- 11 Aug 09
Ex-Cranberry NOEL HOGAN seeks to spread the gospel of Limerick’s vibrant music scene far and wide.
When Noel Hogan returned to his native Limerick after a decade of touring with The Cranberries, he noticed something. Not only was there a new generation of young bands in the Treaty City, but some of them were bloody good. Now, he’s giving something back to the city that supported his multi-million selling band. Together with Alan Jacques of 95FM’s Green & Live show — a programme synonymous with supporting Irish music — Hogan has gathered the best of the bunch, put them together on a compilation, and released it under the name ToneList (the Icelandic word for music).
“I guess the last few years I’ve been around Limerick a lot more than I would have been before that,” he reflects, “so I’ve had a lot more time to go out and see what local bands there are. I realised how many really, really good bands there are around Limerick. I just thought that something like this would help put a bit more focus on the scene. If only one band get a break through it, we’ll be doing something good. I knew Alan had taken over the Green & Live radio show, so we got talking, I told him about my idea, and he was 100% behind it.”
The album, released on Hogan’s own Gohan Records label, mixes established bands like Giveamanakick, We Should Be Dead and Headgear with relative newcomers like Supermodel Twins and Walter Mitty and the Realists. Hogan claims that it was a tough job selecting what tracks were included, but the end result showcases the widest variety of what the city has to offer, musically.
“We probably had enough good tracks to make two albums from,” he chuckles. “It probably took the bones of a year to pull it together — we kept changing the track-listing. Some bands were on, some were off before we decided on the final list. Then you’d hear of another band with another track, and you’d think ‘Can we fit one more on there?’. We wanted it to be a representation of what bands are like at the moment, and I think there’s a big enough difference between each band to keep it interesting.”
Hogan is the perfect person to oversee a project such as ToneList. Having paid his dues with The Cranberries, he’s fully aware of how much of a slog is required for new acts to get noticed. These days, he claims, it’s even more difficult for bands to catch a break. Not only has the industry changed, but one of the main obstacles facing Limerick bands is the dearth of venues willing to showcase original music in the city.
“To be honest, I think without Dolan’s, the place would really be in the shit. 90% of the gigs that go on are held there, whereas when I began, if you tripped you’d fall into a gig. There were gigs seven nights a week, and you had 20 venues to choose from. I think from speaking to the bands I’ve met through doing this album, the big problem seems to be venues. A lot of the clubs that have music just want cover bands. Unless that changes, and venues, bars and clubs open their arms to local bands, there isn’t going to be a scene in another two years.”
Such impediments make exercises like ToneList all the more important, then. It’s been almost 20 years since there was last a similar compilation of Limerick bands. That album, The Reindeer Age, proved vital in inspiring Hogan and a host of other young musicians at the time.
“I can remember when that came out, it was one of the big things that inspired me to start playing, because all those great bands that were around at the time had a record out,” he reminisces. “It proved that you didn’t have to be from New York or LA to get your music out there. It made you realise that it is possible to do this stuff; I think it inspired me – and a lot of people my age – to actually get up off our arses and do this thing. So yeah, hopefully in another 20 years, there’s somebody out there who’ll hear ToneList and be inspired to do a similar thing.”
In the meantime, Hogan is spending his time producing local bands as well as finishing the debut album of his newest venture, Arkitekt, over the coming months. Cranberries fans will also be thrilled to hear that a reunion is very much on the cards.
“We’re a bit more keen than we were a few years ago,” he reveals. “I’ve been sending a few little bits to Dolores over the last couple of weeks, but we’ll see what happens. There’s nothing concrete as of yet, we’ll take it as it comes – but if I was betting, I’d bet more that it will happen in the next few years than it won’t.”