How The Script's Danny O'Donoghue channelled grief after death of his mum into band's latest album

The Script's Danny O'Donoghue. Photo: Isabel Infantes/PA
The Script's Danny O'Donoghue. Photo: Isabel Infantes/PA

The Script’s Danny O’Donoghue explains how his band’s latest record was birthed from “one hell of a year”.

“My mum passed, I wrote a song about her. My friends were there for me, I wrote a song about them...I went off the rails, I wrote a song about that. I got back on the rails - and I wrote a song about that as well,” he divulges.

Singer Danny O'Donoghue, guitarist Mark Sheehan, and drummer and bassist Glen Power. Picture: Andrew Whitton

Singer Danny O'Donoghue, guitarist Mark Sheehan, and drummer and bassist Glen Power. Picture: Andrew Whitton

The last 12 months have not been kind to O’Donoghue, 39, and his bandmates guitarist Mark Sheehan, and drummer and bassist Glen Power, whose 2020 tour will see them play dates in Leeds and Sheffield.

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Dublin-raised O’Donoghue split from his girlfriend, Brazilian model Anne de Paula, and lost his mother Ailish to a brain aneurysm on February 14 - Valentine’s Day.

In an eerie twist of fate, her death echoed that of O’Donoghue’s father, who died during the recording of The Script’s 2008 debut album - also on Valentine’s Day. This year also saw Power lose a parent, his father.

Never one to shy away from confessional song-writing, O’Donoghue channelled his grief into the band’s forthcoming sixth album, Sunsets And Full Moons.

But why does he feel the need to do his soul-searching in public - often in front of hundreds of thousands of fans?

“That’s my job,” he says without pause. I believe that if I have a reason to be here on Earth, it’s to do that. There’s no other explanation for [what] I have been through in my life.

“To not try and make something good out of it... to not become a recycling plant for pain and try and origami that into something beautiful to give the world...

“There’s a very famous saying, ‘The only justification there is for pain is art’. I do believe that. I really believe it. What else can you do with pain? What else can you do with the energy of a break-up or the loss of a family member?”

He says after some 12 years together, the band have worked out “the cheat code for the industry”. It is hard to argue with the stats - all but one of their five previous albums hit number one in the UK.

“There’s a massive symmetry,” he explains, comparing their debut to their latest work. “We have had one hell of a year with the loss of two parents in our band and with the birth of children as well,” he adds.

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“It’s a very interesting time in a creative’s life to tune in and find out: ‘How does he feel about this? How is he coping with this?’

“It’s almost in real time. You realise when you have been in the public eye for a long time that you don’t just get to be in the public eye for good things.”

One song on the album - Run Through Walls - was written just a week after he buried his mother. “I was openly crying while I was writing the song. I had tears in my eyes nearly the whole time. But I knew it needed to be said and it needed to be written.”

Sunsets And Full Moons is also a welcome return to the personal song-writing and unadorned power pop of their early records. O’Donoghue says people are “crying out” for something simple and wholesome. “There is a massive appetite out there for acoustic music,’ he says.

He is clear the only barometer of success he measures himself by is the fans. With more than a whiff of defiance, he explains: “It’s very easy to dismiss us a pop act and go, ‘They are this and they are that’.

“But when you look at our craft, how long we have put into production, I’ve been producing nearly 24 years now. I’ve been a living song-writer, getting paid for what I do, for 24 years.

"Like I said, I feel entitled to preach from a certain standpoint about what I have been through this year. And I love the fact that I don’t care. I really don’t care what the critics say. All I know is that I bled on the page.”

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The Script’s new album Sunsets And Full Moons is released on November 8. The band will begin touring in February.