THE CRANBERRIES – BIOGRAPHY (1989-2001)
Text and images courtesy of zombieguide.com
(Based on original text by zombieguide.com and information in ‘Another Story’ by Niall Quinn and in ‘Waltzing Back’ by Prof Eoin Devereux)
In The Beginning…
In the summer of 1985, as the American movie Breakin’ swept through the countryside of Ireland, brothers Noel and Mike Hogan would practice their dance moves with other local breakdancers at the green in front of their house in Moyross, Limerick, where the new found love of boomboxes and tracksuits were displayed. It was here that they met a young man from nearby Parteen, named Fergal Lawler. And so begins the story of The Cranberries…
Their common love of breakdance quickly bonded the three. But Noel 13, Mike 12 and Fergal 14, soon found they had other things in common apart from this, and the interest in breakdancing gradually gave way to a shared love of music.
At first this was music that was on mainstream radio, like Nik Kershaw. But this soon gave way to indie bands like The Cure, New Order and Joy Division and eventually The Smiths, who played a big part in The Cranberries sound.
It was at this time, that they also discovered the local Limerick music scene and local bands like A Touch Of Oliver and They Do It With Mirrors. It was listening to these and other local bands that gave them the idea that, they too could form a band.
In late 1988 and early 1989, the three boys were given musical instruments as presents and began practising, at first without Noel, at Fergal’s house. Noel soon joined and even at that early stage they wanted to write their own material.
After practising for a few months and with Fergal’s drum skills, Mike wielding a bass, and Noel a guitar, all they needed was a singer to complete the quartet.
No Cranberries history is complete without the name Niall Quinn. It began one night in late August 1989. While waiting in The Granary Nightclub, Noel and Mike met with Niall Quinn, their longtime neighbour who lived only a few hundred yards away. Niall, a drummer for his own band The Hitchers, was opening the set that night. They introduced Niall 16 to Fergal. Noel 17, Mike 16 and Fergal 17, were by this time looking for a singer to complete their band.
“Over the course of a pint they told me they were putting a band together, were actively looking for a singer and I guess I volunteered to give it a go. A couple of weeks later while on the way home from school a little white car screeched to halt across the road from me and out bundled the three boys to see if I was still interested,” Niall writes in a online narrative, posted in January 2002, of the early days of The Cranberry Saw Us, titled “Another Story”. The story was, until the EEIDI,SWCW? 25th Anniversary Edition booklet by Prof Eoin Devereux in October 2018, by far the most informative resource on the previously obscure early days of the group that eventually formed The Cranberries.
Niall Quinn playing for The Hitchers the night he joined The Cranberry Saw Us
He notes, “We decided on the name that day [in September] – and contrary to what I’ve read elsewhere I came up with it. Actually what I came up with was the name ‘The Cranberries’ and then suggested several variations on it. These included ‘The Cranberry Saw Us’, ‘The Cranberry Doodles’ ‘The Crandoodles’ and several more I can’t remember. Without actually voting on it we discussed them and eventually settled on ‘The Cranberry Saw Us’. I remember favouring it over ‘The Cranberries’ – which I reckoned sounded like a band a girl would be singing with – like ‘The Darling Buds’ or ‘The Sugar Cubes’. Maybe that’s why long after my departure they shortened it back to its source name – because it fitted perfectly a band fronted by a female.”
Over the next few months, the novice band practiced regularly, eventually moving into the “The Whiteroom” rehearsal room of the local record company, Xeric Records. On November 18, 1989, The Cranberry Saw Us did their first concert at the Flag Cafe in Limerick. “It was in The Flag Cafe – a little coffee shop that used be on Broad St. in Limerick that was popular with students of the nearby art college. We actually performed as a five piece that day. We’d toyed with the idea of getting in a keyboard player and a few weeks before the gig I’d convinced a mate of mine from school to give it a go,” Niall writes. Although titles such as “My Granny Drowned in a Fountain at Lourdes” are common among the major Cranberries biographies, it was crowd-pleasers like “Sixty-Niner” that stole the band’s early live gigs.
The Cranberry Saw Us’s live gig experience only adds to the legendarily “quirkiness” of the band. Niall admits, “At this stage I was enjoying the novelty of being a frontman and wasn’t particularly concerned that my voice was at best work-a-day or that my guitar playing was simply awful. I think I premiered a quaint little ditty called ‘Sixty-Niner’ at that second show [at the Flag Cafe] too. From then on I’d usually sing it with my trousers ’round my ankles for extra dramatic effect. Though the trousers down stunt was in truth stolen wholesale from ‘They Do It With Mirrors’ frontman Kevin Brew… Maybe to compensate for my discomfort I experimented a bit. I reckoned if I’m going to feel ludicrous I may as well look ludicrous so I’d tie my hair up in pig-tails, borrow a school uniform off one of the lads girlfriends and wear that onstage. And why not?”
First The Cranberry Saw Us concert ad
As the end of the year approached, however, Niall was becoming concerned about the time he invested in the band. In his mind, he was firstly and primarily a drummer for The Hitchers. He wanted to be sure that his reputation would remain that way and he wouldn’t become instead “the singer for The Cranberry Saw Us.” Mike, Noel, and Fergal were also anxious to record a demo of their new mass of songs. Niall remembers, “The lads were gung ho to book a day in Xeric Studios and record a few songs. I was a bit hesitant if only for the simple reason that I couldn’t afford it. The plan was for each of us to chip in fifty quid which would be enough to get us a day. Truthfully they may as well have been asking me to chip in fifty million. I didn’t have it and had little way of raising it. In the end I managed to scrape £25 together and that was through calling in a lot of favours.”
The Cranberry Saw Us: Niall, Mike, Fergal, Noel (January 1990, Limerick Tribune)
Niall Quinn (1992)
Key releases of 1989:
Songs of 1989:
“My Granny Drowned in a Fountain at Lourdes” “Throw Me Down a Big Stairs”
“How’s It Going to Bleed?”
“Storm in a Teacup”
“Good Morning God” “Sixty-Niner”
“I Was Always All Ways”
Untitled Christmas Song
The Cranberry Saw Us booked January 7th, 1990 at Xeric Studios and recorded their first and only demo, titled “Anything,” the title being an alluding tribute to the English guitar band Ride. The art to the demo was hand-done by Noel, who ironically misspelled “Cranberry” (as “Cranbery”).
“Anything” cover art
By February, however, Niall knew his resources were being strained. His band The Hitchers was a demanding priority, so he decided he knew he had to leave The Cranberry Saw Us. He wished them luck in finding a replacement. In the meanwhile, the band still tinkered around with instrumentals, mostly written by Noel. However, fatigue set in as there were no lyrics. But Niall’s involvement in the band didn’t end there. “Outside the take away [of the Termite Club] I bumped into an ex-girlfriend of mine called Kathryn who asked how TCSU were getting on since I’d split,” recalls Niall. “I said the lads had mentioned that they were considering getting a girl and straight away Kathryn suggests a girl in her older sisters class at school. ‘Her name’s Dolores …she sings with the choir but she’s into Sinead O’Connor as well. I’ll get her phone number for you tomorrow.’ And that’s how, one Sunday afternoon, I ended up phoning a girl called Dolores — out of the blue — to see if she’d be interested in singing with my old band.” Dolores O’Riordan was interested. She arranged to meet at Xeric Studios late that spring with the band.
