MyTown – InterviewJun 5, 2000 7
Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, Mytown is tagged as a boy band but there is more to this foursome than good looks. Their debut album was co-written by the band members, Marc Sheehan, Paul Walker, Terry Daly, and Danny O’Donoghue.
Mytown first got together in 1996 at the now defunct Digges Lane performing arts school in Dublin. Marc, a well-known choreographer, was teaching hip-hop dancing at Digges when he met Paul, a former actor who’s appeared in Irish TV shows and films. They talked about putting together a group, but something was missing. Terry also had a similar goal in mind. Danny, the youngest member, was the last to join Mytown. The group got together and began harmonizing and writing songs.
If you want to know more, read on and get the story from Marc Sheehan himself!
Does it bother you being called a boy band?
No, not at all. Being four boys in a band, there is nothing you can really do about it. All we can really do is show our talent off. We spend a lot of time in the studio writing and producing songs, so hopefully the talent will prevail.
What inspires you guys to write?
Everything. Day to day situations, from meeting girls in a nightclub (laughs) to seeing a sign on the road. It’s just everyday situations.
Are there songs that are really personal?
I think the song Danny wrote, “The Day”, is about him as a kid being madly in love. Shawn from Boyz II Men produced it and it just became this big personal song for Danny.
Do you ever think of the message of the music or do you just write for yourselves?
At the time you’re kind of selfish and just write for yourself. At the end of the day you ask yourself, ‘Will anybody like this?’ But, for example, a song like “Girl In Tears” when we wrote it had one meaning, but if you ask someone they will have their own idea. People get their own feelings about songs sometimes.
Does the group write together?
When we first got signed we took most of our money and built a studio in the back of my house in Dublin and called it the Madhouse. Every day one of us was in there writing beats, lyrics, or melodies, or they might be jamming out on the piano or guitar. Sometimes it’d be two people or all of us. Someone might have this cool idea and you walk in, you have to jump in on it. Sometimes you end up writing a song on your own and you come back to the lads and they think it’s great.
The studio is called the Madhouse?
Yeah. It’s so small that when you spend like twelve or thirteen hours you walk out on your head crazy.
How was it that you were signed originally?
Originally we had no money in Dublin and were trying to go to America because it was a big dream for us. We heard about this festival in Las Vegas where artists can get signed. There were seventy bands and they were all competing for record deals. There were all these record industry people in the crowd and we just got up on stage and did what we do. At first we got no callback, and after two weeks we went home and Universal called us and said they wanted to showcase us again in New York. We had a whale of a time. We didn’t want to go up there, sing and dance like a boy band, so we brought our instruments and played a more personal show for everybody. They just flipped out.
How long ago was that?
About a year and a half ago.
How did you get together with Teddy Riley?
He is part of Interscope records, which is part of Universal, and I had been crazy about Teddy for a while since he had been a huge influence in my music career. I’ve always wanted to just meet him. I kept trying to arrange a meeting through the record companies and they kept saying that Teddy doesn’t even answer the phone to people. I told them I was in Virginia and I was just going to knock on his door. They told me not to do that, but the whole band and our manager went down and knocked on the door. We told them we were Mytown and asked if they wouldn’t mind if we met Teddy. They started laughing at us, but they let us in, so I got to meet Teddy, and I was starstruck. I asked him if I could play him some songs and he said, ‘Go on,’ so we took our guitars and we ransacked the place with music. He said, ‘I’ve got to work with you guys. You guys are crazy.’ From there on, the rest is history for us.
How many songs did he work on?
Three songs: “C’mon Everybody”, “Body Bumpin’”, and “Everything She Wants”, which is a Wham cover.
How did you end up doing a cover?
What happened was that he wanted to hear more, but we didn’t have any except the cover. We didn’t want to play a cover song, but he said, ‘You’ve got to pay tribute to somebody.’ At the time, George Michael was the last person anyone wanted to pay tribute to. He took the song and flipped it about and we listened to it and went ‘Wow!’
You got to work with another idol group, Boyz II Men.
Yeah. You’re bringing back memories. We were here in LA and we heard they were doing a video shoot for the Prince Of Egypt soundtrack.
What was that about a year ago?
