Planet Rock Profiles 2004
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Looking today at the success of the Corrs, Ireland’s biggest music exports since U2, it’s hard to imagine they could ever have struggled to make it. Their 1995 debut album, Forgiven Not Forgotten was an immediate international success but it was the follower Talk on Corners that really put them on the map. That album inspired in part with their version of the Fleetwood Mac’s song Dreams would spend a year in the UK top 10 reaching number 1 an astonishing four times. It made the Corrs and particularly Andrea some of the most recognisable performers on the planet. They topped that success with In Blue in the year 2000 and their latest album Borrowed Heaven looks set to continue the trend. A family band comprising sisters, Andrea on vocals, Sharon on violin, Caroline on drums and brother Jim on guitar, they started on the road to success in Dundalk, a small town just south of the border with Northern Ireland and a house filled with the love of music and parents would be semi-pro musicians.
Jim: we’ve been playing since we’re pretty much toddlers, cos there is a piano in one of the bedrooms, I mean as soon as we could reach the keys and just banging away and we were constantly listening to what our parents were performing themselves, what they were rehearsing, what they were just listening to. Just growing up in that environment I think developed for us a love of music for very very early on.
Sharon : I think most parents looked at mum and dad and went, what are you doing, encouraging your children in this awful industry you know but it was sort of a dream unfulfilled for them totally, I mean that they probably felt that they could have gone further themselves and certainly they had an incredible love of music and it was great for them because they had their day jobs but they had this outlet of work, I remember them coming home from shows, sitting in front of the fire and have a drink and they were just all on a high after a really good show so they wanted that for us and I think they very much trusted John our manager so they knew we weren’t going to get in a sort of really sleazy end of the industry.
That manager was former musician John Hughes who discovered the band while seeking cast members for the film the Commitments and was immediately impressed by their talent.
Caroline: Jim obviously being the oldest had been around with quite a bit of a few bands and he had more experience than we had. Myself and Andrea, I was sixteen, Andrea was fifteen, Sharon was nineteen, or something, so we were quite young and just kind of just coming out of school so we had obviously our instruments and our musical background but we had no idea about working in a band situation. And I think it was when we auditioned for the Commitments film that we actually met John. To audition for that movie, we did two covers cos we actually hadn’t written anything of our own at that stage.
After the Commitments the band started to rehearse and write and quite quickly their interest in traditional Irish music and their ear for good songs started to give them a distinctive sound we know today.
Andrea: I think it was obvious what we had within us so I think musically that was quite self evident really, I mean vocally and from musical influence we’d always be interested in melody and harmony and we had those tools within us and also Sharon playing the violin and everything and we love pop music, we love melodic music so that kind of thing just came naturally when we started to write.
Jim: And I think we did quite a bit of experimentation at that time, we even tried getting close to what was contemporary at the time with disastrous results I think. Myself and Sharon had a small group and we went down and played purely for money cos we had no income basically and I had stopped all my session work in Dublin so I had moved back home initially we’d no money coming in and so the stuff that we started to do was hire a sampler and I sampled a bodhran and from that day we started doing our own interpretation of traditional Irish songs, with Sharon and covering songs like Mary Black and it was that influence that we brought into the Corrs in a very short period of time. By the fourth number we’d written I think, the sound was started to be defined.
Holding on for an international deal as the Corrs found it is the stuff of near legend. Invited to play for a New York show by the American ambassador, the band decided to take the opportunity to pay an unannounced visit on the musical legend, David Foster.
Sharon : Our manager saw that as an opportunity when we were out there to go and basically shop for a record deal and just go around cos we were physically there and I think when you’re physically there, it’s much more likely that you’ll have a better chance to be signed so we went around a lot of record companies and basically nothing happened but eventually John I think we went to Atlantic records and we met with Jason Flom and he said oh I’d love you to meet with David Foster, he was there as a producer at the time and he couldn’t arrange a meeting but John found out that David was recording Michael Jackson’s HisStory album in Hit Factory in New York so he said, look let’s just go down and see what happens. So we got all glamed up, I was in this long black dress, it was sweltering in New York but it was the only kind of decent clothes we had at the time, we had to wear it. We arrived with our instruments, and John just said to the big huge bouncer???, he said we’re here to see David Foster, not like we don’t have an appointment and we haven’t been invited, no we’re here to see him, they allowed us to see him and David was very curious, he took us upstairs and I think we played him a demo of Love to Love You, didn’t we?