Niall remembers the moment Dolores opened her mouth to sing, saying, “She started playing a Sinead O’Connor song — I don’t know which one… I think it’s on ‘The Lion & The Cobra’ LP — but she was scarcely three or four lines into it by the time all our lower jawbones had hit the floor. This girl could sing — effortlessly. I think I was off the hook with Noel, Mike and Ferg by the time she finished and within a couple of minutes I’d made my excuses for dashing off, said my see ye laters and quietly slipped out the door leaving history to get on with its making.”
“So, on that night in May, we were in our rehearsal room and in walked Dolores with her keyboard under her arm. We said our “hellos” and it was all very embarrassing, especially for her, because there were five or six of our friends there! Nevertheless she set up her keyboard and began to play and sing a few songs. Needless to say everyone was stunned. Then we played some of the pieces that Noel had written and Dolores seemed to like them. We gave her a tape and arranged to meet for a rehearsal the following week.” -Fergal
“The songs were not to my taste, but I saw the potential in the playing. It was easy for me because no matter what their first impressions were, the minute I opened my mouth I knew that they were going to be impressed.” -Dolores
And so it was. Borrowing some of the chords originally written by the CSU when Niall ran things, Dolores exchanged obsene lyrics with an ornate melody. The result was the worldwide hit, “Linger”, which was the first song the band wrote as a group. Within a week “Linger”, “Sunday”, and other original tunes surfaced. Meeting three times a week, the band was ready for a gig.
Supporting local act “They Do it With Mirrors” the band made their first public debut in the basement of the now demolished Ruby’s hotel/club in Limerick in June of 1990. In front of an audience of 60 people, the band’s nerves were a wreck. None of the band members looked at the audience, as if they would crumble if they made eye contact. In the midst of 6 original songs, Fergal fell off of his stool at his drum set, further intensifying the embarrassment.
“I hated people looking at my body. I never wore anything above the knee.. I’d seen myself as a lad so long I couldn’t see the point.” -Dolores
Early The Cranberry Saw Us gig ad
One of the first songs of the band has an oddball story to it. Apparently, Dolores had written a new song, but because she and Noel had written and titled all of the others, she decided to be generous and let Mike name the song. Mike, lost for words, came up with the title “Hot Dog Neddy” — and yet the song had nothing to do with hot dogs or a guy named Neddy. The band decided from that point on that the songs should be written and titled by Dolores and Noel.
With gigs came local fame, and of course, demo tapes. “Watercicle” is believed to be the first demo with Dolores, which included the tracks:
3. Chrome Paint
4. A Fast One
The demo further pushed them to local fame, as the following article in the Limerick Tribune shows.
August 4, 1990: Limerick Tribune article on “Watercircle”
Around after their demos had circulated, the band was being plagued by record companies. After reviewing them, the band decided to temporarily sign on to Xeric records, in hometown Limerick. Knowing that they couldn’t continute alone, the band needed a manager. Owner of Xeric, Pearse Gilmore, saw the opportunity and offered his services. Finding no better option, they worked Pearse into their budget. Thier first release on the Xeric label was the first “Nothing Left at All” demo.
“Nothing Left at All” demo, 1990
The band managed to distribute and sell out of 300 copies of the demo in local stores within days. The first track would later be put on another demo (“Nothing Left at All”, 1991) and on the Uncertain EP. The other two tracks would be re-recorded and re- released.
“A first glimpse of a bigger picture” store poster
The huge ripples from the demo splashed the big fish of the music industry in the face, and in the next year, the band would become the hottest unsinged band in all of the British Isles.
Key releases of 1990:
“Nothing Left at All” 3-track demo
“Anything” 4-track demo
“Watercircle” 4-track demo
(?) 5-track demo
Songs of 1990:
“A Fast One”
“Nothing Left At All”
“Hot Dog Neddy”
With a fatigue of a less and less amusing name, the band decided to shorten their name to The Cranberry’s. This later became the grammatically correct The Cranberries.
In early 1991, a new demo tape of superior quality was cut. The title of this one, too, was “Nothing Left at All”. This one, however, was more of a sampler for prying record companies than for local fans. Tapes were sent out to labels all around the word. It’s appearence was modest — with each liner note painstakingly done by hand.
The tracklist was:
1. Put Me Down
3. Nothing Left at All
“Nothing Left At All”, 1991
Melody Maker quickly praised the demo, calling it “the most exciting demo tape of 1991… No band since The Smiths have sounded so spectacularly unverable. The Cranberries are surely skybound (and) are going to be a big part of your pop life for the next eternity.”
The band continued their touring, and teamed up with Moose in June of ’91 to begin their first UK tour. Dolores would repay the favor the following year by doing back vocals on the Moose LP release “…XYZ”.
And so as the tapes arrived, more and more companies were jockeying for the band. Pearse Gilmore found himself overwhelmed with phone calls. Rough Trade requested that the band should travel to London to play a gig, but the band could not afford it. And so, in July, 1991, turning down offers from labels such as Warners, Virgin, CBS, Rough Trade, EMI, Virgin, and Imago, the band singed on to Island Records for a six-album contract. Seeing that their Xeric contract was about to expire, Gilmore hastened the band to record their first EP and LP release on Xeric records later that year…
Island Records deal
When August came, the band began their second UK tour, headlining the show at The Underworld in London, where they would appear again two years later.
The Underworld, London, 1991
The band recorded their debut video for their first EP release in August. After weeks of work under pressure, “Uncertain” was released in October of 1991. This was the band’s first commercial EP release, and was pressed on CD and vinyl. This was to be the single for their first LP release, be rush-released in early ’92 on Xeric before Island took over. However, the demeaning strain of Gilmore left their mark on the record; the release was no more than mediocre and it showed. It was this that made the reputation of The Cranberries sink. The press, expecting another miraculous release, gave scathing reviews to the recording. It received little fanfare, and was a disappointment to all.
With their first major release, a let-down, the band had a seemingly endless tour scheduled for them. They performed as the opening band for House of Love at The Royal Alert Hall in August (where they would return 4 years later to give a stunning performance). The Cranberries toured with lablemates Top for the remainder of the year. They were booked to open for Nirvana in December, but Nirvana cancelled at the last moment.
