A new expanded reissue of this Irish band’s second album, No Need To Argue (1994), is a reminder (as if we needed it) of the terrible loss of Dolores O’Riordan in 2018. The album featured their mega-hit “Zombie,” and the surviving Cranberries have created a new video for the song “The Daffodil Lament,” featuring footage from the recording sessions. Bob Gourley spoke with Cranberries’ guitarist Noel Hogan and drummer Fergal Lawler about the album and the band’s legacy for PKM.
Formed in Limerick, Ireland, in 1989, The Cranberries went on to become one of the top-selling Irish bands in the world thanks to such hits as “Linger” and “Zombie.” Tragically, their career was cut short by the death of frontwoman Dolores O’Riordan in early 2018. The group was able to complete a final album, In the End, with material O’Riordan had already recorded, but it marked the end of The Cranberries as an active band.
Their legacy has lived on, with artists covering their work and new audiences discovering their music online (“Zombie” has racked up over a billion views on YouTube). The Cranberries have also been reissuing albums in expanded editions. A 25th-anniversary reissue of their debut Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? (1993) was released in 2018, and now they have re-released its follow-up, No Need To Argue (1994). The album features their breakthrough hit, “Zombie,” and the added B-sides, live tracks, and rarities bring this edition to whopping 36 tracks. The group has also created a new video for the song “The Daffodil Lament,” featuring never-before seen footage from the album recording session.
The group was initially known as The Cranberry Saw Us and consisted of brothers Noel Hogan (guitar) and Mike Hogan (bass), Fergal Lawler (drums), and singer Niall Quinn. While Quinn did not stay with them long, the group credits him with showing them the ropes of working as a band. O’Riordan joined in 1990, quickly establishing a productive songwriting partnership with Noel Hogan and cementing the sound that brought them acclaim.
PKM: How did this expanded reissue of No Need to Argue come about?
Noel Hogan: Well, we did the first album; we had spent about two years working on that. And it got such a great response that immediately the record company had asked us if we would be interested in doing the same for this album. It was quite enjoyable doing the first one. We were finding stuff and going back, and it was bringing up a lot of memories—nice memories of our time. So, we thought, yeah, it makes sense to do it again. We knew there would not be as much to find with the second album. When you do your first album, there are many years before anyone knows you, and you have all those years of stuff that you would have forgotten about out there that you can find. Whereas with the second album, we had become kind of successful, and lot of what we did between the first and second had already been released. So, the hard part this time is to find stuff that really had not been released and go through a lot of old gigs and things like that, stuff that we’d almost forgotten about.
PKM: What was it like revisiting the album? Have your opinions or perceptions of it changed at all over the years?
Noel Hogan: I don’t know about the other guys, but for me, once the album is out, that’s it. I don’t ever listen to it again. And it’s not that I make that decision. It’s just that you’ve heard it so many times and then you’re playing it live that, you know, it’s hard to listen to it as somebody else does. And you almost forget what is on there. Little things in a song that you would never do live that you forget about over time and especially 25 years. So, the nice thing about doing this is that you’re going back and discovering, “Oh yeah, I remember that. I remember this and how I came up with that.” And of where your head was at during that time. It’s a nice surprise. And when you get the kind of newly remastered versions and sit down, it’s the first time in over 20 years that I would have listened to the album from start to finish. Personally, I think that it’s held up very well. It still sounds as good as it did then and how we hoped it would.
Fergal Lawler: I have very fond memories of this album, just the whole process of making it and everything. And the way it turned out. It was probably our most successful album, but the experience of making it and everything was just fantastic. We were on a high, really, from the success of the first album, and we had just finished over a year of touring nonstop. So, we kind of took a break for Christmas and then, I think in February, when we went in to record in The Manor in Oxford. We did maybe four weeks out there and then took a break and went off on a skiing trip, where Dolores injured her knee. Then we went into London to The Townhouse to finish it off. Dolores was actually in hospital then recovering from her accident, but we had lots of tracks that we had recorded at The Manor that we work on our parts on. When she came out of the hospital, she finished her parts and then her vocal bits.
PKM: Are there any particular songs from No Need to Argue that you feel changed as you played them live over the years?
