Arts

Mark Sheehan tells of The Script's return to Belfast for Belsonic concert

The Script is one of the headline acts lined up for this year's Belsonic in Belfast in June. Taking a break from their sell-out tour of Ireland and Britain, guitarist Gary Sheehan tells Joanne Sweeney how they write new tracks every day, even on the road

Mark Sheehan and Danny O'Donoghue of The Script – the Dublin band play Belsonic on June 24
Joanne Sweeney

FRESH from a stand-out concert in Belfast last month – they rocked the SSE Arena with their power pop on February 6 before heading down the road for three sold-out nights at the 3Arena – Dublin rockers The Script will soon be back again when they headline at Belsonic on June 24.

The long-established trio – consisting of frontman and keyboardist Danny O'Donoghue, Mark Sheehan on lead guitar and drummer Glen Power – plan are scheduled to return to the north for the Ormeau Park gig two days after playing the Isle of Wight Festival, one of the biggest gigs in the UK summer calendar.

It'll be the largest Belfast gig to date for the band, who will be supported by Irish singer/songwriter Gavin James, and their first open-air concert in the city since they closed Tenants T Vital in 2015.

Liam Gallagher will kick off Belsonic on June 16, followed by Irish pop rock duo Picture This, Austrian House DJ Timmy Trumpter, British DJ Carl Cox. Swedish DJ Eric Prydz will close Belsonic on June 30.

Right now The Script are on an Irish and British tour to promote their fifth studio album Freedom Child, which notched up their fourth number one album in Britain when it was released last September. Freedom Child is also the name of their first track off the album, which sees the band present a collection of urgent, timely, future-facing anthems that speak of both real-life events and real-time sonic adventurism.

The album was recorded between London and Los Angeles and for the first time, the band chose to work with some outside writers and producers including Toby Gad and Nasri Atweh.

It’s 10 years since the Dublin lads released their eponymously named debut album in after O’Donoghoue and Sheehan left up and left LA, where they had carved out names for themselves as songwriters and producers for artists including Britney Spears, Boyz 11 Men and TLC, to set up the band.

The guys are very much riding the crest of the wave – it appears that Danny's two seasons on The Voice did no harm to the band's profile during a hiatus that followed their last album No Sound Without Silence – and may have even added to it.

O'Donoghue, who's sporting blonde hair these days, memorably mentored Co Tyrone singer Andrea Begley, niece of Philomena Begley, when she won The Voice in 2013 against the will.i.iam-mentored Leah McFall from Newtownabbey.

However, these days the lads' minds are set in adding to their 29 million record sales across the world and making even more music – even when they are on the road.

"Danny and I are sitting writing every day while we are on tour as we have our own mobile sound recording unit that we bring everywhere we go and our sound recordist travels with us as well," Mark Sheehan tells me.

"We are certainly have already written quite a few tracks and will probably sit down around August to see if there's enough for another album."

Mark says the band are looking forward to being back in Belfast again this summer.

"It will be great to back in Belfast as playing in Belfast is always good, the crowd is always good so it's always a pleasure to come back.

"While we like playing at open-air gigs, we like to do arenas as well. We can do every size of place, whether it's playing smaller, intimate gigs for about 400 people or stadiums – it's nice to switch it up a bit and it helps keeps us fresh while we are on tour."

Rain, the first single from Freedom Child, was immediately added to playlists up and down the country and stormed straight into the Top 10 on iTunes on release. The track has picked up a phenomenal amount of support around the world, its video having already been viewed almost 10 million times

While the band promise to play their big hits, such as The Man Who Can't Be Moved and Break Even, they'll also be playing a few new tracks at Belsonic which are not on Freedom Child.

"We can't ask people to spend the money that they do and come along and not give them the big numbers," Mark acknowledges. “But we also like to keep it fresh.

"Freedom Child on the album goes down well but we have also noticed that Wonders, a track that we are inexcusably proud of, is also very well received as when we look out on people's faces in the crowd, we can see it how much they enjoy it and connect with it in their faces."

The band like to do something for the fans outside of their gigs at each place they travel to, from giving out free tickets to the show randomly or unexpectedly giving buskers a change to perform with them, as they did in Aberdeen recently.

Mark says: "It just happened to be a Random Act of Kindness day and we decided that we would give a chance to perform at the concert to these two guys. They were completely shocked and blown away. We even got a few buckets out in the crowd for money – it came to £1,100 and we rounded it up ourselves to £2,000 which wasn't a bad busk for them."

A father-of-three, Mark got the inspiration for the album's name from his young son. His family do not travel with him on tour and while technology means he can see them on a call, he admits that benefit is bitter-sweet.

"Ringing on Facetime is kind of like a double-edged sword as although you get to see them, you also realise as well how much you miss them," he laments.

The Script will finish up their current tour at the O2 Arena before heading to Europe, Asia, Australia and South Africa.

Tickets for this year's Belsonic are available at Ticketmaster.co.uk

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