Very few bands have stood their ground throughout the years with the same untamed energy as The Script. If there’s a shortcut to feeling less alone, or to turning the mundane into a lesson in empowerment, they are committed to finding it. Whether they’re rallying for social change or responding to the artistic compulsion a heartbreak brings along, their constant reemergence is a lesson in perpetual relevance, constant adaptation and re-adaptation to the pace of the industry, without ever losing sight of their original manifesto.
Released in September, Freedom Child is their fifth studio album, marking a comeback after their biggest pause yet between releases. With a new sound and a social voice that shouts louder than ever, Danny, Mark and Glen are back to rule the charts with their strongest social message yet. We joined the trio to discuss their evolution, change and the increasing responsibility for artists to get political.
Why was the time finally right for a new album?
Danny: Cause we finally got to finish one, I guess! We’ve been in the studio writing a record before I had vocal surgery so we were kind of already on the road to making an album. I guess it was more of less my recovery period that needed to get out of the way so we could go back in again. Just because I was able to regularly sing again doesn’t mean that I was in the mood to be creative and use my voice in different ways. It took us a little while to come out of that little bit of a slump and after about a year of me recuperating and us writing in the studio it finally felt good enough to trial vocals on songs. I guess it was a natural thing.
This was the biggest break you took in-between albums. And despite 3 years not seeming like such a long time, it is enough to take a step back and look at the industry with new eyes. What’s changed in this time?
Mark: We got older! We got a rest! Not a lot changed. I suppose you experience things – as a songwriter it is nice to have time to digest ideas and to work on concepts. And just because you write a lot of songs it doesn’t mean they’re all really great. We often say that good is the enemy of great. We prefer to have songs that we can live and die by, not just the average songs. We always try to strive for something that’s great.
Talk to me about how you always managed to stay relevant in this industry. From your debut 10 years ago, many of the bands and artists you started with got lost along the way.
Danny: We were just that good! No, I’m kidding. That would probably sound really bad in print. ‘Joking LOL’ says Danny. We really try to keep our ear to the ground as far as music goes. We don’t try to write about anything we don’t know. I think being honest and being straightforward with the music – we use music as a very emotive tool to portray our emotions and what’s going on in our lives – whether it’s euphoric or heartbreak.
We only really know if we’re still relevant after the music comes out, so every time it’s a gamble. Maybe with our next album we won’t be, maybe this is our last relevant album – you never know as a band. But you can do one thing, keep on writing and being honest and being true to ourselves and releasing music that we feel will resonate with our fans. ‘Cause it resonates with us, at the end of the day we’re just pleasing ourselves in the studio. We’re really enjoying what we do – we’re not sitting there thinking they will love it – it’s like ‘how do you feel about this song?’ ‘I feel amazing – I can’t wait for people to hear this.’
Given the fact that you’ve introduced a new sound developed in collaboration with Max Martin’s team, How has your approach to making music changed over the course of your career?
Mark: I think it’s important to know that the sound of a song is down to the production. The actual lyrics and melodies are a whole other thing, and obviously they work hand in hand very well but the production is the vehicle that carries the song. I think by working with other people what we did was change the vehicle a little bit. We used other people and let them do what they do very well and then we tried to stick to what we do very well – lyrics and melodies and actually constructing songs. I’d like to think that that’s the only thing that’s changed. On top of those productions, I still feel – in terms of writing lyrics and melodies – it’s the same way we’ve always approached it – you have to get really close and feel the DNA of a good song and try to stay true to that as much as possible.
But the changes in the 10 years since you’ve been around are greater than those on a sonic level, ranging from what we expect from our artists to how we experience music through streaming.
Danny: Full access. Morning, noon and night. They want to watch you when you sleep and they want to know what you have for breakfast. It’s a two-way conversation, it’s not just you telling them anymore.
What were the challenges in adapting to this way of consuming music?
Mark: I think you have to be fully aware that the attention span overall is shorter for everybody, but the appetite is larger. They’re consuming more, they’re getting involved in playlists more than anything else. Curation is the new buzzword where people are curating playlists and falling in love with that. Albums have suffered because of that. We still are a fan of the album so I think you shouldn’t stop making your art the way you make your art. We still like a concept, we still love to own the artwork for our albums, still like having the lyrics inside the artwork and doing things quite traditionally that way.
