Danny O’Donoghue and Mark Sheehan — frontman and guitarist with soulful Irish trio the Script — know how to hustle.
And not simply because their single “Breakeven” (Phonogenic/Epic) took 36 weeks — the longest climb ever — to hit the summit of Billboard’s Adult Top 40 chart in May, moving 1.8 million downloads and propelling the Script’s debut, self-titled album to 313,000 sales, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
As teenagers in Dublin, O’Donoghue and Sheehan were one-half of a boy band, MyTown, whose gift of gab and love of R&B brought moderate success in the United Kingdom and Ireland and a U.S. record deal with Universal. When MyTown imploded around the turn of the millennium, the two remained stateside, talking their way into writing and singing projects for Teddy Riley and working out of Orlando, Fla., as writers, producers and session players for hire.
By the time they returned to Dublin and formed the Script in 2005 — drummer Glen Power completes the lineup — they had a thorough understanding of how to write a radio-friendly, U.S.-oriented hit.
“The chance we got to cut our teeth in the American market has been invaluable,” O’Donoghue says. “An English rock record would be produced with guitars and vocals really high up in the mix. Whereas in America, it’s drum and bass first, then lyrics and melody on top. And that’s really working out for us, even on a ballad.”
“They know the American marketplace better than a lot of bands from the U.K. and Ireland,” Epic Records VP of marketing Scott Carter says. “And they do the work. The Script don’t take a lot of time off.”
That work ethic is confirmed by the fact that — despite “Breakeven” recently hitting No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart in its 35th chart week — the band is prepping its second album, “Science & Faith,” for a Jan. 18, 2011, U.S. release on Phonogenic/Epic. With highlights including the uplifting, opening slab of the U2-lite “You Won’t Feel a Thing” and the irresistible singalong “Nothing,” the album began rolling out in the rest of the world in September, hitting No. 1 in Ireland and the United Kingdom, where it has sold 251,000 copies, according to the Official Charts Co. (“The Script” has moved 981,000.)
In the United States, however, things are just getting started. The album is preceded by the anthemic “For the First Time,” which went to hot AC radio stations on Nov. 9, and the band will be stateside before and after Christmas for holiday radio shows and TV slots including NBC’s “Today.” The Script showcased songs from both albums on its U.S. tour that wrapped Nov. 7, and Creative Artists Agency is booking more dates for spring 2011.
“‘Breakeven’ wasn’t a slow burn by design,” Carter says. “Each single takes its own time. We’re prepared for whatever ‘For the First Time’ does, fast or slow. We just know that it’s getting a really great response.”
“You have to be omnipresent,” says O’Donoghue, who isn’t worried about possibly confusing American audiences with overlapping album campaigns. “We’re not burnt out, we’re not tired, we’re still champing at the bit for success. What America sees now is a very confident band, ready and willing to come over and give the country a good crack.”