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.”