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Sat. Sep 21st, 2019

Madness To Creation

Where Insanity and Creativity Collide!

Noel Hogan of THE CRANBERRIES Opens Up About Dolores O’Riordan in this Candid Interview with Mark Dean of Madness To Creation

13 min read

Contributor’s Note:  Having been a huge fan of Irish band The Cranberries since the release of their debut album their music saw me through a courtship,engagement and birth of my two sons.I even once had my former girlfriend paint the bands logo onto the back of a leather jacket.Although my personal circumstances have dramatically changed since those days one thing remained constant and that was the presence of their music in my life.In 2017 the band announced some Uk dates including one in Manchester where I had relocated to.Cue a bucket list moment …well almost when I was confirmed to interview iconic singer Dolores O Riordan .Unfortunately those dates were postponed due to the singer experiencing some back problems.Unfortunately the band were not able to reschedule those dates and I was unable to have the opportunity to do that interview.  Sadly on 15th January last year Dolores tragically died and thus ended a band that had formed a significant part of my life.Their final poignant album has just been released and to discuss that album I was lucky enough to be able to have a chat with the bands guitarist Noel Hogan of The Cranberries for Madness To Creation.

Mark Dean: I assume from this number that you’re actually back home in Ireland for a few days?
Noel Hogan:No, no. We’re in London at that moment and we’re doing a lot of press, so we’re here for another couple of days.
Mark Dean:  Right, I just saw that it was an Irish number.  You have been doing a hell of a lot of press-so you deserve to have a well deserved rest!
Noel Hogan:  No. I’m hoping next week, but I have this feeling that’s not going to happen. My phone keeps popping with other things coming in, so it’s looking to be a busy couple of weeks with everything, you know, it’s the norm, waiting around the album release. 
Mark Dean:  Okay. Speaking to you as a long standing fan, I’ve been lucky enough to  have had the album for a couple of weeks now. I find it very emotional, even as a fan to listen to. I really don’t know how the band were actually able to make it. Did you find it a difficult process?

Noel Hogan:  Yeah, it was. Initially the first couple of days, it kind of dragged the whole team back up because it was really only, I guess, for three months after Dolores passed away that we went in to record this album. So, it was fresh anywhere then starting that very first day, it definitely dragged it all back, like it only happened the day before again. I think we found that moping around the place and then kind of thinking about all this stuff, it wasn’t going to help the album, but we want to get the vest out of it. 

We had kind of started to do this album to finish what we started with Dolores and very much get it to be the best album that we could be. So everybody started to focus on that more and getting the best performance you could on the day coming up with ideas for the songs. Just stuff you normally do for any album. Once you throw yourself into that a bit more, you would expect to obviously remember every now and again everything else that’s going on, but foremost you will be worried about trying to get the best out of the songs, make a good album at the end of it.

Check out the music video to “All Over Now” here.

Mark Dean:  Yup. I guess actually then with making the album and now doing this press run of interviews, you haven’t really personally and with the other guys in the band … you haven’t actually been allowed an opportunity to actually mourn and grieve yourselves?

Noel Hogan:  Yeah, the drive is a bit of that and I guess I thought about that a bit more in the last few weeks, more than the last year because in one way, this is our way of dealing with this and it was actually Steven Street who produced the album. It was his suggestion to go in so quickly after Dolores passed away and it’s kind of hard to imagine that time now without doing this. How else we would have dealt with this. I guess it has been a distraction for us, give us something else to focus on and possibly in the coming months when everything starts to quiet down, that the reality might creep in a bit more. 
I look at it at the moment that we’re lucky to be in this position. That we have these songs, that we have this album that nobody expected to have. In that sense, it’s a great place to be, and I do wonder what the next few months will bring and how it seems to be for us to deal with it, because we have spent a lot of time together in the past year and talking about this. So it will be the first time we won’t be together in the next month or so. 

Mark Dean:  I guess then that’s going to present a very difficult time for you?

Noel Hogan:  Yeah, it’ll be interesting to see. I mean, hopefully it will have had kind of eased us out of that transition and whatever comes next, but only time will tell, really.