Noel Hogan: The obvious one for me is a song called “Ridiculous Thoughts.” I like the album version, but it’s quite tame compared to the way ended up being live. It grew into this monster that was a really big favorite of the fans when we played it. And certainly, as the years went on, it became a heavier song and a longer song. It kind of transformed itself into something else over time. And the way it is on the album is how we wrote it and the way we played it at that time. Even things like “Dreams,” from the first album, got heavier and more rocky as time went by. Because you improve as a player and you also realize that what you’re doing on the album doesn’t quite translate live. So, you wind up playing in a different way and some do take on a different life when you do that then.
Fergal Lawler: “Ode to My Family” became more of a sing-along with audiences, the “doo doodoo doo” parts especially. It was more of an intimate song when it started off, but then when you play things live, they always tend to get more … not aggressive but having a different kind of power because everyone is full of adrenaline in the audience. There is an energy there that isn’t there in the studio; it’s a different feeling.
PKM: How did the making of No Need to Argue compare to your debut, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We??
Noel Hogan: Well, it was funny for me, as the first and second album were almost written in one long run. I met Dolores, and we began writing together on the very first day. It’s like having a new relationship when a couple meets, and suddenly there’s all this kind of chemistry in the beginning. We wrote the first album, and we went in and recorded it, but we were still writing the whole time. It’s not like we stopped because we had the album done and then we started touring. So, we had some of these songs more or less around the time of recording the first album.
Obviously, the band became big, and we were constantly touring. It made the band tighter, and we certainly had a lot more confidence going into the second album than we did on the first. We went in with Stephen Street the first time. And we were very young; myself and the two boys particularly hadn’t been playing instruments that long. Dolores had been playing since she was quite young. So, we were in with this kind of big-shot producer. He had done the Smiths and Morrissey’s solo album. He’d come off that. And we’re kind of going, “Oh God, I’m out of my depth here,” but we just clicked with him. He became and still is a very good friend of ours, but at the time, we thought, “God how’s this going to go?”
I met Dolores, and we began writing together on the very first day. It’s like having a new relationship when a couple meets, and suddenly there’s all this kind of chemistry in the beginning.
Whereas we went in for the second album with Stephen, it was already a relationship established with him. And it didn’t feel like that long since we had done the first album. So, we just went in and did it and just completely enjoyed it from day one, all the way through. We went in, and it was kind of like bang, that one’s done, let’s move on. We’d obviously go back and do more guitars and vocals later. But Mike and Ferg, in particular, were very, very tight from all the touring. So, it was like the perfect storm. We had all these songs that we were just writing and writing all the time and then being so tight from playing live constantly. Everything pointed in the right direction for us to go in and do this album.
Fergal Lawler: Touring was very beneficial, playing every single night and in some cases it was two concerts. I remember in St. Louis it was sold out and there were people outside the door going bananas. And the promoter said, “look, how about you do one gig at like eight o’clock and then finish at like 9:30 or whatever it was. And then take a break for half an hour and go back on again and do another gig?” So, they cleared out the audience after the first gig, we took a half an hour break, and they brought a different audience, and then we went down and played it again. It was just madness that I couldn’t believe it. Playing every single night really helped build our confidence, and just playing as a unit, we became really tight and really in sync.
Obviously, we had played “Zombie” a lot on that tour. Before we even recorded the second album, that song had been on the setlist for a long time. We knew it was going to be a popular song. I think that’s kind of why we chose it as the first single, because it was a new song that people hadn’t heard before. But when we played it live, people went nuts for it and got a great reaction. So we kind of had to push for that to be the first single because everyone was kind of saying, “Oh, I don’t know … radio stations might not play it, and the subject matter is a bit heavy,” this and that. And we said, “look, we’ve been playing it every night for the past year. And the reaction is incredible from the audience, and it’s a song they don’t know, yet they really react well to it.” We really feel it should be a single and would be a strong single. So eventually they agreed, and it was huge. And another one I think is “Daffodil Lament.” It’s a beautiful song, and it’s kind of two or three different sections to it. We’d played that a good bit live as well. We were kind of worried about when we got in the studio, because we were saying, “geez, you know, it’s going to be a hard one to record because there’s tempo changes and things go up and down,” but we just went in and played as we would have live. And then it went smoothly. It was perfect. We thought it would be hard, but it was fine. Playing stuff like that really helps a lot.
PKM: Did you have any idea “Zombie” would be so big, and become the song you are most known for?
