TO THE FAITH­FUL DE­PARTED

On the eve of their de­but LP’s reis­sue, the re­main­ing mem­bers of The Cran­ber­ries re­mem­ber their singer Dolores O’Riordan.

Q (UK) - - Incoming - NIALL DO­HERTY

The Cran­ber­ries were al­ready deep into the process of pulling to­gether out-takes from the mak­ing of their de­but al­bum Ev­ery­body Else Is Do­ing It, So Why Can’t We? for its 25th an­niver­sary when front­woman Dolores O’Riordan trag­i­cally died ear­lier this year. There were still me­men­tos from their early days to pore over be­fore it was ready for re­lease, though. It added a heavy poignancy to the project for gui­tarist Noel Ho­gan, his bassist brother Mike and drum­mer Fer­gal Lawler, griev­ing the death of their friend and band­mate of al­most three decades at the same time as dig­ging through a trea­sure trove of arte­facts that cap­tured the singer in her prime. For Noel, that meant head­ing to Abbey Road Stu­dios and sit­ting through reel upon reel of un­re­leased record­ing ses­sions, unedited so that they were book­ended by his younger self and O’Riordan chat­ting away. “It was re­ally dif­fi­cult,” he says. “It gets bet­ter ev­ery month or two, you come to terms with it a bit more, but you just re­mem­ber what she was like then, what we were like, and that some­times is more dif­fi­cult than re­mem­ber­ing her later on in life.” It has been the same for all of the band, their minds cast back to those early days, to a time when the idea that an indie-rock quar­tet from Lim­er­ick would be­come one of the big­gest groups in the world was as un­likely as it was im­prob­a­ble. “It was nearly 30 years of know­ing each other,” says Lawler, “all those mem­o­ries, first al­bum, first tours, they were the mem­o­ries that came back. We were so young. I see my­self look­ing at the pho­tos and go­ing, ‘Je­sus, I look like my sons.’” Re­vis­it­ing the band’s early demos took Noel back to the Satur­days when he would head into the shop where O’Riordan worked, covertly hand­ing her a cas­sette of new ideas with­out her boss notic­ing. Linger has be­come one of those uni­ver­sal an­thems that al­ways seems to be hang­ing in the air, out of a car ra­dio here, or as the back­ing mu­sic on a sports mon­tage there. It was the first track O’Riordan and Noel wrote to­gether. He had lit­tle idea of what a huge hit it would be­come, mainly be­cause when they used to re­hearse, he couldn’t hear it prop­erly. “We didn’t have much gear, so Dolores would plug her mi­cro­phone into the gui­tar amp. The sound was dread­ful so I ac­tu­ally never got to hear the lyrics un­til we de­moed it. I could hear the melody and the odd word here and there, and we got that ‘linger’ was in there some­where.” When they scraped the money to­gether to record it and he got to hear O’Riordan’s vo­cals prop­erly, the hairs on the back of his neck stood up. “She sang that and it was like, ‘Oh my God… this is ac­tu­ally good!’” They recorded Ev­ery­body Else Is Do­ing It… with Blur and Smiths pro­ducer Stephen Street but af­ter an ini­tial buzz around their demos, no one was in­ter­ested when it was re­leased in March 1993. “We had the curse of, ‘Here’s the next big thing.’ It just died and we were back play­ing tiny clubs with no­body in them,” says Noel. It was dur­ing a small tour across Europe with Hot­house Flow­ers, which The Cran­ber­ries were treat­ing like a hol­i­day in the be­lief the band had run its course, that they were in­formed Linger had been picked up by col­lege ra­dio in the States and that they should get over there and pro­mote it. “We were re­ally sur­prised. We didn’t know what col­lege ra­dio was. But it sounded im­pres­sive, so off we went.” On the first night in Den­ver sup­port­ing The The, they en­coun­tered a crowd who not only knew Linger, they knew the words to ev­ery song. From there, it snow­balled. “We were get­ting played once or twice ev­ery hour on MTV and MTV was God in the States at that time,” says Noel. “It was like, ‘Je­sus Christ! Mad, like. Je­sus,’” adds Lawler. Given a re­newed push by their la­bel, the al­bum went to Num­ber 1 in the UK and sold more than six mil­lion copies world­wide. The band had al­ready writ­ten most of their sec­ond al­bum by the time Ev­ery­body Else Is Do­ing It… took off. No Need To Ar­gue was re­leased in 1994 and sold around 17 mil­lion copies, seal­ing The Cran­ber­ries’ sta­tus as one of the big­gest bands of the ’ 90s. O’Riordan’s death, ruled by an in­quest last month to be from drown­ing due to al­co­hol in­tox­i­ca­tion, came as the band were work­ing on their sev­enth stu­dio al­bum. The re­main­ing three mem­bers com­pleted work on it in May. “That re­ally brought it to a con­clu­sion, that last day in the stu­dio. Funny that none of us said a word about it, but we all knew this would be the last time the three of us were go­ing to be in a stu­dio to­gether work­ing on Cran­ber­ries ma­te­rial. It was sad,” says Noel. It was when he got home from the stu­dio, sit­ting on his own, run­ning through the day, that he re­ally missed O’Riordan, imag­in­ing her com­ing into the stu­dio and giv­ing her in­put on things. He thinks of those songs she wrote as a teenager that be­came world­wide hits. So many bands come and go, but he thought of the amaz­ing legacy Dolores O’Riordan left be­hind. Her band­mates set out to re­spect her me­mory. They’ve fin­ished what she started.

Pro­ducer Stephen Street (left) and Noel Ho­gan at VINYL fes­ti­val in Dublin, May 2018.

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