The interview below was done on the 21st of July, 2014 by Full Access and the transcription is courtesy of Tandra Lamia who kindly provided it to all of us after hours of work. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED to them, please be respectful when using it.
If God Came Down He Could Take Me Now: 20 Minutes in Heaven with Danny O’Donoghue of The Script
Complete phone interview for Full Access Magazine with Danny O’Donoghue of The Script on 7/21/14 from London.
Full Access: Hey Danny! How ya doin’?
Danny: I’m doing really well. I’m in a tiny room in Columbia headquarters in London right now and we’re right in the middle of “Promogeddon”. It’s Armageddon mixed with Promo. Coz we got our single out today, basically a world-wide release today, so yeah, we’re just right in the middle of it…everybody in different rooms, the band and I trying to do as much promos as we can. It’s great! It’s really an exciting time.
Full Access: How did you schedule interviews today? Aren’t you busy enough…you don’t need the extra aggravation?
Danny: (laughs) We honestly don’t mind coz, ya know, you can sleep when you’re dead…and that’s been our mantra as a band. We know that there’s other bands coming up behind us and they’re very hot and they’re very heavy, very fast, so if you don’t do every bit of promo or every TV show that you possibly can, man, there’s another band coming up behind you that will. We don’t take anything for granted. Every record we go back to basics and call up everybody and thank everybody for playing the record and supporting our music.
You can sleep when you’re dead, that’s been our mantra as a band
Full Access: That’s understandable. Tell me how the first month of touring went.
Danny: The One Republic tour? It went better than we’d hoped. We’d been threatening with One Republic for a very, very long time to do a tour together. We met those guys on our very first promo tour. We were in Amsterdam. And we had a meeting after that and learned that those guys can really, really drink and party and we struck up a friendship and we did threaten over the years that either they would jump on our tour throughout Europe or we would jump on their tour throughout America so our schedules actually suited this time around so Ryan called and was like “Dudes, ya want to go on tour?” and we’re like “Yeah! Hell, yeah!” So we’re kinda doing a package tour, kinda “co-headline” thing over there, where you got us, One Republic and a brand new band American Authors. It’s a great, great night but I have to say, man, that every one of the bands is on it every night and the crowd is… I think all our fans are pretty similar in tone and what type of music they like. Anybody who searches for us, searches for them on Wikipedia or on itunes, you can see it. They’re a great band to hang out with…Colorado natives…they do know how to party and that’s all you really need for Irish people.
We’d been threatening with One Republic for a very, very long time to do a tour together.
Full Access: They can party? Can they hang with you guys?
Danny: Oh yeah, man, we partied pretty much every night. Ya know, someone’s having a drink or someone’s crackin’ the BBQ…and Ryan has a drone. You know one of those flying drones? He’s always messin’ around with that, man. It’s got a camera on it so you gotta watch where that thing is gonna pop up ya know. You never know what he’s recording you doing. (laughs)
Full Access: Is that a hassle sometimes? Ya know watching what people are doing coz there might be a camera on ya….
Danny: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah… as a band you don’t want people with cell phones around. (laughs)
Full Access: What can fans expect when they see you guys perform live?
Dan: You can expect the band to leave everything on the stage. An important part of The Script is we pride ourselves on our live show. We pride ourselves in how much energy we put into each show. We never take a show for granted. If you wanna see a band that’s, in my opinion, on top of their game right now, we’re on it. We’re just coming into our 4th album and we’re not nervous anymore about this. We’re very confident but, of course, you’ll always have nerves before you go on stage but I think our stage show has really, really come on and it’s our interactions with the fans and with the American public as well, which has really given me an amazing taste to really wanna get to the summit of America. I really feel our music is relevant. I really feel the American general consensus is they love our music and I really hope to be able to tour that place for a very, very, very long time coz the crowds are amazing. Even just talking to the fans after the shows and the stories that they have about how our music has changed them or changed their life or changed even the situation has been really, really touching. The more we travel around America, the more we love it! I lived there for 10 years as well so it’s very, very important to me.
We pride ourselves in how much energy we put into each show. We never take a show for granted.
Full Access: Isn’t it amazing how something you can write can affect someone else’s life so much?
Dan: Well I think that is the power of music. That is why every musician you see around you is in music. I really kinda come from that hippie belief that music has the power to change. I really do. It changed my life. It made me figure out a direction of where I wanted to go and where I wanted to spend my life. To the songs I’ve heard that have healed me on the inside that I go to for comfort, that I go to, ya know, to be consoled and I think it’s such a powerful vehicle that it can be used to make you feel down, make you feel up. It can be used so much! But to me it’s the touching stories that I hear every day that really spur me on as a songwriter to try and, no matter what, stare that song down until you get that perfect lyric to describe the most horrifical situation. For me, that’s the art…it’s trying to find a really concise way to talk about a very, very complex problem…full of emotions, humanity, what we are, and I believe the song is the perfect vehicle for that.
