Earlier, Zombieguide promised you an English translation to this month’s Italian ‘All Music’ interview with Dolores, taken last December during her stay in Rome. Never going back on our word, or at least trying not to, here it is:
Dolores O’Riordan: Double Life of a Star
The singer reveals herself after the end of the “Stars” tour.
I phone Dolores in her suite of a Roman hotel (the singer had just returned to Italy after the last stop on her tour for a special exhibition in Vatican for the Pope.) You may recall that recently, the prestigious Irish magazine “Hot Press,” dedicated an entire issue of their publication to the rock foursome from Limerick. Now, despite thousands of engagements and a hectic schedule, Dolores’s voice is calm and relaxed. She receives my phone call with a sigh of relief after leaving her children in another room.
It occurs to me that speaking with her is not at all like speaking with someone who boats six or seven costume changes in a single concert and can hold the unwavering attention of tens of thousands of people. Instead, I find her in an intimate moment of her life: the double life of a mother and a female rocker with an awareness of being successful in two fronts: a woman raising two children and an artist in a ten-year career, with five albums, selling millions each, and a new compilation, “Stars,” to mark the end of the first 10 years of their artistic life. It’s as if the celebrity must balance between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; and my interview is my chance to discover what is real and what is a facade.
Q: Dolores, after ten years of hit records, what prompted you to release your “best of” compilation?
A: We had to show the fans and ourselves that 10 years of success has meant a lot. So we asked the fans to vote on the only non-single of the compilation; and they chose “Daffodil Lament” from No Need To Argue.
Q: If you had to choose a non-single, what song would you choose? A: Difficult. I’d ask the other members of the group to do it.
Q: Is your compilation a way to declare the end of a cycle?
A: More or less, it is the end of a cycle. We can’t linger on what we’ve done up to now, running over and over again with the songs that made us famous.
Q: So “Stars” is not a marketing ploy?
A: Absolutely not. We’ve just finished an exhausting tour that we could have avoided if we didn’t believe in “Stars”.
Q: What sensations did you get from the tour here in Italy?
A: Big energy and big love. Our shows in Italy have been quite sold-out. Playing live is the most emotional part of a singer’s life, but also the most devisive. You’re far from home, from your children, from the things you love most.
Q: You said that ‘Stars’ is like the end of an era. What can we expect from a new beginning?
A: These 10 years have been as much generous as they have been intense. I don’t know what we have to expect from the next 10 years. I’m not sure that the Cranberries’ sound will change very much. Maybe it’s just time to pull the plug for a while and see our families and the world from a different side than a hotel room.
Q: Speaking of your views on the world, if I simply follow the track list of ‘Stars’ with my finger, it’s evident that the subjects of your songs have gone from a local, more specific dimension, to topics that are now broader, and more world-wide. For example, “Salvation” is perhaps the division between “Zombie,” where ‘No Need To Argue’ seemed to contain more Irish themes, and songs like “Time Is Ticking Out,” where it’s as if you are thinking in more global terms with ‘Wake Up And Smell The Coffee’.
A: Before, we saw the world from a particular perspective, I mean geographically as well. We saw it from Limerick. Now, my perspective on things comes from the window of a hotel room or from the seat of an airplane. What has remained in our songs is the spontaneity in talking about important themes, both personal and collective. In that way, there isn’t that much difference between “Ode To My Family” and “Analyse.” Maybe the biggest change has been in our feeling more mature in talking about problems that pertain to everyone, everything from love to the future of our children, with a soft touch.
Q: There was an evolution within your music that resulted in “pop” melodies…
A: That was a natural movement to melodies that made us feel good while we were playing them. In ‘Stars’ there is an unpublished track which sounds very heavy, not “pop” at all.
Q: “New New York”. What kind of feelings did you have in seeing the new New York?
A: I didn’t see it just after the Towers were brought down, instead I got there for the first time in May 2002, when the pain inside the hearts had already changed into the wish of rebirth. Everything is in that song that I think about the new New York: pain that generates energy
Q: The change in your music hasn’t anything to do with the economic boom in Ireland?
A: The boom changed the appearance of our nation, but it also brought forth advantages. However, that’s not the reason for a change in the music; during the last years I haven’t really had the chance to experience the changes in Ireland because I don’t really live there anymore.
Q: Where then, do you live? A: Hotels.
Q: Are you tired of hotel rooms?
A: They are the other side to the warmth of the being with the people we meet on Tour. Hotels are the cold and sterile side; it’s what makes me start thinking that I should be at home getting ready for Christmas celebrations. When a tour is over you feel happy but very tired.
Q: Are you going to still be an on-stage musician in twenty years?
A: I really don’t know. Maybe yes, perhaps my children will be grown-up and they won’t need me so I’ll keep on playing.
Q: When you were speaking about the upcoming changes in The Cranberries’ music, were you referring to a solo project?
A: That’s what everybody has been waiting for, for ages. It’s possible; but for now I am enthusiastic about being a member of The Cranberries.
Q: Of course, but as a soloist, you could vent any artistic ideas repressed by the group, and do something completely different.
A: In that case, I would do something extremely different than The Cranberries’ style, maybe a sort of sound track for a film. I really like film sound tracks, the sound of a warm atmosphere inclined through a crescendo. Lately, I’ve listened to Marconi’s soundtracks (he’s a film-music composer), and generally I listen to David Lynch’s films soundtracks with pleasure. But for now, my favorite pop band is Travis.
My conversation with Dolores continues on for several minutes. She talks about her impressions from various gigs, Ireland, music… and then, there’s a Christian good-bye from the rocker-mom. And that’s when we see the synthesis of the two halves of Dolores’s nature: the thoughtful one, and the angry one:
“God bless you, man!”.
Thanks to Mattia and Eva for help with the translation!