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You Couldn't Make It Up
Since fortune first began to smile on The Script, the band has been plunged into an extraordinary saga of injury, death, personal loss and heartbreak...
Jason O'Toole, 19 May 2009
With The Script's debut album rapidly closing in on a phenomenal 1.5 million sales since its release last August, you could be forgiven for seeing the group as some kind of overnight success. After all, even people in the know hadn't heard much of this Dublin-born trio prior to the release of their first record. But the truth is that The Script's extraordinary story has been over a decade in the making. Indeed their path to fame has been so littered with booby traps, and so thoroughly fraught, that it's a miracle they managed to finish their album, let alone turn it into a million-selling chart-topper.
"It's a crazy, crazy story," Danny O'Donoghue acknowledges, settling into a leather seat in the private function room upstairs in the Spring and Airbrake club in Belfast. "Literally, it happened against all the odds."
He offers the kind of pensive smile that has had girls swooning all over the world. As the frontman in the band, he's also the resident heart-throb, the one who's always to the fore in the pictures and whose face adorns bedroom walls and computer wallpaper(s) alike.
It's a little over an hour before the group are due to play downstairs in front of a packed venue, but already we can see a queue of impatient fans spilling around the block. We'd planned to do the interview in the band's dressing room. However, we've had to move upstairs in order to be able to hear one another over the screaming teenage girls congregating at the emergency exit doors.
It's quieter here, and the mood encourages reflection. During the time we're together, Danny will revisit his childhood and on occasion peer through the looking glass darkly, calling up memories usually
Venice Beach LA. This was where The Script intended to record their first album, in Danny's own home studio, close to the sea. It was hard to believe. He and Mark Sheehan, the main songwriter in the band, had been living in the States for over five years. That's how long it had taken them to secure a recording deal for The Script. Five whole years. But they had the contract now. Plus they knew a drummer, Glen Power, back in Dublin itching for an escape route after a lifetime on the covers band circuit. When they were preparing the demos they'd given him a call and he was on the earliest flight he could find. This was going to be an adventure. Glen felt it in his bones and he was right. He just didn't know how awfully big it would become.
What happened in the ensuing months, however, was so far removed from the rising sense of anticipation it was impossible to comprehend. Within weeks of getting a deal signed, The Script were plunged into a nightmare. A complicated, prolonged nightmare.
"We'd recorded just scraps and ideas in the studio in my house and we were kind of coming to terms with what type of album this was going to be," Danny says before pausing... "And – bang! – right in the middle of that Mark's mother became terminally ill. We were going through what felt like the most joyous fucking days of our lives and we now had this to deal with. She had cancer and there was no hope. It was a kick in the fucking teeth. We were at a crossroads. So we asked Mark, 'Are you willing to be in America while your mum's slowly passing away in Ireland?' And he was like, 'No, I'm not'."
Danny knew he'd have reacted in the same way. The band decided to return to Dublin and to work on the album in the recording studio Mark had built – with the help of Danny – in his mother's back garden. The studio was situated at the rear of St James' Hospital. You could look over the wall and see the ambulances wheeling in and out. Mark's mother had been taken there. They already knew it was only a matter of time.
"During the day Mark was in with us writing away," Danny recalls. "We were really just using the studio as a punch bag – he was so pent up with emotion that he'd come in and write shite one day and the next day he'd come in with a fucking gem of really truthful, honest stuff. It was hard, man. It was hard for him. But it was hard for us too – to see your best mate going through something like that. Behind it all, you really want him to have his head clear for the big prospect of the first album. We were producing and writing it – we had enough rope to hang ourselves here. And his mother kept getting progressively worse and worse."
The songwriting became far darker and edgier than might have been anticipated.
