Sweet sounds return

Updated: 2011-07-19 07:55

By Chen Nan (China Daily)

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 Sweet sounds return

Ten years after the release of their last album, The Cranberries are back in business, playing in stadiums, releasing a new CD, and coming to the Chinese mainland for the first time. Provided to China Daily

Sweet sounds return

After a lengthy break, that included marriages and children, The Cranberries are back on the road. Chen Nan reports.

Faye Wong is undoubtedly the queen of pop music in most Chinese people's minds. But if they have listened to the music of Irish band The Cranberries, they would realize their queen is not quite a genius. When Wong's career started in Hong Kong in 1994, her cover of The Cranberries' song Dreams made people see her as a pioneering singer. Her imitation of lead female vocalist Dolores O'Riordan's silky voice, feverish high pitch and willowy whisper, as well as the cropped haircut, blew into the Chinese pop music industry like a fresh breeze. The recording immediately distinguished Wong from other female singers.

The Cranberries have influenced other Chinese musicians apart from Wong, such as songwriters Dou Wei, who is Wong's former husband, and singers Mavis Fan and Candy Lo. The Super Girl winner Li Yuchun also covered their song Zombie on her 2005 talent show.

"We have listened to Faye Wong's singing and it's certainly flattering," says Noel Hogan, a founder and guitarist of The Cranberries.

"We saw an interview of a young band on TV the other day. It's surprising that they mentioned our band and called us their idols. We were just doing our own thing, you know."

Although The Cranberries have taken some years off, it seems as if they have never been away. Ten years after the release of their last album, The Cranberries, perhaps the most innovative and popular Irish bands of the 1990s, are back on the road, playing in stadiums, releasing a new CD, and coming to the mainland for the first time.

The Cranberries will give two concerts at the Grand Stage in Shanghai on July 26 and at the Wukesong Arena in Beijing on July 28 as part of their 2011 Asian tour.

"We are really excited about going to China," says Hogan in an interview with China Daily before the band left for China.

"We've been touring many places around the world but it's always exciting to go to a new place."

After a self-imposed hiatus in 2003, the band announced in 2009 that the lingering was over with a North American tour.

With the original four members, vocalist O'Riordan, guitarist Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan and drummer Fergal Lawler, the concerts in China are going to feature songs from the old albums that a lot of fans know.

They will perform unforgettable tunes, especially Ode to My Family, Dreams, Zombie and Linger, as well as four tracks from their new album, Roses.

"We just finished recording the new album and we look forward to presenting the new tracks to audiences," Hogan says.

"It's our second nature to hit the road again, you know.

"We rehearsed on Sunday afternoon. All of us were nervous because it's been a long time since we rehearsed in one room. We were in a bit of shock at the beginning because we haven't played those old tracks for years. It felt like 'Oh God, it's terrible'. But soon we found the tunes and got back to ourselves. We try hard to be better."

During the past few years, all the band members got married and had children. As they prepare for their first gigs in China, they are trying to find some balance.

"Music is not just for fun now. It's not simply a hobby, but a job," Hogan says.

"When you're 19, you can grab your bag and go anywhere you want. But now it's different in our middle age and we are trying to find a balance between work and families."

Founded in 1989 by brothers Mike and Noel Hogan, the band changed their name from The Cranberries Saw Us to The Cranberries after the vocalist O'Riordan joined. They soon became one of the most popular Irish acts in the United States with their debut album, Everybody Else is Doing It, So Why Can't We?, which sold more than 5 million copies in the US alone.

Fans were impressed by their lush, billowing folk-rock tempo and meaningful lyrics, such as the anti-drug Salvation, topped by the silvery vocals of O'Riordan.

Hogan recalls the first time he and other band members saw the female singer perform. They say they knew straightaway she was the right voice for The Cranberries. Soon after, their second album, No Need to Argue, boosted their fame even further, topping the British album charts in 1995.

"There were many young bands then and all we wanted to do was to be different," Hogan says.

"We certainly didn't feel we were very influential at the time. I remember our first performance was in a small club in my hometown. We just played six songs and all of us were nervous. We were just making the music we wanted to."

In 2003, after finishing a European tour and starting to work on their sixth album, The Cranberries announced that they would take some time off to pursue their individual careers.

"We started with the new album then but I didn't think any of us really wanted to do it," Hogan says.

"We were very young when we became famous. We were just out of school and didn't have any other life experience, you know.

"We had been doing The Cranberries for 13 years nonstop. It was our whole life then, but I think that we needed to see what else was out there and I know that we all found different directions then."

O'Riordan began to collaborate with other musicians, launching her solo album in 2007. Noel Hogan started a new band and turned to producing. The other two members also kicked off their careers as musicians and producers by working with other bands.

The members didn't set a time line for a reunion and just decided to do what they wanted to do and what they enjoyed.

"We have been in touch with each other and it's natural for us to come back to it," Hogan says.

In January 2009, when O'Riordan called Mike and Noel Hogan about doing a casual performance with her, they found that it was really good to play the old songs again.

"Maybe it's the time to do it," Noel Hogan says.

With their Asian tour, the band is releasing their latest album, Roses, which is close to the first two albums musically. The band recorded 15 tracks with their long-time producer Stephen Street.

"We've been writing songs for years and we didn't want to rush it," Noel Hogan says.

"Everything goes right for The Cranberries, the timing, the people and the music."

(China Daily 07/19/2011 page19)


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