articles Part 1

 

Entertainment Weekly- 28/10/94

The Cranberries take their down-to-earth reputation seriously, but not literally. "I wasn't going to go into that mud!" laughs diminutive singer Dolores O'Riordan, 23, recalling the Irish quartet's Woodstock '94 performance this summer. "For me, it was just a gig where a few people at the front knew the Cranberries. I mean, we're not exactly Metallica, you know?" No, they're not. But after the double-platinum success of their alterna-lite debut, last year's _Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?_, the Cranberries have become America's favorite Irish band without a numeral in their name. But the predictable hype coloring their just-released second disc, _No Need to Argue_ (which debuted at No. 12 on the pop chart), should hardly faze the frighteningly young group, who've jumped through hoopla before. Offered the cover of _Melody Maker_ in 1990 on the basis of a six-song demo, the four then teens from Limerick nearly drowned in a tidal wave of British overstatement before they were even signed. "People were coming to the gigs expecting to see what they had heard about - the best band ever," recalls guitarist Noel Hogan, 22. "And we had some _really_ bad songs." Only after dumping their manager and outlasting the hype did the band - O'Riordan, Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan, 21 (Noel's brother), and drummer Fergal [sic] Lawler, 23 - release _Everybody_ in early 1993. Fortunately, says O'Riordan, "the first album didn't become successful until the second was practically written." And their sound hasn't changed: Aside from the new single, "Zombie" - which runs O'Riordan's lilt up against a rough-edged guitar - _No Need_ hews closely to _Everybody_'s saccharine sheen. "We're just trying to be normal," says Hogan. "We don't want to be grunge, alternative, indie - whatever you call it these days." And the "if it ain't broke" strategy is the best defence against a sophomoric hex. "If [our songs] didn't sell, I'd go back on the dole," O'Riordan says, unperturbed. "Although I don't think it could all go that bad."

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Vox: Eire and Graces

The cranberries' first album outsold all other debuts by an Irish band. As the release of their second coincides with a shaky kind of peace in Ireland, the band unveil a tougher approach and Dolores calls for the return of violent justice What's so enthralling about Dolores O'Riordan today, as she dances and poses in a Dublin studio, is the pencillength scar running down the lefthand side of her leg from her lower thigh to the topof her calf. Like a twist of clumsily applied dark lipstick, it's an endearing, flaw, and yet it also conveys a strength of character that seemed so lacking when The Cranberries first performed in Britain three years ago. That night, at London's Camden Underworld, they shuffled on before a thin crowd of curious hacks and business insiders. The teenage singer hardly faced the crowd long enough for the assembled photographers to snap a frame. Despite reverential talk of The Sundays, The Sugarcubes and the Cocteau Twins, and O'Riordan's astonishing, eloquent vocabulary of whoops, lilts and sights, the experience was nevertheless entirely underwhelming. The reviews unanimously failed to declare The Cranberries as the future of rock'n'roll. Dolores clutches the ankle of her brown, kneelength boot and gradually pulls her foot up to her bum, stretching the scar tissue taut in accordance with her physio's orders. "At 18 I left home because I wanted to sing," she recalls. "My parent s wanted me to go to college and things like that. I was really poor for a year-and-a-half; I remember actually being hungry, like I'd die for a bag of chips. That's when I joined The Cranberries. I wanted to live in the city, because I wanted to get tough as a woman. I knew that if I stayed at home...the only way, as a woman,you could get out of my house was to get married, that whole Catholic family thing. So I kind of did a runner." Six months after their debut appearance, The Cranberries released a single called 'Uncertain', one of the most depressingly self-descriptive records of recent memory. By then the consensus was that the original demo must have been a bit of a fluke. The Cranberries were officially missing, presumed for gotten.Then a Kafkaesque legal hassle with a former manager followed, and the band turned up for a show at Dublin's Rock Garden. They were hardly Aerosmith, but there was a quiet poise developing. The -odd people who showed up were impressed, perhaps more than they expected to be, but it all looked - for The Cranberries- like it might be over before it had really started. "I know," remembers Dolores. "People turned their backs on us-England, Ireland,everybody. We went to Europe then, supporting Hothouse Flowers, and we had Germans saying 'Wo ist der Hothaus Flowrz?'