"Out of that period songs like 'The End Where I Begin' started to crop up," Danny says. "These one line phrases that we felt were so important like 'Sometimes tears say all there is to say.' That was just a line you'd put a full stop on, and move onto the next statement. 'Sometimes your first scars won't ever fade away.' A lot of times people would listen to the likes of 'The Man Who Can't Be Moved' or 'Talk You Down' and probably think it was about the end of a relationship – it is in a way, but it's about that mother-son relationship, it's about that father-daughter relationship, it's about that relationship between people in a family and when one person dies."
For Mark, this was second time around. He'd seen the grim reaper in action before.
"His father died at a very young age," Danny explains. "'The End Where I Begin' is about that time where it could have been the end of him as a person. It was a very impressionable age for Mark. So his mother was the umbilical cord to where he'd come from. So when she finally passed away that was gone. She'd heard a lot of the songs, which was good. She felt the head of steam that was building up and it was just a joy for her to get to see Mark happy. He was married now to someone he really loved..."
If there was comfort in knowing all of that, the band's equilibrium didn't last for long. Within four months of Mark's mother's death, the trio faced another crisis when Danny's own father died suddenly.
"I'd been in the States for about seven or eight years," Danny reflects. "Coming back really sparked up the relationship with my dad again. Little did I know that, the time Mark was spending with his mother, I didn't have long left with my own dad either. It happened out of the blue. One day he came home from work with stomach pains..."
Talking about it isn't easy. Danny takes a deep gulp of the Belfast air and carries on.
"He was dead by 12 o'clock that night. He had a stomach aneurysm that went unchecked for a long time. From the slow death of Mark's mother, we went to this, just four months later," he says, clicking his finger. "My dad was here one day, gone the next. Right in the middle of our first album. Hard to believe."
He shakes his head.
"You don't know where the fuck you're at. You kind of think, 'Right, I'm after holding it together with my friend going though it' – and here I was now, going through it myself. It was a very, very emotional time for the band. Who knows? Who knows what way the album would've gone if that hadn't happened. What we went through definitely poured out, and into the album. It was like hammer blow after hammer blow. We actually sat around as a band and went, 'Are we up to this task?' Then, when it was all over, we came out of that time with guns a-blazing."
Their bad luck hadn't run out yet. Their single 'We Cry' – which ultimately went top ten in Ireland and top twenty in the UK – was starting to pick up airplay. They were about to kick off their first major British tour. And then they were hit with another hammer blow.
"I woke up with a pain in my side," Danny says. "It was, 'What the fuck is that? Jaysus!' I got up out of bed and went down to have breakfast but it felt like somebody was fucking pulling my lung from one side."
Danny staggered across the road to his local GP, who dropped a bombshell.
"He said, 'You need to go to the hospital straight away, kiddo, your lung's collapsed!'"
Danny shakes his head, again in disbelief.
At St. Vincent's Hospital, he remembers being greeted by a nurse.
"Oh, good Jaysus," she said. He can still hear her voice now, the panic in it. He was rushed to the operating theatre. In minutes the surgeon was there with his knife.
"Within an hour the operation was done," Danny resumes. "I had a tube in my fucking lung basically to pump it back up to its normal size. It was this thing called Spontaneous Pneumothorax. If you're tall and skinny you're the fucking poster boy for it. It just happens to some people."
The gig is over. Belfast has been wooed. The band have made their mark, with a stunning live performance. Now the screaming girls have gone home, only a few stragglers remaining outside in the hope of getting a glimpse of their idols. Drummer Glen Power has taken the seat occupied by Danny earlier and he's recalling his part in the dramas that engulfed the band during those astonishing months. It was as if someone had put a hex on them.
Out for a few pints with his parents, Glen popped into the toilet and slipped, smashing his head on the washbasin before falling down and banging it again on the marble floor. When he came to, Glen got up, and went back into the lounge, insisting that he was fine. His father, who knew someone who'd fallen into a coma following a similar incident, insisted on taking Glen to the hospital. It was a decision that saved the drummer's life.
Power had been under observation for about eight hours when things became really bad.
