Lead singer with The Coronas Danny O’Reilly tells David Hennessy about the band’s new album and playing GAA in London.
Danny O’Reilly has spoken about his high profile break up with television presenter Laura Whitmore and how performing helped him get over it. It should come as no surprise that breaking up is a theme dealt with in the band’s forthcoming album.
Danny tells The Irish World: “I suppose with this record, there are a few songs of that sort of break up situation. I always say you can only write about what’s going on in your life and what you feel honest about and you can’t fake that stuff. Closer to You didn’t have any songs about break ups because there wasn’t one going on but maybe this one has a few more. We always just try and write what we feel we know, what we’re going through. Whatever is going on in my life, music is such a good therapy.”
It is All the Others, the first single released in the summer from the band’s new album that brings this subject up with lines like ‘Do you remember when we use to sit for hours, we’d put the days away’: “I think All the Others is slightly different for us and I think that’s why we wanted to release it, we wanted to to give a little bit of an indication of where we’re going.
The band have just finished recording their fourth album in London when The Irish World chat with Danny. Following on from 2011’s Closer to You, could this be their best album yet? “I really do think it is. We definitely wanted to take things to a new level with this album and we took our time with it and we didn’t rush it. It’s been three years now since the last one which is a long time for us but we wanted to make sure we got this one right, we wanted to make sure we had everything in place to give it a proper go over here and continue to be a big band at home as well. We really think it’s our best yet and we’re being honest when we say that. Fingers crossed people will like it as well, you never really know how it’s gonna go, whether the radio will take to it or not but we’re proud of it and we’re happy with it so fingers crossed.”
Can fans look forward to hearing the new songs at their forthcoming UK gigs? “Yeah, definitely. I would say the majority of those gigs we’ll be playing the new stuff. Obviously we’ll play some of the older stuff as well but we’re looking forward to getting out and playing them live. We’ve been playing some of them over the summer in different gigs and even as early as last Christmas we played a couple of new songs. It is great to be able to do that before you go into the studio and record them because you sort of get a sense of how they feel live and sometimes you play a new song live and after the gig, you’ll go: ‘Ah, ya know what lads? That song needs to be faster, that song needs to be slower, we need to change that bit there because…’ We’ve been trying a few of them already but definitely in the tour next month, we’ll be playing a good few of the new songs and see how people like them.
“The next single, called Just Like That, will be out the end of next month (October) and then the album is going to be released at the end of November.”
The son of Mary Black and nephew of Frances Black, Danny grew up in a very musical family. Not only is he successful with his band but his sister Roisin O has also released an acclaimed album.
Since the band released their debut album Heroes or Ghosts in 2007, they have gone from strength to strength, winning multiple awards in Ireland. Danny has spoken to The Irish World in the past about how surreal it was to go from playing Whelan’s to Dublin’s O2 in two years. It is now their mission to replicate that success over here which motivated the band’s move to London: “We sort of have a mission to be as big as we can be and we wanted to come over and give it a good proper go. You have to put yourself in the shop window and as soon as we moved over to try and make things happen over here, it did start to move along for us with the Island (Records) deal and it seems to be in a good position now that we can push on and try and make ground over here. But it’s not that we take anything for granted either, we’re very lucky that we have our following back there and we can go back and do shows. Even shows here, a lot of Irish people come see us. It’s amazing, it’s a piece of home for when you’re away.
“It made sense for us at the time to move over and we’ve been here about a year and a half now living together. It made sense when we were writing the album together to live together and work through ideas.
“We all live in the same house in Islington. We love it here and we haven’t killed each other yet living together.
“I think we’re lucky enough that we’re still young enough, we don’t have mortgages or kids or anything or that so we’re still up for gong and doing the hard slog and building from the ground up like we did in Ireland maybe five or six years ago when we started out with all the years in the back of a van and playing small pubs and clubs.”
Danny and his band had the honour of playing for Barack Obama when the American President visited Ireland. Does the whole experience continue to be surreal for them? “It does, especially because we’re living here in London and we feel like a new band and we sort of have this energy of starting again and then we go home like in the summer, we played in Kilmainham Hospital and it was just amazing, playing to 9,000 people and it was an outdoor gig and the atmosphere was unbelievable. It was one of those moments where you’re just like: ‘We’re very, very lucky to do what we love doing’. The fact that we can do it like that is incredible so we still have those moments where we feel lucky to be where we are but at the same time we’re eager to keep building it.”
Danny’s sister Roisin O opened the show when The Coronas played Dublin’s O2 in 2012, their biggest show to date: “It was (great to share to that with her). Roisin’s amazing, she’s done really well and we were delighted to have her.
“She’s also one of the people whose opinion I would really value. When I finish a song, she always gives me an honest opinion even sometimes if she tells me the song isn’t that great, she would give it to me honest and it’s great to have people like that you can trust.”
Could we ever see three members of the family, mother, son and daughter on one bill? “I don’t know,” Danny laughs. “You never know. There was a charity gig we did in Dublin last summer where I did a solo thing and mam ended up getting up and then Roisin got up, it was a bit of a fun night. I don’t think we would do anything too serious, I think my mam is too happy being a granny now. My brother had a baby so she’s taken to her granny role and she’s not doing as much gigs anymore so I don’t know if it will happen. I’m sure me and Roisin will do something together definitely down the road, yeah.”
Danny’s mother Mary Black, performed to the capacity crowd at Croke Park for the recent All-Ireland football final. Danny has graced Croke Park himself with the Dublin minors when he was part of the panel who made the All-Ireland final of 2003. More recently, Danny has been playing with North London Shamrocks who won the Intermediate London Shamrocks with Danny scoring 1-2 in the final: “I was, I was very very happy (with the win). As I say, I live with the boys, work with the boys, it’s nice to have a break from them and joining the Shamrocks was the perfect thing for me. I was missing my GAA, hadn’t played in a few years and got back into playing football. I don’t know how busy I’m going to be next year so I’m not sure I’m going to be able to play again but I was delighted to be able to play a bit this year and get back into it. It’s a great club and they made me feel very welcome.
“I played minor in 2003 for Dublin so that was when it was a lot more at the forefront of my mind. Back then, I wasn’t really as into the music but when I got to college, it probably switched around and I was only just playing GAA now and again for the craic and getting stuck into the music. It was nice to have a bit of time off this summer and get back playing.”
Did there come a time when Danny had to choose between music or sport? “I don’t know if it was a choice. I don’t know if I really had it in me to play GAA at a really high level. I don’t know if I was quite good enough to make it, I had problems with injuries and stuff as well so it wasn’t like: ‘Okay, I’m going to have to choose music’. I think music chose me really. It’s great that I can play a bit of football with my friends as well, I’m very lucky that way.”
Asked if he has had problems being targeted on the football field because of his profile, Danny answers simply: “No, I think everyone treats you the same. I think that’s what I love about playing football, it doesn’t matter what you do. When I went down playing for the first time, they were like: ‘What do you do?’ ‘I’m a singer’. And that’s it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a plumber, a singer, whatever you are: You’re treated the same and that’s what I love about it.
“Unfortunately, this will probably be the last year I’ll be able to commit to it but I’ve really enjoyed it.”
The Coronas play The Soup Kitchen in Manchester on October 22, King Tuts Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow on October 23 and Scala in London on October 28. For more information, go to http://thecoronas.net/.
The new album is out in November.