Danny O’Donoghue hopes he doesn’t appear too calculating. But there was method to the Script bandleader’s madness last year when he landed a coveted judge’s seat on the TV competition “The Voice U.K.,” where he coached young vocal talent alongside fellow stars Jessie J, will.i.am and Sir Tom Jones.
After two albums with his Irish trio, he says, “We were enjoying this gray area of success, where people knew the band, but they didn’t know our faces, or they knew my face or the song, but not the name of the group — any one of those conundrums. So I thought this would be a good time to raise awareness.”
The move paid unexpected dividends. The Script’s latest single, “Hall of Fame” — from the new album “#3,” which the band will showcase in Oakland tonight — features will.i.am in a rap duet with O’Donoghue, who played his “Voice” castmate the song’s rough demos one night after taping.
Intrigued by its optimistic lyrics, the Black Eyed Peas frontman agreed to the recording and a video clip that centers on a boxer and a ballerina triumphing over adversity.
“Now it’s been the No. 1 single back home for three weeks running, and the video is already up to 10 million views on YouTube,” says O’Donoghue, who has dubbed much of “#3” as “Celtic hip-hop.”
The show put O’Donoghue back in touch with his past.
More than a decade ago, he and his future Script partner Mark Sheehan were working in the U.S. as an R&B songwriting-producing team with artists such as The Neptunes and Teddy Riley.
Although The Script turned out folkier, he says, “I had this massive production and vocal-coaching background that made me pretty qualified for ‘The Voice.’ And I represented the hard way of getting into the music industry — playing in s***** pubs and clubs until it’s your turn.”
O’Donoghue tried to impart this wisdom to his “Voice U.K.” pupils, who often believed their own hype.
“I was there to remind them that this isn’t the real world — it’s the TV world,” he says. “I said, ‘You’re getting waited on hand and foot right now, but that’s because you’re on television. Wait till you step backstage at a real rock-and-roll gig, where you don’t get a thing!’ I was there as a good reality check for everyone.”
Will the Irishman — who admits he’s got the gift of gab — be swiveling in that padded “Voice” chair again? “I think they want the original panel for two seasons,” he says. “But I’ve been banging their door down, stalking them into letting me do another season!”