The Coronas

Irish Indie-Pop band, The Coronas, shed a positive light on their pandemic experience in their new album Time Stopped.

Irish based band The Coronas, have long since made a name for themselves in the music industry. Since releasing their debut album in 2007, Danny O’Reilly, Conor Egan and Graham “Knoxy” Knox have taken on multiple world tours, created their own record label and generated a passionate fan base that not even a pandemic could shake. In fact, their 2017 album, ‘Trust The Wire’ beat out U2, Halsey, Dua Lipa and Ed Sheeran for the Number One slot in their home turf. The same rang true for their 2020 release True Love Waits, which won the spot against Taylor Swift and Irish post punk band Fontaines D.C and became the fastest selling Irish album of the year. Whether or not their newest album, ‘Time Stopped’ will take the crown remains to be seen, but seems likely.

As the band’s seventh album, ‘Time Stopped’ is a culmination of all they have learned in their over a decade of experience and reflects just how far they have come. It is an album for both fans old and new. Still full of the sing-along, upbeat tunes and romance-driven lyrics for which they are known, but centered around the shared human experience of the past two years. There is an extra layer of vulnerability to be found lingering beneath the surface of the tracks and, with its positivity and hopeful outlook, something for everyone to hold on to. Time Stopped may have been inspired by time spent in isolation, but it will remind those who listen just what it means to be human, that it is an experience best shared.

1883 chats with lead singer Danny O’Reilly about how the band has grown since their start, the struggles of writing an album during a global pandemic, what he missed most about life on the road, and more.


Congrats on the new album. I really liked it. It’s great. 

Thank you very much. I appreciate that.


You’re welcome. Releases aren’t something that’s new to you. Obviously, you’re quite the seasoned group. Heroes and Ghosts came out in 2007. How do you think you’ve grown as a band since?

I think we’ve grown really gradually from where we started. We were really young and we were very green. We didn’t know what we were doing at all, to be honest.  We were fresh out of school and making it up as we went along. We just started releasing music. We hadn’t toured outside Dublin, nevermind outside of Ireland, so I think we grew as we became the band, gradually over the course of the albums. A lot has changed since we started. We were definitely a lot more raw back then. Now we have a bigger live band. We play with more musicians on stage. Our sound changed over time and hopefully we’ve all grown up a little bit too.


Is there a piece of advice you would give your younger self?

I would just say enjoy it, you know? We’ve had such a good career so far. I’ve enjoyed every second of it. We’re very lucky that we get to call this our job, and we don’t have to do anything else. We’re releasing our own music on our own record label. We’re doing it the way we wanted to do it, so I would just say enjoy it. I don’t think I would change our path at all to be honest. I mean, it could have happened in different ways. I used to think it would have been better if we got held off on our first album and waited until we got things sorted, like management and labels, and tried to do it more like the way things are “normally” done, but I think there was something about our journey that connected with people, especially in Ireland. I think that’s why we’re lucky that we have a big following there. They’ve grown with us. So, I wouldn’t change anything. I would just say, “enjoy it Danny. It’s gonna be a wild ride.”


Good. I’m glad to hear that. Is the record label new or have you released other albums on it as well?

This is the second album that we’ve self-released. So before that, we were signed to Island Records. We moved to London and we had the big record deal. We all hoped that it was the things we’re going to take off for us a bit more because of that. The way it’s worked out, has been really cool because all I hear from other bands who are with major labels is that there is this pressure and it can be difficult.  We were lucky that we got to the stage in Ireland where we could promote ourselves. It’s a small territory, so we knew how it worked with radio, press, and everything. We were comfortable enough to just take that on ourselves and become our own label. It’s good for us as well because oftentimes if things don’t go well, you can just blame people. You can say, “they didn’t do that” or whatever. But when you have control over everything, there’s no one to blame but yourself if it doesn’t go right. It’s made us work a lot harder. As a band, we have different roles. Knoxy [Graham Knox], our bass player mainly handles the socials and onlines. He looks after all the merchandise and sleeve design and all that. Conor [Egan]. our dummer, he does more of the onstage stuff, so backing tracks and live performances and sorting all that stuff out and then I just talk.