"I got the most unmerciful fucking pain in my head," he recalls. "Then my nose started bleeding, my hearing went in my right ear. They scanned my head and said, 'We need to operate on him right away'. I'd fractured my head in two places, which caused the blood vessels underneath the skull to burst and caused hematoma."
It's what happened earlier this year to the actress Natasha Richardson, but they didn't get her to hospital quickly enough. Glen was rushed to Beaumont for an emergency craniotomy. His father was told that he could slip into a coma or, worse still, might die if the operation wasn't a success.
"I went from having a pint to looking a doctor in the eye who said, 'We need to do this fast; if we don't you're going to have a stroke or a heart attack. Will you sign this form?' When they told me what they were going to do I cried and then I started laughing. I was like, 'I don't believe it! Things are starting to go well. I'm finally getting somewhere with the band and now this!'"
It wasn't funny.
"I was nine days in hospital and I was dizzy when I came out; I couldn't walk in a straight line. The minute I woke up, I went, 'I've got a gig next Thursday'. That's the first thing I said (laughs). I have titanium plates in my head. It taught me a lot and has calmed me down. I don't worry about things like I used to. For me, it's like extra time. I feel like I'm in a football game with extra time."
No wonder it was such a buzz when The Script's eponymous debut album hit No.1 in both the UK and Ireland. The band had wrestled with some extraordinary demons along the way but they knew that they had come up trumps all the same – that they had made a great record.
"I remember the day it happened," Danny resumes. "Our manager called to say, 'You're No.1!' And I dropped the phone – I was overcome because everything was flooding back. My da. Mark's ma. It was a flood of emotions. Without a shadow of a doubt, it was the best day of my life. I was talking to my da that morning – who was obviously up in heaven – but I was talking to him, saying, 'Thank you'."
The emotions come flooding back again now. Only this time mixed with a new sense of pride.
"After all the things that have gone on, there's not one thing that can stop this band," Danny states. "People are asking, 'Do you fight in the band?' That doesn't even come into it when you've been through the stuff we've been through together. It's been destiny, but it hasn't been handed to us – we've clawed our way to every bit of the success that we've had. It's quite easy on a first listen to dismiss what this band is. You can presume that we didn't produce it; you can presume that we didn't write it; you can presume that we were put together by a record company. You can presume all these things. None of that is true.
"What you're hearing now, that's the true story of The Script. It's only when you come and see us live, and when you sit down and actually talk to us, that you realise there's a lot more to this than the facade. There's this image that's been put on us – and I love it in a way. Because we're clean living lads. We're not out there doing drugs. We're something that I believe Ireland can really get behind. But that's not the whole story."
In fact the twists and turns that got them to where they are today – up there at the top of the music game – start way, way back. Danny was the "sixth child of six children." He grew up in Ballinteer, in south county Dublin, in a household that was full of musicians. His father Shay was a prominent pianist who composed and produced music. His brothers – Ian and Dara – were both in bands, the latter enjoying moderate success with The Big Geraniums.
"It set the tone for me as a musician – monkey see, monkey do," he laughs. "How do you get attention in the family? Either you shout really loud or you sing! Anywhere you looked in our house there was a guitar or a bass and if you were angry you were banging on the piano and got your feelings out that way."
Danny always felt he was destined to carve out a career in music. Indeed, he was so confident about it that he dropped out of school at 16. Soon afterwards, he landed a part-time teaching gig at Digges Lane Studios. The Script's driving force Mark Sheehan also worked there as a dance instructor.
"A friend told me about a guy in Digges Lane selling music equipment – it was Mark. I'd also heard about him as a hip hop dancer. Anyone who was cool around that time was doing something in Digges Lane. Mark was one of the main teachers – a lot of stars, including Colin Farrell and even Prince Naseem did his class.
