Fresh off the back of releasing their new single, The Last Time, pop-rock outfit The Script know exactly what their fans want. Nearly 12 years after they crashed on to the scene, moving quickly from chart newbies to arena headliners, the Dublin trio still have to constantly adapt to avoid being chewed up by the music industry machine. As it turns out, it’s got a lot to do with Twitter.
When vocalist Danny O’Donoghue and guitarist Mark Sheehan are questioned on their longevity, they’re open about not trying to reinvent the wheel; instead, they say, chart music has changed so much that they feel they stand out just by sticking to “signature Script”. The musicians pride themselves on their transparency: both in terms of the heartfelt songwriting style they have stuck to since breakthrough singles We Cry and The Man Who Can’t Be Moved, and in terms of being accessible to their fans.
— the script 🌄🌑 (@thescript) September 27, 2019
“Mark and Glen [Power, drummer] especially keep a constant dialogue going with our fans and make sure they can get in contact with us,” the frontman says. “These guys go out and talk to literally thousands of people after shows. I can put my hand on my heart and say if you’re a big fan of this band, you’ve had the opportunity to meet us.
“It marks you out as different when you’re keen to make yourself genuinely accessible in a world where people are trying to separate themselves. I get so distraught with artists who just walk past their fans, treating them like dirt.
“We’re not trying to do it – maybe it comes from being Irish and never getting above your station.”
Online, both fans and the band’s official Twitter account tag posts with #TheScriptFamily and rack up thousands of likes.
In total, more than 92,000 people have sold The Big Issue since 1991 to help themselves work their way out of poverty – more than could fit into Wembley Stadium.
“Everybody’s empowered by having a smartphone in their hands now,” O’Donoghue says. “And in order to see yourself in the artist you like, you have to be able to relate to them. That’s why the likes of Adele and Ed Sheeran are so powerful as artists – they really are themselves. They’re not pretending.” He remembers Sheeran’s recent single, Beautiful People, which bemoans the vapid flashiness of showbiz. “What a great message to throw out there,” O’Donoghue says. “Singing a song going, ‘I’m the shit,’ is not what music is about, to me. It’s about truth and honesty.”
But authenticity isn’t enough to keep a band’s career going after breaking into the mainstream in 2008. Their social media presence is the result of a concerted effort to make sure the band isn’t left behind in the Noughties (“You need to service your music to those platforms even when everybody out there is like, ‘BORING!’” Sheehan says). The band also took fresh Dublin four-piece Wild Youth under their collective wing, keen to build a nurturing community among their fellow artists the same way they saw their fans doing.
— the script 🌄🌑 (@thescript) April 10, 2019
But the musicians are of the view that you need to see them live to really understand The Script. That meant getting as many people as possible – “everybody from six to 60-year-olds” – into their gigs at a time when prices are spiralling beyond what most six or 60-year-olds can afford.
“If you do want a family of people to come to your shows, you have to really examine your ticket prices,” Sheehan says. “When a parent wants to take three or four kids to the show, it gets extremely expensive. So we’ve played shows where we did family tickets, for £100 you could get five of you into the show. Not the nosebleeds either.”
O’Donoghue exhales some disdain. “You’re talking 70 quid a ticket or something most of the time. It’s ridiculous. I’ve seen the big artists roll through town and just suck the life out the live industry because they’re charging so much for tickets. They lead you to believe they don’t have control, but they absolutely do.”
“And then they’ll charge for meet and greets!” Sheehan interjects. “Anybody charging fans to meet them right now – shame on you. It annoys the hell out of me. Those people have already paid money to see you. You’re already rich, man.”
Since 1991 The Big Issue has sold more than 200,000,000 copies – helping the most vulnerable in society earn more than £115 million.
The Script’s new tune is called The Last Time. So when was the last time they…
Visited a country for the first time?
Sheehan: Taiwan. We played a show there on our last album cycle, it was an amazing place.
Listened to an album front to back?
O’Donoghue: David Gray’s White Ladder. I threw it on last weekend and loved it.
Loved a book so much they loaned it to someone else?
Sheehan: The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson. No further comment!
Image: Andrew Whitton