5 minutes alone - The Script's Mark Sheehan: "I never liked riffs and runs; I always liked rhythm and how that played with vocals"

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(Image: © Peter Neil)

The Script guitarist, songwriter and producer talks about his love for Les Pauls and refining his craft...

I got my first real six string

“My very first guitar was a Taylor 514 acoustic when I was 15. I was very into acoustic playing and I liked acoustic bands. I was also into R ’n’ B and at the time it was about very simple licks. I suppose when you hear the likes of Breakeven you can hear those R ’n’ B influences.

“Even though I’ve grown up in Ireland and I’m used to rock, I liked the R ’n’ B licks in the music of Stevie Wonder and Motown. I started to take the guitar more seriously when I was 17 or 18 and it was really to support my songwriting. I never liked riffs and runs; I always liked rhythm and how that played with vocals. I only ever played to support my vocals.”

Living in America

I went to the States to study music and I was there for 11 years. I ended up in Nashville, LA, Florida, New York, Boston, Philadelphia

“Ireland was so rock-heavy, and because I really liked R ’n’ B and hip-hop I wanted to go to the home of it. I went to the States to study music and I was there for 11 years. I ended up in Nashville, LA, Florida, New York, Boston, Philadelphia - working with loads of people. I worked with Boyz II Men and Montell Jordan.

“My favourite producer at the time was Teddy Riley who had the new jack swing thing and No Diggity had just come out. At the time Pharrell Williams and others were also working with Teddy, so that’s how I met those guys too. I worked with Rodney Jerkins and we used to hang out together in the studio with people and write songs. I was very much immersed in an r’n’b world. If you listen to r’n’b and hip-hop you’ll notice the guitar is never layered, it’s always a one-piece guitar riff. 

“In rock music, even pop music, they’ll layer guitar riffs and make it really powerful and strong. In R&B and hip-hop it’s very solo-sounding and brought back in the mix a lot. Those artists favour the kicks, snares and bass. So I come from that world.”

That’s entertainment

“I think it’s important to remember that it’s show business. There’s a massive word after the word ‘show’ and in order to get people to buy tickets to see you, you’re supposed to put on a show for them. Don’t just look at your boots and stand there thinking, ‘These people aren’t coming to see us or they don’t appreciate this, that or the other.’ They want to be entertained; they’re standing there, looking at you. At the least you’ve got to have eye contact with them and play to them. Do some things within your own performance to get those people to come back.”

You are gold

I love my Les Paul Goldtop. It’s such a versatile guitar. It’s a heavy f***er but it’s so solid body-wise and covers so many sounds

“I love my Les Paul Goldtop. It’s such a versatile guitar. It’s a heavy fucker but it’s so solid body-wise and covers so many sounds. There are people who think I’m playing a Fender sometimes but it’s actually my Goldtop. I have guitars where I’ve changed out parts but the pickups are all the same on this. It’s all standard. To choose my favourite would be between that and the Gibson Hummingbird I have at home. I write a lot of songs on it.”

If you could see me now

“One of my mishaps was an Isle Of Wight Festival moment. I think Bon Jovi were on after. We were up there playing to 60,000 people and I saw Dan running across one side of the stage so I run over to the other and I hit a cable on stage and I just went tumbling. I properly split my eye open because the guitar cracked me in the face as I was falling forwards. But, weirdly, I didn’t stop playing somehow. I got back on my feet and kept playing. I just remember seeing stars and blood running down my face. It was an epic fall and everyone caught it on camera.”

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