Dolores O’Riordan is singing “Linger” while playing a gleaming white guitar that’s almost half her size.
As the diminutive musician hums her way through the song’s familiar intro, she smiles and nods her head a little as though she’s just remembered an important kiss or something sweet one of her children told her. We weren’t expecting her to play “Linger,” arguably the Cranberries’ most beautiful hit and the one that gave the Irish rock band its leg up to global stardom in the early ’90s. In truth, we weren’t expecting O’Riordan to perform anything at all, but when somebody shows up for an interview handling a guitar, you’ve got to ask for a tune. Come on! So when O’Riordan, 37, started to pluck away at that spine-tingling song that harks back to her days as the moody-cum-boisterous ‘Berries lead singer — wait, she didn’t want to play something from her brand new solo album instead — I almost tripped over in my haste to get out of the way so our cameraman could capture the moment. O’Riordan’s nostalgia, it turns out, has a purpose. Watch O’Riordan talk about the chills she had making her album During our interview, which took place the same day O’Riordan’s second solo disc “The Baggage” was released in the U.S., she officially shared the news that the Cranberries are to regroup. Technically, she says, they never split up and have merely been on hiatus since 2003. But there’s no need to let that linger. Here’s what you need to know, berry by berry (sorry): The weight of “No Baggage” Some might argue that solo Dolores sounds no different from front woman Dolores, but being in control of all her material allows O’Riordan to get personal as she does on “No Baggage” (Rounder Records). The song “Skeleton” deals with not being able to outrun the skeletons in your closet. “Lunatic” addresses the hassles of fame. Give lead single “The Journey” a spin, and check out the music video to see some lovely scenery from the Emerald Isle. It was filmed around Dublin Bay on a chilly, windy day. When she takes off her musician hat … O’Riordan has four kids and divides her time between her homes in Dublin, Ireland, and Ontario, Canada (check out the “No Baggage” album cover for a peek at the lake outside the latter residence). She’s been married to her manager, Don Burton, for 15 years, and in that time has never taken off her wedding ring. Even if she wanted to she couldn’t. It’s stuck on her finger. She also wears … Funky shoes. In the ’90’s, O’Riordan was known for her chunky Doc Marten boots, but she showed up to our interview in sequin and gem-encrusted Converse sneakers (“They’re deadly, aren’t they”). She bought them on the Champs Elysees in Paris, France, which she says is one of her favorite places to shop. TV isn’t normal … She’s relaxed and goofy in interviews, though she admits that live television gives her the willies. The Cranberries went on hiatus because … Says O’Riordan: “We all had little children. We all had personal challenges going on in our life. I wanted to know who the heck I was if I wasn’t in a Cranberry.” She wants to be “in a Cranberry” again because … A performance with fellow ‘Berries Noel and Mike Hogan at an event in Dublin in January proved to be a bit of a wake-up call: “It made me realize that I actually feel really comfortable with them, more so than anyone.” The Cranberries will ripen … The Cranberries tour is slated to kick off in November in North America. But it won’t be an all-out greatest hits fest. Expect O’Riordan to mix her solo work into the set list. The band plans to work on a new album together in 2010.
Oh, and did you know … O’Riordan was only 18 years old when the Cranberries found success with their debut album “Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We” Brothers Mike and Noel Hogan were 16 and 17, respectively.