The Script on their breakthrough success

Emma Lee Dublin trio The Script are one of 2008’s biggest breakthrough acts. Guitarist Mark Sheehan tells Emma Lee the epic story of their journey to the top ahead of their sell-out Norwich show.

Emma Lee

The Script's journey to the top really has it all. Following their dreams, childhood friends singer Danny O'Donaghue and guitarist Mark Sheehan take a huge risk and up sticks and move across the pond to showbiz central Los Angeles. Their ultimate destination is the higher reaches of the pop charts. But there's tragedy as well as triumph along the way.

Ireland's latest musical export, the band plays at UEA in Norwich this week. They shot to fame earlier this year with the hits We Cry and the Man Who Can't Be Moved.

But the group - drummer Glen Power completes the trio - are anything but an overnight sensation.

Mark, a typically charming Irishman with the gift of the gab, explains that he and Danny met in their early teens in the (“wrong side of the tracks”) James Street area of Dublin and bonded over a love of music.

“I'm not trying to romanticise it. Where we grew up was a hole,” Mark says. “It was stealing cars, all the usual. But music gave me a sense I could break away. I know it sounds like a cliche, but to me as a kid that was my way out.”

Most Read

There was one voice in particular that inspired them both.

“Stevie Wonder. He's the man,” Mark says.

Inspired, Danny would spend hours practising his own vocals and he and Mark went on to forge a songwriting and production partnership that led to them taking a leap of faith and moving to America.

“We managed to convince our parents to let us go to the States and were fortunate. We went to people like [producers] Teddy Riley and Dallas Austin - the people we really admired. They could only say yes or no and we just knocked on their doors. You don't know unless you ask,” he says.

When you speak to Mark words like “fortunate” and “luck” crop up a lot. But they wouldn't have got anywhere without their talent and determination.

“It was really an apprenticeship. We had a long way to go,” he says. “Sometimes we would be making the tea. Sometimes we would get to make demos. It was just great being able to see how these guys built songs.”

However LA isn't all glitz.

“Venice Beach sounds lovely and glamorous, but really it's a hole,” Mark laughs.

Things took a turn when they met Glen, who also hails from Dublin, and soon their career was going in a different direction.

“He is an amazing drummer. An amazing musician. We just had to work together.”

They jammed together, ending up producing three songs in a week - and that was the start of the Script.

However, the story took a tragic twist.

When Mark's mother became terminally ill the band returned to their home city so he could spend time with her. During her illness, which lasted 10 months, Mark discovered that writing lyrics was a way to ease the pain a little.

Four months later Danny's father, a professional musician, died unexpectedly of a heart attack.

Both found that immersing themselves in their music and nurturing their songs helped them to cope.

“Everybody can relate to it. Everybody has these issues going on,” says Mark. “The reason I'm able to write songs is because they come from characters I know. All I know is that it is something that touches me deep inside and seems to touch other people when we play.”

It's amazing how far a band can get in a year. One summer they were playing a little tent at the V Festival. The next so many people were trying to pack into the JJB Arena they had to close it down.

“To me that was a milestone really,” Mark says. “We'd seen the audiences growing, but that was head-spinning.”

The plaudits have come thick and fast. It's Celtic Soul, but not as you know it. In addition to having an ear for a tune, their songs have a glossy American R&B sheen - they've been described as “U2 versus Timbaland” or “Van Morrison remixed by Teddy Riley”.

As well as the hit singles and self-titled debut album, frontman Danny has emerged as something of a heart-throb - which suits Mark.

“It means I get to stand at the back,” he laughs.

But while their career has gone stratospheric, Mark's keeping his feet on the ground.

“We feel like somebody's going to take it away from us, so we're enjoying it while we can. But at the end of the day they're just my mates and we write songs together.”

It'll be interesting to see where the Script goes from here.

t The Script play UEA in Norwich, on Thursday, November 27. The show is sold out, but check with the box office for returns on 01603 508050. Their self-titled debut album is out now.