Gerry Ryan's 2002 interview with Dolores O'Riordan and The Cranberries is poignant, revealing and funny
A poignant, revealing and, at times, funny interview with The Cranberries from 2002 has been released by 2FM on the first anniversary of Dolores O’Riordan’s death.
Conducted by the late Gerry Ryan, it sees the band performing several tracks live in Studio 8 at RTE, and revealing the story behind each song.
Dolores, who died aged just 46 on this day last year, was just 31 when the interview took place and spoke about how the band almost broke up for good over the pressure of touring, the impact of having children on her marriage and songwriting, and the inspiration behind some of their biggest hits.
The Cranberries were, she said, at a good place and enjoying being in the band again at the time, having taken some time out following a tour of the US.
Speaking about the song, ‘Dying in the Sun’, which was released in 1999, Dolores revealed it was written at a “low point” in their lives and when she was pregnant with her son and experiencing some “weird, negative feelings”.
Asked by Ryan if she felt it was necessary to be really unhappy to write good music, she said, “Not really, but I think there’s a lot more passion when you are unhappy, do you know what I mean? Because you are messed up, and I think a lot of people relate to that – being messed up, or confused or lost or whatever – as opposed to being happy. It’s something you take for granted.”
She said that the problem with a lot of sad songs was that it’s “really hard to perform them live”, revealing that there were certain songs, like 'No Need to Argue', which she would not play live as they would “bring back the memories”.
'Ode to My Family' from 1993, she said, was written in the “good old days” before the band hit a period of difficulty, “when we got completely messed up and then we all ended up like based cases”, before they all took a break and “got better”. She said that they were finally “back where it was when we began”.
Dolores revealed that the band’s hit Linger was written when she first joined the band and was still at school. She wrote the lyrics about a soldier she kissed at disco in Charleville; “The old tosser went up on the dance floor in front of me with another girl two weeks later so I was heartbroken!” she said, “I was only 18 and it was just a kiss, you know? At that age it’s heartbreaking.”
She laughed, “It was good to get a song out of it anyway!”
Dolores spoke about being maternal and the “mother of the band” and joked about how, when she first joined the band, the other, male members “were really bad at lifting the toilet seat and stuff but now they’re all married so they’re really clean now."
She laughed, “Their wives have kicked them into shape, whooped them into shape!”
Following a tour of Asia and Australia, on the back of the third album, To the Faithful Departed, the band had embarked on a US tour and hit the point where they felt they needed a break.
“It was really bad back then because our schedule was so jammed all the time, you know, full time,” said Dolores. “It was like major pressure all the time; ‘Oh my God, if I get a sore throat I might as well die’. That was kind of my attitude. Like, 20, 21, if I get a sore through I might as well top myself. Can’t cancel a show. It was too much pressure.”
Dolores revealed that having children gave her the motivation and inspiration to start writing again.
Speaking about the track Chocolate Brown, which featured on their fifth album, Wake Up and Smell the Coffee, she said it was written when she was pregnant with her daughter Molly and was about the “parental guilt” she felt because she was unable to play with her son.
“My little boy wanted me to go out and play with him but I couldn't and I felt really guilty because I tour a lot and I travel a lot and then I was at home for a long period as in months but then ironically enough I couldn't really go and play with him because I was pregnant so that was like, god. I kind of felt really bad,” she said.
Becoming a mother for the first time also inspired her to write 'Animal Instinct', which she said she would “always totally love”.
“It’s a song I wrote about I guess the strongest love I ever experienced in my life which is that of a mother and child,” she said. “It’s that love that you know you feel like you would just absolutely give your life up like that [she clicked her fingers]. I mean you don’t feel like that about men, come on!”
She added, “With kids it’s kind of shocking how much you love them when they’re your own. I was shocked, I was blown away, I couldn’t function for about three weeks. I couldn’t sleep.
“I wanted to get a breathing monitor, all this, but I was totally blown away by this new little thing and fearing that anything would happen to it so I wrote 'Animal Instinct' around that time I came home and I thought no matter how much I tried I’d never be good enough, because I was new, a new mom.”
She said, “I wrote this song in that period when I was kind of going, ‘Will you ever understand how much I love you? And no matter what happens to you, I will always absolutely adore you, and you’ll always be a kid to me, even when you’re 20, 30, 40, 50, and I’ll always be your ma’ and that’s an amazing love.”
Listen to the full interview here:
Tracy Clifford will play The Cranberries new song, 'All Over Now', which features the vocals of Dolores O'Riordan, at 1.30pm. From 4pm the Eoghan McDermott Show on 2FM will play further songs and excerpts from Gerry Ryan's interview.