By Jason Lamphier
Dolores O'Riordan and her former band, the Cranberries, achieved huge mainstream success in the '90s with the singles 'Linger,' 'Dreams,' and 'Zombie,' but then the band virtually disappeared. The new and improved Irish rocker discusses her first solo record, being a lesbian icon, and being voted the fourth worst singer in the world.
The obvious question: Why did you decide to release a solo album?
Well, it wasn't a calculated or conscious decision initially. I had been in the Cranberries for 14 years, and we had done so much together. I would do a Cranberries album, and then do a tour, and towards the tail end of the tour I would become pregnant. I would stop touring, and seven to eight months later I would have my baby, nurse my baby for three to six months, and then I would go back in the studio and back on tour. I wanted to spend some time at home. In 2003 I moved to Canada, and it was very inspiring because I was away from the concrete jungle and the tour bus. In the evening I would start playing the piano'when the kids were asleep'and it became a hobby again. Then I got Dan [Broadbeck, who co-produced the album] to come and stay at my house. In the evening I would put down my ideas, go downstairs, and then I would ask him, 'Could you structure them with Pro Tools, put some beats on them, try to vibe them up?' Then I'd go back upstairs with the kids and mash the spuds'very practical! Then I would go back downstairs in an hour and say, 'I really like what you've done with that, or maybe it's too hard there.'
Do you think your home life hinders or helps your songwriting?
It's definitely helpful. I had a nervous breakdown in 1995, and then on the [Cranberries'] third album I lost tons of weight. I couldn't sleep or eat because I was overworked. Having a family doesn't just fill your life with love, it also gives you something to do when you're not touring. One day you can be all dolled up in your garment, and the next day you walk in the door and it's like, 'Can you empty the dishwasher?' It brings you down to reality. I need balance because it just keeps me sane.
How would you describe this album?
It's more experimental because I had Pro Tools. I could work from my house without going into a big studio, which costs a fortune. Having all these people around you is intimidating. Suddenly you're in your own room and that element is gone, and there's no rush. You don't have to get somebody else's opinion and waste all that time hiring people. [With this album] I was at home for four years, and I wrote for the laugh, for the hobby, for the emotional release, I suppose. At home I would really experiment. I could really be myself.
The album's first single, 'Ordinary Day,' in which you reference your daughter, seems really uplifting, but it's still gloomy. The video is very moody, with you chasing a little girl through the streets of Prague. What was the concept behind it?
After my mother-in-law passed away, we were thinking that we wouldn't have any more kids. Later, we thought it would be great to turn over a new leaf in our lives. We had Dakota, and when she was born I realized how quickly my other children are growing up. I kept telling myself not to be insecure, to think happy thoughts. At the same time, I don't want them to have any difficulties in their lives. There are always thorns with the roses, so I'm just reflecting on that. Then 'Angel Fire' is saying that I want to get older because I want to get wiser, but I don't want to lose any more loved ones.