“We’re always waiting on somebody to take this away” says The Script’s Mark Sheehan ahead of Thetford Forest gig
- Credit: Peter Neill
Dublin’s finest The Script return to Thetford Forest on June 7. We spoke to the band’s Mark Sheehan.
Mark, Danny O’Donoghue and Glen Power are celebrating after their fifth studio album Freedom Child topped the UK Official Albums Chart.
Known for anthemic pop-rock tracks like We Cry, The Man Who Can’t Be Moved and Hall Of Fame they’re one of the world’s biggest live acts. Fans will be delighted to hear they’re returning to Suffolk as part of the Forest Live music series, managed by the Forestry Commission. a
Q: What do you get up right before a gig?
Over the years we’ve streamlined the process where we bring a recording studio on the road with us, so we tend to fill in those hanging around hours before the actual show doing the one thing that we really really love to do which is writing music.
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Q: Have you started work on the next album?
Right now we’re writing songs for other people, it’s like going to the gym almost, it’s a really good way of exercising that writing muscle, keeping it really sharp in a way; it pushes you outside your own creative box. When you’re focused on the Script we feel we’re really still really tight because, often, if you take a long time away for it you have to go through that big period again where it almost feels like a big steel ball you have to push and roll. Once it’s rolling it’s fine but actually getting it rolling is the task you know?
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Right now for we’re doing some work for Syco, Simon Cowell’s record label, for a bunch of artists he’s got right now. We like to look at up and coming talent; there’s a new band in Ireland called Wild Youth we’ve taken on and we bring them out on tour with us here and there. They come into the recording studio and we work with them.
Q: How easy is it to get back into the swing of things when you’re all back together?
In one sense it’s really exciting because all the new energy is there, everybody’s bringing something new to the table that they’ve experienced while they were away. We always say input is output. Whenever you live your life - watch movies, read books, hang out with your mates, live with your family, really letting light - when we write, our songs are very much weirdly based on our lives in a way. It’s like we’re opening up our diaries for the world to read. It can be a bit of a struggle because we’re all independently strong songwriters and musicians so it’s easier to go into your own cocoon and think you’re fine in your own little world and then you tell the lads what you think is an amazing idea and then they stand all over it and tell you it’s crap [laughs].
Q: Looking forward to playing Thetford Forest again?
It’s a great setting, really beautiful. The sun goes down behind the trees... a change of scenery is really nice, it’s nice to challenge yourself on different stages. We do a lot of small shows, even bars and pubs where we do promo events, still do a lot of acoustic performances and they often are some of our favourite shows. You strip all the gimmicks and the production out your life and all you’ve got is the performance so each stage has a new offering. We have to adapt and we get really excited about that, it keeps things really interesting.
Knowing money gets donated to the forest is great. The backstage area is loads of fun... we’ve tried Go Ape a couple of times and almost killed ourselves [laughs]. We always have a very good time.
Q: Freedom Child is your fourth number one UK album?
We’re really happy because we tend to doubt ourselves every time - we’re the kind of lads who have been unsuccessful for longer than we’ve been successful so for us we’re always waiting on somebody to take this away from us and I guess that makes us work that little bit harder. It’s hard to get a concept like this across, where it could almost sound to people when they hear it first that we’re being a little bit cheesy. We just felt it was a nice message and a nice thing to do; to say you have to get through the haters. As we’re rolling it out throughout the UK all the dots get connected because in every single show we’re doing throughout the UK we’ve tried to have a real moment, that means something to the area as part of the Freedom Child umbrella.
In Aberdeen we ran through the streets handing out free tickets for the show for National Kindness Day. Along our way we found two buskers and we thought “hey, why don’t you come down to the soundcheck and jump up and play with us” as a gift to them to feel what it’s like to be on an arena stage. We invited them to do one song with us on stage and we were just blown away. We passed out buckets in the audience and collected tips for them, We pulled in over £2,000 for them.
Q: I read the album’s name came from your seven-year-old son asking about terrorism?
They were running a drill at his school, what to do if there was a terrorist act which obviously shows how normal these things are. He came home and said “dad, what is terrorism” and I thought the one thing they missed out on telling all the kids was exactly what the thing is they they’re learning to avoid.
I’m a good musician, but I’m not really good at advising a seven-year-old that way so all I could think of doing is writing a song and the whole concept came to me as a lyric. I was trying to teach him that hate doesn’t beat hate, love does. I brought it to the band and they were like “this is a really cool concept” and that kind of sprung us into wanting to do a whole album with that ethos.
Q: It’s quite a political album?
I suppose some people will say that. We think it’s social conscience, more speaking to people because we don’t sit around and really talk about politics, we talk more about the affect politics has on people. We have a song called Divided States of America. It’s not a political song, it’s more a love letter to America; saying how much we love it and how much we feel divided right now.
Q: I read Danny described it as being a megaphone for people who don’t have a voice themselves?
I always relate it to the pub conversations, I find that’s where we get most of our connection points because we still hang around with all of our same mates since we were at school, we still go to the same pubs, we haven’t changed that about our lives... it’s one of those things that when we do sit in the local bar you hear all those stories that local people are very much p***** off about or stuff that’s just really affecting their lives and we can’t help ourselves but write about that stuff.
Q: There’s plenty going on in the world to about?
There really is. If you’re not inspired to write something... music was always a counter-culture to what was going on in normal culture and I always found years ago some of my favourite artists like Dylan couldn’t help but write about what was going on around them. I think it’s easy to sit down and write a bunch of songs that are about escapism and that has it’s place. Sometimes you have a platform and a responsibility, we don’t want to be preachy but at least make people think for a second.
I was asked recently by a young band do I know the recipe for success and I don’t know. I have figured out the one for failure and that’s trying to keep everybody happy. You can’t in this business, it’s art, it’s subjective, it’s an opinion not an argument. It’s okay to paint a picture nobody likes or write a song you think nobody likes; it will find people that will love it and connect to it. You just have to not worry about the people that won’t.
Q: Music’s truth in its rawest form?
We call it “simply complicated”, how in three or four minutes can we talk about a deep, really massive subject. It’s breaking it down to a very simple, complete thought, it’s the only way you can do it. Making sure it always has a foot in reality is the only way people resonate with it.
Q: What’s next for The Script?
We finish touring at the end of July running into August. We’d love to have a new album out by next year. This job chooses you in a weird way and we have such a good b***** time on the road and on stage. I’ve done many different jobs in my life and this is definitely the best one. It’s just keeping that going, trying to find parts of the world we’ve never played before, do things we’ve never done before. Keeping it interesting and exciting for ourselves we keep it excting and interesting for our fanbase.