Music: The Script are back and coming to Newcastle next year

  • Music: The Script are back and coming to Newcastle next year
  • Music: The Script are back and coming to Newcastle next year
  • Music: The Script are back and coming to Newcastle next year

To be a band with something to say was very important for The Script this time around

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.

"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 alongside Sheehan and drummer Glen Power in Sony's west London offices. "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*** 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? Because 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 was then quickly made the record's title. It was the fastest a decision over an album name had ever been reached by the band - who will mark ten years since their debut release next year.

"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 in Ireland in the Eighties and Nineties, the threesome are acutely acquainted with the effects 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. And 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 is adamant to point out the band are not targeting either side, but attempting 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," continues the 38-year-old. "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 during a tumultuous period of international unrest, this Irish trio are eager to highlight the importance of crossing that divide to educate, particularly with the younger listener. In a bid 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 record. "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 the youth perhaps more than ever before, decided to try and approach the genre. Instead of throwing away their instruments, the band 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 Chris Martin-led band yet 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."

And his frontman explains the band have actually taken a slightly 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.

"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, 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.

The band are excited about getting back out on the road. Other than one or two album preview gigs, they've not performed live in two years. "I'm dying to get back out there," says 39-year-old Power. Clapping his hands together in excitement, O'Donoghue agrees.

"It's the thing you miss the most when you're at home," he says. "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. I swear to God I can't wait for that feeling."

Freedom Child is out now. The Script at Newcastle MetroRadio Arena on Monday, February 19, 2018. Tickets on sale from 9.30am on Friday, September 15 on 0844-4936666.



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