Recent Cranberries-related events have been “weird” for guitarist Noel Hogan. And that’s probably an understatement.
Still reeling from singer Dolores O’Riordan’s shocking death in January, Hogan and his bandmates have been busy curating the Irish group’s legacy and working on a final musical statement. An expanded 25th anniversary edition of the quartet’s five-times platinum debut Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? — whose rare demo “Shine Down” is premiering exclusively below — comes out Oct. 19. And a final studio album culled from demos Hogan and O’Riordan worked on prior to her passing is slated for next year.
“It was weird doing all this,” Hogan tells Billboard. “During the day you’re kind of in the thing, so you’re focused on that and you almost forget Dolores isn’t there, because she’s in the headphones and the speakers and you’re playing away to it and you’re working on everything else. But I found that at night, that’s when it would really hit you, and it was really very kind of emotional.
“I guess what I kind of realized afterwards is it’s like therapy as well. It helped us deal with it. But every day is different; There still hasn’t been a day I haven’t woken up and it’s the first thing you think of. It’s just a thing that I guess will take some time.”
Hogan says that the Everybody Else… package was a pleasant trip back in time. The four-disc set features a wealth of rarities such as early demos recorded as The Cranberry Saw Us (including “Shine Down”), B-sides, live tracks and radio sessions. “I remembered most of it, to be honest,” Hogan says with a laugh. “The minute I kind of started digging through all this old stuff I started to remember this, that and the other, and it was fun.
“I’m delighted that people get to hear what (the band) began as. A lot of people know the finished things, but to have early versions of ‘Dreams’ and stuff is nice. You can see how a bunch of kids took something and went away and created this thing that’s became a lot bigger than any of us ever dreamt it could be.”
Hogan is hoping the group’s five other studio albums will be given the expanded anniversary treatment — especially 1994’s No Need To Argue, which did even better than its predecessor. But, he notes, “I imagine it would be harder to find (bonus) things because with (Everybody Else…) we had all the years of build-up for us to get to that point, a lot of stuff between demos and gigs and things that we were able to include. The problem going forward is that album came out and became very successful, so everything we did after that was released or used straightaway. To find rarities may be a bit of a struggle — though I could be wrong. Things could pop up that I may have forgotten about.”
The guitarist does promise that Cranberries fans will find a certain similarity between the upcoming In The End and the group’s first two albums. Producer Stephen Street returned to help Hogan, his brother and bassist Mike Hogan and drummer Fergal Lawler through the project, which was finished in May and mastered during September. “It’s as close to those two albums, I think, as we’ve ever been since,” Hogan says. “I had a discussion with (Street) about what we were going to be doing and told him I think the best way to finish the Cranberries is how it began and to go back to that sound, kind of less complicated, ’cause now’s not the time to be reinventing the wheel.” The lyrics, meanwhile, are “very emotional, because of all the things that were going on in Dolores’ life.”
Nevertheless, Hogan says the O’Riordan he was writing with and last spoke to the day before she died was in better shape than she had been while dealing with physical and mental health issues in recent years. “She was fine — People go ‘Yeah, yeah, you have to say that,’ but she was,” Hogan says. “Look, Dolores had problems in her personal life and mental health problems. She was very open about that. But especially when she started writing this album it was all very positive and she couldn’t wait to get into the studio or back on the road again.” The Cranberries were, in fact, planning to tour China during March.
“There was a lot of speculation when she passed away that there was this or that going on, but I knew without being told it was all a bunch of crap, really,” Hogan says. “I knew she didn’t (die) deliberately because she was in great spirits. Her back had come around again. She was feeling good about things. She was psyched about doing the album.
“That makes it harder for me some time, ’cause she was in that frame of mind where she was very, very positive. So for something like (her death) to happen, it seems very, very unfair.”
Hogan says it was a heavy moment for him and the other Cranberries when they finished recording In The End‘s title track, the album’s final song. “Nobody said anything, but it was like the elephant in the room — This moment will never happen again,” he recalls. But he hopes that the Everybody Else… box set, the new album and any archival projects to come will maintain a strong legacy for the Cranberries.
“I hope and I think it’s a nice thing for the fans to have these things,” Hogan says, “because it really is kind of coming towards the end of it now. But we made a lot of good music, and that’s what everybody should focus on. That’s the best way to remember the band, and Dolores.”