. I was thinking: What'll I do? Just give it all up? Go home? Go back to my mother's house, retire, get married, have ten children, what?" The turning point came in the autumn of 1992, when The Cranberries finished recording their debut Album for Island with former Smiths producer and Morrissey collaborator Stephen Street. It was a collection of gracefully arranged pop songs delivered in a voice destined to attract more elaborate metaphors about windsurfing angels than Liz Fraser or Harriet Wheeler could conjure. On 'Pretty', an eerie hiccup in the title word suggested the tape had been stretched.'Put Me Down' had a wordless chorus of surely impossible height, range and power. On 'Dreams', a neat slice of straightforward radio pop was subverted by a giddy descent into counterharmonising caterwauls. Clearly teetering on the cusp of greatness, The Cranberries played an arts festival in Wick, Scotland, 15 miles south of John O'Groats. Their journey from Limerick took them more than 40 hours by car and they went straight back home the following day. The 60 people and four adolescent Goths who turned up seemed to enjoy it, the rattling acoustics and Dolores' hour-long effort to vanish behind her fringe notwithstanding. As one of the 64-strong audience, I asked guitarist Noel Hogan what he and his band were doing there. "I have no idea," he replied, "at all." There was a brilliantly judged pause."And you?" over breakfast the next morning, Dolores informed her hungover fellow diners that the album would be called "Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?" When interviewed she was personable and gently opionated, but spoke in a voice barely audible over the tape hiss. Today, she says clearly: "I did realise that if I stood sideways for the rest of my life, it wasn't really going to happen. It was cute at the time, though." Dolores O'Riordan, in an eventuality that not long ago had seemed as likely as an IRA ceasefire, has become a pop star. The Cranberries sold two million albums in America alone, the largest sales for a debut from an Irish band. When you consider the competition, it's going some. "Yep," she confirms. "Whatever. Pop star, rock star, alternative rock. I can do all that." More surprisingly, she seems to be enjoying herself. Just a week ago she played to tens of thousands of people, kicking off the second day of Woodstock II in fine style, escaping just before the arrival of the torrential rain that turned the festival into a mudbath. She encouraged the mob to clap along to 'Dreams'. She got them to sing along to The Cranberries' version of The Carpenters' 'Close To You' while she did deadpan high-kicks back and forth across the stage. The night before, as a whirling ghost shrouded in white, she'd done the same before a capacity crowd of 6,000 in front of the Summer Stage in New York's Central Park. It seems quite a metamorphosis. "Of course, yes. I'm...I'm a woman now. I've travelled, I'm married, I've done lots of things and seen a lot now. Anyway, inevitably I would feel differently at 18 than when I was 21 or 22, wouldn't I?" Dolores got married - to Duran Duran's tour manager Don Burton, no less - in Tipperary, in white leather boots, bikini dress and lace leggings. She still guffaws at the memory. "They kicked up war in Ireland, controversy of the week, like, on the front page of everything. Giving out shit about my morals, they were. I thought it was a laugh." "Yeah, Yeah, I can. The time when we went to one big open-top venue on that American tour with Suede, this place that held 4,000 people, and it was all sold out. I just thought 'Oh Jesus'. Every song was too fast, we were so nervous. We kind of relaxed after that, though. You just take a few deep breaths, remember that you're still a human being and get on with it." This is Noel Hogan, asked if he can think of a particular moment when it became clear that The Cranberries had cracked it. Noel and drummer Fergal Lawler are sitting in the lobby of Manhattan's Novotel Hotel, a place with delusions of post-modern grandeur that resembles a Bulgarian disco. Noel is much as he was, cautious and quiet, old before his time, with a rather wonderful wintry wit that breaks cover only rarely. Fergal, on the other hand, breaks is a man playing the role he was born for. I'd once entertained the possibility that he was mute. This morning, he is the very model of a modern rock'n'roll drummer, his hair short and awkwardly bleached, his constant smile framed by a wispy go atee, yammering away at a mile-a-minute. He is charming ("Milk?Sugar?"), likeable, and not above blurting out that "at the end of the day we just play music that we like, and if anyone else likes it that's a bonus". Fergal is especially keen on not letting