THE 2003 RECORDING SESSIONS
From February to May 2003, Irish band The Cranberries recorded material intended for a 2004 follow-up to the band’s fifth album, Wake Up and Smell the Coffee (2001). This material remains unreleased as the band decided to pursue personal projects and go into hiatus in September 2003. In 2011, The Cranberries entered back into studio to record a new album, putting aside the 2003 recordings.
The Creative Process
In mid-2002, The Cranberries expressed their intention to record a new album after the “Best of” Tour, in a different manner. The wish to “create a new sound” and “be more experimental” was expressed in numerous interviews and band’s messages on their former cranberries.ie website. “We also have been discussing our next record a lot lately and everyone is of the opinion that if we record in the normal way then it’s going to be very un-exciting and stale so we have decided that Dolores and Noel will go into the studio […] and play around with some ideas […]. We want to do something that really challenges us and push ourselves into unchartered territory,” told drummer Fergal Lawler in October 2002. For the previous albums’ recording sessions, the band normally went into studio with the finished songs.
The Cranberries opted for a more experimental sound with electronic elements. “I had an idea to take the songs in a different direction. […] For a long while I’d been listening to people like Beck and Moby and wondering how to incorporate the electronic side of things into my own writing. We’d done the guitar-drums line-up on five albums and it was time to introduce something else,” recalled guitarist Noel Hogan, talking about the 2003 Cranberries recording session and his work for the ”Mono Band” album.
In a December 2002 statement by the band’s spokeperson, The Cranberries also expressed “their desire to change their approach to songwriting, and this could see them writing separately, initially”. This statement was released after a misinterpretation of lead vocalist Dolores O’Riordan intentions to pursue a solo career, during an interview with HotPress magazine.
The Recording Sessions
At the end of February 2003, The Cranberries joined with producer Stephen Street for a 10-day recording session in now-closed Olympic Studios (London), after two months of songwriting as confirmed by Dolores in her letters. The band went back into studio in mid-March 2003 to pursue their recording work, which was describe by Fergal as “quite different from anything we have done before but still recognisable as The Cranberries”. The diary entries were first posted on the cranberries.ie, which was closed after the band went into hiatus. They continued working on their new material in April and May 2003.
During their 2003 recording sessions, The Cranberries hired the services of programmer Matt Vaughan, a first experience for the band. Talking about two tracks he worked on with Vaughan, Noel Hogan said: “They sounded very different from anything The Cranberries had done before and I was really excited about the potential direction in which the band could go”. O’Riordan and Hogan subsequently worked with Vaughan again on their respective solo projects.
Two songs created during these sessions were played by the band for the first time in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on May 29th 2003. While “Astral Projection” was describe as “a dreamy rock song”, “In it Together” – which had just been finished that day – was more “the same type of atmosphere as Stars”. These two songs were played again during the band’s mini tour that summer.
O’Riordan explained in an interview at Italian TV station La7 that the band was very selective about the songs they would retain for the 2004 album. “Even if we write 4 songs, we’ll throw 3 of them away and we’ll choose 1. We’ve got to be very selective to be sure that the next album is really good”.
In July 2003, the cranberries.ie website indicated that the band was offered several songs by electronic music songwriter Moby. They decided not to retain Moby’s material because it was not “right for the band”.
It is unclear how many songs were actually recorded during the 2003 sessions. However, 7 songs were already recorded in March. Amongst the titles the band worked on from February to May, “Astral Projection”, “Raining in My Heart”, “In It Together”, “Someday” and “The Fall”. While first four were subsequently re-recorded in 2011 for ”Roses”, only “Raining in My Heart” and “Astral Projection” made the final cut of the 2012-scheduled comeback album.
It also unclear if some of the 2003 material that Dolores and Noel worked on separately and which was intended for the next Cranberries record ended up on their subsequent solo projects.
HIATUS & “ROSES” RECORDING SESSIONS
On September 17, 2003, The Cranberries announced their intention to take a two-year break – which was later extended indefinitely – to take some time off and pursue solo projects.
During that time period, O’Riordan released two solo albums ”Are You Listening?” in 2007 and ”No Baggage” in 2009. She also collaborated on different music project with several artists, amongst them Zucchero Fornaciari, Jam & Spoon and Angelo Badalamenti.
As for Hogan, he released a collaboration album with several vocalists under the name Mono Band in 2005. With this album, he pursued his experimental work he had started with the Cranberries 2003 recordings. Two year later, Hogan formed a new group, Arkitekt, with one of Mono Band’s vocalist Richard Walters and released two EPs.
In 2008, a rumor indicated that The Cranberries intended to release the material they recorded in 2003. The project never materialized.
In late 2009 the band reunited after a six-year hiatus. They worked on 19 tracks for a new album entitled ”Roses”, with producer Stephen Street between April and June 2011. Some of the 2003 tracks were then re-recorded.
