Biography: The Cranberries
Combining the melodic jangle of post-Smiths indie guitar pop with the lilting, trance-inducing sonic textures of late-'80s dream pop and adding a slight Celtic tint, the Cranberries became one of the more successful groups to emerge from the pre-Britpop U.K. indie scene of the early '90s. Led by vocalist Dolores O'Riordan, whose keening, powerful voice is the most distinctive element of the group's sound, the group initially made little impact in the United Kingdom. It wasn't until the lush ballad "Linger" became an American hit in 1993 that the band also achieved mass success in the U.K. Following the success of "Linger," the Cranberries quickly became international stars, as both their 1993 debut album, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?, and its 1994 follow-up, No Need to Argue, sold millions of copies and produced a string of hit singles. By the time of their third album, 1996's To the Faithful Departed, the group had added distorted guitars to its sonic palette and attempted to make more socially significant music, which resulted in a downturn in the band's commercial fortunes.
Originally, the Cranberries were a band called the Cranberry Saw Us. Brothers Noel and Mike Hogan (guitar and bass, respectively) formed the band in Limerick, Ireland, with drummer Fergal Lawler in 1990. Following the departure of the group's original singer, Niall, the trio placed an advertisement for a female singer. Dolores O'Riordan responded to the advertisement and auditioned by writing lyrics and melodies to some of the band's existing demos. When she returned with a rough version of "Linger," the group hired her on the spot. Shortly after she joined, the band recorded a demo tape that they sold in record stores throughout Ireland. After the original run of 300 copies sold out, the group truncated their name to the Cranberries and sent another demo tape, which featured early versions of both "Linger" and "Dreams," to record companies throughout the U.K. The tape was made at Xeric Studios, which was run by Pearse Gilmore, who would later become their manager. At the time the tape was made, all of the members were still in their late teens.
The demo tape earned the attention of both the U.K. press and record industry, and there soon was a bidding war between major British record labels. Eventually, the group signed with Island Records. The Cranberries headed into the studio with Gilmore as their producer to record their first single, "Uncertain." The title proved to be prophetic, as the band did indeed sound ill at ease on the single, leading to poor reviews in the press, in addition to tensions between the group and Gilmore. Before they were scheduled to record their debut in 1992, the Cranberries discovered that Gilmore had signed a secret deal with Island to improve his studios. The tensions within the band became so great they nearly broke up. Instead, the band severed all relations with Gilmore, hired Geoff Travis of Rough Trade as their new manager, and hired Stephen Street, who had previously worked with the Smiths, as their new producer.
Mainstream success: 1992–1995
The Cranberries' debut album, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?, was released in early 1993, followed by the single "Dreams". Neither the album nor the single gained much attention, nor did a second single, "Linger". In the summer and fall of 1993, the band toured the United States, opening for The The and Suede, respectively; frequently, the Cranberries were given a friendlier reception than either of the headliners. The strong live shows led to MTV putting "Linger" into heavy rotation. By the end of the year, the single was on its way to becoming a crossover hit. Eventually, the single reached number eight on the U.S. charts, while the album went double platinum. Everybody Else and "Linger" began to take off in Britain in early 1994; the album eventually peaked at number one during the summer.
O'Riordan married the band's tour manager, Don Burton, in a much-publicized ceremony in July 1994. The marriage, as well as the group's videos, emphasized the singer as the focal point of the band. O'Riordan's position in the group continued to rise with the fall release of the group's second album, No Need to Argue. Boasting a slightly harder, more streamlined sound, yet still produced by Stephen Street, the record debuted at number six on the US charts and eventually outsold its predecessor. Within a year it went triple platinum, spawning the number one hit "Zombie" and the number 11 "Ode to My Family" on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. In 1995, the band continued to tour, and released two more singles "I Can't Be With You" and "Ridiculous Thoughts". The album went 5x platinum in Canada, platinum in Switzerland, and seven times platinum in the United States.
Middle era: 1996–2000
During the tour for No Need to Argue, rumors began to circulate that O'Riordan was going to leave the band to pursue a solo career, all of which the band vehemently denied. Nevertheless, the rumors persisted until the band began recording their third album with producer Bruce Fairbairn, who had previously worked with Aerosmith.