any of it go to his head. "There are bands - you see quite a lot of them in Dublin - who've made one album that hasn't even gone anywhere, and they're walking around in cowboy boots and leather trousers with sunglasses on indoors, walking into fuckin' walls. I hate people like that, I really do." Asked if they've ever once let the temptations of the rock'n'roll myth distract them, the pair fall briefly silent. "We trashed those Porsches, remember," says Noel, staring bleakly into his glass of milk. When reminded that his band have achieved more in less time than any other Irish act, he idly wonders:"Does that get us in the Guinness book, then?Must do. I'll keep an eye out for that." Noel seems genuinely surprised when confronted with the idea of his gradual elevation to the major league, and then shrugs. "We haven't really taken any notice. You can't become obsessed with everyone knowing who the band are, you know. We just always treat it like we would as if we were playing in...Wick." "For example," adds a giggling Fergal.Their memories of a recent fashion spread done for 'Rolling Stone' provide a reasonable illustration of their attitudes. "We always wear faily shitty clothes, just jeans and stuff," explains Fergal. "So we thought, why not try it out and do it for the laugh. We had a good crack, like." Did you keep the gear, then? "Yeah. I got mine for about 70 quid or something, which was much less than it was worth." "Well, I bloody gave mine back," says Noel. "Gladly. I mean, it did get boring after a while. And we were on the street in these really ...well, I thought, stupid-looking clothes. We were down in the East End of London, with all these winos coming up and... well, it was an experience, anyway." The night before in Central Park, we had been treated to the innovative spectacle of Noel in full-tilt guitar-hero mode, crouched over his amp, flailing away at his guitar, coaxing forth squalls of feedback. The song he was playing was 'Zombie', the first single from The Cranberries' imminent, laudably ambitious and again Street produced second album, No Need To Argue. It's an arresting song in style and content -the former, unabashed ringing rock; the latter, a seething condemnation of the IRA with Dolores bringing forth a fearsomely angry vocal 66rom a previously untapped reservoir of bile. Hardly the universally understandable lovelorn withfulness of 'Dreams' or 'Linger' and, as such, aneccentric choice of single. One senses the presence of A Statement of one kind or another."I know that a lot of people who listen to 'Zombie' won't even know what it's about," says Noel. "It's more the feeling of it. We don't want to be seen as a pop band, and 'Linger' and 'Dreams' are pop songs. We don't want to end up in this hole we can't climb out of." Dolores, who wrote "Zombie", is more strident about its subject matter. "It was written on an English tour about a year-and-a-half ago, when there was a big eruption of trouble between Northern Ireland and London, and it was doing my head in. For a while, things were gnawing at me about the whole bombings thing, and I was reading articles about what was going on in Bosnia and the way women and, more painfully, kids were being treated. "At that time there was the bomb in Warrington, and those boys were killed. I remember seeing one of the mothers on television, just devastated. I felt so sad for her, that she'd carried him for nine months, been through all the morning sickness, the whole thing, and some...prick, some airhead who thought he was making a point, did that. I mean, hello?" The fact that the IRA claim their atrocities are carried out for the greater good of Dolores' homeland seems to strike a particular dischord: "The IRA are not me. I'm not the IRA. The Cranberries are not the IRA. My family are not. When it says in the song,"It's not me, it's not my family", that's what I'm saying. It's not Ireland, it's some idiots living in the past, living for a dream. OK, I know that they have their problems up there, but there was no reason why that child should have been taken, why that woman should have gone through that." 