Can something good actually come out of a reality TV show? The arrival of the Cranberries’ seventh studio album, Something Else, proves the answer is a resounding yes. It was a different type of performance of 90s hit “Linger” on The Bachelorette in 2015 that led to the latest effort.
Formed in Limerick, Ireland, the band led by singer Dolores O’Riordan is best known in the U.S. for several more alt-rock radio hits with major MTV airings like “Dreams” and “Zombie.” The Cranberries will soon return to North America for shows throughout September and October, including one at Terminal 5 in NYC on Sept. 16.
Guitarist Noel Hogan spoke about the unexpected reality TV moment and what fans can expect from the upcoming show.
Let’s discuss the idea behind Something Else.
Dolores had been asked to be on The Bachelorette, of all things. And they wanted her to do a version of “Linger.” They were in Dublin filming, and she got in touch with me and asked if I would go with her to do it. We got a string section together—a quartet—and we did “Linger.” On the night that we did it, we got to talking about how great it actually sounded doing it this way. And it sparked the idea of, “I wonder what other tracks would sound like?” Particularly ones that weren’t written with strings in mind. We got a list together and it snowballed into this idea, which became the album that was released.
I had worked with a guy called Ken Rice, who was part of the Irish Chamber Orchestra…Between Dolores and myself, we got enough songs together and sent it to him to discuss what we were thinking. We worked on it from there, but we realized we had to rework structures of the songs because a lot of them were written on electric guitar and heavy drums. Songs like “Dreams” and “Zombie” are more rock-oriented songs.
Are there versions on the new album that you prefer over the original versions?
I wouldn’t say “prefer,” I would just say I was surprised…Going in, we had the list, and we didn’t really rehearse them. We just went in and started playing them as we were recording. It was surprising how well they turned out more so than preferring them. But you take them on their own merit really, because they’re so different.
Who came up with the idea to reenact the No Need to Argue album cover for Something Else?
We changed our minds so many times on that cover and then it kind of felt we were coming full circle. We thought it was maybe the end to a certain chapter with the band. We contacted the record company to see if they could get in contact with the photographer, Andy Earl, who did the original cover—he did the first two covers. We were doing some shows in Mexico, and Andy came over to us and had this idea, that we’d revisit that again. When we saw the pictures, we were delighted with it and thought that was the way to go.
Next year is going to be 25 years since the release of [the band’s debut] Everybody Else is Doing It.
We were kids. We were so young. We wrote these songs and some of the guys were finishing up school. We did the band a couple of times a week; we rehearsed in the evenings. We went off to Dublin to record it in a few weeks, and that was it. These were songs we wrote on a Tuesday night or a Sunday afternoon…and we had these batch of songs we thought were good but didn’t really know if anyone else would get it. And don’t forget, the album actually bombed between the UK and Ireland. It was almost a year later by the time “Linger” took off in the US.
What can fans expect at the upcoming NYC show?
The original idea for the tour was to do this album live, very acoustic-based with the strings. We found out once we started rehearsing it that the concert of an hour-and-a-half of acoustic was very hard. We felt it would get a bit boring. What we’ve ended up doing is there is a big percentage of the gig that is acoustic with the strings, but we’ve also changed it around a bit in that we started to do electric versions of these songs with the strings still in it. Some songs are not even on the album, and it works pretty well. It gives a different dynamic to it.
Update: Since this interview took place, the Cranberries were forced to cancel their world tour including all NY-area appearances as Dolores O’Riordan recovers from an ongoing back problem.