1. Zombieguide news, “BREAKING: CRANBERRIES TO TAKE 2 YEAR BREAK”, September 17th 2003
2. The Cranberries Website, Cranberries headed to Recording Studio!
3. Fergal’s diary, October 21st 2002
4. Gohan Records, About Mono Band
5. HotPress. Collector’s Series, volume 1: The Cranberries. “From Limerick to the World”, p. 10.
6. Zombieguide News, “Cranberries Recording at Olympic Studios in London”, April 7th 2003
7. Dolores’ Letters, March 11th 2003
8. Fergal’s diary, March 18th 2003
9. Fergal’s diary, April 09th and May 15th 2003
10. Zombieguide News, Two New Songs at Belfast: “Astral Projection” and “In It Together”!
11. Zombieguide News, LA7 Interview: Cranberries “Very Selective” about Album 6 Tracklist, July 12th 2003
12. Zombieguide News, “Cranberries Clarify Works-in-Progress”, July 26th 2003
13. Cranberries Mexico, 24/11: New Cranberries material for 2008!!!
14. Billboard.com, Exclusive: The Cranberries Giving You ‘Roses’ on Valentine’s Day, October 5th 2011
15. Zombieguide News, Dolores Confirms Cranberries Break Up, March 5th 2004
NOEL HOGAN’s SOLO PROJECTS
After The Cranberries decided to go on hiatus in 2003, Noel Hogan wanted to continue experimenting with music. “The first two tracks I’d worked on with a programmer [Matt Vaughan] and were planned for the next Cranberries album really, to see what direction we could go with it. I really liked the sound that I’d got and decided to take that further. We had got to the point where we thought we’d done the same style of music for four or five albums and it was time to move on. I personally had got more interested in stuff like Beck and the way he mixes traditional instruments with electronic sounds. I had other tracks that I’d been working on so I bought a laptop and some software and taught myself how to use it. I built a studio in a room above my garage at home and spent the better part of the next two years in there, learning as I was going along.”
Noel wanted his new project to sound different from his work with the Cranberries. “I definitely didn’t want it to sound like the Cranberries. It’s not that I dislike that, I just didn’t want it to come out and have people go, ‘Oh it’s just like the Cranberries’. I went to great lengths to make it different. If I hadn’t taken the plunge of going into the electronic stuff I wouldn’t have made this kind of album. I’m sure I would have fallen back into the traditional way of things. This has opened up a completely different world that I’d never known anything about. I’d always thought computers had no place in music, that it was something to be frowned upon.”
When Noel decided to release an album with his solo work, he started looking for vocalists as collaborators. “It wasn’t so much a recruitment process as me randomly coming across singers I liked and asking them to come on board. They’re more collaborators than featured vocalists because although I did all the music, the rest was down to them. It was really interesting to see what people would come up with.” Noel also asked producers Stephen Street and Marius DeVries to join the project, along with Cranberries band-mates Mike Hogan and Fergal Lawler.
After the release of the Mono Band album in 2005, Noel continued to record songs with vocalist Richard Walters. The duo released several tracks online as Mono Band before going under the new band name Arkitekt, which released The Black Hair EP in 2007 and the 14 Days single in 2009. An album was supposed to be released on the same year, but the project was put indefinitely on hold as Noel joined back the newly-reunited Cranberries. All songs from The Black Hair EP and the 14 Days single were re-recorded and released on Richard Walters’ album Pacing in 2011.
Mono Band relives
Later in 2011, Noel brought Mono Band back to life by working on 5 new songs, three of them (“Waking Up all Over”, “Won’t Leave No More”, “Your Broken State”) confirmed to have been recorded with vocalist Fin Chambers. “Won’t Leave No More” was released on a charity compilation entitled Life Support in April 2012. Noel continues to work on some new material for Mono Band.
Mono Band and Arkitekt collaborators
- Fin Chambers (Release, She’s So Blue, Waking Up all Over, Won’t Leave No More, Your Broken State)
- Eagle-Eye Cherry (title unknown)
- Alexandra Hamnede (Invitiation, Miss P, Run Wild, Why?)
- Angie Hart (Coyotes & Helicopters, Sometimes)
- Kate Havnevik (Angels, Crazy, Flame)
- Nicolas Leroux (Hollow Man, unknown title[second track])
- Jenny McMahon (vocalist on some autumn 2005 gigs – no studio work)
- Evi Vine (Harder Than You Think)
- Richard Walters (14 Days, Armies of Mice, Black Hair, Breathe, Home, Indecisive, Night’s End, Pacing, Shakes, Sleep Song, Track 26, Track 32, Track 36, Track 49, Track 51, Track 58, Traveling Lines, Waves)
- Soname Yangchen (Brighter Sky)
1. Hot Press magazine, “OK Computer”, June 15th 2005
2. Hot Press magazine, “OK Computer”, June 15th 2005
3. Gohan Records, “The Mono Band Story”
4. Hot Press magazine, “Mono Band Change Name”, July 12th 2007
5. Noel Hogan Twitter account. No longer available