That’s exciting. The album that was previously released on this label would have been True Love Waits, which came out in July 2020. What stuck out to you about releasing an album in the middle of a pandemic and did you learn anything you brought into this release?

We learned a lot actually. But what struck out – first of all, we thought “are we crazy releasing an album in the middle of a pandemic, especially when our stupid band name has an unfortunate likeness to the virus that’s going around?” But as soon as we saw that gigs were coming back we said, “Let’s just release this anyway.” We had already released a couple of the songs. The album was finished. When you finish and album you just want to get it out there, so it felt right to release it. Plus, that meant we could start working on the next one. We promoted it differently because of the lockdown. That was one of the things that we learned from that release. We could see the things that made a difference promotion wise. Even though things are back to normal now, we’re probably approaching the release a tiny bit differently in other ways, just with vinyl and things. I suppose that’s the way the industry has developed anyway over the last five years. But that release went really well anyway and we were delighted to put it out. With us being back on your, it sort of feels like we’re promoting two albums at one time, which is fun, but it’s hard to make the setlist.


I’m sure. I think a lot of bands are going to have that issue. It’s a running joke that Taylor Swift, with all her re-releases, is going to have to do like five albums on one tour. 

Yeah, exactly. [laughs] It’s tough for us because we have some Irish people who come to the shows who want to hear all the old stuff, but we enjoy that challenge of making the set different. We don’t want to go out there and do a Bruce Springsteen and play for three hours either. It’s been fun making the setlist and so far it’s going great. We’re on day three of the tour now. It’s going really well. It’s  so good to be back. The crowds are into the new stuff as well, which is amazing. It’s just a lot of fun to be back on the road.


I’m sure the audience is just as happy to be back as you are. 



Is there anything from being on the road you found you missed that surprised you?

Just the camaraderie of being around the crew and the band. I knew I missed it, but it’s only when you get back on the road and you start having fun that you’re like, “oh, yeah, this is it.” It’s just good times. That’s why it doesn’t feel like work even though we’re traveling all around the country and we’re loading in and lifting gear because we have a smaller crew, and we’re on tour with them.  When we play at home in Ireland, we have a big crew and it’s a bigger production. It is a bit more work when you’re touring but it’s just so much fun. You’re doing it with your buddies, You have a couple of drinks after the show and everyone’s just getting on. I’m saying this now because we’re two days in. After four weeks I’ll be like, “get me away from these guys. They’re wrecking my head.” No, we’re lucky that we get on well. That’s the stuff that I missed just hanging out and being on the road. Tonight is our first night out, so we’re going out for dinner together. We’re going to take the crew out. It’s just a lot of fun.


Oh, that sounds great. Before this album came out, you were booked for a global tour. What was it like to shift your focus from gearing up to live shows to buckling down and focusing on creating again?

It was actually tough, because usually I find with writing, I need to tour the album and get it out of my system after we put it out before I feel like I can start the next one. We didn’t really have that. I mean, we did some shows and socially distant shows and promoted online things and stuff like that, but we never got to tour it properly. But in saying that, thankfully the next batch of songs started to come. When we didn’t have any touring to do and things were going back into lockdown at home, everyone was waiting around, so it was just natural to start writing again. I didn’t really sit down to say, “okay, it’s time to work on the next album.” I just started to write songs. Then about Summer 2021 I collected all these really rough demos that I had just put together on my laptop or co-written with other people and sent them to the boys. They were like, “these are great. We’re good to go. Let’s flesh these out and let’s have an album ready to go when things come back.”  It was a lot of fun in the end. That’s why we’re here now with two albums to properly tour. I suppose I was lucky because I’ve had times over the years where I’ve been a bit more unproductive. But, for me most of the lockdowns were good. We had four lockdowns in Ireland. I’d say there were two where I was really productive and writing a lot, and two where I did nothing and just watched Tiger King and The Last Dance and learned to bake and shit. And that was okay too. I wasn’t too hard on myself, but thankfully overall I was always pretty productive. So it just felt right to get working on the next one.


