Cranberries Biography

Thursday lunchtime in Dublin. Traffic's building up outside Windmill Lane studios, located right next door to one of the city's biggest bus depots. Grey skies roll in across the southside of the capital while in from the cold the Cranberries gather in the studio control room for a final playback of their most recent work.
Producer Stephen Street stands in front of the mixing desk while the band relax at the back of the room and listen attentively to the selection of tracks that fill not just the control room but the whole third floor of the building.
The music is solid Cranberries. Written and performed by the band, theirs is a unique sound that has lost none of its character. Yet there is now a subtle change of sound - somewhat more depth and clarity to the words and melodies, something more than just rock style.
Perhaps that has a lot to do with their choice of producer for this, their fifth album. It was Stephen Street who produced their first two albums and helped establish that Cranberry sound which sold more than 20 million albums. And it is Stephen Street who is now back with the Cranberries for this new album, due out in summer 2001.
One song, "Pretty Eyes" slips out between the more feisty numbers, a soft lullaby ballad that blends the talents of band and producer into one soft, luscious performance. A hint of things to come.
Out in the main studio area one of the Cranberries crewmembers is putting away guitar leads in a road case. All the instruments are packed up and ready to be shipped back to the band's hometown of Limerick, on Ireland's West Coast. All that's left to indicate the Cranberries were in town for a recording session is a couple of burnt-out candles scattered around the lead singer's booth.
End of Part 1. The songs are sent to London to be mixed. Then its back to the Rehearsal Studio to write a second batch of numbers before Christmas. Soon after the birth of her second child, in February 2001, Dolores and the lads expect to travel back to Dublin to record Part 2.
The crew is looking forward to a few days off. So is the band. And after the playback and a bit of lunch in the studio kitchen they will go their separate ways, home for a few days, to family and friends.
"Two months in studio is quite quick by Cranberry standards," says Noel as he spills his mug of tea over a stack of equipment foolishly left on the kitchen table. "The last album was more than six months in the making. That broke all the Cranberry records."
The band are in good form, enjoying the fruits of their fame, relaxed, happy with the songs they've just created. And equally happy with their lives at the start of the new millennium. The year 2000 is a very noteworthy date in the Cranberry calendar.
The Cranberries are 10 years old. Ten years of touring, of albums, singles, awards and rewards beyond their dreams. But accompanying them on that same track were the pressures and stresses of fronting one of the biggest bands in the world - a heavy and sometimes dangerous load on their shoulders that came close to wiping them out altogether back in 1996.
"All that and we're not even 30!" says Mike.
"So much has happened in that short time," says Dolores. "It's a bit of a blur now, really."
Ten years on and the band that fell together for no other reason than for a bit of rock and roll in the long winter evenings have now sold more than 33 million albums across the planet. They've played to a world audience of more than two million people. And their music can be found traversing radio, television and the Internet.
Quietly unassuming, the only way you'd ever know there was something out of the ordinary about these four relatively ordinary people is when Fergal just happens to mention having spent some time in his "house in Italy". Marriage, raising families and dipping their toes into other business activities is what takes up their time now, when they're not being The Cranberries.
Skip back to the start of the tape, back to the turn of the 80's when making a living from rock and roll wasn't even on the map for Noel, Mike and Fergal, three quarters of what was originally The Cranberry Saw Us.
By that stage U2 had already chalked up their own first decade of worldwide success. Globe-trotting tours and albums such as "Unforgettable Fire" and "Joshua Tree" opened international doors for the Irish music industry who were ready to prove that there was more to Ireland than Bono and company.
The 80's produced new Irish international stars Clannad, Enya, Hot House Flowers, Sinead O'Connor and Chris De Burgh. U2 set up their own label to seek out and promote new acts. U2 bassist Adam Clayton championed the cause of Limerick band, Tuesday Blue.
"We used to listen to U2. Sure who didn't", says Mike. "Then there was The Smiths, New Order, The Cure..."
"..Depeche Mode, REM," Fergal adds. "Stuff that was very popular".
"We were all just into the music," says Noel. "Anyone who's into music wants to be in a band or be part of the music. Anything to be near or around it, even though a lot of people don't end up doing it. So we all wanted to do that. And we were quite content just rehearsing. Then we'd do a few gigs and get pissed after them, - that was just grand. And that'd be it until the next weekend."
Brother's Noel and Mike Hogan were friends with Fergal Lawler. Back in 1989 they formed The Cranberry Saw Us with singer Niall Quinn.
"We were all very young at the time," says Mike. "Some of us had jobs. We'd rehearse on the side, at weekends and maybe on a Wednesday if we could. Then we got a few gigs. But we never looked forward - we never thought about record contracts or that we were going to be famous" he laughs, as if it's still difficult for him to take in that they are in fact one of the most famous bands in the world.
Back then they were known to just a fraction of music fans in Limerick city. Noel would write some music and the band would play it rough at rehearsals or in an early demo.


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