October, 2018. It is been 8 months since our dear princess got her angel wings and the world remains shocked and sunk in the deepest sadness, just like it became on that cold January evening when we got the news that would dramatically change our lives forever. Noel Hogan has talked for Billboard and Rolling Stones in two poignant interviews where he has recalled The Cranberries’ trajectory since their earliest beginning, he has hinted about the band’s future plans and he has remembered Dolores with the love a brother would.
The Cranberries’ beginnings were not as easy as it may seem. They started playing at small clubs until they received the so expected call from their label asking them to go straightaway to America. “Linger” had been broadcasted on the radio and was having a massive success. The Cranberries flew to Denver for their first American gig, opening for The The, and found out that everyone knew their songs. “And from there, everything changed” Noel recalls. Their first album, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? sold more than 6 million copies. No Need to Argue (1994) got more than 17 million copies.
Apart from the 25th anniversary reedition of Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?, The Cranberries have currently finished a brand new album, for which Dolores had already recorded her vocals before her passing. It will be called In the End, which is also the name of the final track of the album.“The Cranberries is the four of us, you know?” Hogan says.“Without Dolores, I don’t see the point of doing this, and neither do the boys.” He says it is a very strong album, lyrically moving and very close to the first two albums, especially lyrically and sonically. They wanted to go back to the old Cranberries’ sound. “I had a discussion with (producer Stephen Street) about what we were going to be doing and told him I think the best way to finish the Cranberries is how it began and to go back to that sound, kind of less complicated, ’cause now’s not the time to be reinventing the wheel.” The lyrics are “very emotional, because of all the things that were going on in Dolores’ life.”
Dolores, Noel says, was in great spirits, feeling good and thrilled about this new album and touring China in March “There’s so much going on in my life and I have so much to say.” They started writing in June 2017 and by December 2017 the album was almost finished. The day before she passed away, Dolores had sent Noel an email with another song “Look, I don’t know if I sent you this one yet, but listen to it and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.” Something that, unfortunately, never happened.
Noel says recording this album has been like a therapy to the band, that helped them deal with it. “During the day you’re kind of in the thing, so you’re focused on that and you almost forget Dolores isn’t there, because she’s in the headphones and the speakers and you’re playing away to it and you’re working on everything else. But I found that at night, that’s when it would really hit you, and it was really very kind of emotional (…) But every day is different; There still hasn’t been a day I haven’t woken up and it’s the first thing you think of. It’s just a thing that I guess will take some time.”
Noel also recalls that Sunday afternoon where Dolores made her audition for The Cranberries. When Niall Quinn, the previous singer with The Cranberry Saw Us left the band, Noel already had the instrumentals of “Linger” and “Dreams”. Niall’s girlfriend knew a girl that was looking for a band. So Niall came up with Dolores, “a shy, soft-spoken. A very quiet country girl.” Dolores sang a couple of songs that she had written herself, and she did a Sinéad O’Connor song, “Troy.” “I was just shocked that she wasn’t in a band already. Because the minute she sang, you know, it was like your jaw drops at her voice.” Noel recalls. When Dolores was getting ready to leave, Noel gave her a cassette that had the basics of “Linger”, and some days later she came back with which basically became the final version of the song.
“Dolores was musically far superior to me” – Noel says – “because she had been doing it all her life. She had been singing and she had taken piano lessons. She had done all the things that you would expect somebody that’s an accomplished musician to do. Whereas I had just been a listener of music. I’d been a massive fan of music, particularly English alternative bands. But I had only started playing guitar a couple of years before that. But she often said that’s what she liked about my playing — the simplicity of what I did left room for her vocal. There wasn’t someone filling the thing up unnecessarily. And the excitement was always when one of us would give the other a track and see what they would come back with. To the very end, that was my favorite part, when she would send me back a song.”
Noel says that the Everybody Else reedition box set was a pleasant trip back in time. “The minute I kind of started digging through all this old stuff I started to remember this, that and the other, and it was fun. I’m delighted that people get to hear what (the band) began as. A lot of people know the finished things, but to have early versions of ‘Dreams’ and stuff is nice. You can see how a bunch of kids took something and went away and created this thing that’s became a lot bigger than any of us ever dreamt it could be.”
Hogan is hoping the group’s five other studio albums will be given the expanded anniversary treatment — especially 1994’s No Need To Argue, which did even better than its predecessor. But he admits it is going to be harder with the following albums because when an album came out and became very successful, everything they did after that was released or used straightaway. However, he says new rarities that he has forgotten about could pop up, which he hopes will maintain a strong legacy for The Cranberries. “I hope and I think it’s a nice thing for the fans to have these things, because it really is kind of coming towards the end of it now. But we made a lot of good music, and that’s what everybody should focus on. That’s the best way to remember the band, and Dolores.”