Mark Dean:  Yeah. I understand from  a few interviews that you and the other guys have done recently. you have stated that obviously The Cranberries have ended, but individually, if not collectively, would you personally continue to create music in the future?

Noel Hogan:  Yeah. I mean, I’ve spent a lot of this year writing and that’s something I found that since all that happened, that’s kind of what you end up doing, go back to work. It’s a kind of safe place in many ways and in those times you ask yourself, what comes next? I mean, you keep doing what you enjoy doing. We’re musicians, you know, we’ve been doing this since we left school, so the obvious thing to do is continue on doing this and in whatever capacity it might be. I guess taking time out to resume our … those questions will begin to be answered.

Mark Dean:  You also, stated yesterday in the bands Facebook live stream, and you touched on the subject of a band official  documentary. You mentioned having some interview footage of the band over the years.. I just wondered if you also have some maybe live footage or on tour stuff that would go with those, or do you see it as just being a series of interviews through the years?

Noel Hogan:  No, there’s so much stuff over I guess what is a 30 year period, and we’re discovering new stuff all the time, not us personally, but through fans all the time, sending us in and all. I’ve got somebody who’s got a live performance or something some very   rare  stuff, so it’ll be as kind of detailed as we would hope it would be. It will include live stuff with interviews, with kind of a mix of other things like that. 
This documentary will probably take a few years to get together because there’s such a vast amount of time to cover that it won’t be something that we’ll turn around in a few months and it will take a lot longer, because you won’t it to be as in depth and as good as it can be. As all this happens, we know someone’s going to do something like this and that’s why we feel it should be ours because we would do the best job on it. 
Mark Dean:  I just wondered, has personal tragedy steered you either towards or away from religion? -as a source of blame or comfort.
Noel Hogan:  Yeah, for me I’m not a religious person, so it hasn’t done either, to be honest. I was brought up Catholic, but I wouldn’t be practising , but I do know that Dolores’ mom is very religious and I see from meeting her and conversations that, for her, it just has tremendously, you know, to have to deal with the loss of Dolores, and it’s been a great comfort to her, really. In those conversations, I admired that and in that time to have that faith, because it’s very hard I guess for people to find any answers  for how unfair it is for something like this to happen. It kind of can make you angry at times. I wonder if I maybe was more religious, maybe I would see it that way. But unfortunately, it just is not the way I am. 
Mark Dean:  You mentioned that you’ve continued to create music. Do you find that continuing to do that and write music gives you some form of comfort and peace through those darker times?
Noel Hogan:  Yeah for sure. I can’t help but wonder, every time we come up with a new piece, if I’d sent it to Dolores, that she would have been on top of it. I mean, I still haven’t got past that point yet. It’s very hard to not think that after almost 30 years together of the routine when I write music and send it to Dolores and then she’d send me back the ideas, and it’s going to take me a bit of time to come away from that and I guess in the beginning if I do work with other people, then I’ll always compare them to Dolores. 

Mark Dean:  I just wondered, if I could move on and ask a few general questions. Do you recall, thinking back you mentioned 30 years … do you recall hearing a song of The Cranberries on the radio for the first time and what was that?

Noel Hogan:  We sent  some to a DJ Dave Fanning in Ireland , I don’t know if you know him, he’s on radio, TV radio too, at the time in Ireland that he used to clear some time to play some new bands. Bands would send their demos. You know, you put a bit of a priority and hope that he would play it. We rang in Maine and there was one time we thought, is she ever going to play a song and then it was the Irish version of a song . He played, I think it as “Linger”, the demo version. Way, way back. We were only together a few months at the time. I think that’s the first time we had one of our songs on the radio, and obviously it’s only a demo, but it’s still, to watch it was a big deal at the time. 