'Zombie' is the only song explicitly about The Troubles to have been recorded by a major Irish group in recent years, unless you count American rappers House Of Pain's fatuous rebel blusterings. It hits home with the rawness of its sentiment and a blistering delivery. With so much discourse-cultural and political-on Northern Ireland concerned with history, protocol, ideology, semiotics and detail, Dolores wonders simply, incredulously, what a person is thinking when they detonate a bomb in a shopping arcade. "What's in your head, zombie?" she demands. "I really don't give a shit-excuse the vulgarity- but don't care whether it's Protestant or Catholic, I don't care whether it's England or Ireland. At the end of the day I care about the fact that innocent people are being harmed. That's what provoked me to write the song, it was nothing to do with writing a song about it because I'm Irish. You know, I never thought I'd write something like this in a million years. I used to think I'd get into trouble." As for the recent, sudden outbreak of precarious peace brought about by the Irish Republican Army's ceasefire announcement, Dolores in not exactly full of optimism. "It'd be marvellous if the country were at peace, but I'm a little sceptical that peace will remain." It rapidly becomes apparent that Dolores is one of life's compulsive carers, a haemorrhaging heart, someone incapable of viewing the world's ills with any kind of detachment. She talks of what she's been reading about Bosnia and Rwanda with genuine anguish. She appears truly mystified as to why bad things happen to good people, expressing feelings of guilt that she is living an enviable life while millions aren't. At times, thinking yourself clever and worldly and her naive and innocent, you feel as if you're discussing politics with Bart Simpson's little sister. At others, she has a way of scything directly through the bullshit that make you embarrassed at your own cynicism. And again, at other times, it all just gets a bit odd. Dolores is especially concerned about children. Another new song, the weird and wracked "The Icicle Melts", would appear to be a reaction to the murder of Jamie Bulger (" I don't know what's happening to people today/ When a child can be taken away "). "I love children," she affirms. "You know, kids, they're so innocent, and so afraid, and they're the future of the world. How can people harm them ?" But Jamie Bulger was killed by two other children; surely the young have the same capacity for evil as the rest of us? "I think if those two kids knew that the penalty for that was being hung by the neck, I don't think they'd have done it. I think hanging should be brought back for murder. I know it sounds sick and everything, but I do." Don't you think that even the most crime-weary Daily Mail-reading disciplinarian would baulk at stringing up pre-teens? "If they'd known beforehand, though...I still think the penalties are too nice. One of my brothers is a prison officer. I know, personally, people who have gone: 'I just got out of prison yesterday and I'm bored, I've got no money, I'm gonna steal a car and go straight back in.' Some people like it in there. What happened to the days of being thrown into the cell and being starved and beaten every day? At least make them bleed." She is possibly joking at this point. She will nonetheless run for Home Secretary without my vote. Despite a sense of justice and taste for retribution that seem to place her somewhere to the right of Terry Dicks, Dolores repeatedly speaks of wanting to use her position in some way for the common good. When asked whether she would give away much of the money she is likely to earn, she says she'd use it to stage concerts for causes, make an effort to "heal the world, make it a better place, blah, blah, blah..." It seems fair to wonder whether her hyperactive conscience is still tied in with the Catholic faith or any particular Christian belief. "Well," she says, "I was never like: 'Hello, I'm a Catholic and I'm into Jesus Christ and john and all the boys,' you know. When I was a teenager I was, like,falling asleep in church, but when it came to the hymns, then I was like yes!,because I loved the hymns, the Gregorian hymns." Great tunes. "Oh, great tunes. That's definitely where rock'n'roll came from!" She winks, and laughs. "I suppose being brought up a Catholic was good, as opposed to having a mother into voodoo or black magic or something. It could be worse." What did you think when Sinead O'Connor tore the Pope's photograph? "I thought...she's very hurt by the church. Well, not by the church, because the church is actually the people, but you know what I mean. She was taught too many things as a kid that she had a pretty hard time as a kid. "I did meet her briefly once. She had a great handshake, you know, I got a feeling that she was very honest. Too honest. She'd say things to me, and I'm like:'Shhh! Noooo, tell you boyfriend that, or write a song, or go to sleep, or watch television.'" Like Sinead, Dolores has had her share of emotional scars, and they run far deeper than the weal on her leg. "The Catholic church does, for some people, leave lots of scars. And I have to say I didn't come out smiling from my Catholic childhood. I had lots of problems, you know, lots of hang-ups. But you get over it and get on with life. Whatever was good, take that with you.Whatever was bad, get over it, get it out of your head, leave it behind. And that's what I think I did. I don't go to church very much any more, you know."

