’s one of the songs that you guys are playing on tour – what was the decision process like in adding it to the set list?

Mark: Me and Danny quite kind of differ in areas, Danny’s quite an emotional lad and doesn’t mind wearing his heart on his sleeve – I’m quite private that way. So when I wrote this song, I never expected to write it and have everybody reading a diary. It’s almost like if I said to you right now, ‘Ok, give me a page in your diary, I wanna read something about you really personal’ – and we don’t even know each other, then you write it, give it to me and I stick it on a projector on the wall in the middle of the floor for everyone to read.

For me it can be quite embarrassing, but what happens is with music, I find when I write a song and it gets released – that song becomes almost like the listener rewrites that song to their own life and it becomes their song in a way. So how dare we not play it in our show, so we kind of have to answer to that – I feel that it’s my job to play it nowadays rather than something I want to play.

I think at times I just go without playing it because sometimes it doesn’t work, and sometimes it does work so we play it then. We sort of feel out the right moment for the song to play it, but sometimes it’s just too difficult to play, ‘cause you know, you can’t through the verses so you just can’t play it. Again, I feel like I’d be dicking all the fans out of it if we didn’t play it.

a: “Six Degrees of Separation” is the next single off the album – what led you guys to choose that song in particular as a single?

Mark: It’s a really powerful song with a really powerful message. I think everybody knows with our music, it’s that core of us and that people attach themselves to. When writing the song, I also felt that we were writing something where we’re looking at the world a little bit differently. For example, when we wrote “Breakeven”, there’s many, many break-up songs out there in the world but I’ve never really heard anybody say ‘when a heart breaks, no it don’t breakeven’ – so I quite enjoyed writing a song like that.

The same was for the “Six Degrees of Separation” where you’d be able to find a song somewhere in the world out there that will say ‘six degrees of separation’, but not really a by-product of the type of song we wrote, so I felt it was really unique and something that I really wanted to put into the marketplace as the second single.

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#3 is available now on iTunes, and The Script play their only Canadian tour date in Toronto on November 6th at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. For more information on the band, check out: http://www.thescriptmusic.com