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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 November 2018

A chat with the long-standing lads of The Script

Irish pop/rock trio The Script on backstage revelry, recording on the road and their third massive UAE festival gig in less than five years.
The lead vocalist of The Script, Danny O'Donoghue at RedFestDXB. Victor Besa for The National
The lead vocalist of The Script, Danny O'Donoghue at RedFestDXB. Victor Besa for The National

The Script can lay a fair claim to being the UAE’s most popular live band.

Having headlined three huge Dubai festivals in just over little more than four years – to a combined audience of more than 30,000 – they are one of few acts who have entertained as many UAE gig-goers.

The Irish trio also cemented their popularity on record when, during their visit to Dubai last weekend to perform at RedFestDXB, they were presented with a gold record for regional sales of their most recent album, No Sound Without Silence.

Having received a similar award for Science & Faith in 2011, they join an elite club of performers – including Beyoncé, Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake – who have clocked up double-gold status for the record label Sony Music Middle East.

Speaking to the trio before they took to the Media City stage on February 13, Soundcheck found the trio to be remarkably relaxed, down to earth and open.

So, Sandance in November 2011, Dubai Jazz Fest in February 2013, and now RedFestDXB. What keeps you coming back — besides the money?

Danny O’Donoghue (singer): The sun and, to be honest, the crowd. Every time we come we’re warned that it’s a different vibe, so be prepared for not much of a reaction, but it seems Script fans don’t care where they are in the world, they just love to come out and sing music.

And what is it about your songbook that touches so many?

Mark Sheehan (guitarist): Don’t know, we just write them, mate.

Danny: There’s a formula – ask Stephen Hawking, he’s figured it out.

Mark: I think like any business, if there’s a niche for something and you fill that niche, people are willing to come to it. I think our music fills a void in people’s lives.

Has the band changed over the time covered by the UAE shows?

Glen Power (drummer): We’re definitely getting better, but the touring is getting tougher.

Because you’re getting older, or the tours are getting longer?

Mark: Both.

Does that mean you’re calming down the backstage revelry?

Glen: It’s more designed chaos now.

Danny: We spent seven years caning it, and this past year we decided you can either be constructive or destructive.

Mark: You get to a point where you realise you’re here for a long time or a good time, and you have to make a decision. You realise your obligation to put on a good show, and you can’t go out there puking at the side of the stage.

Danny: We used to be obliged to go to the Irish bar in every place we went.

Glen: So many times we woke up under the table.

Mark: We’re cleverer now; we pick our nights.

What’s the plan for album five?

Danny: Fingers crossed we’ll go somewhere completely different. We’ve always conceptualised these four records as part of a volume, if you’re looking at a life’s work. And now we’re standing at on top of the mountain, looking down at the other side. I think next we’ll be taking it for a spin, bringing The Script for a joyride for the next record.

How do you write together?

Danny: Sometimes you come in with a fully formed idea to flesh out with the lads, other times we’ll sit around like this. The lads are eloquent in the way they put things, or give you a bit of advice, and that’s where the best songs come from. So, it’s just like therapy really. It could be my family – everything from divorces, to my mum being in hospital, to people who are broke – the ups and downs and yin and yangs of life.

Your favourite 2014 album?

Danny: Was Passenger in 2014?

Mark: No, 2013. [Passenger’s Whispers came out in June 2014.]

Danny: Then I hate all the albums from last year – the standout song I heard was by Nothing But Thieves I just keep going back to it.

Glenn: Same.

Mark: James Bay, English dude, very good, check him out – Hold Back the River. Very, very talented. Also Royal Blood.

Danny: Was London Grammar [If You Wait] 2014 or 2013?

Mark: 2013 — but the album was terrible, it had one good song.

No Sound Without Silence is out now on Sony Music Middle East

rgarratt@thenational.ae