Noel Hogan: No, not at all. It still is a surprise. I still don’t know what it is. It just grabs everybody. That was one of Dolores’s songs, and I remember the day she came in with it. We were in this tiny little garage that we used to rent, with no heating. It was a particularly cold day, and she started playing it. We kind of just started joining in, and she was like, ‘no, no’ because we were still quite a soft-sounding band at that time. And she said like, ‘look, it’s a more aggressive song, and I’d like the drums to be hard and the guitars…’ For us, this felt a bit different, but we are more than happy to do it. So we went off and bought a distortion pedal, and we put it in the set. The record company wasn’t too pushed to go with as a single. Obviously, the subject matter is something that a lot of record companies would like you to stay away from. And, it wasn’t the Cranberries sound, I guess, up to that point. People knew us for “Dreams” and then “Linger.” So this was a different direction, but as we all know now, it worked out well for everybody involved.
Fergal Lawler: I mean, we knew it was something different, and we knew it was a new kind of powerful side to us, and we hadn’t gone down that road before as such. Nothing has heavy as “Zombie,” I will say. But I never expected it to be the anthem that it has become.
PKM: Did it lead to any pressure to follow it up?
Noel Hogan: No, like the only thing I remember at the time is that people started to think of us as a political band. If you listened to most of the other songs, like 95% or more were about relationships. Because that’s what Dolores sang about a lot, she wrote about stuff she felt strongly about. It was just in this particular case, there was the Warrington bombing that had happened. We were on tour and I remember she was watching CNN a lot. We were in countries where there wasn’t a lot of choice in TV at the time. CNN was obviously in English, so you’re kind of more up to date with current affairs than any other time in your life.
She saw this and thought it was horrible and wrote the song about that then. Then it was like the next song after that, whatever one it was, was back to the other subject of relationships. So, I guess the biggest fallout of it was a few years of people asking our thoughts on every kind of political situation. To be honest, you’d have your opinions, but you wouldn’t be up to speed with some of it like people expected you to be. It took a while for that to kind of subside. But I mean, we never felt pressured to produce the next hit. I think the song “Ode To My Family” came out after that, a completely different style of song again.
The Cranberries – Ode To My Family
Fergal Lawler: We put pressure on ourselves more so than feeling it from outside. How can we do something better, or how can we do something different? Because as a musician, you want to make music to please yourself. If I weren’t in the band, would I like this song? And that’s kind of always the way we’ve approached things rather than saying, you know, “Oh, we should change this or we should change that because maybe the audience might like it.” We’ve never been like that. If you’re trying to please everyone else, then you’re being fake.
PKM: You mentioned Stephen Street, who produced your first two albums and then returned for Wake Up and Smell the Coffee. But prior to that you’d scrapped sessions done with another producer. What were the problems with that initial recording, and how might have the experience helped shape your future sound?
Noel Hogan: It was massively overproduced; that was the problem. It was a guy who, I think, had never produced an album for a signed band before. He’d done a lot of demos. He had done all our demos, and we had a good relationship with him. I think the pressure that he felt when suddenly we were doing an album that was going to be released worldwide, and nobody knew who we were, but he just put that kind of pressure on himself and felt that it had to be different and better than he had done before. But in the process of trying to do that, it became a completely different sound to what we were at that time. After about three weeks of that, we knew ourselves that this was just not us; it wasn’t how we sounded. And we had to, unfortunately, part ways with him then.
I guess we were young, and the guy was very much pushing his ideas on us. I don’t think anyone wanted to offend him, and we just went with it. And then it became obvious when we all started to avoid the studio. We were kind of “were you up there today?” “No, were you?” you know, we were stopped bit by bit. Nobody wanted to say it, but then we finally sat down the four of us one Saturday, and we were like, “this is not going well, blah, blah, blah.” And then we said, “look, we need to scrap this and go back to what our demos sounded like.” This is basically what the albums sound like now, but they are far better produced and played better.
Fergal Lawler: We would be like spending a whole day trying to get the toms to sound right. We just wanted to get on and do it and play and have it recorded. But he was kind of taking it all too seriously and couldn’t handle the pressure. So we realized after a couple of weeks, this isn’t going to work out. We spoke to our A&R guy, Denny Cordell, who signed us. He had been a producer with Tom Petty and Procol Harum and stuff, so he knew the industry from that perspective. He wasn’t just like a businessman. He was more of a music guy, and we said, “look, we want someone else to produce it. It’s not going to work out with this guy.”
