The most unfortunately named band around? Sitting down with The Coronas

"We’re our own label now, so we had complete control of how we wanted the album to sound."

The Coronas.

The Coronas are a multi-platinum Irish band consisting of lead singer Danny O'Reilly, Bass Guitarist Graham Knox and Drummer Conor Egan. Ahead of the release of their latest album True Love Waits, FUZZY spoke to them about their new sound, finding enjoyment in music, and the future of small venues.

FUZZY: Your name is now associated with a global pandemic, but how did you get your inspiration for the name all those years ago?

We’re actually named after antique typewriter called Corona-Smith Delux from the movie Almost Famous, directed by Cameron Crowe, which we loved when we were starting the band. Since then, there’s a Mexican beer that became big and then this unfortunately named pandemic, which just added a whole new level of strangeness to an already strange situation.

FUZZY: You are due to play the Deaf Institute in Manchester in October, which was recently saved from COVID-19-induced closure. Will this make your gig there even more emotionally charged?

Absolutely, one thing this pandemic has made us realise is how lucky we are to do what we do. And when gigs finally do come back, we will appreciate them even more, and hopefully, our fans will too. We can’t wait to get back on the road to play the new tunes.

FUZZY: With venues such as these closing down, how do you think this will affect the future of smaller bands, and is there a way out of this situation?

It’s a tricky one, we’re luckier than most that we’ve had a great ten years and we’re at a stage in Ireland where we can weather the storm for the time being and, as long as gigs come back by next year, we’ll survive. There are many bands and numerous venues that will struggle, along with all the behind the scenes technicians and engineers who are struggling. Fingers crossed things will turn around sooner rather than later!

FUZZY: Your latest album is a medley of new sounds, rhythms and melodies. Is there something tying the tracks together or is it an experiment to see what can be done?

I think there is a lyrical theme of optimism within the album. A yearning for self-improvement and a sense that things will be okay in the end, which has become more poignant in this current climate. We tried different things with this one, different guitar players, backing vocalists and our first duet with the amazing Gabrielle Aplin which is one of my favourite songs on the album.

FUZZY: Dave McPhillips has recently left the band after thirteen years. How different is it playing recording and brainstorming as a three-piece as opposed to a four-piece?

It was weirdly almost reinvigorating for us. We knew the album would sound different without Dave regardless, so we just followed our instincts and did what we thought was best for the bunch of songs we had. Instead of closing off the band to just the three of us we extended the band and got a load of our talented friends to play/co-write and produce it.

FUZZY: Does it all make for a different experience putting together the album?

Yeah, it was definitely different. Dave hadn’t been enjoying the whole thing for a bit and we didn’t even realise that perhaps his unhappiness was having an effect on us. It’s like a marriage. If one person is unhappy, it makes it more difficult for the other person. When Dave selflessly said “it wouldn’t be fair on you guys or myself to stay in the band, phone-it-in, and not be fully into it” it suddenly felt like a bit of weight lifted from the shoulders of the other three of us. It was great that he still played on a bit of the album and I’m sure he’ll play with us again in the future.

FUZZY: Would you say that this is the album you have had the most artistic freedom with?

100%. We were proud of and excited by, the songs that we had. We had a producer (George Murphy - The Specials, Ellie Goulding) whom we’d worked with before and whose vision matched our own. We were recording in a studio where we had recorded before and felt comfortable there, and we also had the excitement of a new chapter as a three-piece! We’re our own label now, so we had complete control of how we wanted the album to sound.

Words by Ben Browning.

31st July 2020.

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