"It was one of those meetings of minds. A eureka moment. I was like, 'You're into hip hop? I'm into hip hop. You're into fucking making music, I'm into making music'. It was a big deal because back then everybody was into rock and if you were into hip hop, it was like, 'Fuck off!' Especially in Dublin. Back then we were trying to fly that flag high, for fucking hip hop. Two skinny white kids. I could see Mark was a star. So, I ended up partnering up with him."
A good call, as it happens...
Mark Sheehan takes his turn in the seat and begins to reel in the years. It's dark outside and you can hear the wind buffeting the signs. From the hard end of town, he talks in a streetwise vernacular, looking back over the wrong turns he took – aware always of the even worse ones he avoided. It goes way, way back with him too, but in a different way. Music saved his life, gave it meaning. Of that he's sure. He's survived some hairy scrapes and lived to tell the tale. That's what he's here to do.
Growing up in Dublin's inner city, Mark spent his formative years running with the pack. He was involved with the local possee in all sorts of nefarious activities that would have been enough to put him behind bars if he'd been a few years older.
"I was a little bollix when I was a kid," Mark admits, leaning forward in the seat. "At one point, when I was sixteen, when I came home from school – and I was after doing the fucking worst thing: stealing money from the family – there were two detectives sitting in the house with my ma. They told me they were taking me away to a home! I think they were trying to scare me, to be honest. I was getting to that stage, in fairness, that they wanted to put me away. From that point I felt, 'I've got to clean the act up here. I can't be a victim of this environment for any longer'."
For a pop star in a band with a clean-cut image, Mark is refreshingly candid about the unsavoury stuff he got up to in his teens.
"I got involved in everything, in all the stupid shit. We got involved in robbing cars; we got involved in fucking setting stuff on fire; we got involved in breaking into places. But thank God I was under 16 and I wasn't able to be put away for too long. I was literally doing stupid stuff like that, shoplifting and all."
Mark's father died when he was a young child. His mother raised him on her own. Does he think the absence of his father contributed to his rebellious streak?
"It may have been a bit of that, yeah, but I think to some extent everyone's a victim of their environment," he proffers. "It was the climate. Me and my mates were doing boys stuff. Stupid stuff. Down in the local junkyard fucking wrecking stuff. Getting focused on stupid stuff that didn't mean anything. One year we got so focused on having the biggest Halloween bonfire – if that meant robbing a car and putting it in the middle of the fucking bonfire, that's what it meant."
He also believes that he was extremely lucky not to end up with a drug problem. What was he taking?
"Where I grew up, you dabble pretty much in all the stupid stuff, you know? Across the spectrum. Go wherever you want, you know? Really stupid shit. You do these things as a teenager. You make your mistakes. You try stuff.
"When I look back at my school years, if there's ten of us left that are not in jail, that are not on fucking drugs, that are not in some serious situation, I'd be very surprised. I meet the lads all the time and it's shocking when you see the (very small) ratio of people that have actually done well."
He fixes me with a look.
"I think whatever industry you put me into I'd be seriously good at," he says, running his hand over his shaved head. "I'd be an amazing junkie or an amazing fucking criminal. But this is the point: put me in this industry and this is why I'm really good at it – because kids from those areas are sharp as fucking nails. They've got a great business sense. It's unfortunate that they direct that into the wrong thing sometimes.
"Thank God, in the end, mine was directed into the right thing and I had a good family behind me to kick my arse into place. This is going to sound like a fucking cliché, but music has saved my life, because every time I felt like I'd nothing – at my darkest moments – I was writing songs about that. I like to say my interest in music was an accident! The condom broke in the music industry when I was growing up (laughs). I had no interest in music, I was more into arts and crafts. So I was about 15 when I got involved in music – in the fun side of it: dancing and singing."
Soon after he'd been bitten by the music bug, Mark built a recording studio in his back garden. He and Danny spent most of their time there, writing songs and dreaming about hitting the big time. With some tracks in the can, they approached U2 manager Paul McGuinness, who they'd met during their time in Digges Lane.
