INTERVIEW: The Coronas’ Danny O’Reilly chats North American dates, the band’s progression and what’s to come!
October is already tiring this lady out but I got to keep my energy up for when Dublin’s kings The Coronas make their way back to Boston on October 20th at The Sinclair in Cambridge. From the vibes that were their last headliner in Boston which happened at the holy grounds that is Great Scott, it is sure to be a night filled with Irish grins, all the Jameson and group singalongs! I chatted with front man Danny O’ Reilly to chat their crazy summer, the roots of the band’s songwriting process and what they are most looking forward to in their journey coming back to the states. As well, O’Reilly gave an in depth look into their time spent starting on an independent label and how that experience helped them into creating their own label, with a little peek into their major label as well.
Tickets are still available for their show in Cambridge, you can find tickets here. Find us in the crowd as we to see how The Coronas are just going to continue growing in the states, to our glee.
You just came off a pretty busy summer. I know you have a little bit of time home right now with a crazy fall but you did just headlined Electric Picnic. How has this summer been for The Coronas? Maybe highlights, favorite festivals, that kind of thing?
Yeah no I mean Electric Picnic just passed. It was surprisingly amazing. We had a big show in Dublin at 3 Arena which we were also a little afraid of and that was amazing. It was probably our biggest show. We filled the 3 Arena to a huge capacity and we were delighted. That went really well and we had a couple good shows. We’ve enjoyed touring. I think with Electric Picnic, we just sort of said it will be a fun little festival at the end of the summer. But the crowd we had and the reaction we had on Saturday was pretty great. It was just one of those things that stood out to us that was really special. I guess with festivals you never know what it’s going to be like. We headlined the second day but we were on after midnight so we didn’t know what sort of crowd it would be like. Would they be rowdy, would they be drunk but they were one of the best crowds we’ve ever had. So that personally springs to mind when you talk about a highlight.
Well, Lollapalooza is sort of a personal highlight for the band. We’re all really proud of it. We love that festival, we’ve been there twice before just as punters (fans), we’ve gone to see other bands. We lived in Chicago for a summer so that was really a special moment for the band. Definitely something to check off our list.
Then like I said before, you had a really crazy summer. Then in two weeks, you’re coming to Canada then coming back to the US. It hasn’t been too long since you’ve been in the US. At least in Boston, I know you were only here in November. Maybe plans for these shows? For people that haven’t come to see The Coronas yet, what can they expect? How have you been planning these next shows stateside?
Well it’s funny. We have toured America before but the tour last time in a weird way felt like a new beginning for us. We had a new agent and new label. It just sort of seemed like we were taking a different approach to it and we really felt like we were building something. We still feel like that so it will be nice to see how it’s developed in going back to places that we played as you say not too long ago. Only last November. To see the faces again and take these shows to the next level. Because that’s the way we did it in Ireland. We started off in small venues here, never had any overnight success. It was always a small progress, moving up through the venues. Getting people to come back and see us again and putting on a better show. Changing up the set list and predicting depending on the size of the venues, putting on a different show. Basically this time around, the venues seem to be just slightly bigger. We’re playing Irving Plaza in New York which I can’t wait for. It feels like we’re taking a step up and fingers crossed, the shows go well.
Then speaking of that, I know you say that it’s the same way you guys did it in Ireland. I know Kodaline, also from Ireland, having that similar progression here in the states. Continuously coming back just as an example. Maybe advice for other Irish bands to take that step and come to America, maybe advice or tips for coming to the US?
Yeah, it’s a tough thing. I get asked that all the time and to be honest with you, I wish I had the answer. I get asked for advice from other bands all the time. Touring is great. It’s so important to us anyways. Getting on the road, as much as you can. Even if you’re playing small venues. For the first couple of times when we came to the states, we lost money but it was still unbelievably worth doing. We are on a label so we can make those sort of decisions. But it was all worth doing it because now we’re getting to the stage where we can be practical with the shows and make it viable. I would suggest if you can, play any sort of small venues. Just go, don’t wait around. When we signed to Island Records in the UK, they had plans to promote us but it did involve sort of a waiting strategy. To see what radio picked up on, which singles. In the end, we didn’t get on the road at all. We did feel that it put us back a little bit because we had been to America before we got signed. With this album, we were in control. We started our own label and we’ve had the busiest two years of our lives. Thankfully, it’s all gone in the right direction clearly. It’s even more satisfying when it’s your own label. Because it’s very easy to get down a little about a record label if things don’t go well but our biggest issue was we wanted to work. We wanted to be out there touring. Build on our foundation in Europe and build on our foundation in America. We wanted to go out and do it. Build it up like we did at home. As opposed to resting on what it is at home and just capitalizing on that. Without that, you have to work even harder. You can be a touring band and put on a good show and get people coming out. Spread the word of mouth without getting played on these stations. So yeah advice to young bands would be just to work hard and try to do as much touring as possible.