Caroline: We did Forgiven Not Forgotten
Jim: Close To You I think it was…
Sharon : and then Forgiven not Forgotten we played around the piano, with bodhràn, vocals, violin, piano and he was just blown over. The next day we were due to fly home and John rang me the next morning, I was in bed or whatever and he said your flight’s leaving at blah blah blah blah so we’re leaving the hotel and by the way you’ve got a record deal, and I went, Ok John and put the phone down, not realising, it was like, you know, it didn’t go in but it was pretty amazing I suppose after five years of trying developing your sound and trying different record companies, it was great it finally happened.
The Corrs’ debut album was an immediate worldwide success and what is probably as important as that success was the band involvement with the album, they wrote or co-wrote all the tracks.
Jim: I suppose that’s what happens you know, it’s very very important to pick the right producer who is going to stick faithfully to the essence of what your sound is, but also to develop it and take it up to a higher level, that’s very important. The record company at a certain point might have wanted us to go to certain different directions, I mean we take on board what they’re saying and maybe at times they might have had a point as it goes on some issues and we would take that on board if we thought there was a point to it all, but in essence you’ve got to be quite firm, this is the sound, this is what we are and this is how the record is going to work and this is a gamble but thanks be to god it did work.
Despite the general success some vital markets remained stubbornly resistant to the Corrs and as they prepared to record a second album, a host of song writers and producers such as Carole Bayer Sager, Oliver Lieber and Glen Ballard were drafted in.
Caroline: We’ve done Forgiven Not Forgotten with one producer and we didn’t have one producer for Talk on Corners. We went out in LA and we decided that we’d work with a few people. When I look back it was a harder process for us, it was a much much harder way of doing it. We actually got a great record out of it, luckily, I wouldn’t advocate to do that again, I mean, I don’t think we’d ever want to do that again, it was too difficult, trying to create a sound on a record that is going to be consistent, it was hard. But then it was our second record, we’ve had the success of Forgiven Not Forgotten, and throwing in, you go ok we’re gonna do another record and you sort of just get stuck into it, without really looking at it to how are we going to be manage this?
But before that much deserved success arrived, there would be one more vital roll of the dice, a chance invitation to perform a version of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams that would send sales of the album into the stratosphere.
Sharon : I think this is how it happened, they were doing a tribute album of the Fleetwood Mac and there were a load of people, a load of great people on it and they asked us to do it and we managed to get Dreams which is just one of the best songs they’ve ever done I think and we decided to record it and we recorded it very much like Fleetwood Mac at first and then we thought, this is wrong you can’t better what Fleetwood Mac have done and it’s too similar in a way, you know what I mean, it wasn’t doing anything different it was just a cover of it and we worked with Oliver Lieber, and he took it to this other sort of dance sort of techno area and then with the mix of the violin it was I think that’s what people connect with cos it was something very very unusual to do that with that song so then I think we had already released our album, Todd Terry remixed it… we had already released our album, Only When I Sleep being the first single, then sometime in March after that, this one hit and it hit, that was the start of the Talk On Corners phenomenon.
The success of the Corrs’ Talk On Corners was the music industry story of 1998. You wondered how the band would cope at the centre of this whirlwind, as each week it seemed to set new sales records.
Andrea: At one point, Talk On Corners was number 1 and Forgiven Not Forgotten was number 2, it was amazing because Forgiven Not Forgotten, although it had worked in the rest of the world, in the UK it had been pretty much very quiet actually, so it was amazing that the backlog was coming afterwards.
Caroline: Instead of getting swept away with it, you’re actually striving for normality, and that’s been swept away, do you know what mean? That’s actually what your swept away is, just striving back to reality, or coming home and going out and meeting friends and just having that normal time, because we were out on the road for like ever, and when we look back it was long time, you’re bound to come off tour a little bit kind of…. Ok I need to go to the Spar now and get my bread and my milk and how do we do that? Oh yes, actually you walk ! you forget, because you’re on tour and you’re in that zone.