I really kinda come from that hippie belief that music has the power to change.
Full Access: Right. To go back to “Superheroes”…are there any early reactions to that?
Dan: Yes, so far so good. We premiered on Radio One this morning and the readings are pretty well balanced. Sometimes they’ll come in and they’ll be like “Ah, it’s not a good ad“ or “I like this” or “I like that” or “I love it”… They’re reading it, the good and bad, man, but it was all positive! Every one of them was like “They’re back to their best!”, “The Script are here!”, “It’s great hearing them back in top form again!”. It’s really, really cool…a really great, great reaction. And we’re getting some reports from America that it’s going down the same there as well. So again we’re getting really, really nervous because it’s our lead off single song from No Sound Without Silence but everything so far is looking really promising.
Full Access: That’s great. The album will be released in September?
Danny: Yes. I’m not too sure of the American dates but I know the European dates. The album is out here in the UK on the 15th of September and I think the Americans are goin’ a week later, so it’s probably the 20th of September, but I’ll probably double check if you don’t mind.
Full Access: We always seemed to get screwed as a country. We’re always behind everyone else. It really sucks.
Danny: You know why that is? I’ll tell you why. We would have loved to have done it now because, again, if we had held off a month later, what happens is all our fans get the imports and it really damages your first week in sales. So what we try to do is be in marketplace for that one week rather than it being a month we actually get it as close as we can possibly to it coz we need to be aiming within one week of release so we’ll be heading off to the states next week and we’ll actually be in marketplace to see reactions to things and to promote us from the inside, ya know.
Full Access: Have you made any plans for a headlining tour to support the album here in The States?
Danny: Absolutely. 2015. We have a massive world tour that we’re gonna be embarking on. Obviously US is a huge market for us and it’s gonna take us all around…Australia, Europe, Holland. There’s all these amazing places that I grew up seeing other people in and going “Wow!” In Holland…it’s 20,000 people. Where is that? And now we’ve played there. I can’t wait to do it again. I’d loved to play the Hollywood Bowl. I mean we played it with One Republic but I’d like to think The Script, on their own, could sell that out.
Full Access: Oh, I’m sure. Since you guys have been so successful in a short period of time did you feel any pressure to duplicate the high level of music?
Danny: Yeah I guess so. That’s just the competitive nature of music in general. We’re all studio rats so we all have long backgrounds in being in studios and being very competitive in songwriting. I was published as a songwriter but way before I was a producer or an artist, so I have a massive sense of competition on songs anyway…just trying to get a song that someone else would love to sing and to get on the radio. Our competition amongst ourselves in the band is horrendous between me, Mark, and Glen. They sharpen up like knives on lyrics and stuff…it’s really, really bad. I feel a sens e that I just want to write better songs than we’ve written before. Is it possible? I don’t know, but we are absolutely going to keep trying and I think this album to me feels like – I wouldn’t say it’s better than our last album – I would definitely say it feels more accomplished. As a producer now, I’ve been producing The Script for the past 6 or 7 years so you learn a trick or two about how to bring in certain elements and I think on this album there was no stone unturned. I think the emotion hit a great depth, production is a lot more atmospheric, and I really feel you can get the live energy from what this band is. Anybody who’s seen us live knows the energy we put into the show and I really feel we’ve captured a piece of that and put it on the album.
Our competition amongst ourselves in the band is horrendous between me, Mark, and Glen. They sharpen up like knives on lyrics and stuff…it’s really, really bad.
Full Access: When you were writing for other artists did you get frustrated at all? Did that motivate you to say “I can do this. I might as well do this for myself.”?
Danny: Yeah, man, I used to get pissed off. You’d hear the song straight after and you’re like “Oh no…there’s no heart, there’s no meaning, there’s no anything. It’s all been stripped out because it’s someone else singing your words who maybe hasn’t walked in your shoes. That’s what happens when you write for somebody else. That’s the hard part…I was always seeing my own songs being sung below par of what I expected or what I was doing. So I just said, ”Ya know what? Forget this! Fuck this! Let’s give it a shot!” And myself and Mark were working on an album …it was almost going to be a solo record for me with him being a producer in the background…but it ended up our drummer Glen flew over to play on the album..first time I ever met him. We went down to the studio to record these songs coz I was pissed off at other people singing the stuff you know. So we went down to the studio and we started to write together and basically the first song we wrote together as a band – me, Glen, and Mark – was a song called Before The Worst which ended up being on our first album. So we went back to basics recording material…live drums, bass, guitar, piano and literally two weeks later we played for a label and they were like “Oh my god! We want to sign the band!” And we were like “the band?” and we’re standing in the room and so Mark says “Yeah, yeah, we’re a band.” He’s like “Have you got a name?” And Mark’s like “Uh, The Script?”…coming out of nowhere with a name for the band! We weren’t a band! It was me, Mark, Glen and we were heading home for Dublin at the time and we had to fly back a month later to actually audition for the label. Which we’d told America we weren’t a band so we had to very quickly learn how to play the songs right and also be impressive enough to get the deal. A crazy story isn’t yet? It’s hilarious.