Noel Hogan: And instead of freaking out, because money had been spent obviously, he said, ‘look, who do you want to do it?’ And we had been big fans of the Smiths and Viva Hate, the Morrissey solo album out at the time, the first one. And boldly, I asked, ‘could you ask Stephen Street?’ thinking there’s no way this will happen. And sure enough, we didn’t know, but Stephen had seen us play at the Marquee in London a few months earlier. And he agreed to do it.
Fergal Lawler: We did a week in Dublin with Stephen and then just clicked with him straight away. And then after that week, the record company was happy. We were happy. Stephen was happy. So, we went back in and finished everything off.
The Cranberries – Dreams (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Aftershow)
PKM: Reading about the “Zombie” video hitting a billion views on YouTube reminded me of Doors and Windows, the interactive multimedia release that came out after No Need to Argue. It was notable because, in addition to being viewable on a computer, it worked on Compact Disc-Interactive players [an early, short-lived format aimed at bringing interactive content to the living room, with a special TV set-up box.] How involved was the band with that? What do you think of it now?
Noel Hogan: Yeah. It’s funny; I saw it recently, bits on YouTube, and thought, ‘Oh my God, what were we thinking?’ But at the time, when we were approached about it and went to see very rough ideas. It had never been done. So, we said, “yeah, it sounds interesting, and let’s give it a go.” It was explained quite well to us, the way it would work. Unfortunately, I don’t think the technology was quite there, with the big ideas that everybody had. But it was certainly worth doing in that you can look back in it now, and some of it’s awful, but it does capture a time. I guess it was an early technology, and these things have to come and fail before the next thing arrives. It does always lead on to the next step forward in this. When we did it, we had a lot of fun, but it wasn’t quite there. It couldn’t deliver on what it had promised.
Fergal Lawler: I remember seeing it again a couple of years back, and it’s a bit cringy, to be honest. But it was new technology then. I remember we went into a studio, and we had to do stuff on a blue screen. Like “reach up and touch this” and this kind of thing. This door will open, and you know, you go into this room, and you’ll see the song. And then the video played. They were trying to explain what’s going to happen. We felt a little bit uncomfortable doing it, but you know, we were trying something different. We wanted to embrace the technology and the technological advancements of the time, which now seem a little bit dated. Maybe I would like to have had a bit more input into the whole look of it, but it was all new back then, and we were a bit naive in that regard, I think.
And we had been big fans of the Smiths and Viva Hate, the Morrissey solo album out at the time, the first one. And boldly, I asked, ‘could you ask Stephen Street?’ thinking there’s no way this will happen.
PKM: The Cranberries actually started with a different singer. What was that original incarnation like?
Noel Hogan: With the other singer, it was a completely different band sound-wise. The short version of that story is that we, myself and the two boys, began playing together. We used to go to a lot of gigs around Limerick, where we grew up. We started to notice that many of the guys in the bands were guys who drank in the same bars as us. We kind of grew up with them and went to the same places. So, we knew them and kind of figured ‘look, anybody can do this. We’re into music. Let’s do it.’ The fact that we couldn’t play any instruments wasn’t going to be a deterrent. So we went off and got instruments and then met a friend of ours, Niall, who was already in a band that was known locally [The Hitchers].
I met him on the street one day, and he just said, “Look, I’ve got these other songs.” He was the drummer in the other band, but he wanted to be a singer and had songs. He was looking for a band that would play his songs, basically. And we had not a clue how a band setup worked or how we even to write a song. So, the good thing about that was how he came in, and he was like, “look, you play this, you play that.” And we learned how it all worked, as opposed to wandering around aimlessly on our own for a while.
Fergal Lawler: The songs were kind of almost comedy songs, you know, tongue and cheek. As the year went on, we were going, ‘Jeez, I don’t know if this is the kind of thing I want to do.’ And then I think Niall wanted to go back and focus more on The Hitchers. I think they were starting to get some record company attention and stuff.
Noel Hogan: We did a demo with Niall. And I had written my first song ever for that demo. It was the start of the writing process and learning how that works. Very simple stuff, but it definitely helped, and I started to think I could actually write a couple of songs. There are four songs on that demo; three are one particular story, and that fourth one is a completely different type of song.
