Photo credit: Andy Earl
The Cranberries Reflect On Their First GRAMMY Nod: "Dolores Would've Been Delighted And Honored"
This year may mark the first time the Cranberries have been nominated for a GRAMMY (Best Rock Album for 2019's swan song In The End), but the Irish alternative rock figureheads have enjoyed mainstream success ever since their career boom in the mid-'90s, with ubiquitous jangly singles like "Dreams" and "Linger."
While the band's GRAMMY nod is no doubt a triumph, it is mostly bittersweet, as it arrives after the death of beloved Cranberries singer Dolores O'Riordan, who passed away in 2018 of accidental drowning due to sedation from alcohol poisoning. After O'Riordan's sudden death, the remaining band members—guitarist Noel Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan and drummer Fergal Lawler—teamed up with longtime producer Stephen Street to work on a posthumous album (the aforementioned In The End) comprised of her unfinished demos, which she started working on with Hogan after the band released 2017's orchestral record, Something Else. "It's a tribute to her, the band and our fans for the past 30 years," the Cranberries said in a statement upon receiving the GRAMMY nod. "Being honored with this GRAMMY nomination has made this whole process even more special."
Special though it may be, the Cranberries' GRAMMY nomination in many ways marks the final lap the band will ever take, with no plans to tour or record any more music without O'Riordan. Drummer Fergal Lawler was kind enough to hop on the phone from his home in Ireland to talk about his feelings around the nomination, how he expects O'Riordan might have felt about it and how he's continuing to deal with the still-ongoing promotional cycle around In The End.
What was your reaction when you found out The Cranberries had been nominated for Best Rock Album?
Just shocked. It was kind of like, "Oh my God. Yeah. Wow! I can't believe it. We've never been nominated." It was incredible really. It kind of took a while to kind of sink in. But yeah, just, it's an incredible honor really.
Do you remember where you were when you found out? I imagine you were already awake, with the time difference and everything.
Yeah, it was the afternoon. I was in my kitchen just having a coffee and I got a call from our manager when he says, "You heard the news?" And I said, "No, no. Is everything okay?" He said, "Yeah, we just got nominated for the GRAMMYs." "Oh my God! Brilliant."
How did Mike and Noel react when you spoke?
The same. So surprise and delighted, and kind of a little bit of sadness as well. Because Dolores wasn't there to share it with us, so ... But she would have loved that. She would have been delighted with that, so ... We're trying to focus on the positive, and not get too sad about it and just, you know?
I can't even really begin to imagine how complex your feelings must be about this, with the loss of Dolores.
Yeah, we were talking about that kind of saying like, "Oh, she would have loved [being nominated for a GRAMMY]. She would've been so delighted and honored to be nominated even regardless of whether we win or not.
And I know that the actual recording of In The End was not easy.
It's just such a difficult album to do. Initially the first couple of days I was kind of going, "I don't know if we can do this. I don't know if we can possibly get through the whole thing." It was so emotional.
But as we progressed, we kind of said, "Look, we have to do a job. We have a job to do and we have to make these songs as good as possible." We kind of said, "Look, we have to focus on our work and try and push down the emotions little bit, and get the job done. And pay respect to these songs and make them as good as possible." And I think that's what helped get us through it. You know? And then kind of towards the end of the day when Delores would come in to do her vocals, that would hit you again that she wasn't coming in.
And then the last listening back session was hugely emotional. Especially the very last song on In The End was just overpowering. And then we had to go out and do the promotion for it. And that was kind of really hard again because everyone was asking questions about the whole thing, but everyone was really, really nice and sensitive, which was fantastic. So that helped. But it was still very difficult to do.
That’s over a year ago I suppose. So I kind of thought that was the end of it. Let the album kind of live its life. Like you know? And then we went and got nominated for the GRAMMY. It's kind of like, okay, we're going to be doing more interviews and bring it all back up.
I don't know. It's probably healing. It's difficult at the time to do it. It's like therapy or something. It's difficult to sit down and talk to someone about your problems, but then afterwards you feel better.
I thought about that too… the therapeutic nature of speaking to journalists about the album and now, its GRAMMY nod. But at least in therapy, you don’t have to keep telling the same stories over and over. Has that part been difficult at all?
Yeah, it's been okay. I've only done a small few interviews, so it's not too bad yet. Maybe as I do more it might get a bit more stressful, but I look after myself. I'm 48 years of age. I've been doing this for a while, so I know how to mind myself.
What have you been working on outside of the Cranberries? What is your day-to-day these days?
Day-to-day, I have a small studio beside my house, and I'm doing music for documentaries and short films, things like that. Something I really love, because you don't have to go on tour. You can work from home. And it's something, it's not drums, something different. So it kind of stops me getting bored.
What have Mike and Noel been up to? How often does the group chat these days?
We have like a WhatsApp group, we send messages every few days, just to see how things are doing. There's always something happening regarding the band. Once we finished the promo, we had a break for a while, which is nice. And now with the GRAMMY nomination there's more talks of prolonged doing bits and pieces. But musically I'm not sure what they're doing at the moment. I don't think they're doing much.
Recently you released a 25th anniversary box set of your first album. When In The End celebrates, say, a 10-year anniversary, do you expect that the band will be open to talking about it again?
Probably we'd have to go through older material and do interviews and talk about it. And it's kind of nice to, like, comb through an old photograph album and all the memories just pop in straight away and you're kind of an arm with that time or this time. So it's nice to revisit.
Over the course of the band's history, what are some treasured memories that you regularly revisit?
It's strange, when Dolores passed away, all the memories that came back were the early years when we kind of first started off and were traveling around in a van. And it was just a big adventure because I was 20, I think Mike was only 16 or 17. And we were just basically out of our teens and just having a big adventure traveling around the world, getting to see new countries and just have a ball, really. We had no money. We had like $10 a day I think to survive on. We didn't care. We just seemed to get by and just really enjoy it. Met loads of nice people. They're the kind of ones that last, those kind of memories.
This being your first time at the GRAMMYs, is there anything or anyone you’re most excited to see? Any albums you were fond of that were nominated?
Yeah. I don't know. The albums for me that I love this year were Thom Yorke, Anima, it's incredible. Lana Del Rey. Tool with Fear Inoculum. They're amazing. I saw them for the first time live this year. I couldn't believe it. I was blown away.