Full Access: That’s crazy! How has your life changed since becoming an internationally recognizable musician?
Danny: We were huge in UK and Ireland so I used to enjoy going to America and walking down the streets and being relatively unfazed but that’s all changed. We go to South Africa, Japan, China, Jakarta, Australia, and every one of those places had a similar reaction where I couldn’t really walk out anywhere. Besides the fact I’m Irish, besides the fact I’m 6’4”, I’ve got tattoos, I’ve got a big Elvis quiff, ya know, I stick out like a sore thumb. My life has changed in that it’s almost like I’ve been introduced to everybody in the world but I don’t know them. Ya know, they know me but I don’t know them. It’s definitely made the world a bit more of a friendlier place because there’s a lot more waves, and smiles, and people coming up to tell you that they love your work. Again, they’re all positive things!
It’s almost like I’ve been introduced to everybody in the world but I don’t know them.
Full Access: I’m sure there are positive things that you really don’t want to talk about too….
Danny: (laughing) Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. What are you talking about? What? The female attention?
Full Access: Yeah, I guess… I’m a guy! C’mom dude!
Danny: I know that’s what you were leading to… (laughing) I love it man! Ya know, it’s kinda ‘paybacks’ because growing up, there weren’t hot chicks around me all day long…there was none of that stuff, ya know what I mean? So being able to see some hot chick walk up to ya and you’re just like “I’m so gonna turn her down. I don’t even care what she’s saying.” And if it’s someone I got turned down by years ago, you’re like “Payback’s a bitch, Motherfucker!” (laughs)
Full Access: Yeah, I feel ya. Hey, did you watch Rory McElroy win the Open yesterday?
Danny: No, I didn’t, I didn’t see it.
(My friend who is doing the interview then transitions into telling Danny that his #1 fan in Florida is sitting next to him and asks if he can talk with me for a few minutes, which Danny happily agrees to. And so commences my personal conversation with him. Rather than print out our dialogue in interview format, I prefer to summarize and quote Danny due to some of the personal information.)
After introductions were made, I tried jogging Dan’s memory of who I was so he could put a face to the voice/name so I went through some details of our previous encounters…both recently and 3 years ago. He excitedly responded:
Danny: “Yeah, of course! I can’t believe it! Me and Glen were literally talking about this actually on radio today…that, ya know, the amount of people who are willing to travel to come and see this band! I find that crazy! Ya know, cause it’s one thing if we’re playing, like, in the state of your own but I find that so, ya know, humbling and I’m very grateful for that so thank you very much!”
I find the amount of people who are willing to travel to come and see this band, humbling.
My favorite part of our conversation was when I spoke about holding the hand of my dying father in relation to their songs If You Could See Me Now and The Energy Never Dies. His response was so sincere and personal…almost like he was giving me a pep talk…
Danny: “Aw, no worries. No worries. Ya know, I mean all of these things are just things that I believe, ya know…things that make ME feel better about life and make me be the same guy I truly believe and I do believe that the power between you and your dad is more than the sum of your own parts and is more powerful than in this Earth that we have here. Ya know there’s feelings that just can’t go away and I think, no matter what, the energy never dies. Ya know that’s one thing when my own father passed away but I know he’s not dead. But why? Because, Danny, he just changed form, he just changed shape. And I think it’s really important to know and to realize when we are kind of, I guess, in the face of death or if you are in the face of losing something that you don’t think you can live without, ya know, you will see them again, that’s the thing…you just won’t see them for now. But, ya know, I hope everything works out for you.”
I think, no matter what, the energy never dies.
We discussed other little things but those are my favorite highlights. And, of course, I melted when he said this at the close of our call…
Danny: “Thank you darlin’! See you soon! Bye love!”
Be still my heart!
Hope you enjoyed reading this entire interview with one of the nicest, smartest, and most talented songwriter/musicians alive on this planet, Mr. Daniel O’Donoghue!!!
Giving the love around,
My biggest thanks to Tandra who made this conversation available to all of us!