With no game plan and little thought put in for the future, Niall decided it was time to leave. He wanted to work in music, but not with these guys. On the way out the door, he mentioned the name of a girl who was a friend of his girlfriend’s. “You might give her a try on vocals” he said.
While they were looking for a singer, that same girl was looking for a band. Something new. Raised on a mixture of traditional Irish music and Catholic hymns, Dolores O’Riordan had been singing since the age of three. Now in her teens she didn’t know what to do with the rest of her life. But she knew she could sing.
“There was no real pressure to get a job,” she says. “I was still in school. I didn’t have to make any crucial life decisions – yet!”
When she heard there was a band looking for a singer she decided to go along and audition for them in their rehearsal room. She didn’t know them. But she had nothing to lose. It was May 1990.
“The minute she started singing,” Ferg smiles as if looking back on an old snapshot, “We thought we had something. We were stunned.”
They ran through a few numbers that Noel had written.
“That was it,” Noel remembers. “I had a tape of some of the music. I asked her to go off and write some lyrics for it. The next week she came back to the rehearsal room and she sang “Linger”!
It was chemistry from the start. And though they still didn’t know where to take this, they knew there was something special in the air.
“We still hadn’t a clue what we were doing, ” says Delores, thinking back. “But we were doing it.”
Their first gig together as The Cranberries was in September 1990, in a small Limerick venue called “Ruby’s” where the band played to an audience of 60. Among the numbers performed were originals penned by Noel and Dolores, sparking a writing partnership that continues to this day.
Fergal describes how after a few more local gigs, they put what original music and vocals they had together in a six-track demo called “Nothing Left At All”. More than 300 copies were snapped up by a growing base of fans. And on the advice of a friend they posted a copy off to a couple of record companies, including U2’s label, Island Records.