Key releases of 1991:
“Uncertain” 4-track EP
“Nothing Left At All”, 1991, 4-track demo
Songs of 1991:
“Put Me Down”
“What You Were”
“I Will Always”
“I Still Do
In January and February of 1992, the tyrannic Pearse Gilmore forced the band back to the studios, threatening them that they were breaking their contract. And so The Cranberries began work on their Xeric album under duress. With his dictorial approach, he governed the mixes with dance beats and industrial guitars. After a month of tense recordings, only three mediocre songs were produced. Finally, the tension became too much — they dumped Pearse Gilmore. The legalities of the split would last for three years. One clause of the dispute, which ended in 1995, is that neither Pearse nor the band can talk to the press about their disagreements.
With this and everything on the shoulders of the band, they were crippled — especially Dolores who became physically ill. With abject depression and induced weight loss, she was confined to her bed.
“I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t even get out of bed anymore. I discovered that life’s not a sweet trip at all. It seemed to me to be the biggest farce. All I ever wanted to do was write songs and be a singer without being hurt by the industry.” -Dolores
So after Dolores obtained her composure, the band went without a manager for a short time. However, they realized that they needed a manager, no matter what. Fortuneately, they found this help in Geoff Travis, of Rough Trade. Travis, knowing he missed them the first chance with the decined offer of a gig in London, knew he couldn’t let a heaven-sent second chance pass him by.
“People react to your songs exactly the way they did to Morrissey’s songs.” -Geoff Travis to Dolores
It was under his careful direction that the band was let to Stephen Street. Although, Noel chose Smiths’ guitarist Johnny Marr to produce the album, but received a polite “no”.
And so, for most of the year, the band spent time in the studio with Stephen Street in Windmill Lane Studios in London to record their debut. The album was originally slated for an October 1992 release, but had to be delayed until the following March to remove the claws of Gilmore.
Meanwhile, the band spent some time doing more gigs during May through June. They took up a new UK tour, which included a spot at the Fleadh Festival in London.
The first single for the album, “Dreams” was released in October of that year, and was acclaimed Melody Maker’s “Single of the Week”. The single snuck into the Top 100, spending a humble week at #74.
“Dreams”, October 1992
Shortly after it’s release, the band did more touring in November, this time starting for Niercury Rev and House Of Love. In December, to top off the year, the band performed a Christmas gig in their hometown of Limerick.
Original setlist, 1992
The Cranberries, 1992
Key releases of 1992:
Songs of 1992:
“Like You Used To”
“I Don’t Need”
“The Icicle Melts”
In Janurary of ’93, “Linger” was released in the UK. It proved to be another sleeper title. It, like its predecessor, entered the charts at #74. Come February, the band was back on the road in the UK, this time with Belly.
“Linger” UK first release
Finally, in March, the band’s first “proper” album was released. It’s title is one of frustration. Exclaimed after seeing an unpopular indie band sell out a venue, out of Dolores came, “Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?”. The album peaks on the UK charts at #78. It had only sold 12,000 copies. A flop.
So now what could they do? This band that seemed so promising had their first release tossed to the side. With months of touring booked, how could they tackle the world’s biggest music market — America?
Little did they know that thier album would be one of only five in history to enter the UK charts, leave, and then come back again to #1. To date “EEIDSWCW?” has sold over 6 million copies worldwide. It remained on the Billboard charts for over two years.
Meanwhile, the disheartened band toured with Mike Oldfield in April. In May, the band toured the European mainland, supporting Hothouse Flowers.
By June, the band came to the US to tour for the first time, supporting The The. They began in Colorado, and moved across the country. However, as they moved along, something rather odd began to happen… album sales began to climb slowly but surely. At first, they were selling 20,000 albums a week — modest. But as time progressed, the numbers began to rise to 30,000 then 50,000 a week. By the time the tour ended, there was enough interest that the band booked a few club dates of their own.
“Dreams” was re-released, and smashed into the Billboard Top 40. By this time, the band filmed the video for their upcoming second single, “Linger” in Los Angeles. They recieved some unexpected company on the set; REM’s Michael Stripe and Jean- Baptiste Mondino, director of Madonna’s “Justify My Love” showed up. The video was directed by Melodie McDaniels.
By this time, album sales had reached close to 200,000. The band returned to the US again (why stop a good thing?), this time supporting Suede. However, due to family disputes, Suede had to pull out of the first few tour dates. Without a finch, The Cranberries sold-out the 2,000-seaters, with or without Suede. However, once Suede rejoined them, it dawned on them. Once the Berries had finished up their support set, the crowds left in droves.
The ‘Berries ended up taking this tour solo
In October, an Atlanta gig had to be moved outside from a 2,500-seater to a 4,000-seater. That month, the banded finshed up the Suede tour. “Linger” was re-released for the US and quickly entered the Top 30. The album joined it in the Top 40.
“Linger” US release
For the last month of ’93 The Cranberries returned to Mother Ireland. That month, “Linger” went Platinum (1,000,000+) in the US. They returned to the studios to demo some new songs written on the US tour, including “Zombie”, “I Can’t Be With You”, and “Ode To My Family”.
Key releases of 1993:
“Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?” Album
“Dreams” UK re-release
“Linger” US and UK release
Songs of 1993:
“Ode To My Family”
“I Can’t Be With You”
“So Cold In Ireland”
“Everything I Said”
“No Need To Argue” a.k.a. “Special”
Janurary 14th 1994. Returning from America, The Cranberries enter their sold-out return at the London Astoria II, being filmed for an upcoming live video, aptly titled “The Cranberries: Live”.
Also in Janurary of ’94, “Linger” sees a re-release in the UK. Sporting a typo (“Waltzing” instead of “Waltzing Back”) the single does notably well, peaking at #14 on the charts, selling another million, boosting it to Triple-Platinum status.
“Linger” UK re-release
Shortly after, “Dreams”, originally released two years earlier, was to be re-released as a 2CD set. It also was one of the few singles to see a US release. But it wasn’t like UK critics liked it any better. “Pitifully boring,” said one. However, that didn’t stop it from reaching #27 on the UK charts and #42 in the US.
“Dreams” UK releases
“Dreams” US release
By March of 1994, the band is in for a big surprise. Due to their success, the band is prompted to re-release their debut. After being re-released, the album shot to #1, making them one of only five artists in history to have an album leave the charts, and then come back at #1.
Meanwhile, the band goes back to the studios to record their sophomore album. With their original producer, Stephen Street, the band puts on tape many songs which were recorded in the previous year, including “Ode to My Family, “I Can’t Be With You”, and, of course, “Zombie”.
It is also in March that Dolores undergoes a bit of trauma. While skiing in the Swiss Alps, she falls, rolls, and twists the ligament in her right knee. The knee plauges her for years, and became one of the deciding factors of cancelling the FTD tour of 1996. It is also in March that the band wins Music Week’s (UK) “Top International Act”.
While on tour earlier, Dolores met Don Burton, former Duran Duran tour manager. After dating only 10 days, she asks him to marry her. She finds a soulmate in him and gets married to him quickly at Holy Cross Abbey in Tipperary on July 18th. However, she becomes the paparazzi’s hot story for the day by getting married in her nickers!
