The Cranberries singer-lyricist Dolores O’ Riordan had everything to live for before she died at the age of 46 on Jan. 15, 2018.
So say her longtime bandmates — guitarist Noel Hogan and drummer Fergal Lawler — now promoting the ‘90s Irish alt-rock group’s final album, In the End, due April 26, featuring her previously recorded demos.
“A lot of people are going, ‘Oh, there’s a lot of things (on the new disc) about things ending and coming to an end,’ and she was actually talking about a point in her life,” said Hogan.
“Her marriage (had ended). She had a partner of three years before she passed away, she was with him, that was really good. And she had had the bipolar (diagnosis in 2017) and she had kind of gotten on top of that. She felt that those were the things that were ending and this was a new chapter that she was beginning. For the first time in so many years, she was so optimistic and so happy about everything.”
Tragically, Riordan, a Limerick native who lived with ex-husband and Canadian Don Burton and their three children in the Peterborough, Ont., area at one time, died from accidental drowning in a London hotel room bathtub due to intoxication.
And now her band of 30 years, including bassist Mike Hogan, with whom she sold over 40 million albums worldwide on the basis of such hits as Dreams, Linger, Zombie and Salvation, have decided to disband following the release of In the End.
We caught up with Noel Hogan, 47, and Lawler, 48, in Toronto earlier this week.
Was Dolores’ death as big a shock to you as it was to everyone else?
Hogan: Literally two days before she passed away she was talking about what date to go into recording and the tour. That’s when we knew it had to be some kind of accident. It wasn’t the behaviour of anyone planning to do anything. It makes it that much harder to accept as well because you know someone who had been through the wars a bit and then gets on top of it a bit. And you go, ‘Great, she’s doing so well now.’ And you keep thinking it’s a mistake. Even the day her brother rang (to tell us she died, you think), ‘It’s a mix up.’ It’s just that when someone is 46, healthy, and you’re just talking to them the day before, it doesn’t add up.
How are you guys feeling now?
Lawler: It comes in waves really.
Hogan: It’s fairly early days still — a year is really nothing. Like this (promo tour) has been good in that it’s been a distraction from it. But I mean when you’re sitting alone at night, inside a hotel room, your mind does race a little bit still. It’s been great to have this to kind of turn to a little bit. But it doesn’t seem kind of real. That’s how we feel sometimes. It’s hard to believe that she’s not here.
Was it difficult hearing her voice in the studio while working on In the End?
Hogan: When we went in that first day, and no matter how much you try and prepare yourself, you’re not. You put on your headphones and you start and there she is and you can’t help but kind of space out a little bit and remember all the years. It’s a long, long time to spend together. But then I think as the days went by you realize I’m not doing anybody any good here by not focusing on what we came here to do. I mean, it’s just going to end up destroying the thing. So we all started to focus on the songs you were doing at that point, what you needed to do to make it great. Particularly being the last album, you want it to be the best album you can do, for Dolores’ memory, the band’s memory.
Dolores had such a big connection to this area. Is is nice to return here?
Hogan: She had been coming and going since the ‘90s. I know she lived here more full time later on, she did consider it her home, as much as Ireland.
Lawler: We spent a bunch of time here, recording (2012’s Roses at Mississauga’s Metal Works) and that. We’re very close to Canada. I love it. It’s like a second home.
Do you want to say anything to your fans given In the End is the final Cranberries album?
Hogan: We can only thank everybody who stuck with us for 30 years. It’s a phenomenal amount of time for fans to stuck with a band. And we can’t really explain how really grateful we are for that.
Lawler: So grateful. It’s incredible. I think the outpouring from the fans after Dolores passed away was incredible. It was just so moving. I think she’d have been really proud of that.
What is next for you after In the End comes out?
Hogan: It’s something we all have to think about now and the one thing we’ve all agreed on is it’s something in music. I think right now the exhaustion is starting to kick in the last few weeks so I think we’ve agreed we’re all going to go off this summer and disappear. Just have a good holiday.
Has anyone suggested you tour with a new lead singer?
Lawler: Oh, it’s been mentioned yeah, the whole hologram thing. It’s like, ‘Are you f—ing serious?’ It’s bizarre.
I meant with someone alive!
Lawler: No, her voice is so unique.
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