“I realised that that day that this was it, this was the last time we’d do this and it has been our entire lives really, it’s defined our lives in many ways, it’s been amazing but it’s kind of sad to let it go as well but I think it’s the best thing to do for now.”
From Release: The Cranberries – Dolores O’Riordan, Noel Hogan, Mike Hogan and Fergal Lawler – emerged from the pre-Brit-pop scene of the early ’90s, with their trademark indie guitar sound and Dolores’ distinctive Celtic-tinged lilting vocal style – described by Melody Maker as “the voice of a saint trapped in a glass harp”. Their rise to global fame was nothing short of meteoric; best known for their now classic songs ‘Linger’, ‘Zombie’ and ‘Dreams’, the band have sold more than 40 million albums worldwide. While it is tinged with sadness following Dolores’ unexpected death on January 15th 2018, ‘In The End’ is not a valediction, it is a celebration, one that stands as a powerful testimony to the life and creative work of Dolores and her brothers in music Noel, Mike and Fergal.
At home in Ireland Noel gave us a call to talk about ‘In The End’ The Cranberries final album, the band’s legacy, and more…
Thank you so much for your time and talking to us, and firstly I wanted to say that I’m truly sorry for your loss.
Let’s talk about ‘In The End’ as it really is a fitting tribute and celebration of the band. Can you talk us through the way it all came about and in particular the last year putting it together?
The kind of short version really, it came about the original kind of conversation about this album became when we were on tour for an album we had out called ‘Something Else’ which was I think 2017 early that year and we got talking Dolores and I about writing new material because that album was a kind of reworking of older songs of ours that we would tear down, we did them acoustically, added strings sections and it was all that kind of thing. So we were quite keen to write a new album of new material and that’s kind of what started it. That conversation was during that tour and then the tour finished and we the summer of 2017 I was in France and Dolores was in New York and we were both kind of at a loose end and we had no plans to do anything until early 2018, so we decided we would use the time productively and start writing and album and that’s what we did. We’d been doing it this way for a long time where I’d write bits at home, like music and send it to Dolores she’d put down ideas and send them back to me and we’d go over and back, and Dolores would have songs of her own that she’d been working on as well. So that all was between June and December we’d been writing away between us, and then obviously 2018 came around and in January Dolores passed away and then it was the last thing on my mind but when the dust had kind of settled and everything I decided I’d have a listen to what we’d done up to that point knowing there was a lot of stuff there but I didn’t know in what condition because we were kind of coming and going from songs and chopping and changing but as I kind of got further into it I started to realise how good these songs were and how much we’d actually done in those six months.
So when I’d gone and got everything together and realised I had these eleven tracks I approached the two boys and they loved what they heard and once we spoke about it we decided that we’d go back and talk to Stephen Street, Stephen would’ve been our producer for most of our albums except for two or three he didn’t do in our whole career, and Stephen loved the idea and straight away we basically booked the studio for four weeks later and then April and May of last year we went in and so I had all the vocals that Dolores had sent me, I had the demos that I’d done and we kind of paired back to demos and started to make it more Cranberries sounding when the three of us play together. That’s how it came about and it was a very, very quick recording process really when we got in and it flowed and we were delighted with the results because we’d said look, we’ll do this and if we sit there and said ok well this doesn’t sound great or we were worried we didn’t want it to sound like something we just patched together from old things and bits and pieces, it had to sound like a fresh album again and I think that’s what we’ve accomplished.
In listening to the album some of the songs and song titles lean so much towards the events and what happened and it’s so honest and open…
Yeah I know, like it’s funny, like when we wrote this album it’s just written like another album and obviously I had no idea and Dolores had no idea what was going to happen six months later and all this now when you listen to the songs now and the lyrics and the titles you can see a lot of things falling into place there, but genuinely it was just kind of another album we were writing. We were definitely trying to capture something more closer to the first two albums we did and it was only really for me the last day of recording when we sat back and listened to everything from start to finish that you realise how kind of eerie in some ways that can be with what has gone on here. I guess the thing I’ve been trying to tell people for the last year because we’ve had it for so long now we’ve lived with it that it isn’t really a depressing sounding album but it’s more of a celebration, it’s not that the songs are all doom and gloom, obviously not knowing that this would be the final album that Dolores would ever write, it was just a case of this is how I feel at this moment, these are the songs I’m writing,
You mentioned listening back to it, but what was it like when you listened back to it for the first time?
