From supporting Bruce Springsteen in Hyde Park and playing for President Biden in Mayo to making chart history as the only independent Irish band to have scored three consecutive chart-topping albums, it has been an astonishing 12 months for The Coronas.
Ireland’s best-loved, hardest-working band – voted #1 Live Act of the Year by Hot Press – have no intention of basking in their snowballing success, however.
Fresh from a series of huge summer shows and festival appearances from Latitude and Electric Picnic to Glasgow’s TRNSMT that saw them perform for up to 10,000 people at a time, The Dubliners head back out on tour in October, with dates in the UK, Europe and Australia to the States next year. A four-night residency in their hometown in December sold out in a matter of minutes.
Meanwhile, as a treat for both the fans who have been with them since day one and those they won over with last year’s adored, No.1 album, Time Stopped, the trio have delved back through their archives for a special collection of songs.
The Best of The Early Days, out in October, is a dozen tracks compiled from The Coronas’ first three albums, all only now being released on vinyl, plus a special new song, closer One Last Time.
Four songs each come from their 2007 debut Heroes or Ghosts, their 2009 breakthrough Tony Was an Ex-Con (winner of Best Album at 2010’s Meteor Awards, to which they beat U2 and Snow Patrol) and 2011’s Closer to You, their first Irish chart-topper.
Currently beloved for their cinematic, melancholic pop, The Coronas’ ever-evolving sound is captured on The Best of The Early Years. Far From Here and Listen Dear are spiky rockers. Someone Else’s Hands is an emotional grenade. Spine-tingling piano ballad Warm, the gorgeous, acoustic Heroes or Ghosts and deftly-dancey opener Addicted To Progress are all chapters in an extraordinary, near 20 year career.
“We loved listening back to our early albums and remembering the wild times we had making them,” says singer Danny O’Reilly. “The three of us met at school and we were still kids when we started the band.
“Choosing which songs to include was the hard part – each of us has our favourites. All of the songs are packed with memories of gigs we played, places we’ve been and the mates we’ve made along the way. We couldn’t make music like that anymore, but we wouldn’t change a thing. Every song has its place in The Coronas’ history. Hearing them together is a reminder of what we’ve achieved and how far we’ve come.”
New song One Last Time, a strings-soaked, acoustic guitar-led beauty about bidding a final goodbye – ‘For just one last time, place your hand inside mine’ sings Danny, his voice quivering with sadness – was in fact written in 2007, but has never been heard until now.
“One Last Time was also known as Bonus Night and it was recorded during the Tony Was An Ex-Con sessions,” says Danny. “We always loved it, but we felt that Warm was the album’s acoustic moment and having another stripped back song would have been too much.
“It has a beautiful string arrangement by James Hallawell. I vividly remember singing some of the melodies I had in my head over the phone to him and he nailed it. My voice sounds so different here, I think. It’s a Coronas gem that I’m delighted we can finally share with our fans.”
An eighth studio album is underway. The Coronas are already an institution. Here’s to the next 20 years.