Off the Record Hooked on The Script!

Not since Sinead O'Connor tossed me out on my butt after a two-hour interview 10 years ago have I written about the same artist two weeks in a row, so you know I must be hooked on The Script. Am I embarrassed by how hard I fell for this music? As Sarah Palin said, "you betcha!" As I wrote last week, their self-titled album has more hooks than a prizefighter, offering Irish music fans a nice break from the sometimes maudlin acoustic singer songwriter scene overseas at the moment. With the state of the Celtic Tiger, I don't expect the tunes from the Emerald Isle will be this sunny anytime soon. This Dublin trio emerged from the ashes of disposable boy bands to form a white hot group that is generating huge buzz here in the States. They made their television debut over the weekend, playing the "Second Cup" segment on the Saturday morning installment of CBS's The Early Show. It turns out that I am not the only one taking notice. Though their album does not drop until March, iTunes is selling a copy, and 600,000 people downloaded their free song "Before the Worst" as "Single of the Week" on iTunes in four days. "The last person who held that record was 300,000, so we were shocked," enthuses singer Mark Sheehan of the download bonanza. Though only in his mid-twenties, Sheehan has spent over a decade in the music business, fronting boy bands like Mytown and working behind the scenes in production when he got too burnt out by the teenybopper scene. I spoke with him about the runaway success of the Script and, against his better judgment, he opened up about his time as a pinup idol. Here's how it went. How would you describe the sound of The Script? What do you want people to hear when they finish listening to your CD? For us it is hard to be in a band and describe a sound. It happens naturally. No one is loyal to a genre in this day and age because of iTunes and file sharing. Nowadays, people jump from one style of music to the next on their iPod, so we tried to make music with that in mind. It is very versatile and something you can listen to from top to bottom. We get that all the time. It's so strange. I hope they think there is a cool sonic thumbprint. They hear mini-movies, narratives, cool lyrics, flipping concepts, and I hope they are plugged into the emotion. People say we sound like Timbaland meets U2. I resented that when I first heard it. If you have a guitar in Ireland then they label you as U2. But then someone broke the analogy down for me - you are a European rock anthemic band that has a USA feel to it. When it was explained to me that way I was cool with the characterization. A lot of people say Coldplay meets the Police. We were nicknamed the Irish Police. We almost named ourselves Gardai. I love the lyrics to "Rusty Halo." I love the imagery of "looking through the Bible trying to find a loophole." What is the song about? When you are Catholic and Irish you can relate to that lyric. It is about Catholic guilt, growing up thinking that every time you do something wrong you're not going to heaven. Simple little things threaten your entry to heaven and you are constantly guilty. I guess it's good and bad. You realize that when you are in your mid-twenties you want to find a bible and get a loophole in order to remove the guilt you had as a child. You were in Mytown, which was a boy band. How did that prepare you for... (cuts me, assumes annoyed tone). The funny thing about the Mytown thing is that this was only two years in my life. Everyone is eager for the light to be shown on that one thing. That is one of many bands I was in throughout my career. I have gone through so many things. All the work we put in behind the scenes for 10 years out of the spotlight prepared us for where we are today, not just the boy band stuff. Because you have been in a number of bands, do you feel like old veterans at the tender age of 25? I would imagine you know better than to take this for granted. You do in a way. I think the biggest thing is that we are perceived as nice guys. We feel it's a job and that we are so happy to be having a job. We are afraid of losing it to be sure. There is a sense of urgency, and we are scared that someone walks out on our gigs if we don't kill onstage. Because of the work ethic, we don't take this for granted. You should be happy that the interest is there for what you do, and complaining about the early morning interview is a little ridiculous when there are so many people who would kill for the opportunity. I believe it takes a person 10 years of commitment to become an expert, and I believe that is so true. You should spend 60,000 hours. Spend that time to become really great. You learn what not to do and then from there, you know better what to do. You know what works and what does not. Do you find fans following you from band to band? Some do. I think we were writing for our generation way back when, and it was all about this glitzy pop melody. We are older now and so is our audience, and people our age care more about lyrics. There are so many people I am still in contact with. A young girl I knew at home had 150 operations and she followed me through every band. Lauren is blind and deaf, and I have always remained in contact with her. I have such a network of people. Is there an opportunity to re-brand yourself in a way now that you are in a new band? I know what you're saying. We jumped ship and lost faith in the music business when we left Mytown. No one knew what we were doing. Myself and Daniel, we shed our skin. That said, we didn't change our sound deliberately. We had such terrible things happen to us that our songwriting was like therapy sessions. We had no target audiences. I know this is an unscientific experiment, but I played your music in the car over the weekend and my wife and I loved it while my preteen girls begged us to play something else. I think you have successfully evolved from the boy band thing. We get that all the time. I take that as a compliment. I meant it as one. You've been working America hard as you prepare for your album launch. How is it going? I am sorry I missed your Mercury Lounge showcase a few weeks ago. How was it? It was so shocking. It was one of the coldest nights of the year. I am wondering who the hell would come see us in New York City in weather so dreadful. We couldn't believe that people were wrapped around the block. We were so energized. It was one of our better gigs. I lived here for a long time and I know this city well. I love it. VH1 is owning us right now. We were in the offices there last week at VH1 and there was someone in an office actually playing our music not because they had to, because they wanted to. That is nice! We are coming back on St. Patrick's Day. Our single gets played the end of March. From then on, we are going all around America. We are dedicating three months.

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