Q&A: Danny O'Donoghue of The Script
The Script frontman Danny O'Donoghue will give anything on this day to get over his birthday hangover. Nevertheless, he's up for doing interviews to push "#3," his band's third album, which hit stores this week.
The Script released its self-titled debut album nearly four years ago, cracking the U.K. and U.S. markets, then moving on to worldwide success. With just "The Script" and the sophomore release "Science and Faith," the band sold more than four million albums and nine million singles. Songs like "The Man Who Can't Be Moved," "Breakeven," "For the First Time," "Nothing" and "If You Ever Come Back" showed fans the band's magical storytelling technique.
O'Donoghue, guitarist Mark Sheehan and drummer Glen Power are an inclusive operation. The trio generally writes, plays and produces every song by itself, but for "#3," it loosened the reins and allowed the Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am to help produce the hit single "Hall of Fame."
O'Donoghue recently spoke to SoundSpike about the number "3" and why it's important to him, the melancholy new song "If You Could See Me Now" and why he could stay on the road "forever."
I love your new album "# 3." I don't know if you'd agree, but it seems to be a bit darker.
Danny O'Donoghue: [Laughs] Yeah. It's definitely a little bit darker. I definitely think it's not as rose-tinted as the other two, I guess. We're very, very confident with the sound. We're very comfortable going places that a lot of other bands wouldn't go. In pop music, it's very, very easy to skim the surface of how everybody's feeling but I think we go that little bit extra. We go that extra mile. It's showing a little bit I guess, a darker side to The Script. I feel like when I'm playing the chorus, the feelings and the emotions are still there, but I guess we're just doing a different thing now.
"If You Could See Me Now" is a great song. I lost my dad as well. It's a very emotional song.
We didn't know if that song was going to make the album or if we should even put it on there or whatever because it was such a personal song. Like every piece of art, you shouldn't ever think about the consequences of what you're doing, when you're doing it at the time. That was one of those songs that we just said, "Look, we have to write this. We have to get it down, particularly the verses." People are like, "You rapping now?" No, it's a poem put to music that I can say I definitely wouldn't be able to sing those lyrics. It just seems like a better fit to talk to him the way I talk to my dad, you know? When we'd given birth to the song in the studio, it was one of those moments where you're looking at other songwriters in the room and you kind of all look for those moments when there's four of you in the room but there's something else there, too. It's almost like a tangible person, the song itself. That one, again, I pulled my experiences from losing my father and Mark pulled his experiences from losing his mother and father. But there's also another guy in the room, too, that has both of his parents and he was crying to the song over the fact that he may lose his parents one day and have to feel the way we do now. We were all in these various different stages of grieving and then one that hadn't at all. But we all felt the same way when the song was written. That was like, "Whoa, that was like magic just passed through the room there." It was hard to write, but it would have been even harder not to write it, in fairness.
On a lighter note, how was it to work with fellow "The Voice UK" coach will.i.am on "Hall of Fame"
Amazing. He's a true genius. In modern-day pop music, there isn't any bigger compliment than to have him come in a room and, not only does he want to work with you, but he wants to produce the song, which I thought was very brave on his behalf, considering everything he touches turns to gold. We were very lucky to secure his services. As a coach on UK The Voice, it seemed like a natural thing for me to do, to play him music and demos of the songs and tracks and stuff. He ended up loving "Hall of Fame." The song is a massive song. We wanted that as the first single. He's like, "No, I want it for my record." "No, you can't get it." We had a happy compromise, with both of us [being on the record]. Line by line, we swap out the lines. I guess it's a testament to the song. He didn't want to just come in and go, "Yeah, yeah." as so many collaborations are these days. He's actually line for line a proper, proper duet.
What was the songwriting process like? You mentioned you worked with other songwriters?
No, see, the heads of our labels are also producers. When we have "label day," when you have to submit your music to the label, the label was already involved with the recording of the album as well. It makes the whole process a lot easier. They really trust us as far as producing and songwriting goes. When we kind of feel like the album's coming to a close, we ask all our friends to come jump on board and make sure all the Ts are crossed and Is are dotted, as far as production goes. We have Andrew Frampton and Steve Kipner, who are the heads of the label, as well. They oversee the project. If there was ever a time when we were going to hang ourselves, they would save us and take the noose from our necks. [Laughs]
What was the easiest song to write on "#3"?
Um, the easiest song was probably "Good Ol' Days." It's a really fun song. It opens up the album. It opens up our set. It's an incredibly fun song. A song like that flows from the top of your esophagus. It was really, really easy.
I understand that the title of the album means more than the third record.
There's a lot went into it. I was born the third of October, which is today. We recorded it in studio three. This is our third album. There's this energy. I live in flat three. The symbol three if you turn it around, it's an E and E's the most commonly used letter in the English language. It's a crazy symbol. We changed all the Es to 3s on our album sleeve. We said, "Oh my god, they're everywhere."
Are you looking forward to your U.S. tour?
Of course, seven weeks back hitting the road again. I love being out on the road. I think I'm the only lead singer in the world who would stay on tour for the rest of his life if he could. I just love the life. I've spent a long time now kind of gearing up and being ready for it the first two years. I guess we were scared we we're like deer in headlights not knowing what to expect. But I know what to expect now and I'm excited about it.
What can we expect from your live show?
Expect what you always get. Even on days where we shouldn't be giving as good of performances as we are, we always do. We always play even a smaller show like a 200-seater like we're playing a stadium show. We're not going to hide behind our instruments. There's a lot more crowd interaction, in fairness. I'm a very tactile lead singer. I get down in the crowd a lot. There are a few moments in a few songs where we change a perspective and we start the songs in different areas in the crazy club. What I didn't really notice before, when I was watching back to one of our shows that we did recently, I couldn't believe how many singles we have in the set. We have three album's worth of material and you can really pick the best of the best and give a great show whereas on the first album, we only had the first album to choose from. Second, we have first and second, obviously now we have a big back catalog that people know and people are familiar with.
9 - New York City, NY - Radio City Music Hall
18 - Oakland, CA - Fox Theater
19 - San Diego, CA - Humphrey's Concerts by the Bay
20 - Los Angeles, CA - Greek Theatre
22 - Salt Lake City, UT - The Rail Event Center
23 - Denver, CO - Ogden Theatre
25 - St. Louis, MO - Peabody Opera House
26 - Minneapolis, MN - The Orpheum Theatre
27 - Chicago, IL - Aragon Ballroom
29 - Dallas, TX - House of Blues
30 - Houston, TX - Bayou Music Center
1 - Orlando, FL - Hard Rock Café/Hard Rock Live
2 - Boca Raton, FL - Mizner Park Amphitheatre
3 - Atlanta, GA - The Tabernacle
6 - Toronto, Ontario - Sony Centre for the Performing Arts
7 - Washington, D.C. - DAR Constitutional Hall
9 - Boston, MA - Agganis Arena
10 - Camden, NJ - Susquehanna Bank Center
17 - Manchester, England - Manchester Arena
3 - Perth, Australia - Perth Arena
6 - Melbourne, Australia - Rod Laver Arena
7 - Darling Harbour, Australia - Sydney Entertainment Centre
9 - Boondall, Australia - Brisbane Entertainment Centre