Dolores recalls her father’s reaction to her attire: “That’s beautiful, but where’s the dress?”
With 200 guests at the ceremony and the news spreading fast, local radio stations recieve many complaints such as “vulgarity” and “disrespect for the Church”. Dolores, to today, sees no reason why so many were alarmed. The couple later builds a house in Kerry in a “Gaeltacht” area; one where all the residents speak Gaelic.
Those watching the BBC’s Later with Jools Holland are in for a special treat on June 11th, 1994. They were the first to see Dolores’ “not only cropped but bleached” look, which became a trademark of the NNTA era. Some tracks from the program are were later used as B-Sides for the single “I Can’t Be With You”, released the following year.
She also makes a few brief promo appearences to promote her duet with Jah Wobbles on “The Sun Does Rise”, for his album “Take Me to God”
Jah Wobble ‘s “The Sun Does Rise”
Come August, the band is invited to play at Woodstock II, and so they do. Enthralled, the band dishes out “Zombie”, “Dreams” and others to a massive crowd. The tour is concluded with a stellular gig at New York’s Central Park Open Air Theatre to an audience of 7,000.
September proves to be quite eventful. While the band simultaneously films the videos for “Zombie” and “Ode to My Family” with Samuel Bayer in Los Angeles and Belfast, “Zombie” is released as the first single for “No Need To Argue”. It rapidly becomes a hit (Hint: Understatement of the day). It hits #1 on the Billboard charts and is named by Billboard as the most played song on the radio. The single sees only a limited US release.
The album “No Need to Argue” is released in October, and is the band’s best selling album to date, no doubt do to the inclusion of “Zombie”. It has gone quadruple platinum in the US and sold 1,500,000 copies within six weeks of release, and 5,000,000 within six months. It currently stands at over 15 million and conitinues to grow.
Also in October was the release of “I Wish I Were a Carpenter”, featuring the band’s cover of “(They Long to Be) Close to You”, which no doubt helps the cover album push to #74. The song later goes on as a B-side for “I Can’t Be With You”
The end of the year sees the start of the “No Need to Argue” tour. The tour begins in 3,000-seaters in England. Many dates are cancelled due to Dolores’ catching of the flu. In November, the band begins a two-month sold-out tour of the US, including at gig in Mexico City, which sells out in days. The year also sees the release of “Ode to My Family”, which does well.
Key releases of 1994:
“No Need to Argue” Album
“Dreams” US and UK re-release
“Linger” UK re-release
“Zombie” worldwide release
“Ode To My Family” UK release
Songs of 1994:
“I Don’t Need”
“When You’re Gone”
“Close to You”
The Cranberries began 1995 with a two-month tour of Europe. Venues included the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Holland and Belgium. One of the more memorable dates was a return to the Royal Albert Hall in London for two shows. The gig started with a few acoustic songs, accompanied by a 5-piece orchestra, but slowly evolved into an electric performance. However, the orchestra returned for an encore performance of “No Need to Argue”. The concert introduced new songs such as “I Just Shot John Lennon” and “When You’re Gone”. Concertgoers also got to hear a live version of the Carpenders’ “Close to You”, a song suspiciously missing from the poorly-bootlegged show, and a live recording has yet to surface of the song.
A stellular gig in Royal Albert Hall
The performances helped push “No Need to Argue” to No. 2 on the UK charts, second to REM’s “Monster”.
February brought the recording of MTV Unplugged, perhaps the greatest live show to date. Nine songs were recorded in the Sony Studios in New York to be aired in April. It became one of the highlight shows of MTV’s series, accompanying Live, Sheryl Crow, and Hole. Introduced were three new songs: “Free To Decide”, “I’m Still Remembering”, and “Yesterday’s Gone”. The first two went on to The Cranberries’ third album, whereas “Yesterday’s Gone” was sadly never heard again; however, many question its meaning, as its lyrics describe a man who abandoned the woman who had his child.
MTV Unplugged, 1995
Shortly after, the band performed “Zombie” and “Ode to My Family” for Saturday Night Live in New York. Afterwards, the band traveled to London and Chelmsford, UK, to record the video for “I Can’t Be With You”, with Samuel Bayer. The video only saw a release in Europe.
“I Can’t Be With You” video
Through March, the band made their first visit to Australasia and Japan. The album then goes 5x platinum in Australia and 4x platinum in New Zealand. By this time, Dolores made the front cover of the US magazine Rolling Stone, as well as a fashion spread… not to mention Madonna admitted that she was an avid fan.
“Rolling Stone” cover article
Yet popularity gathers paparazzi like flies to stool. The press had a feild day with the rumor that Dolores was going solo.
“We’ve been getting them since we started, with people saying Dolores would go solo… the rumors are completely untrue, but it’s amusing for us to hear them,” notes Fergal.
“I wouldn’t like to be a soloist. It’s bad for people to be on their own because they get very selfish,” adds Dolores.
Throughout April and into May, the ‘Berries did a headline tour of major US college campuses throughout the country. On May 15th, the band goes to the Sylvan Theatre on the Mall in Washington, DC to play a free acoustic gig in front of the Washington Monument for radio station WHFS. The station expects about 3,000, but an amazing estimated 10,000-15,000 show up. The band begins the set with “Linger” and the massive audience begins a huge mosh. The crowd is pushed up against the stage, and the ambulences have to be called. Finally, halfway through the second song, “Dreaming My Dreams”, the concert has to be cancelled due to lack of security — Dolores’ red guitar is stolen in the process. Afterwards, there is a small riot on the mall, and the band’s bus is rocked, but no major damage is incurred.
In late May, the band travels to Columbus, Ohio to work with Samuel Bayer yet again for the video of Ridiculous Thoughts. However, the sessions go sour. Bayer’s concept of the band in an almost freak-show setting doesn’t lock with the band, and parts are scrapped.
“I really didn’t get it, and if you don’t understand it, what’s the point?” Dolores noted to MTV News.
The band reworked the piece with live footage, incorporated with original footage of a young man with a listening device
“Ridiculous Thoughts” video
By June, the band returns to the UK and does their first stadium tour of the area, selling out Dublin’s “The Point” weeks in advance. Tracks from this gig are later used in the “Ridiculous Thoughts” single, Loud and Clear World Tour CD, “Zombie” live radio promo, and the Australasian “Bury the Hatchet” bonus disc, just to name a few.
July brought a continuation of the UK tour to the rest of Europe. Stadium gigs were done in France, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, and Portugal. Shortly following, the band humbled themselves to play as warm-ups for a band even they felt they must pay homage to: REM, for their Open-Air festival tour. They conclude the tour with a UK date, playing to 12,000 at London’s Wembley Area. Throught the entire leg of the tour, The Cranberries play to an estimated half a million people.
