The release of the new album by The Cranberries, Something Else, is getting closer, but the road has been long, and not always easy. Their own inner strength and their fans’ support have been two essential elements for The Cranberries in the creation process. This is what Dolores O’Riordan shared in one of her most personal interviews, for Soul Sisters Billboard.
In a calm and natural tone, Dolores opens the interview talking about Limerick, her hometown, and her performance on New Year’s Eve 2013 for Limerick City of Culture, and she sings their county song, “Limerick You’re My Lady”, which she learned at school. As she is the youngest of seven siblings, five of them boys, she feels that she has been “the girl of the group” since her childhood and that her life has been very connected to music: she learned to play tin whistle at the age of 5 and to dance Irish dance, a hobby that two of her siblings share. She describes her sister as very creative: she dances, but she also draws and writes.
Glancing at her past and the obstacles she had to overcome in life, she recalls a time 2 years ago when she didn’t feel well, a period she describes as “I was manic”; when she used to wear very strange clothes, with metal complements, masks… She remembers her beginnings in the music industry as a roller coaster: she went from joining The Cranberries in her school uniform at the age of 17 to reach the top. She had told her mother that she would be singing in the band for a year and that if things didn’t go well, she would go to college. Without realizing it, a promising future was awaiting her and it would lead her to be the frontwoman of one of the most mythical bands of the 1990s up to the present day. The interviewer emphasizes the wisdom with which she speaks despite how young she is. Dolores claims that being the frontwoman in a band involves having to prove to be three times better than a man to get to the same place.
Back to the present again, she takes some time to talk about the creation process, how she writes songs spontaneously when she gets the inspiration and stores them so she can select them later, when it’s time to record. The song “Why” is about her father’s death and how hard it was for her to get out of the initial shock that was such a traumatic experience. She felt that her father had not left, that somehow he was still with her and he was around protecting her; hence the recurring “somewhere in between here and heaven”, verse that opens the song. Dolores has always been concerned about death. Now she sees that death and sadness are parts of life. She feared that her father would die while she was on tour, just like it happened with her grandfather.
But not everything in this interview is sadness; Dolores also talks about what she felt when she became a mother: She sees motherhood as a gift, one of the happiest experiences in life. She wasn’t sure how being a mother could be compatible with going on tour with the band, but she has proved this in time perfectly.
She wrote “Twenty One” the day she turned 21, a time when she lived “in a dirty flat” with her first love; Dolores relates that first love as an experience that can be traumatic. “Linger” talks about her first kiss; “Dreams” about her first love. Over time she has achieved maturity, and this has brought her wisdom, serenity and self-confidence to deal with problems and get ahead.
She recalls her experience as a coach in The Voice of Ireland and says she was surprised to see 5 and 6 year olds greeting her on the street in Ireland, as they recognized her from TV even though they hadn’t heard of The Cranberries before. We can’t avoid feeling very lucky as we ourselves witnessed this, when a group of little dancers, with their white stockings and coloured skirts, went with their mothers into The Helix and greeted Dolores from the windows on the first floor.
Something Else is an intermediate step between the past and the future. Originally thought to commemorate the group’s 25th anniversary, The Cranberries now see it as a present to the fans. Dolores reflects on how technology and the Internet have changed the way music is consumed, but she says that it also allows her to be connected to the crowd all the time: she has been able to see conversations between her fans and this fact has allowed The Cranberries to be aware that people still love their music and want some more. This was what made them say: “maybe we should release something else…”