IMRO Awards Presented to The Coronas
The Coronas joined us on Friday for the presentation of IMRO Awards in recognition of their albums Trust the Wire and True Love Waits.
The IMRO Number 1 Award was introduced to acknowledge IMRO members who reach number 1 in the album charts here in Ireland.
A sonic leap on from its predecessors, ‘Trust The Wire’ sees the award-winning, arena-conquering band fuse their arms-aloft melodic pop with lush electronics, spine-tingling atmospherics and a new-found sense of adventure. The album was released on their own label So Far So Good Records on 2nd June 2017 and went straight to the top of the charts, making this their first No1 album.
From its tightrope-walking title, to the content of its lyrics to its bold production, Trust The Wire brims with self-belief. Written on the quartet’s return to their native Dublin after almost four years living in London, it captures the focus they found in leaving home, the fresh perspective it gave them and a soaring maturity in their songwriting.
A decade on from their debut, having toured the world, topped the charts and surpassed their teenage dreams, it’s no surprise that The Coronas are surer of their strengths and readier to take risks. ‘Trust The Wire’ fizzes with ambition, often in ways you wouldn’t expect from a band famed for their sing-alongs.
After a rollercoaster three years, including a stint on a major label before deciding to do things their own way, spellbinding first single ‘We Couldn’t Fake It’ recounts the band’s realisation that they were right to trust their instincts, rather than be swayed by a label only seeking sales. The hypnotically-beautiful ‘Give Me A Minute’ is actually about Danny feeling antisocial after a gig, but sounds like a romantic statement of intent. Ditto the spectral ‘A Bit Withdrawn’, which is about misconceptions, but could be a plea to a lover.
The album’s title, taken from a line in the broody, dramatic closing track ‘Look At All The Lovers’, reflects the recurring theme of self-belief and sums up a band both acknowledging their achievements to date and stepping out of their comfort zone to tackle new challenges.
“Like a tightrope walker who doesn’t need to see the next step, they just know.” says Danny. “It’s about believing that what feels right will work and going for it. If you don’t trust your instincts, you’ll never move on. This is our fifth album. It would be easy for us to stick with a sound because it’s worked for us in the past. But that doesn’t excite us. Discovering what we’re capable of as a band, knowing that we can grow and get better is what makes us want to keep doing this.”
‘True Love Waits’ marks the start of what is now more than a new chapter in the career of one of Ireland’s biggest, best-loved bands, it’s more like a whole new book.
A quartet for thirteen years, The Coronas became a trio when guitarist Dave McPhillips unexpectedly left. Briefly they questioned whether to continue but instead of being defeated, the band grew to see it as an opportunity. “When we accepted that we weren’t going to be the same band without him, it was easier to let the songs lead us in ways we wouldn’t have thought of before,” Danny explains.
“Rather than replace Dave, we actually contemplated ditching guitars entirely. But instead we opened ourselves up to working with loads of our talented friends, mainly because the songs warranted it, and we had an amazing young producer George Murphy who knew exactly the kind of album we wanted to make.
For the first time we used real brass, there are extra guest backing vocalists, guest guitar players and our first featured duet. From early on, the guys encouraged me to use my voice differently, pushing me to try something that I wouldn’t have done previously.“
Two songs had already been recorded in Los Angeles, with Hozier and PJ Harvey producer Rob Kirwan, when Danny, bassist Graham Knox and drummer Conor Egan pressed reset. But the album only really began to take shape once a raft of new songs arrived. Key to the process was Danny’s coterie of new co-writers.
“I co-wrote a little on the last two albums and loved it,” says Danny. “This time I was up for anything. I took snippets of ideas to several musician mates, mostly around Dublin and Kerry, to see what we came up with and that’s how we hit on some of the new sounds and different song structures.”
“When you’re five albums in, it can be difficult to write differently on your own – you instinctively return to the same patterns. With fresh input, you’re forced down new paths, and it’s also great sharing that excitement in a room when you both know that there’s something special in the idea you’ve just created together.”
The title track ‘True Love Waits’ was written with Cian MacSweeny, frontman of Cork-formed, Dublin-based trio True Tides, one of The Coronas’ favourite bands and their recent support act. Acoustic guitar and bright synths blend to create an atmosphere of dreamy optimism, while the lyrics – ‘fuck that, take a chance’ – could as easily apply to The Coronas’ new outlook as a new relationship. Much of the song is the band’s original demo, recorded DIY in Dublin, before being completed in London with producer George Murphy.
“We’ve never kept so much of our demos before,” says Danny, “but what’s great about George is he can see the magic in a moment. There’s a spontaneity to that song which we’d have lost by re-recording it. George engineered our last two albums, so he knows us very well. He’d hone in on the vibe of what we brought him. A lot of the songs had odd arrangements and he understood straight away what we were trying to do.“
The unorthodox arrangements helped push The Coronas out of their comfort zone. The release of hypnotic first single ‘Find The Water’ was a shock to some, but its success told the band they were on the right path. Beginning with just piano and vocals, then breaking into an intense chant, ‘Find The Water’ soars skywards on trumpets and percussion and has Danny singing so high by the end that he’s all but unrecognisable.
Previous single ‘Cold’ may rival it for surprises. Opening on its stark, prayer-like chorus, it’s a majestic spine-chiller that shapeshifts on piano, percussion and synths. Written by Danny as a pick-me-up late one night alone in Dingle, it’s about decision-making and self-doubt. “How do you know you’ve made the right choice, about anything,” says Danny. “In the midst of so much change, you can question every decision, but what’s the point? It’s our ‘don’t get down’ song. Have confidence and move on.”
Lyrically, ‘True Love Waits’ addresses everything from a new love in Danny’s life, to looking back at past achievements with pride, to dealing with Dave’s departure.
‘Light Me Up’ flips from atmospheric to anthemic and builds to a boisterous, gospel finish featuring co-writer Cian on backing vocals. ‘Haunted’, one of two songs written with producer Cormac Butler, is a toast to a partnership – with the phrase “haunted” being Dingle-speak for “lucky”.
‘Lost in The Thick of It’ is one of the album’s highlights, a gorgeous duet with Gabrielle Aplin, written in Brighton with Gabrielle and her partner Alfie Hudson-Taylor. On the celebratory ‘Brave’, The Coronas work in a waltz. The euphoric ‘Heat Of The Moment’ they describe as their Richard Curtis love song. By the end of ‘I Think We Jinxed It’, the guitars and synths soar just much as Danny’s vocals.
“We never thought we’d make six albums, or be as excited about music as we are now. It’s great that we’re not trying to compete with anyone else. We’d rather just outdo ourselves.”
The Coronas albums Trust the Wire and True Love Waits are out now on So Far So Good.
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