Dolores’ voice is unique, there’s no questioning that. Therefore, it surprised the band and the fans a bit when UK remix band ADAM featuring Amy barged into the UK top 20 with a (rather pathetic) remix of “Zombie”. With sloppy dance beats and hip-hop renditions of the lyrics, it made for a mildly amusing mix at best. If you have a chance to buy the ADAM single, don’t.
The final leg of the NNTA tour concludes in North America in August. The band plays 10- to 20,000 seaters each night.
By August, Dolores receives a personal invitation with Luciano Pavarotti, the opera giant, to play a gig for War Child, an organization to raise funds for the war-torn juvenile victims in Bosnia. Dolores travels Modena, Italy to play a charity gig, in the presence of Princess Diana, among others. Dolores duets with Pavarotti doing the hymn “Ave Maria”. Later, the organization decides that there is still time to fill more time in the concert. Simon LeBon, lead for Duran Duran informs Dolores that he knows “Linger” well enough to duet with her, and so they do — minus “the lads”. Ironically, Dolores admits, too, to have been a Duran- Duranie as a teen. The show is filmed for broadcast in Italy, followed after by an album (“Pavarotti and Friends for the Children of Bosnia”), home video, and worldwide broadcast in 1996.
In November, the band returns to Dublin to produce the follow-up to “No Need to Argue” during a few weeks off. The band chooses Bruce Fairbairn, producer of bands as Aerosmith, for thier new found harder sound. The album is completed in an amazing five weeks, and the band actually wonders if everything is right. Nevertheless, they feel everything is there, and leave it the way it is.
“When a band gets really big, there’s only so many gigs you can do. There’s only so much that you can distribute of your voice and talent,” as noted by Mrs. O’Riordan Burton to New Musical Express in mid-1995. Little did show know how truly prophetic those words would be the following year.
The Cranberries, 1995
Key releases of 1995:
“Doors and Windows” CD-ROM
“I Can’t Be With You” world release
“Ridiculous Thoughts” world release
Songs of 1995:
“I Just Shot John Lennon”
“When You’re Gone”
“Not Hollywood” (Hollywood)
“I’m Still Remembering”
“Free to Decide”
By February, a new album is finished. Originally titled, “What You’re Looking At”, the band later choses a different title that better fits the theme: “To The Faithul Departed”. After the album is delivered to Island, work begins for the promotion of the first single, “Salvation”, as well as photo shoots.
Rehearsals for “To The Faithful Departed”
By March, “Salvation” is released throughout most of the Eastern Hemisphere. The track is quite a different spin for the band, as most expect another “Linger” or “Zombie”, but instead receive a headbanging upbeat song about drug abuse. The video is equally disturbing, directed by a newbie for the band, Olivier Dahan, which the band will work with again. The video follows a girl, her devestated parents, and “Mickey” the clown and their crack-baby misadventures. The video is one of the most noted of the band to date. While “Salvation” gets heavy airplay around the world, The Cranberries are in rehersals for the upcoming tour.
Curiously, on March 10th, 1996, the band receives the Best-Selling Album Award at the 26th Annual Juno Awards in Canada for “No Need to Argue”.
The World Tour kicks off in Manila on April 29th. On May 7th, “To the Faithful Departed” sees a simultaneous release in most of the world — something rarely seen in media, but those in the US see it on April 30th. It is both praised and schorched by the media — mostly the latter. “A frankly odious album with mind-bendingly bad lyrics,” sloshed New Musical Express. In fact, they spited the album so much, they started a “Cranberries Lyric of the Week” section, taking a line out of context to mock. Still they gave it a 3 out of 5 stars, saying it was “rocking all the way” but lacked some of their former charm. True, though, there are lackluster lyrics to easily take a stab at, such as that of “I Just Shot John Lennon” : “With a Smith and Wesson .38 / John Lennon’s life was no longer a debate”. Other tracks to be scorned were the highly pessimistic War Child and Bosnia, inspired by the death of children in eastern European countries at war.
“I’d seen some footage of what was going on. I absolutely love children and it’s so sad they have to suffer so much… I came to the conclusion that this is not a perfect world,” Dolores told Q in their May ’96 cover story.
Despite being thrown by the side by the press, the album sells a striking 4 million copies within six weeks, shoving it to #2 on the UK charts (shut out by Alanis Morissette) and to #6 on the US charts.
May brought an old problem back to haunt the band. While in Hobart, Australia, Dolores feels something in her knee after dancing around on stage. After examination, what she fears is true; the knee she injured in 1994 is injured yet again. Doctors advise Dolores to cancel the tour to allow it to heal, but the band has made too many commitments. However, the problem plagues the band for months, and is a key factor in the inevitable…
Dolores’ injured knee, 1996
Noel weds long-time girlfriend Catherine Nash in Ireland in July. Shortly after, the North American tour kicks off in Seattle, Washington with 45 gigs on the continent.
Singles of 1996:
“Free To Decide”
“When You’re Gone”
Also for 1996 comes something one doesn’t see often — that’s right, kiddies, a US single! “When You’re Gone” and “Free to Decide” is meshed into a US single in 2-track and 7-track form. Another single won’t be seen for four years and counting…
“When You’re Gone / Free To Decide”
For September, the band is invited to appear at the MTV Awards in New York. They go and perform “Salvation”, but Dolores’s knee injury is still giving the band concern. Doctors press for cancellation of any commitments. So on the eve of the first Europen tour date, the band has had enough. Exaustion, injuries, and tension causes the band to cancel everything planned until the end of the year. By this time, the members are not quite content with each other, and hardly on speaking terms, and they are quite close to breaking up. With 82 tour dates scheduled for one year, on top of promo appearences and the press everywhere, one can see why. However, the press was the first to point fingers at anorexia.
The (then very below-par) Cranberries Official Homepage didn’t help either: “She is underweight and physically drained.” The release later went on to say that the cancellation was due to her knee for the most part. “She worked hard to please the fans and everything caught up with her… until the doctors said, ‘stop’…. The band is fully supportive of Dolores getting her health back and have decided to wait until she is 100%. The will begin working when they are ready.”
If you’re a collector, one interview worthy of seeking is Modern Rock Live. Recorded immediately after the cancellation of the tour dates, the interviewer repeatedly goes over why. Dolores is in Toronto over the phone, while the guys are back in Ireland via satellite, which makes one wonder if the band couldn’t stand to be together for an interview.
So begins the band’s first major break in nearly 5 years of constant work. However, Dolores does manage to do a bit of recording before the conclusion of the year. She writes and records her own song, minus the rest of the band, titled “God Be With You”. It is used for the move “The Devil’s Own”, starring Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford, used in the introduction of the movie, and the only vocal track to the soundtrack. Two years later, it is included in the single for “Just My Imagination”.
The Cranberries, 1996
Key releases of 1996:
“To The Faithful Departed” album
“Salvation” world release
“When You’re Gone” world release
“Free To Decide” world release
“When You’re Gone/ Free To Decide” US release
Songs of 1996:
“Will You Remember?”
