Who: Irish trio the Script traces its roots to the late '90s, when then late-teenagers Danny O'Donoghue (keys and vocals) and Mark Sheehan (guitar) made a pilgrimage to America to work as session musicians and studio hands. They returned to their native Dublin and hooked up with drummer Glen Power in 2005. Their circuitous route to budding rock stardom will culminate with two huge gigs in July: opening for Paul McCartney at New York's Citi Field and for U2 at Dublin's Croke Park.
Sounds Like: A pristine pop-rock act with a decided modern R&B streak, the Script call to mind a more wistful Maroon 5 or a funkier Coldplay. While their eponymous 2008 debut album is full of sunny, addictive melodies, it also has a palpable air of melancholy. Recorded during a tumultuous time in the bandmembers' family lives (O'Donoghue lost his father and Sheehan his mother during the making of The Script), songs like "Breakeven" feature maudlin couplets like, "Still alive, but I'm barely breathing/Just prayed to a God that I don't believe in," sung over twinkling guitars and buoyant drums.
• Growing up in Ireland in the blast radius of England's Britpop explosion, O'Donoghue and Sheehan found themselves more interested in the seductive rhythms of soul and hip-hop than the lad-rock that was then in vogue. "We had to stay up late to catch any of the hip-hop and R&B videos on MTV — that was the only time we could see them," says O'Donoghue. "Ireland has a very vibrant music scene, but at the time it was mostly rock & roll. We left home to come to America at 17 because there weren't that many options for musicians who were into what we were into."
• From 1999 and 2003, O'Donoghue and Sheehan worked in the U.S., orbiting around R&B studio sessions run by producers such as Rodney Jerkins and Teddy Riley. "Through some friends, I met Rodney Jerkins. He had me play some guitar over a track that he was working on. I sort of forgot about it, but after a while he called me in and played it back for me and it wound up being 'Turntable' by TLC. It was the tribute song to Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopez," recalls O'Donoghue. A brief audition for Riley saw them come across another up-and-coming duo. "After Mark and I were done playing he wound up handing us a tape with some beats on it that said, 'Neptunes.' " Hanging out in the background of Jerkins and Riley's sessions taught the Irish songwriters valuable lessons, too: "We realized that we wanted to be the judge, jury and executioner of our own work."
• While the recording of their debut was a heartbreaking time in the lives of the bandmates, you get the feeling someone is watching over the Script. They're set to have one of the more dizzying months a young band could ever hope for. "When something like a Paul McCartney gig gets tossed in your lap it can be a very frightening thing, especially considering how nostalgic that day will be," says O'Donoghue, referencing McCartney's choice of the new home of the New York Mets, 44 years after the Beatles' historic concert at the old Mets stomping grounds, Shea Stadium. To prepare for the McCartney and U2 shows, the Script have been racking up the large-capacity gigs on their own, "We've played to over 600,000 people by now, with festivals and everything. So we're getting more comfortable playing to huge crowds." Not that they're complaining, "You can't really dream of this stuff. Each day is amazing," enthuses O'Donoghue. "I'm in the studio, rehearsing for one concert with Paul McCartney at a baseball stadium and one opening for U2 at Croke Park, the national stadium of Ireland. I keep having to pinch myself."
Get It Now: The Script is out now — watch their new video for "The Man Who Can't Be Moved," above.