The first real studio follow-up to the phenomenon of Talk On Corners was the 2000 album In Blue. In strictly commercial terms, it cemented the Corrs’ success, but that success was sadly overshadowed by the death during its recording of the band’s mother Jean.
Andrea: Our mother died during the making of that album, so that’s the overwhelming memory of it to be honest with you and it was just quite big aswell. We were really really happy at the beginning of the album, with that not having happened yet, really happy to get back into it and to write these songs ourselves and to bring it back a little bit more to the way we had been on Forgiven Not Forgotten and just trying to express ourselves and write great songs and we took on an awful lot of work doing it because we co-produced ourselves, and we were pretty much producing it ourselves up to a very big degree.
Sharon : I think Talk On Corners was the phenomenal album, it was huge and the first really huge success but definitely I think In Blue reaffirmed that.
What Can I Do Video
After In Blue, it will be almost 4 years before the band release another new studio album as they took time to come to terms with both their sad loss and the huge changes and pressure now ever present in their lives.
Caroline:We never decided, oh god we all want to take 4 years out and we’re gonna spent absolutely ages on this record, we never decided that, it happened and I think it was good that it happened, I really really do, we needed to focus, we needed to just start writing, and we said to ourselves, this record is not going anywhere until we are completely happy with it, we’d written as much as we can in the studio, we’ve got the songs to the level we want, and we’ve got the producer that we want, and that took time, it took a lot of time and we had a lot of personal stuff aswell, which was great.
Andrea: I think we wrote on inspiration, so that was quite, there were big gaps between them, if you wrote a song, you ring everybody up and go into the studio and record it and then we’d be free again until somebody got inspired again so that went on for quite a while. I think when we felt we got, more songs came after this, but we got to a point we felt we’ve really got great songs here, I think that’s when it starts to move more and we went in search of this producer and we were recommended Olle Romo by Mutt Lange and he’d worked with Mutt Lange, so we pretty much knew that this guy was going to be a serious worker, that’s one thing and we sent three of our songs and demos that we’d produced to a certain level ourselves, we sent them out to him in LA and he worked on them, gave it a few weeks and he flew over with them and we were really really thrilled of the outcome and we kind of were oh my god it’s got the dynamics, it’s exploding at time you wanted to and all those things which are so important to a producer so he was sold very much on this.
The new album Borrowed Heaven is without doubt the band’s most personal to date. The loss of their mother Jean is felt throughout the tracks, particularly on the poignant new single, Angel.
Andrea: it’s quite funny because you don’t set out to write a song particularly about something like that but what you can’t help but do when music is inspiring you in a certain way is write about something that is very deep and obviously you care very deeply about. I find it really great and kind of cathartic to get aloud even though you’re not viewing it as therapy but in a way there is something that is cathartic about it and also even when we were performing last night and I do pretty much feel it every night in singing that song and Goodbye, it’s almost, she’s immortal then, you know there’s a whole crowd and even if they haven’t heard that it is about her, they’re singing Angel or even they can relate it to their own lives but in a certain way, it’s like, you’re not gone really in a way, it hasn’t ended up being harder, to me when it comes in the set, I enjoy it because it brings me into the reality of it, I stop thinking about silly things very much when Angel comes along, cos it’s just too important and it’s just to raw in order to kind of get silly.
Jim: we love what we’re doing and we’ll go on for as long as we possibly can, obviously the situation will change from time to time, as it has now for Caroline, Caroline’s got a wee baby Jake and another one on the way, so we just make the necessary adjustments I think, until we decide to call it a day, that’s not for a long way off I don’t think.
Caroline:when you’ve been doing this for as long as we have, it’s very hard to go, ok I don’t want to do that anymore, I mean it’s great, you know you don’t want to throw away the success you’ve built up over the years, so you try to work around it, but your life does get more complicated obviously when you get a bit older, you got kids and husbands, wives, maybe maybe wives at some stage.
Jim: Just around the corner
Caroline:So we’ll see.
Transcript from the video: GaëlleF
Le 02/08/2006 à 23:37 par GaëlleF