“The Picture I View”
God Be With You”
While the band is enjoying the their new-found life, Dolores and Noel take on a small project of their own in Janurary of 1997. They decide to do a cover of one of their old favorites, Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way”. The recording is produced by Dolores and Bruce Fairbairn. The rest of the music is done by other musicians and the track is one of the headers for the “Fleetwood Mac: A Tribute to Rumours” VA album. The album is not released until the following year.
However, those in France got the single single release of 1997 — the 4th single of “To the Faithful Departed”. The title track is “Hollywood”. The limited edition comes in 2-track and 4-track forms, and is considered one of the rarest CD’s to find — even more difficult than the elusive Uncertain. No video is recorded and the cover art is left over from a 1994 photo shoot, ironically depicting the famous “Hollywood” sign in the background.
French “Hollywood” single (still sealed!)
In April, Fergal weds long-time girlfriend, Laurie Guerin, in Limerick, Ireland.
For the remainder of the year, the male components of the band travel the world. Dolores spends her time in Toronto with husband Don in their new home.
However, the band continues create bits and pieces of music and Dolores is still concocting congs. Noel, at home in Ireland, decides to put a few chords on tape. A few FedEx deliveries later, the band is back in the studio — this time in Metalworks Studios in Toronto, as Dolores is now pregnant and unable to fly. For September on, the band writes new songs for album #4. New songs such as “Shattered”, “Desperate Andy”, and “Copycat” are born.
The Cranberries, Metalworks Studios, Late 1997
According to Fergal on the official website the following year the demos are still “quite rough” and need to be polished… Those who have been lucky enough to hear the new songs say that it reminds them of the first album.
Also during 1997, a little-known Internet scandal plauged the band, so much that they had to take legal action. Details are sparse, as none of the members wish to discuss it in depth, but we do know the major facts. Apparently, a man from Germany was sending the band (or band’s representatives) emails, threatening them and their families. The band took the threats seriously, and had the man arrested, and is now serving time in prison. Perhaps Dolores hinted at this during an Australian interview in 1999. When asked, “What is the strangest thing a fan has ever done?”, Dolores replied that there was a fan who wanted to become a part of her family and become intimately involved with them. Was this the German man of 1997?
On November 23rd, 1997, Dolores gives birth to a boy, Taylor Baxter Burton. The child is an inspiration for many songs of the fourth album.
Dolores, according to Fergal, “About ready to pop!”, Late 1997
Key releases of 1997:
“Hollywood” Limited 2-track and 4-track releases
Songs of 1997:
On January 29th, 1998, the band opens The Cranberries Official International Homepage at www.cranberries.ie. With wild rumors spreading the previous year, the band makes an effort never to leave the fans in the dark again. The new page is more informative and updated, with news straight from the band themselves. According to the page, the album is slated for a September 1998 release.
While Fergal informs the internet fanbase with the first news on the page, the band is still hard at work on their fourth offering. They decide to reconvene in Toronto to demo some new songs. But this time, they hire producer Benedict Fenner (Laurie Anderson, Brian Eno, Elvis Costello) to help with the recordings.
The following month, Dolores decides to return to her Ireland home. The band follows her, and the recording continues for the album in Dublin. Shortly thereafter, Fergal delights many-a-fan on the official page with a bit of news; the band has been invited to submit a new track for the upcoming “X Files” movie soundtrack, due in June. The band says the new song “What’s On My Mind”, written by Dolores, will appear on the CD. However, the track is later omitted from the final soundtrack, because apparently, The Cranberries weren’t one of the preferred artists for the CD.
By May, The Cranberries are ready for yet another change of scenery. They migrate to Miraval, France to record at the noted studios of Chateau Miraval. It is while they are here that they receive quite an honor — to play at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert.
But unfortunately for the Nobel Committee, this decision gets quite a bit of flack from the media. As the recipient for the illustrious Nobel Peace Prize has not been chosen, many feel that the committee has already predetermined that the leaders of conflicting Catholic and Protestant side in Northern Ireland, have been chosen. Yet they ignore that other artists such as Alanis Morissette, and many others were invited. One of the directors of the arts in Oslo, Norway (site of the concert) even publicly makes known his disgust that modern bands are being invited, ruining the tradional feel of the ceremony.
Months later, it is revealed that indeed the leaders have won the Nobel Prize for 1998. While this isn’t so good for the previous accusations, it does give rise to more rumors that Irish artist Bono will perform. He doesn’t perform, but he does give his congrats to the winners on video for broadcast.
By July, the recording is not nearly finished, and ‘Berries realize that their projected release of September is now unrealistic… they decline to set a new date just yet. Recording now moves to London.
Also in July, Mike marries nine-year girlfriend Siobhan O’Connor in Limerick, Ireland. His is the last band member to get married. A few publications show up to report on the wedding, and those lucky enough to get a magazine with an article got to see the band’s new look. Dolores attends the wedding with longer, brownish-blond hair, a far cry from the ‘do that became the trademark of the “NNTA” days. Fergal attends with bright yellow-bleached hair.
August comes, and actual recording is near complete. The band goes to a local pup to get tanked and celebrate… Fergal posts the picture a few weeks later, making it the first new pic of the band to be shown to a large audience. Reactions are varied…
Celebrating, August 1998
However mixing still must be done, and thusly begins… The Cranberries hire Mike Plotnikoff to do the mixing. September comes and the album is COMPLETE. Elapsed time in the studio is 10 months, a far cry from the five weeks of “To the Faithful Departed”. The band takes a short break and then begins rehersal’s for next year’s tour.
Dolores and Fergal travel to Milan, Italy in November 1998. The band is invited to present the award for Best Song at the MTV European Music Awards. It is their first public appearence in two years. They enter the stage with two members of Skunk Anansie, who promptly yell some Italian to the crowd as soon as they make it to the podium. The group announces the nominations and the clips roll. The envelope is delivered, and Dolores and the lead of Skunk Anansie playfully fight over it. Natalie Imbruglia wins, with her song “Torn”.
Dolores & Fergal backstage at the MTV Awards, 1998
After the show, the band (minus two) attends a brief press conference, and MTV is kind enough to post the results on their page. Dolores and Fergal leak some details to the press of the new album. The album is originally titled “Promises”, named after its first single. It’s rather bland, so they choose something different, even though not everyone agrees. Their solution is one that best represents the last three years of The Cranberries — “Bury the Hatchet”. “Promises” is announced for a release in January, 1999, with “Bury the Hatchet” coming in February.