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Sky Magazine - October 1994

The Cranberries may be Ireland's most successful export since U2, but that doesn't stop lead singer Dolores O'Riordan from being even more barking than Bono. With a new album due for release in October Sylvia Patterson talks to her in Dublin. "Would you like to see my weddin' list?" Dolores of The Cranberries, indie Irish superstar, the voice behind the two million-selling debut album and sporter of a brand new bleached-blonde hairdo (and dressed in what appear to be two pastel-pink, silky nighties), is twittering like a 15-year-old in the first flush of hormonal imbalance. She thrusts at me the beautifully laid-out list of modern life's essentials for today's discerning rock star - bonny plant holders, wine glasses (tall), Mayers Three-Piece Straining Green Pot (&#163;29. 99). Very nice. "I'm gettin' married next week!" she tweets. "To Don - and this is Don..." Don is sitting at the desk of Dolores' Dublin hotel suite, scribbling. He's Canadian, sun-bleached of hair and lumber-jacked of shirt. He doesn't look up. Hello, Don. Er, hello Don. He still doesn't look up, so I march over and proffer a hand at his elbow. "Uh...yeah." He shakes his head ruefully and goes back to his scribbling. If this was my fiancÚ, I'd punch him up the left, as they say in Ireland. Dolores, on the other hand, beams. And then morphs before one's eyes from a frothy teenager into a 50-year-old fishwife having a blether down the post office. "So, will you be havin' a cup of coffee? Did you have a good flight? What time d'you get in? Sure that's a looovely accent you've got there, where d'you coom from?" This is not the Dolores O'Riordan of popular folklore - moody, arrogant and bitter. Who supposedly hates the press for supposedly ignoring the band in Britain yet lauding them in America. Still, she's an imminent bride, and imminent brides are supposed to act a little strangely. She also has other reasons to be perky. The Cranberries' debut album Everybody Else is Doing It, So Why Can't We? is now classed as something of a dream-pop classic. It's a lot like The Smiths (and was produced by Smiths producer Stephen Street) and features Dolores yodelling in a Morrissey-esque manner of the blokes who have left her (Linger), but never mind 'cause there's the future (Dreams). The band's second album, No Need to Argue (another Stephen Street production), arrives in October. As Dolores will tell you, it's far more dramatic than the whimsical debut, because "it's about the changes I've been through". The first single, Zombie, isn't just dramatic, it's apocalyptic, what with its disturbing drum thunderings, murderous guitar shimmers and Sinead O'Connor-style vocal acrobatics. "Violence causes silence," pleads Dolores the general idea being that war is not a good idea. She has, it seems, found a global world conscience. Two words immediately spring to mind: "Simple" and "Minds" (and while we're at it, "Oh" and "No"). Dolores perches on a settee and eyes the tape-recorder dubiously. The second it's switched on, her gleeful voice evaporates. Over the next two hours, her personality swoops erratically from friendly, confident young person to paranoid rock star. She either talks in a stream-of-consciousness or says nothing at all. The questions she hears don't appear to be the ones she was asked. Her school reports, surely, centred on the phrase "easily distracted". She has a lot of freckles and her thinly-plucked eyebrows are pencilled-in-again orangey-brown. "You just know..." she's saying of her decision to marry Don. They decided to get married 10 days - yes, 10 days - after meeting while The Cranberries were supporting Duran Duran on tour last year. (He's a businessman, working in tour and production management for rock giants across the globe). "I've had a lot of boyfriends and you know when you're in love, so you go for it. You get to the point where you want to settle down," she says. But you're only 22... "Yes, but my mother's turning up towards 50 and she hasn't seen as much as me, had as much global experience as me. Y'know what I mean? Travel and stuff." Don is 32 and Dolores, clearly besotted, loves his wisdom. He understands her hotel-hopping life. And he can teach her things, like how many hours it takes to put up a stage. (Answer: seven.) "I was really shocked, actually," she whispers, "about how much goes into it. Six big huge articulated trucks. And Don...supports me. And doesn't treat me like I'm Dolores from The Cranberries." And indeed the wedding, when it happens, is a lavish affair. It takes place in Holycross Abbey, just outside Tipperary. Dolores arrived by horse and carriage resplendent in an ivory lace and chiffon Cynthia Rowley number. A