And from that, Niall left, and the three of us decided to keep going on our own. I’d come in with ideas, and we’d kind of basically ended up with a collection of instrumental songs. We started to learn how the structure of a song works. After six months, we met Dolores through Niall. She came in, and she played, I think it was about two songs, one of her own. And I think she did a Sinead O’Connor song for us. And then we played her a couple of instrumentals that we had had. Dolores wanted a band that didn’t do cover versions, and we didn’t want to do cover versions. At the time, a lot of bands did that because there was money in it. You could play weddings and play at bars and all that kind of stuff. Whereas playing original stuff, there was no money in it. But we were all basically at school anyway, so it was a hobby for us. So, we weren’t doing it for that. And straight away when Dolores’s voice went on to the songs that I had written, something just happened. “Linger” was the very first song. I gave her the cassette. She came back later that week; something clicked straight away, and that was it.
The Cranberries – Linger
Dolores was just that final thing we needed to glue it all together. Obviously, her voice was stunning, and we kept wondering how come she wasn’t already in a band? How could we be this lucky? Eventually, we did our demo with Dolores, and that was what changed everything. We did the demo for ourselves and never had any plans to do anything with it until we played it for our friends and our families. And they were all saying, “you should send this off to record companies.” And that was the first time we had ever considered it. That seemed like something that you did if you lived in London or New York or something like that. It wasn’t something someone in a small town in Ireland would say. It seemed a bit farfetched, but we did it anyway and, and suddenly people were listening.
PKM: Did you find that you Dolores shared influences, or were there differences that impacted how your sound together evolved?
Noel Hogan: A bit of both. Myself and the boys, we grew up together. Mike’s my brother obviously, and Ferg I’ve known since I was about 14. That’s the kind of age where you start to find bands that will heavily influence you for the rest of your life. I’d listen to bands like The Cure and The Smiths, New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen, those kinds of things. A lot of indie kind of English bands – that’s what we wanted to sound like. And particularly, I guess the one band we all agreed on, the three of us and Dolores, was The Smiths. It was the first band who I think we all went, “yeah, we love them.”
The thing with Dolores is she liked that stuff, but she had all this kind of traditional Irish music influence that she had grown up with. Dolores grew up outside of Limerick in the country. Not only that, but she grew up with a lot of church music. She used to sing in the choir. So, she had all these other influences going on as well. That gave her a very distinct sound, a mixture of these guitar-y bands with all this other stuff that she would have grown up singing since she was about four years old.
When I started writing with her, I just wanted to be Johnny Marr. But Dolores kind of wanted to be herself. She loved Morrissey, and she loved the monks who sang in the church at the same time. So, there’s a great combination that gave her that very distinct sound that only she had. With the melodies that I would try and put in between the music and what she sang, and then the way the boys brought in their parts, it just gave us a sound that nobody else had.
PKM: I know that long-time fans get excited about these expanded-edition re-releases, but do you ever think about how to keep the Cranberries legacy alive by introducing your music to new audiences?
Fergal Lawler: Yeah, it’s funny; they seem to be finding us themselves. A lot of younger fans. There’s been a couple of cover versions of “Dreams” and stuff that came out recently, and a lot of fans, newer fans kind of arrive and go, “Oh, I didn’t know that that was a Cranberries song.” And then they go and investigate further. And then things like “Zombie” hitting a billion views. I mean, a lot of younger fans, my kids especially, watch or listen to their music on YouTube. I’ve often asked them because they don’t buy CDs or anything. They’d be listening to a new song, and I ask, “where did you hear this song?” And it’s like “Oh, YouTube.” So they kind of listen to everything on YouTube. That’s where they are finding new songs. So, I mean, having a billion views on YouTube obviously is going to influence a younger audience who will go, “who is this band that has a billion views?”
We released recently “Daffodil Lament;” we did a lyric video for it because fans had been calling for that song to be maybe released as a single or whatever. We did the video because it had never been a single, and there never was a video for us. That worked out really well. We used some footage we had from the Manor recording sessions, where Stephen had bought a handheld video camera. We had taken it and went off and recorded everything, really. There’s some nice, sweet kind of bits of us laughing and having fun while recording. And maybe it’s a side that a lot of people wouldn’t have seen of us before.