Nobel Peace Prize concert, December 12, 1998
December 12, 1998. It’s time for the band’s biggest showing of the year — their first gig in over two years. At the show, the band performs only two songs, “Dreams” and their new single, “Promises”. Attendees of the show describe the new single as sounding like the excellent NNTA B-Side “So Cold in Ireland”. The show is broadcasted live in Norway, but the US and the rest of the world have to wait. Those in the US got to see it exclusively on the Fox Family Channel on December 20th, a highlight of the channel’s Christmas lineup. However, those who saw the taped version got a special treat: “Linger” live from the soundcheck, carefully integrated into some crowd footage to appear like it was from the concert. Some in other areas had to wait longer. Shortly after their gig, the band has a very short and rarely-seen interview about Ireland. They talk about how when they were younger, war, blood, and violence were common in the north.
Backstage, Nobel concert
Before the close of the year, the band meets again with Olivier Dahan, who, if you remember, directed “Salvation”. The band visits a studio in France to record the video for “Promises”. Although not released until February of ’99, the video is described as a satire by the band. It is rather “fruity”, but see it for yourself and make your own judgements.
By the end of 1998, avid fans could find two new compilations featuring The Cranberries. “Fleetwood Mac: A Tribute To Rumours” featuring “Go Your Own Way” is released earlier in the year, while the “You’ve Got Mail” soundtrack is released in December with “Dreams”
The Cranberries, 1998
Key releases of 1998:
Fleetwood Mac: A Tribue To Rumours” various artists album, featuring “Go Your Own Way”
“You’ve Got Mail” soundtrack
Songs of 1998:
“Go Your Own Way”
Via The Cranberries Official Homepage, Fergal promises a promotional tour beginning on January 15th, 1999, for The Cranberries’ fourth offering, “Bury the Hatchet”. Wasting no time, Dolores and Fergal show up for a rather surprise interview on Canadian channel MuchMusic. The band informs the public of the new revised release schedule: “Promises”, the new single in March, with “Bury the Hatchet” in April. The band also discusses the filming of their new video for “Promises”, giving their own impressions of it, have just seen the finished version, while the interviewer mentions that she just obtained her newly-pressed advanced copy of the album.
After making their rounds to many publictations including Britain’s Q and America’s US, the band returns to their Limerick home in February to begin rehersals for the upcoming tour.
Come March, “Promises” is released worldwide (except for the US, of course). The single sports the B-side “The Sweetest Thing” (no, not a U2 cover), and live tracks from the previous year’s Nobel Concert — with the typo of “Live from Oslo ’99”.
Singles of 1999:
It is also in March that the full plans for the Loud and Clear World Tour 1999 are revealed — with a rather startling point. The Cranberries become the first band to sell tour tickets entirely through the internet through the band’s website. Untraditional as it seems, the band is asked many times why. They explain that this is to eliminate scalpers, as well as to make getting tickets convenient for fans. But this isn’t always the case; I myself was startled and rather PO’ed that tickets for the Washington, DC show had sold out in a blistering 45 minutes — right over the ‘net.
With “Bury the Hatchet”‘s release the following month, the band once again makes internet history. CDNOW, among other internet retailers report skyrocket sales, making the album the best-selling album over the internet. It does so well that it prompts music- tracking giant Billboard to create a new chart: Internet Sales. Needless to say, the new album places #1 immediately on the charts.
However, the album does surprisingly well worldwide, despite more scathing reviews. It hits to #1 on the charts in Canada, France, Spain, and many other areas. Sadly, it is almost ignored in America, where it peaks at #13 on its first week.
Dolores remarks about her disgust in an interview, with an undertone of hate towards the record company’s poor US promotional work:
“Oh Dolores, I just love your music, but when are you coming out with a new album?” “We have a new album… it’s out now.”
Throughout April and May, the band continues its club tour of the US and Europe with gigs in London, Paris, Madrid, Montreal, and San Francisco, just to name a few. However, without a doubt, the most memorable gig is done in Hamburg, Germany, where the band has a recording crew to document the entire concert in audio and video formats. Once copies leak out, the recording becomes one of the only commercial bootlegs of the BTH-era, the most common version titled, “One’s Better Self”.
Live, Hamburg, Germany, April ’99
But the band isn’t about to make the same mistakes that brought them havoc nearly three year prior. Their scheduling is realistic – – a day on, a day off. They take a break for two months between the club tour and the stadium tour to rest again.
Come August, the band starts back up the tour, with an astounding performance at West Palm Beach, FL. Much to the fans’ surprise, the band touches some songs that perhaps were shrouded by their time away from the public: “God Be With You”, Dolores’ song, recorded in late ’96 and “Go Your Own Way”, their cover for the “…Rumours” CD, done in 1997.
In September, the band stopped into the “Sessions at West 54th” for a gig for that show, which airs on PBS across the US. The show is aired the following year, in May and is a highlight of the programming. Touring continues until the end of the year, but not without one more unforgettable gig: Paris, France, December 9th, 1999. Again, the show is professionally taped, this time for a confirmed upcoming VHS and DVD (later titled, “Beneath the Skin”). Live footage is also used for 2000’s Euro-only “You and Me” video, and tracks are also used for the “You and Me” single.
Live, Paris, France, December ’99
The Cranberries, 1999
Key releases of 1999:
“Animal Instinct” single
“Just My Imagination” single
“Loud And Clear World Tour ’99” Tour CD
Songs of 1999:
“Loud And Clear”
“You And Me”
“What’s On My Mind”
“Fe Fi Fo”
“Dying In The Sun”
“The Sweetest Thing”
“Paparazzi On Mopeds”
“Such A Shame”
“In The Ghetto” (live)
A year for new junior Cranberries. Fergal’s wife Laurie was also expecting their first child. In March she gave birth to a baby boy – Jacob.
Back to rehearsals, and then back on the road in April, with dates in Puerto Rico, Mexico and Europe. Just a few hours before playing in Cadiz, in Spain a massive storm hit the venue, turning the outdoor stadium into mush and making it unsafe to play. The show had to be pulled. It was one of just a handful of gigs that were cancelled on the whole tour.
As the tour rolled on, the band released “Bury The Hatchet – The Complete Sessions”, a double CD featuring – B-sides as well as Live tracks taken from a live show in Paris. For Cranberries fans, it was a must.
Plans were also put in the place for a new album – their fifth – to be recorded at Windmill Lane studios in Dublin – ironically, the location for their third album, “Faithful Departed,” which caught them at their lowest ebb five years before. But they weren’t afraid to go back to the scene of the crime.
Just as in the old days, the band was starting to stockpile new songs. They had time to develop these off the road as the tour brought them plenty of free time in between the shows.
Then, during the last leg of their world tour, as they were playing a show in Belfort, France, Dolores announced from the stage that she was expecting a second child. The baby is due in February 2001.
The last four dates of the tour were cancelled on the advise of the doctor, as Dolores didn’t want to take any chances during her pregnancy. The band returned to Limerick before coming to Dublin for album Number 5 in August.
“We want to finish this record before we think about doing another tour. We should know all that sometime early in 2001,” says Noel. “Sales don’t reflect how good a record is really. When we finish an album we know ourselves whether it’s good or not. Apart from that, what sells an album could be about what people are listening to, fashions, trends, and what kind of people are working in your record company at the time. It all plays a big role.”