gossamer over-dress with suede briefs, a jewel in the navel, a crown and a gigantic flowing train. Don and his best man arrived on black mares, both being horse-friendly Canadians, both resplendent in all-over black leather. Bono and pals were invited but declined because they were on holiday. When Dolores sings "Oh-ho my life...is changing ever-ee dayee, in each and every wayee..." she isn't joking. April 1990. Limerick-based comedy rock combo The Cranberry Saw Us are disintegrating fast. They've got a lead singer who thinks he's Bob Monkhouse, while the musicians in the band think they're The Smiths (Noel Hogan, guitars; Mike Hogan, bass; Fergal Lawler, drums). The band boot out the singer, change their name to something less stupid, and ponder doing ephemeral instrumental tunes instead. They put an ad in the music press for a singer any- way. Dolores turns up. She's a master of vocal quaverings, and not bad at melodies either. She takes four of the guitarist's chords and writes a song about her first boyfriend at 17, a soldier. She calls it Linger. They make demo-tapes. The Irish press goes berserk. Geoff Travis, Rough Trade's &uuml;berlord and the man who first signed The Smiths, agrees and decides they'll be the first band he's ever managed, telling Dolores "people react to your songs exactly the way they did with Morrissey". They sign to Island America. The d&eacute;but appears, Britain says they're the new Sundays and nothing much happens. They tour America and everything happens. MTV decide Linger is a masterpiece and play it 47 thousand times a day. The album sales top a million. They tour there with The The, Duran Duran and Suede and the album sells another half-million (while Suede's, er, doesn't). Their record sales are now Nirvana-sized, and MTV invents Cranberries Days. They win the 1993 Irish National Entertainments Award for Best International Irish Rock Band - the first time in seven years U2 haven't won it. They return to Britain, and Dolores tells the journalists who were asleep the first time around they're all jealous of her. The singles scale the charts spectacularly. Then, at the start of 1994, Dolores keels over on the skiing slopes of the French Alps, sustaining a torn ligament. She's laid up for most of the year but makes a record, The Sun Does Shine and a video, sitting down, with pop ubiquity Jah Wobble, who tells the world Dolores' voice has a "rare, ancient, almost shamanistic element". They've just played Woodstock 2 in New York, and touring all over the universe commences any second now. Autumn, 1971. Dolores O'Riordan was born just outside Limerick, the youngest of nine children. Not long after she was born, her father, a farm labourer, was disabled in a motorcycle accident and never worked again. "I never really knew my father," she says. Her mother, to say the least, struggled. Aged five, Dolores could play the organ and sang in the church choir, where the local community swooned at the obvious gifts of the young O'Riordan. She was a tomboy: she wore shorts and always had scabs on her knees. She was a romantic but confused child. "I thought everything was very unfair," she says today. "I thought boys had an easier time. Girls were useless because they'd get pregnant so it was bad to be a girl." Dolores isn't sure where this notion came from but puts it down to Catholicism. Or it could be that Limerick is half a century behind the rest of the world. Known in Ireland as Suicide City and crippled by chronic unemployment, one Dubliner tells me that Limerick is "the arsehole of Ireland. It's full of inbreds who shag sheep". The other week a man there was arrested and charged with having sex not only with a cow, but with his children and his grandmother. Small town incarnate. Dolores hated school, where she felt she was dictated to. So she retreated into music, studying piano and music theory and singing daily to be in the choir. "I remember singing being the only thing that could get me the centre of attention." Dolores wanted out. She had her first job at 10, working in a canteen alongside her mother. She'd written her first song by the age of 12. Her mother wanted her to be come a missionary, but all Dolores wanted to do was sing and write songs. She didn't know much about pop but liked Duran Duran, and she'd heard of The Smiths. She wasn't allowed to join a band until after school. Then straight after, she ran away to join The Cranberries. Dolores is what you'd call a sensitive poet. After the first wave of press featuring criticisms of her "innocence" the pushing and shoving by the record company, her first business dealings (which culminated in a legal wrangle which is still going on) and the realisation that old friends from school "expected me to be a stuck-up famous pop star