Very emotional. The whole thing was but a lot of things go through your head, you remember like earlier times like when you began and I still do even now a year later I kind of remember the earlier days of the four of us in a van driving around The UK playing really bad clubs and this kind of thing. You remember all that and I guess it does make you sad and happy at the same time because of these great memories but you know that this is it; this is the end of it you know? The last time I actually physically recorded with the boys I found very emotional because Mike, Ferg and I have been playing together since we left school before we ever knew Dolores which was like two years later, so this was the last time we were ever going to be together in a room recording as The Cranberries and probably ever because none of us have a desire to go on and do this anymore now as a group, we all go our separate ways. I realised that that day that this was it, this was the last time we’d do this and it has been our entire lives really, it’s defined our lives in many ways, it’s been amazing but it’s kind of sad to let it go as well but I think it’s the best thing to do for now.
Was there a moment where you thought maybe you shouldn’t finish the record?
No, and that was the thing we said going in, that if we felt at all that there we doubts coming in even a week into it like no this isn’t going to work that we would just pull the plug, but we were actually kind of shocked how you know you kind of listen and you take stuff home at night and you go through what you did in the day and here we are amazed at how well it was coming together and how it sounded. I remember the first day I brought it over to the record company to play it for them, these really rough mixes it was about a week or two into it, they were shocked because they had not heard anything at all and they said it sounded like the four of us were in one room together just belting it out and that’s what you want it to sound like, not a kind of a miss-match of bits and bobs that were glued together because the songs were never written like that, they were written as whole songs for an album.
I was really intrigued by the album cover and the children on the cover, can you talk me through the album cover…
It was the guy who came up the first two album concepts you know with us on the couches and things like that, he got in touch and we got back involved with him and our first and only thing was we don’t want to be on the cover there’s not going to be a picture of us or just a picture of Dolores and all these things that people might expect. It was just a case of come up with an idea and this what he came back with and his kind of thinking was this is the end for us but you’re basically passing on the mantle to the next generation in a way. There’s that side of it and you can also look at it as well people do think of it as it’s meant to be us as kids, whatever, thirty years ago or something like that. Each person on that album cover has some relationship with one of us in the band as well.
This is a farewell album, so in terms of a legacy, how do you want the band to be remembered?
Honestly just the songs is the thing, I think we’ve had such an amazing run that it’s only since Dolores has passed away that I’ve realised all that we’ve done, you take it for granted because you’re doing it all the time and it’s like anybody going to work every day, you do that and you move onto the next thing and it’s only now in the final kind of chapter of the thing that you realise what you’ve done and the songs that we’ve written especially like the ones most people would know I think it’s a great legacy, if you can manage to do that with one song in your lifetime you’ve done well and thankfully we have a lot left behind us there and I just hope that people remember that. I think already songs like ‘Linger’ and ‘Dreams’ they’re whatever, they’re thirty years old now I guess and they still get played and people know them straight away and to me that’s amazing that something we did as kids in our bedrooms has had that legacy and has lived that long and if that continues I’d be more than happy with that.
Do you have a message for all your fans out there?
We really, really and I can’t say it enough how thankful we are that people has stood by us for the last thirty years, without fans really none of this, it’s not possible because you’re just a band of kids in a room and it’s just to thank fans for sticking by us as well, I guess in the last year the kind of outpouring since Dolores passed away has been amazing and I think the three of us left in the band we really appreciate that as well.
Have you put any thought into what’s next for you, Mike and Fergal?
I’m not sure, like we haven’t spoken to each other about it. Me personally I’ve started to look at writing for other people, it’s something I kind of dabbled in before, I have no kind of aspirations to be in a band or play like that again but the writing side of things is something I’ve done for so long now that I’d like to explore that more with different people, I think that’s kind of what I’m thinking for the next six or seven months once this album is done and out and kind of where to go next really.
The one thing I always do is get people to look ahead, now if you can, finish this sentence for me. In 2019 The Cranberries will…
Come to an end.
I knew you’d say something like that, that’s heartbreaking!
*laughs* Sorry… in 2019… The Cranberries will celebrate thirty years together.
And what a great thirty years, thank you so much for your time and doing this I know it must be tough.
No, thank you, thank you for taking the time I really appreciate it.
From: Limerick, Ireland
Band members: Dolores O’Riordan, Noel Hogan, Mike Hogan and Fergal Lawler
Latest Release: ‘In The End’ (Out Now – BMG)