The first half of the new album is in the can. The second half comes in April 2001. But before the new album, the band will release “Beneath The Skin – Live in Paris” – a DVD & VHS package featuring a spectacular show they did in Paris in December 1999. It catches the band at their very best.
Ten years down the road for The Cranberries, and by the sounds of things there are plans being put in place for years to come. “As long as we’re happy doing it, that’s the best way to go,” says Fergal.
“People used to ask us how long we were going to stick together,” says Noel. “And that was when we had just started out!
“How long? Who knows? Ten years. Ten weeks. Who knows.” ” I think we enjoy it a lot more now,” says Dolores. “There’s a balance to it now. I put my whole life into The Cranberries. Now it is important to build in breaks that remind us how much we love performing together”.
January saw a winding down of any Cranberries activities as Dolores approached her due date. And on Saturday afternoon, January 27th, Dolores gave birth to her second child – a healthy baby girl called Molly. A double celebration as Molly’s birth date falls on the same date as Dolores’s husband, Don.
Remarkably Dolores was on her feet within a matter of days. And so plans for recording Part 2 of the band’s new album look set to stay on schedule.
Just over a month after the birth, The Cranberries brought their own new “baby” into the world with the launch of a new web service. This is the third version of the Official Cranberries Web Service.
October 2001 saw the release of The Cranberries 5th studio album, entitled “Wake Up And Smell The Coffee”. Below is the official MCA Records biography being used to promote “Wake Up And Smell The Coffee” worldwide.
Have you got a moment? That simple query lies at the heart of The Cranberries’ WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE, the Irish band’s sublime MCA Records debut and first new album in two years. Over the past decade, The Cranberries have sold millions of records and won fans around the world thanks to their tight arrangements, inerrant melodic instincts, probing songs and, especially, the crystalline vocals of Dolores O’Riordan. Now celebrating their 10th anniversary, The Cranberries have got it down, and with their new album they make an earnest, tuneful plea to seize the day while cherishing every moment of life.
In some ways, WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE is a homecoming. The album was produced in Dublin by Stephen Street (The Smiths, Morrissey, Blur), producer of the band’s first two albums. Says Dolores, “There’s a sense of stability Stephen brings to this band. He used to be so paternal when he first worked with us, and he’d talk to me like I was one of his kids. This time, our relationship is more mutual.” Adds drummer Fergal Lawler, “It was great to be with him again. Stephen really understands us and gets the best from every one of us.” Indeed, the new album radiates a deep contentment the band members feel in their lives today, both personally and professionally. “This is the calmest we’ve ever been,” says Dolores. “We’ve proven ourselves by now, so we’re really relaxed and really enjoyed ourselves in the studio, totally going with the flow.”
Songs like the muted “Never Grow Old” and the premiere single “Analyse” capture the struggle between head and heart, while appreciating life’s simpler joys. “There was a point in the last year or so when I finally
saw the beauty I had been blind to for so long,” notes Dolores. “These songs say ‘don’t stress worrying about tomorrow, next week, next year, when there’s so much beauty around.'” The haiku-like “Pretty Eyes” has a winsome 60’s feel, while “Time is Ticking Out” shows that The Cranberries still retain all the turbulent political fury of albums past. The languid “Dying Inside,” which describes the steady corruption of a soul, contrasts sharply with unabashed love songs like “The Concept” and “I Really Hope.” The slow waltz “Carry On” and “Do You Know” both celebrate the life-force, while the harder-rocking title track throws new light on an old saying. The album closes with the hauntingly personal “Chocolate Brown,” cut live with one microphone. “A few songs on the album have different vibes from anything we’ve done before,” notes Mike. “It’s nice to do different things, though it’s not something we plan. It just happens naturally.”
Taking that organic approach has been a hallmark of The Cranberries since first forming in their hometown of Limerick, Ireland. The 80’s had produced a bumper crop of Irish stars, including U2, Clannad, Enya, Hot House Flowers, and Sinead O’Connor. In 1989, the Hogan brothers, along with friends Fergal Lawler and singer Niall Quinn, sought to emulate their countrymen/heroes. Initially calling themselves The Cranberry Saw Us, the rowdy band ultimately coalesced when Dolores replaced Quinn sometime after the band had played a few gigs. Early demos drew the attention of Island Records’ Chris Blackwell and top producer Denny Cordell (Leon Russell, Tom Petty), which led to their first major record deal.
In 1992, The Cranberries released their multi-platinum debut Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? The 1993 single “Linger” reached the American Top 10, with the album selling over a million copies in North America and, following a re-release, debuting at #1 on the U.K. charts (after failing to climb above #75 initially). Their second album No Need To Argue (1994) sold 12 million copies in its first year of release, propelled by the hit single “Zombie,” while their 1996 third album To The Faithful Departed, produced by Bruce Fairbairn (Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, AC/DC) reaped additional gold and platinum for the band. More than anything, fans and critics were charmed by The Cranberries’ no-frills style. “We learned early on that less is more,” says Noel. “If you fill up all the empty space, then there’s no room for the music to breathe, especially given the kind of singer Dolores is.”
The Cranberries’ self-produced 1999 fourth album Bury The Hatchet topped the charts in 17 countries and set the stage for their biggest tour ever (6 continents, 110 concerts, over a million fans). After that, they took a well-deserved break, reconvening to write and record the new album. The first sessions for WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE took place in summer 2000 at Dublin’s Windmill Lane Studios, prior to the birth of Dolores’ second child. Dolores and Noel each became parents for the second time with the birth of Molly and Sophie, respectively, in January and March 2001. “Having children helps you stop worrying about stupid things,” Fergal notes. “And they brought us closer as a band too. We’re always asking things like, ‘How’s the teething coming along?'”
Soon, they’ll be packing up the teething rings for an extensive world tour. The Cranberries have always been one of the hardest working, hardest touring bands, and family obligations notwithstanding, they’re anxious to get back on the road. “We really enjoyed the last tour,” says Mike. “To go out and enjoy each night the way we’d always dreamed about was fantastic. Fans anywhere can feel our vibe even if they don’t understand the lyrics.”
Globetrotters they may be, but for all four, there’s still no place like home. Says Fergal, “A lot of people told us we should move to Dublin or London. But we never saw the point. Limerick is where we live, where our families and friends are. Besides, if you’re away from Ireland too long, your heart grows heavy. You’ve gotta get back and get your fix, even if it’s just for a week or two. It’s a magical place.”
There are those that might say The Cranberries themselves have been
responsible for some of that magic. Today, after ten years and 33 million albums sold, the band is in their best condition ever, both musically and personally. “We’re really happy as a band and as individuals,” notes Fergal, “and we think this album captured that.” With WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE, The Cranberries have attained a new artistic benchmark. Drink up.