and wouldn't talk to me" she lost the plot completely. She was diagnosed as being clinically depressed. She was 19. "It's a callous, shark, cruel industry," she falters. "People abuse the things they've been given. So I just got sick. I was depressed, I was too young, I'd never travelled anywhere, I'd had no success and no achievements and suddenly I had all this attention and ridicule. I lost around three stone in weight. I was traumatised. I just wanted to be in my bed where I used to sleep when I was a little girl, when I was happy and there was no pressure and no paranoia and no hurt. I didn't want to get up ever again." Sometimes even now she'll freak, but she's learning how to be hard. Today, if the record company tries to put the pressure on, she'll say, "'Show me the handcuffs. Show me the warrant.' I've learned - and I'm not afraid of any journalists or anyone or anything." When Dolores isn't being just plain odd, she can be thoughtful, if serious, company, though there's little evidence of a sense of humour. Know any good limericks? "No." Oh, go on. just the one. "No. And I don't like cranberry juice either. But there are some forays into cheery trivia. Well, two. One: her earrings (10 ruby studs up the side of her right ear): "I think it's pretty." Two: her new bleached hairdo. "It's just fashion. It could be confidence. Like, I had long hair when the band started so I could hide behind it. I was so shy. But when Linger did so well I got a skinhead!" But she's much more concerned with the Big Picture. She's a worrier. She worries about the state of humankind. She's spent a lot of time in America, so she must have seen some shocking things. What's shocked you the most? "New York," she says. One awaits a critique of extremism in American society today. "The skyscrapers were pretty big and stuff. I knew they'd be big but I didn't expect them to be that big. "She watches the news and gets very sad over the struggles in the world between good and evil. She thinks - possibly correctly - that men are responsible for most of the trouble. "I think women are stronger," she muses, "because they stand behind the man." Pardon me? "Look at the world!" she howls. "Who starts the wars? Look at little boys. They play with guns. You never see little girls with guns and fighting. And men are always fighting. I think it's hateful." She hopes to be of some worth to the world by touching people with the honesty of her music. "I would hope to have a message for the world. Just to talk about the human side, human experiences. Like John Lennon." What do you mean? "Well...I think he was big on peace." She still believes in Catholicism to a certain extent ("It's just embedded in you"), and implores young girls not to "Give themselves away until they are loved. Which is what I did." She didn't actually sleep with the soldier who broke her heart, the one who inspired Linger. "I only kissed him twice. But the song was nothing to do with him, it was about me and the way I reacted to infatuation." She has never taken vast quantities of recreational drugs because she ears it would send her insane. "I don't think my brain could deal with it," she states. "But I tend to get on well with people who've done a lot of drugs because they seem to think the same way as me. Has anyone ever told you that you're quite mad? "See..." she begins, her voice shrinking to the size of a mollusc, "very few people actually know me at all." Who does? "Don." Who else? "One friend at home. But there are certain things that you can't even discuss with your closest girlfriend." No? "Well..." Dolores allows herself an incredulous laugh. "I mean, you're not intimately involved with them, are you?" You can only be close to someone you're having sex with? "Well, you're not going to talk to your girlfriend about what you're like in bed, are you?" It is very easy to mock Dolores Cranberry, but she'll have the last laugh. She'll be very rich and famous and live forever in a cottage by the shore - Dolores has bought a house and plot of land by the sea in Ireland where she and Don can escape - and people will say that she's so unhinged she must be a real genius. Possibly. I ask Dolores what her biggest personality change has been since her monumental success. Confirmed , she answers... She frowns, concentrating for once. "OK, let's see...confirmed means to strengthen. Like, if I had an appointment and it was confirmed, then it would be certain. So, everything I wanted and thought I could do since I was a little kid has been..." She sweeps her hand down and up in a huge tick sign. "Confirmed." The Cranberries have a new single, Zombie, out on 19 September, and a new album, No Need to Argue, out on 3 October.

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