"Dan and I fancied ourselves as a kind of two-piece acoustic thing," Mark explains. "I took it into McGuinness and sat down in his office and he let us play it for him. I think he thought he was just giving two kids a shot, but I don't think he was that interested. I was probably going on 17 at the time. But I do think McGuinness saw something in us – that these kids were actually producing and writing their own shit. He used to say, 'I can't believe you're doing everything on these recordings'. We were mixing and writing and doing all that stuff."
McGuinness signed the duo, who decided to call themselves MyTown, and scored a record deal. Their debut album was released on Universal in 2000, and Danny and Mark found themselves in the States, touring with Christina Aguilera, among others. It was a learning experience. But they never achieved lift-off and after about four years, decided to call it a day.
"The first single did quite well but not well enough to continue with the project," says Danny. "I think that we were too R'n'B for the English market at the time and not R'n'B enough for the American market. We were kind of walking this tightrope: the sound wasn't defined enough. We were just coming into our own – experimenting. It was like what The Script is but at a very embryonic stage. People ask, 'Do you regret it?' What the fuck is there to regret? We were asked by Paul McGuinness, could he manage the project? And then we got signed to Universal for a lot of money. I think we were probably given a little too much control of our first album. We were kids."
Given that background, it was a thrill when The Script were asked to support U2 at Croke Park in July.
"U2 and Principle are so good to us," Mark enthuses. "Even last week they sent us a lovely letter in New York to say, 'Good luck', and a nice basket of Guinness and champagne. They always support us in that way. There were so many bands U2 could've chosen and they chose us for Ireland. It's huge for us. In the States they had a press conference about a month ago and Edge and Bono were asked who their favourite band was – and they mentioned us as one of them. They know the power of that coming from their mouth means a lot for a new band."
Danny picks up the narrative.
"When we were in America doing the MyTown thing we were also building up contacts. We were down with Teddy Riley for a while. We always had an open-ended question of: 'If we came back is there a possibility of doing something?' and there were open arms. 'Absolutely. If the band ever disbands, come down and we'll build a studio on the side of our studio. You can be our pop writers'. So, we just struck up loads of friendships with some of the best producers in the world."
"Danny and I felt disheartened," Mark adds, "because Universal had fucked up, to be honest. They were going through a huge merger with Polydor and we got caught in the whole merger scene. We were the only new band to be kept on after the merger. Myself and Danny thought that we had something but – and it's a stereotypical story – it got changed all the time. They changed what we had and, in the end, we just lost heart. We thought, 'Fuck it! We'll get out of here'. I was so disheartened that I moved to Orlando and started writing and producing for other bands."
Danny decided to follow Mark to Florida after they were approached by Johnny Wright – the man behind The Backstreet Boys, NSync and Britney – to write tracks for Rihanna, his latest music protégé at the time. They also found themselves penning tunes for other bands, picking up work as session players, and even remixing dance tracks.
"We got our names in notable places," Danny says. "I played guitar on TLC's last record, the tribute to Lisa Lopez. Justin Timberlake was probably the biggest one – a remix for a song he'd done called 'Gone'. It was massive club single. We did remixes for Britney. A lot of these didn't surface but we'd release them on white labels.
"We just started building up this name," he continues. "They used to call us 'The Irish Guys'. It was an anomaly of two white Irish dudes in the hip hop scene doing remixes of all these different styles. Fuck, it was hilarious man. We were writing and producing – just sharpening the tools. That took the bones of four or five years.
"We were definitely chancers. Out and out chancers," Danny adds with a chuckle. "It was almost like that James Street mentality of 'if you don't ask, you won't get'. We'd be in meetings in America where – especially in an R'n'B/hip hop sense – you walk in and it's all about your persona, it's all about how you carry yourself in the room; what you're wearing; what chains you've got on; what fucking shoes you're rocking in there with. I remember going in with a Rolex I'd borrowed off a friend that was broken, with bad ass shoes but there's a big hole down the fucking back of them and you're just hoping you don't put your feet on the table, or nobody asks you what time it is! But that's the way it was. At the time you're shitting yourself that you're going to get found out – in retrospect I can't believe half the things we did."
