Cranberries 'Wake' To New Beginning

In their 10th anniversary year, the Cranberries have found an old friend in the studio and a new label home within their record group. Now they're issuing a call to "Wake Up & Smell the Coffee."

In their 10th anniversary year, the Cranberries have found an old friend in the studio and a new label home within their record group. Now they're issuing a call to "Wake Up & Smell the Coffee."

That's the title of the fifth album by the quartet from Limerick, Ireland, recorded in two installments during this past summer, as well earlier this year in Dublin and London. It's primed for release tomorrow (Oct. 23) in the U.S. on MCA (to which they have relocated from Island). It was issued Oct.15 internationally.

The process of engaging the group's massive fan base and enlisting new followers has had the luxury of an unusually long lead-in period. The band was already conducting international interviews while still mixing the record at Townhouse Studios in west London as far back as May.

"It's a huge advantage," MCA U.S. president Jay Boberg says. "When you have a Cranberries record that's complete -- that you're living with and picking singles from more than four, five months before it comes out-it enables you to do the proper set-up on a worldwide basis. And this act is truly global." He cites markets as diverse as Spain and Thailand as being among their many worldwide strongholds.

The band undertook a series of intimate live performances-meeting many key retail and radio representatives-during the summer in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Boulder, Colo., far ahead of the official radio shipment of Aug.27 for the lead track, "Analyse." Similar activity in Europe and the Far East will precede further U.S. promotion in the week of release, with another stateside visit slated before Christmas.

A further statement of intent comes with the Cranberries' plan for a yearlong world concert tour starting in February, by which time all parties are confident that the new release will have added significantly to their worldwide career album sales of 33 million.

While 1999's "Bury the Hatchet" was a major seller in many of the band's strongest markets, it marked a sales decline from previous lofty heights in both the U.K. and U.S. "In Europe, we were fine," drummer Fergal Lawler says. "Stateside, the record company was going through a lot of changes. We suffered because of that. We've got to work it again because of that. MCA is aware of what went down last time and the mistakes that were made."

With a pause between sessions for the new album for the birth of a second child for both Lawler and lead singer Dolores O'Riordan -- in January and March, respectively, of this year -- they feel that work and home life are now in more realistic perspective. "We're [doing] a more thorough promotion tour," O'Riordan says. "Plus, on the last album I'd just had my first baby. This time, I'm more chilled-out about being a parent."

Also, Boberg believes that the band had to turn around the media's perception that the group was aloof and not really available. "Each of the band members has had a lot of growth, and they really want to assert themselves and show they're one of the great bands in the world," he says. "I obviously wasn't involved [previously], but there were some times where they weren't the most user-friendly operation going, in terms of the industry.

"Now, they're more mature," Boberg continues. "They understand certain aspects [of promotion] that are tools they have to participate in to help make the machinery work. The band's had such an incredible attitude. Dolores has been so charming and willing to spend hours with people and get the information across that needs to get across."

Currently airing on VH1, the Kier Mcfarlane-directed video for "Analyse" has been edited since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. The original piece had shown O'Riordan dancing with skyscrapers in the background and planes flying overhead. Those shots have since been eliminated from the clip.

The label's marketing plans also include an hour-long concert film, in which the Cranberries play new material and favorites, to air on Music Choice duing the album's week of release.

"Wake Up & Smell the Coffee" sees the band reunited with producer Stephen Street, who helmed their initial global giant-sellers "Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?" in 1992 and "No Need to Argue" two years later.

"When they first contacted me," Street says, "I wondered if we might have grown apart -- they've made two albums [since], and I've made lots of other albums in between. But when we got back together, we just picked up where we left off. Everyone was really focused."

O'Riordan notes, "It was easy and natural. Stephen knows what we're capable of, and he'll push us, which is good; we need that because we're a bit lazy sometimes."

The singer is prepared to be, as ever, the center of attention for the group. She knows that that will probably involve questions about her having a solo career, but after a decade together, she says their band ethic is stronger than ever.

"Why would I [go solo]? There's so much freedom within the unit. I often do solo projects, like a movie soundtrack. And it's cool. It's not like you're married. At the same time, there's another loyalty. These are the three guys I've been with for years. It's much nicer being in a band. I don't know how solo artists do it. It must be dead lonely."

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