The Script last performed in the UAE in 2011 and that gap has seen the band get on a one-way train to dizzying heights. They’ve released a new album, #3, from which the lead single ‘Hall of Fame’, a collaboration with lead singer Danny O’Donoghue’s ‘The Voice’ co-judge Will.i.am, gave the trio their first UK number one.
O’Donoghue promises this success will shine through. “Our performance this time around will be quite different to the last — we’ll be playing a longer set. We are more confident now because we have more hits under our belt, like Hall of Fame. We have gone up a notch now. It is going to be mad.”
O’Donoghue and his band mates — guitarist Mark Sheehan and drummer Glen Power — will perform on Friday at the Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival — a music festival that also counts OneRepublic, 3 Doors Down and Deep Purple as headline acts. Cue a karaoke session.
“It’s too late to apologise, it’s too late,” trills O’Donoghue over the phone. “Don’t you think we’ll sound good with them?” he asks, laughing. “OneRepublic are a lot of fun; it would be quite cool to hit the stage with them.”
(Sadly that mash-up won’t be possible — OneRepublic opened the festival last Thursday before jetting back to the US for a show the following night.)
The long break since their last visit has also seen the lead singer go through personal changes. “Being on ‘The Voice’ has made me more responsible, especially because I now play a part in moulding someone’s career. I now have to teach people and I have to be very aware of the information that I pass on to them. Having said that, as a musician, I am constantly learning and I learn from the participants on the show too.”
“I think ‘The Voice’ is a great idea for a show — a good platform for budding musicians to showcase their talents and the show has credibility because of the calibre of the judges on it,” he says of his time on the show. “More often than not, upcoming musicians do not have someone to tell them what they are doing wrong and what they can do to reach the top. You have people from different generations teaching you every side of the music industry on the show.”
While he doesn’t always agree with his fellow judges — Tom Jones and Jessie J are also on the show — he has a special place in his heart for Will.i.am, the judge he constantly disagrees with yet still recorded with. “Will.i.am is such an easy-going and cool guy. In music, I have realised everybody does have their disagreements and it is the only way we learn. When someone tells you that what you’re not doing is good, it does hurt, but you get past it.”
The Voice UK has also given the band a face, another responsibility O’Donoghue is not one to shy away from.
“There is nothing I can do about being recognised now, you just have to learn to enjoy it. It makes you realise and become aware of yourself, your actions and what you say matters.”
Tribute to public service
“For those who say that celebrities deserve to be recognised for what they do, I say get a life. It’s not the celebrities or the stars that deserve to be Hall of Famers,” he says of the inspirations behind the song ‘Hall of Fame’. “It is the people like doctors, teachers, firemen — people in the public service who are doing a service to their community, that’s who we’ve tried to pay tribute to in the song. We wanted to recognise real people.”
And we have an idea who influenced the Irishman’s humility — The Script count Paul McCartney as a fan and the Beatle asked the band to support him on stage once.
“Paul McCartney is a legend, we learnt a lot from him. You get to where he is by being a good guy, not by being a prick. When he walks into a room, Paul makes it a point to say hi to everyone. He taught us how to be humble, how to conduct yourself. And when he goes out there, he greets his fans. Once he spent nearly two hours literally just signing autographs. This is important — some people wait for hours in bad weather conditions sometimes just for a few moments with their favourite stars. He understands that and that’s why he is where he is today.”
While there have been highs, The Script have had to deal with death and break-ups, turning recent personal difficulties into song. ‘If You Could See Me Now’ on #3 is a tribute to Sheehan’s mother and O’Donoghue’s father, who died within months of each other, while ‘Six Degrees Of Separation’, also on #3, is a chronicle of O’Donoghue’s break-up with Lithuanian model Irma Mali after a four-year relationship.
“It was not easy writing the song ‘If You Could See Me Now’. It is a torturous subject just talking about the song: I just met you and here we are talking about it,” says the singer. “Everybody knows the pain of losing a parent at some point in their life — the song is not for people to talk about it but rather to reflect upon. It is incredibly personal, there is so much more to our lives than just fast cars and red carpet appearances. We go through pain and emotion just like any other person,” said the star, whose father died of an aneurysm in 2009.
“Break-ups are hard and that’s what the song ‘Six Degrees Of Separation’ tries to portray, it’s about the six steps of getting over someone. There’s a universal process of dealing with the end of something, of moving on. When you break up with someone, you realise the mistakes you made, you learn from them, it’s difficult but soon the heartache lessens and you go about with your life, smiling.”
Don’t reach for the tissues just yet: the sob fest ends here. The new album has a lot more to offer, he promises.
“We are living in an age of hip-hop mentality... we try and take a bit of that and infuse with elements from the ’80s and ’90s and just mix it all up,” he says, determined not to get pinned down by the emotional songs The Script are known for. “The album has a heart and head, it is the perfect snapshot of life. You have us reminiscing about the good old days and there’s melodious, beautiful, thought provoking music. It also shows our growth as musicians.”
New year, new beginnings? Not likely; the band will continue to do what they’ve been doing.
“This year, we are going to tour, tour and tour. We are in Madrid right now and will be going to the UK for an arena tour. We will also support Train in the States this year. I love the travelling, the gigs, the drinking, the girls and the fun on tours,” he tells us mischievously.
However, it’s not the nightlife O’Donoghue is planning to experience in Dubai. “I was very jealous of the guys because they went out to the desert the last time we were down. I am going to make sure to do that this time around, you know check out the camels and stuff.”
The Script are nominated in the International Group category at this year’s Brit Awards, taking place on Wednesday.
“We will not win. We never win at the Brits,” he said of their chances.
The Script hit the Festival Park stage on Friday; tickets from Dh295. They will be supported by a smooth jazz line-up that features Paul Brown, Marc Antoine, Oli Silk, Lin Rountree and Brian Simpson and Grammy Award-winning quartet The Yellow Jackets.
Deep Purple take to the stage on Thursday night, supported by jazz acts Darren Rahn and Jlee.