And you brought it up now how the band is in a place where you have your own label now. You’re releasing your own music. Maybe how has that experience been? I know you’ve been a band pretty much since college and The Corona’s have put out five albums.
It’s been great! Because the first couple albums, we were pretty much on an independent label in Ireland. We were heavily involved in helping them in letting us go off and do what we thought was best. So to a certain extent, we had a pretty independent label the first couple albums anyhow. It was independent but it wasn’t our own label. was pretty independent, not that it was our own label. We gained a lot of experience from that and we decided to roll the dice and go with a major in the UK. Unfortunately it didn’t work out but we learned a lot from it and we realized what we wanted to do. Figure out how we wanted to approach it. So thankfully at least to us, we’ve been doing really well and been playing gigs and bigger venues which we’re really grateful for. But we were on a mission to produce our own. We did that with the most recent record and it’s been great! Like I said, it’s been a busy two years. I won’t say luck because we take it really seriously and we love what we do. We want to keep working on it and keep touring. Even if we have like a week free, we’re like let’s take a couple days off then go back at it and start working on the next record. So we’re already doing that. We’ve been keeping busy and I’m already excited about how the new stuff is sounding. There aren’t any immediate plans to record a new one but I can see it on the horizon. So it’s been a great year to be honest. I think we’re appreciating it more then ever.
And I was going to ask about it. I know you put out the EP this summer, those were songs that you already had from the last few years, and the last record was only 2017. So you say you’re writing new music. Even though you guys have been a band for so long, do you think it still changes? Maybe something new that you’ve tried recently in the writing process for the band? Or has it fallen into a pretty steady rhythm?
I mean yeah it definitely develops. It’s funny because we’re writing such personal things no matter what it is and there’s no ego involved. It can be very tricky. When we started out, it was just me writing songs on the acoustic guitars and the guys would just come in as we were getting going and would write their own parts on what they play. That worked sort of early on, then Dave got a little more involved in the songwriting process. Then we all tried to get involved together and I think it took us a while to find the balance of that. We did get some good songs but I definitely think we’re better now as a collaborative writing team. What’s great about our drummer, Conor, the percussionist side of things, they’ll be like I don’t think it needs something big at times, just like a little shaker or something. Where in the early days, he probably wouldn’t have been as confident enough to say that. It’s strange not confident enough to play but when writing I think sometimes, people can get too wrapped up in what’s my contribution to this. What exactly am I doing? Sometimes it’s nice to get it out of the way and I think those sort of things we’ve gotten much better at. As the years have passed and we’ve gotten much more comfortable and the songs are coming together quicker. It’s funny because when you’ve played with someone for so long, you can just kind of give them a look when something happens and they know what you’re thinking. And then they do that. It’s hard to explain but we’ve been in this band for ten years so we’ve figured out how to read each other at this stage. And it just makes everything easier. So writing now is actually not at all a chore when we’re doing it together. Not that it ever was but it’s gotten more enjoyable to us as we’ve gotten older and stuff.
Perfect then like I keep saying, you do have the US and Canada tour coming up pretty quickly starting in September. You’ve announced the two holiday shows so obviously you have a bit coming up. Maybe some focuses or goals for The Coronas over these next few months?
I was actually just having a conversation with my manager this morning about the long term plan for what’s going to happen in the next year. As you said, we have this US tour coming up which we’re so excited about. It’s the longest US tour we’ll ever have done. There’s some beautiful venues and cities we’re going back to. So we’re really excited about it. As you say, even before Christmas, we have an Australian tour, we have a couple more shows. We’re playing Dubai at the end of November. We have our big Christmas shows at the end of the year then we’re going to dive into the new album in January/February. Then plans to go back to the states again. Do a couple festivals, I think April and June were the dates I saw. Maybe do another EP or just a single and then have the album come later but there’s no plans to let up on the touring and shows. We have a long way to continue!