After about five years of slugging it out in the US, Danny had a strong desire to return to centre-stage.
"There's something about a lead singer that doesn't really let go – that wants that fucking stage," he laughs. "When I hung my microphone up for a while, I was looking at singers on stage or TV thinking, 'I can fucking do better than them! Bastards!' As you always do. So, we were coming at the industry from another side, and then I decided to go out front myself.
"We felt that there was something missing," Danny adds. "The heart and soul you pour out trying to write the lyrics, and then you've got someone else coming in to sing them who doesn't understand the song. To sing a song you have to be a great actor, in the way of learning someone's else's words; it has to be coming from the same spot or else it doesn't move the crowd."
Initially, they'd envisaged the songs Mark was composing would be used in a solo project for Danny. Dissatisfied with using an electronic drum beat on the tracks, Mark persuaded Glen – a gigging drummer who'd worked with everybody from Don Baker to Brendan O'Carroll – to fly over from Dublin for a short break to lay down the drums on the tracks. Satisfied with the demo, Danny and Mark approached Steve Kipner who had just signed Natasha Bedingfield and was starting his own label Phonogenic.
"We went down to see Steve either about signing me or what myself and Mark were doing," Danny says. "We had our own mini-label and were developing acts; we had a girl band and a rapper on the books. We played the stuff for Steve and he said, 'Fucking hell! Have you played this for anyone else? Don't! Please don't!' And we were like, 'Is it that bad?!' He said, 'Seriously, don't play it for anyone else. I'm calling in the other two guys in the label. Would you mind just battening down the hatches and we'll do a showcase within a week. You can have the music back by then. You can shop it around or whatever – but please give us first look on this'. So, we said, 'Yeah. Steve's been a good friend of ours'. We ended up calling Glen, who'd gone home in the meantime while we finished up the songs and saying, 'Look, they think we're a band (laughs)'."
They were going to have to pretend.
While The Script suffered a litany of setbacks during the recording of their multi-platinum selling album, Danny O'Donoghue was also on the edge for a different reason: he was coming to terms with the end of his first serious relationship, one that he'd thought would be forever.
"I'm talking about when you know it's love," he says disarmingly. "Up until that point there was a succession of liking people that were out of my league – I was definitely punching above my weight a lot. A lot of broken hearts. But this time, we were together for four years. She was the one I was going to be with for the rest of my life. It was definitely a growing-up experience for me.
"She had a child at the time, which was a very weird experience for me – coming into the fold. It was almost like history repeating itself – my father had done something very similar with my mum. My mum's first son, Ian, was from a previous relationship. I only became aware of the similarities in retrospect. But my first relationship was very much mirrored on my dad. I idolised my dad, so I'd hate to say that I planned it because..."
Danny pauses for a moment before carefully selecting his next sentence. "I don't want to sound like I was following in my dad's footsteps – like with the musician thing – but I'm sure on some level, maybe subconsciously, that happened. My dad was a fucking saint to me. He took my mother in and we never knew the difference between us and my brother Ian. For me, what I learnt from relationships is – more so whenever I was hurt or whenever I was made a fool of or when people'd do the dirt on you or anything – you can go out and punch someone, you can go out and vandalise something, or you can go off the rails, you can take drugs or you can go drinking or whatever... but I found for me an incredible way of getting those emotions out was picking up the guitar and (roars) jamming it out."
Danny admits that he still misses being around his ex's child.
"Those are the things that you live with every day. That stuff just doesn't go away. Because you open yourself up to being a father. I find it very hard because I see a lot of youths in Ireland who are able to get into a relationship and then just completely close it off after the relationship, almost in a heartless way. But not me. It stays with me. It really does."
Both Mark and Glen are fathers. Mark is happily married with two kids, while Glen has a nine-year-old son from a previous relationship.