Yeah, it would have been. And we were dying to meet them. We’ve always said once we meet somebody they’ll eventually work with us, and they invited us down to the lot and we were all pale and white nervous. They asked us to sing for them and it was like ‘Oh my God’ because they are like the harmony Gods of the world. We sang away and they were like ‘Wow,’ and then we asked them to sing for us. They did and it was unbelievable. Two weeks later, they called us and invited us to Philadelphia to their studio. We worked with them on two songs. It was unbelievable.
Meeting your idols is certainly a big plus for being a musician, but what other things do you enjoy about being an artist?
We all enjoy getting away from all the crap and being onstage. It’s what makes it all worthwhile. Performing those songs that you’ve given birth to is great. You get to see the response from the fans when you are onstage, which is sometimes good and sometimes bad, depending on where you are playing. (laughs)
Do you guys have rituals before shows?
We have a secret ritual that we do before we go on stage, but I can’t tell you because it’s too vulgar. (laughs) I honestly couldn’t tell anybody because the band would kill me. Maybe someone will catch us doing it one day and everyone will find out then.
What are you guys thinking when you hear all the fans screaming when you are onstage?
It’s funny. We did a show in Calgary in Canada and we thought there would only be like two hundred people, but three thousand fans showed up and we were like, ‘How in the hell did they find out about us?’ And they were screaming and we were tired that day from traveling, but I swear to God, you go from being totally tired to totally livened up. We just give the best performance that we can. They just fuel us to go on stage.
You guys like to play practical jokes?
We do funny stuff on people all the time.
Is it on each other or do you include people outside of the group?
We do things on each other all of the time and on other people. We can’t do pranks on our record company people because they are so heavy and serious.
Any funny stories behind these pranks?
I’m trying to think. Most people don’t understand us when we speak because of our accents. So, for example, we would go into Subway, and because no one can distinguish our voices from each other, so I know that Danny hates onions. So Danny will ask for like chicken and bacon and I’ll stand behind him and go, ‘And loads of onions.’ And the girl will put like millions of onions on there and Danny will say, ‘Actually, I don’t want onions.’ And she goes, ‘You just said you wanted onions,’ and she’ll turn to take them off and I’ll say, ‘Actually, give me the onions.’ And he just freaks. So we do shit like that on each other like that all the time. There are more, but we are a very vulgar band. (laughs) Oh wait, here is a good one. We were doing this show in Ireland one time and we were sitting on our tour bus, and there were millions of cars on either side of us and coach in front of us with a bunch of girls on. All the girls were shouting stuff like ‘Moon us,’ so we passed them on the motor way and flew about a mile beyond them and got out of the car and took all our clothes off and stood on the side of the road naked. And the girls went by and it was like a bolt of lightening from the flashes of cameras that went off. It was funny.
Does it keep it lighthearted when you are on the road?
Yeah. You can’t take it so seriously or else your head just gets confused and you get to missing home. It’s just so much easier, you know?
Yeah. Are you guys keeping a journal while on the road?
We’ve got two cameras right now. We do like a day by day interview with each other. It captures the serious stuff, and us freaking out even. We have a web cam that we email pictures and stuff to people.
Do you ever go onto fans’ web sites?
We have a laptop with us every day. Paul mainly gets on the laptop and speaks to fans. Most people don’t believe it’s him though. He spends half the time convincing them. As we do gigs, we give a lot of fans our personal emails and we’ll email them back and tell them how we are doing.
It’s good for talking to family because it keeps the cost of phone calls down.
Yeah. The phone calls are really expensive. The cool thing that each of us do after the show is we get six phone numbers from fans and we call them straight after the show and thank them for coming to the show. We do that every night after a show.
What are some goals you’ve achieved and what goals do you hope to achieve?
Goals we’ve achieved was just coming to America and letting people have the chance to see us. The next goal is to be successful. I want to stress that we don’t want to be famous, obviously it comes with it, but success on our end is about our music more than anything else. I think people will realize that we are doing it for the music.
Is it important for you personally to have people realize you are musicians and not just some label puppets?
Yeah. You really want people to say that. One thing we always do is, when we meet the people at our record label who are promoting us, is to play for them live acoustically. Then they can appreciate that we are actually musicians.
+ charlie craine