Check out the music video to “Linger” here.
Mark Dean:  You mentioned, so that song in particular which is now widely recognized as an iconic track. do you instantly know as a musician, when you write a song, that it’s going to be so amazing. obviously you’ve got to make something particularly special for it to resonate with people so powerfully and emotively.I was wondering then if  you get a special feeling or a different feeling when you write a song like that has survived and endured over the years?
Noel Hogan:  Not then, because there was a kind of, we just didn’t have the know how or confidence in many ways to know, it was just another song on the set list. It was the first time we wrote together. 
So it was always something special in that sense. For me, the memory of it is sitting in my bedroom in my parents house, coming up with the original idea, and one of the first things I’ve even done on guitar. Then started to grow and still has, I mean, and my voice is strained. I never talked that much, so one afternoon back in around 1989, and I think of the years when Don, Dolores and I did our … there were songs we knew had something that would be obvious singers. They were a bit more different then other songs on the album, and you kind of just got that gut feeling, and that kind of hook would be there where you’d be humming it or singing it all night long. You know, hours after you kind of worked on it. So, it is something that can be at times, but definitely in the beginning we wrote songs and then got with it, you know, what we wrote was put out and the started to become hits. We were genuinely more surprised than anybody else. 
Mark Dean:  How do you feel, looking back at all those albums, including the new one, how do you feel regarding the Cranberries work of music -their legacy?
Noel Hogan:  I think the fact that the songs, they still get cleared on the radio and they’re on movies, there on everything really that there’s rarely a week would go by where I wouldn’t hear a Cranberries song a couple of times. So, this is amazing. It’s just bizarre and it’s like it’s somebody else’s band, someone else’s song, at times. Four kids from a small town in Ireland, you know, that did this and secretly you saw the evidence of that when Dolores passed away and the massive out pouring throughout every corner of the world. It’s really brought it home to us, how big the band were, because it’s easy to forget that when you’re in this position. It’s just another day on the job kind of thing, in many ways.  
So it’s a great feeling, and hopefully the legacy of the band will be that these songs last long after we’re gone. You know in 50 years time they’ll be saying these songs have lasted and people will still hopefully have fond memories of them.
Mark Dean:  You mentioned that you were all very young when that first album came out. How did you all deal with fame when it came along, and the lack of personal privacy that came from young kids, pretty much?
Noel Hogan:  It was difficult. More difficult for Dolores than it was for me, the three of us. I guess in many ways, we had the best of both worlds. We got to go off and do all the kind of glamorous stuff, the tours and all that and go to the awards and things. Then we could come back to Limerick and blend in and nobody really cared there. But Dolores, being pushed out in the front, she was the girl amongst the three of us. She was the lead singer, she was the one soft spoken. So for her, it was a harder journey, and I think to the point at one point she really couldn’t live in Ireland, because Ireland’s a small country and for somebody to be that massive here. You do sacrifice your privacy 
So she married a guy, a Canadian guy and ended up moving to just for two hours, up to Toronto just to get away from it all really. You kind of felt that it’s really, really not happening at this time, because it was a tough lesson because after the third album, we were all completely bummed out that we hadn’t really gotten to enjoy any of the success we had. 
It  was at that time we took our first break for a few years and in hind sight, we feel that we should have probably done that after that album, before we went in to do a third album. But there was a lot of pressure on us to keep the momentum going. You know, write an album and record and then go on a massive tour again, because there was a lot of money being made by record companies and management and it felt, I think at one point, that it wasn’t even our band anymore, that we didn’t control any of it.  
It was really Dolores, you look at kind of pictures or videos of her at that time, she kind of got so tan and she was worried all the time about what’s coming next. It was Dolores that said, look I can’t do this anymore, I need a few years out. We were all thinking the same thing, but nobody had the guts to say it. She did. Then, it was actually the best thing we could have done, because we came back to do the fourth album. We wanted to do it, and we enjoyed doing it again.
Mark Dean:  Obviously you’re in this world of promotional tours for the new album. How do you relax? You seem solely focused on music. Do you ever get time to spend time with family? Do you have hobbies, interests outside of music?
Noel Hogan:  To be totally honest we have been now doing this for so long-recording,the tours and promotional cycle that we are almost lost when we stop.Its like what will we do with ourselves-
Mark Dean.My time is up-thank you so much for talking to me-as I say I have been a massive fan if the band for so long now.  I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts on the new album’s creation and the band’s history.Thanks again and please take some time to have some time to yourself,take care.
Noel Hogan:  Appreciate you talking to me, thanks again.
And there you have it!  Fans can pick up “In The End” by The Cranberries wherever music is sold and fans can find The Cranberries at the following locations:
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