The resulting album, To the Faithful Departed, was a tougher, more rock-oriented album. However, this album failed to garner the same reception as its predecessors. On its spring release the album entered the charts, peaking at number 2 on the UK Album Chart and number 4 on the Billboard 200. Despite favorable reviews, the album did not match the sales of No Need to Argue. The album only went double platinum in the US and Gold in the UK, which was considerably less than its two predecessors' which were certified seven times platinum. The first single from the album was "Salvation" which peaked at number one on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. The second single from the album was "Free To Decide", the single's peak in the UK was 33.
During the autumn of 1996, the group cancelled their Australian and European tour, sparking another round of rumors that O'Riordan was about to launch a solo career. In early 1997 "When You're Gone" was released as a single in the United States, peaking at 22 on the Billboard Hot 100, thereby becoming the second single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 from the album; the first was "Free To Decide".
In 1999, the group released their fourth studio album Bury the Hatchet. The first single "Promises" was released in February. "Promises" would be the only single from the album to chart in the US and last single before their hiatus. The album peaked at 7 in the UK and 13 in the US. The album was certified gold in the US. The second single from the album was "Animal Instinct", which didn't chart in the UK, but it did chart in France, Austria and many others. The third and fourth singles were "Just My Imagination" and "You & Me", respectively. They had a guest appearance on popular television series Charmed, performing "Just My Imagination" on the episode She's a Man, Baby, A Man! The group started a world tour in April 1999 and it finished in July 2000. It was the biggest and most successful tour of the Cranberries' career.
The tour brought them back to Ireland for their first date since May 2000. They performed at Millstreet in County Cork. As the tour rolled on, the band released Bury The Hatchet - The Complete Sessions, a double CD featuring B-sides as well as live tracks taken from a live show in Paris.
Later years: 2001–2003
In October 2001, the album Wake Up and Smell the Coffee was released. The band's old producer, Stephen Street, had returned and produced their new music video. The album peaked at 46 on the Billboard 200. Its peak in the UK was #61. The first single released from the album was "Analyse", which didn't chart in the UK but charted in the US Adult Top 40 at #26 peak. In January 2002, they released the second single "Time Is Ticking Out", and some months later another one, "This Is The Day". None of the songs charted.
The following year a greatest hits album was released entitled Stars - The Best of 1992 - 2002 which was released along side with eponymous DVD of music videos. The album peaked in the UK was 20. The song "Stars" was released as a single from that album.
They started a European tour in mid October 2002, which ended in December of the same year. In mid 2003, the band played a few tour dates, some with the Rolling Stones (as opening act), and some alone. They performed two new songs during those dates ("Astral Projection" and "In It Together"), which were supposed to be released on the band's sixth studio album.
In September 2003, despite working on a new album, the Cranberries announced they were taking some time to pursue individual careers.
Hiatus and solo careers: 2004–2008
Since 2004 Dolores O'Riordan has been collaborating on a number of musical projects, before launching her solo career with the album Are You Listening? in 2007. Noel Hogan started a new project called Mono Band, whose first full-length self-titled album saw a limited release in 2005. He went on to form Arkitekt with singer-songwriter Richard Walters. Fergal Lawler was a member of The Low Network, whose first album was released in 2007. He has also worked with Walter Mitty and the Realists as well as The Last Days Of Death Country as both producer and musician.
The Cranberries reunited in January 2009 "to celebrate Dolores becoming an Honorary Patron of University Philosophical Society (Trinity College, Dublin)". While the group indicated at the time that this did not signify an official reunion, things seem to have changed.
On 25 August 2009 in anticipation of the release of her second solo album, No Baggage, O'Riordan announced that the Cranberries would be reuniting for a North American tour to begin in November 2009, followed by dates in Europe in early 2010. O'Riordan indicated that the band would be playing songs from her solo albums and a lot of The Cranberries classic hits, as well as some new group compositions. Denny DeMarchi who played the keyboard, guitar and sang backing vocals on O'Riordan's solo albums would also be touring with them.