Glen explains: "We were nine years together before we broke up. That was rough. It was a really hard time, but it's amazing because, after that had ended, this kicked in. My son lives in Dublin. Honestly, the hardest thing for me in this whole thing is my little lad because – before this kicked off – I was doing gigs in Dublin and I was always there, around for him, and I'd take him on weekends and stuff. But now I'm not home as much, so the minute I get two days off I'm like, 'Send me to Dublin', and I go and get him straight away.
"It's really hard. I miss him terribly. I ring my son every day. He has a Skyphone and I talk to him through Skype. When I call sometimes he's like, 'Dad, I really miss you. When are you coming back?' And when I have to say, 'It won't be for another few weeks' – that's the hardest part. I miss my family as well, but you sign up for it. The sacrifice equals the gain. This has been my dream since I was a kid and now I'm finally getting to do it. You have moments on tour when you miss home, your family and most of all my little fella. But I love going on stage. It's a double-edged sword."
Nine months ago, Danny started dating one of Ireland's top models, the Lithuanian-born Irma Mali, who is also a single mother. Tragically, her former partner Marius Simanaitis died as a result of a single gunshot wound to the head on March 11 at his apartment near the Phoenix Park, in mysterious circumstances. According to a report in the Irish Mail On Sunday, the gun had been fitted with a silencer and "was found firmly clasped in his hand. He was in the company of at least two other people and a large quantity of drink had been taken." According to the same report, his family is convinced that he was, in fact, murdered.
Bizarrely, when she returned home to Vilnius for the funeral, Irma was door-stepped by a reporter from an Irish tabloid. Danny is clearly irked by the insensitivity of the journalist's approach.
"If somebody wanted to do an interview with me the day my father died I'd still be jumping on their head right now," he fumes. "My initial reaction is to fly off the handle. If a journalist reports on the truth, I'm absolutely fine with that if there's a story there, if there's something that needs to come out. I'm all about the truth. But invasion of privacy is something that I find it hard to come to terms with. The other side is, 'You had to go for the story but did you have go to the funeral? Did you have to go for the interview at a very, very vulnerable time in a person's life?'
"She was upset from what she was going through at the time, but she was even more upset because in some way she felt this might harm my career! She's such a selfless girl. As far as modelling goes, she's done everything – been on the cover of every magazine. But she's the least likely person to see out at a nightclub or at the opening of an envelope or trying to get her picture somewhere. She's just not about that."
Danny admits that he finds it difficult, talking about his personal life.
"I was 16 when I lost my virginity," he says. "I was into football and then I found the performing arts. I started hip hop dancing, which brought me a new confidence. If you can handle yourself in a nightclub the ladies then tend to look. That's the whole point of a nightclub. The girls get up and shake their feathers and the guys get up and kind of flex a little bit.
"But there's no skeletons in the closet – it's more the hurtful stuff. It's more the questions about death constantly – with my dad passing away and Mark's mother passing away. Some people are great about approaching it but some are literally like tackling a bull in a china shop. 'Wow! Your dad was a musician. It fucking sucks that he's not around, isn't it? To see you so successful'. I'm like, 'I don't know you! That's not a great thing for you to say to me. It's like, 'How do you feel that he's not around? Would you like him to be here?' It's just a stupid question."
As Danny finishes speaking about his father, the room goes dark, as the light mysteriously flickers off for a few seconds, before coming back on.
"That was my dad," he says. "Funny, as we were talking about it the light flickers. A lot of things since Mark's ma and my da passed away have been like that – a light going on and off. There's been signs and signals. I'm never one to believe that stuff. I'm the last person to, but my career has gone so well since my dad has passed away. He was a wheeler and dealer, a real Del Boy. I know he's up there doing bargains and Mark's ma is up there – both wheeling and dealing and everything."
Danny Donoghue gives me another of those smiles. You couldn't have scripted the conclusion better. The end where The Script begin…