Knowing full well that once this gets into a digital realm and it goes down to streaming it’s going to feel a little bit different because every song is chopped up and people are going to consume it differently. And then you got to remember that YouTube is that big free machine and all your music goes on it whether you like it or not and you’ve got to adapt to that as well. People are making videos out there, making money off it. I don’t think we can stop how people are consuming music so we’ve just got to go with the times and make music that we’re incredibly proud of and hopefully, if they do see us through YouTube or Spotify, then they’ll go for a full 360 experience, which is coming to a concert.
You’ve got a new video out and it features all these incredibly touching stories. How did you decide to frame Arms Open around a charity and what made you choose A Sense of Home?
Danny: There were a lot of ideas coming in, a lot of charities to pay attention to. But the one that hit us the most was A Sense of Home. A lot of the other charities were big and established with a massive voice. Some charities are quite small and they need someone to shout on their behalf. This was one charity that we felt needed a platform. They’ve found an actual solution to what’s going on where people can not just donate money, they can donate the time and furniture, for example, to help furnish these guys’ houses. I often walk around and see people leaving furniture outside their homes, A Sense of Home has given them the opportunity to donate it to their charity and it will be used to renovate someone’s home. It’s incredible because when you do age out of the process of being in foster care or an orphanage you are literally alone and you’ve already had 18 years of feeling so, like an invisible person. We felt it really important to put our song as part of their campaign as they need a voice, someone to shout a little bit louder and somebody to make people understand. Sometimes music is the only way to do that. Over time people will always remember the charity’s powerful message because, sonically, they have a soundtrack to it now.
That’s really interesting– cause we did a profile on Jack Antonoff a few months back and he was talking about his charity – The Ally Coalition who helps LGBT+ youth that have to deal with homelessness. Do you feel like this is the time for the music industry to get more socially and politically conscious? Somehow uniting to fill in gaps that faulty politics have left.
Danny: We kind of came from that. We were in our first round of press for the new album – it was kind of like a shock to reporters that here we are. We’ve been on television for a bit, as a pop band trying to tackle ( or so they were thinking ) the world’s problems. And I was like no, everybody is thinking about these things, these issues and problems going on in people’s lives. And music to us was always a counterculture. Through the years all the artists that I grew up loving were a voice for the downtrodden, for people who hadn’t much.
Mark: Using your platform as a voice is important because I think in general not a lot of people are doing it. When you visit the Internet as much as we do and look at social media as much as we do you see how everything is really quite meaningful to people. Over 3 billion people are now connected online and we’re really seeing what the human condition is all about and we’re seeing it for good and for bad. We’re now exposed to a lot of things that are going on in the world that we wouldn’t have seen before: like the LGBT+ community being homeless. I wasn’t even thinking that [the charities] would be that specific but it actually is that specific and that’s their point. If more artists used their platform as a voice for these charities we will see much more help come their way.
What’s in store for 2018?
Danny: We take this out on tour, we take this around the world! I think that’s one of the important things about naming an album a certain name like Freedom Child and having songs like Arms Open and having these videos that we have out there. That’s our biggest way of advertising – it’s not our faces, it’s not that vibe – it’s about other people pushing other people’s problems. And to have the word freedom – we’ll go and play Lebanon – it’s a whole other meaning.
The world going there to sing lyrics that are probably going to be looked at by the local clerics to make sure that there’s no uprising lyrics. To know that we’re taking this positive message around the world really psyches me. To know that it’s probably going to be 16 to 20 thousand people everywhere embracing that emotion and vibe and that feeling of freedom. That, to me, is why it’s worth it. To know that it’s not just one, but probably hundreds of people in that audience that we’re affecting directly through these lyrics, through songs like Make-Up that we have on the record, which deals with the LGBT+ community and the world as a whole. I think it’s really important to get these songs and messages out. Really looking forward to that in 2018.
Buy, stream or get Freedom Child concert tickets at https://www.thescriptmusic.com/. Find out more about A Sense of Home’s missions and find ways of getting involved at http://asenseofhome.org/