I think everybody had that initial lockdown where no one knew how long it was going to be so all just kind of zoned out.

Yeah, just enjoyed it.


Exactly. Overall, Time Stopped has a very positive outlook. Because of the time that you had to create the album, did it go through any major thematic changes? If so, what made this one feel like the right way to go?

Well, funnily enough when I started writing, initially, I was like, “Okay, I’m not going to write about the pandemic at all.” I just thought everyone was going to be writing about it and what have I got to say that someone else can say better. Eventually, I figured out there was no way around it. Everything else just seemed a bit futile when the world was ending. So what I decided to do was what I’ve always done with my lyrics: keep it quite personal to me and what’s going on and relationships and friendships and family around me. Often, we write about ourselves as a band. People think it’s about a relationship, but it’s actually about us trying to be a good band, trying to improve and still be ambitious and creative. I ended up just being honest, like I always have been and writing about what I was going through, but framing it in the backdrop of the pandemic. Almost every song has a little nod to it. Maybe it’s just a verse or one line or something where it’s referenced, but it’s not about that if that makes sense. There’s probably one or two songs that are a little bit more about the isolation of lockdown. ‘Take Me With You If You’re Leaving’ is a song like that. It’s literally about isolation and lockdown. I’ve always found with my own lyrics, the more honest I am and the more of myself I push into the page, those are the lines that people go, “I really liked that line. I can really relate to that line.” 


Because of that, would you consider songwriting a form of therapy for you?

Oh, yeah. 100%. It always has been. It’s so cathartic. I feel that way about all music as well, not just like getting lyrics down. Oftentimes when something happens, like if I go through a breakup or have a row with someone, I can’t write about it straight away, if I need time and space to register what happened. Then I look back and think about the way I was feeling. Music is so therapeutic, playing and singing. I’m blessed that I have that outlet because it’s helped me over the years for sure.


You mentioned that a lot of the songs you write are about writing songs themselves, which is something I noticed a lot on this album. From ‘Write Our Own Soundtrack’ to the line in ‘Karma, “took the third verse that meant a lot” to others, there are multiple references to music on this album. Are those on purpose this time or just the natural consequence of what you find inspiration in?

It’s just natural. I never really sit down and try to thematically put together an album and have it all make sense. We’ve always been a band about songs.Hopefully they’ll end up sounding like they’re from the same piece of work, but we’re neve strict on ourselves. It’s actually insane that there was one song that almost made the album, that we really liked, but it just didn’t fit in. I don’t think it was the lyrics problem. It was more the sound of it. It’s funny that you noticed that because that’s what I’m talking about when it comes to the thread that winds through this album, but I don’t really sit down to do that at all. The way it comes about is organic.


Obviously, I”m going to be partial to ‘At Least We’ll Always Have LA’ since I live there. To me it also had the most pandemic inspired lyrics because of that I was wondering if it was written earlier on in the creation process?

The majority of the album was written in the latter part of 2020 and the first half of 2021. I wrote ‘At Least We’ll Always Have LA’ deep in one of the lock downs where I was like, Okay, if I’m going to write a song about pandemic, I want it to have optimism. I want it to be about the fact that we’ll always have good things that happened, we’ll have our memories. If, God forbid, we don’t get out of this mess, like at least we had a good run. I felt throughout, in terms of the band, and people saying to us, “your industry is really turned upside down,” that we’ve been very lucky to have done this already for over 10 years. We have the best job in the world and I was really grateful that we had that. I remember I kept thinking, “if the pandemic hit when we were on our first or second album, it would have affected me a lot more. Because our game is a lot about momentum. We’ve just been lucky that we built ours up slowly over the years and the people that come to our shows have grown with us a bit, especially in Ireland. I wasn’t as concerned about losing that. I knew that when things came back we would have a bit of a crowd there. I wrote that song in the middle of that. Again, trying to just be optimistic. Even if it doesn’t come back, at least we’ll have the memories. 

But since you live in LA, I’ll give you a bit of the backstory. Originally, we were going to call ‘At Least We’ll Always Have LA’ ‘LA at Night: Part 2’ because it’s sort of a progression of the story from that song on True Love Waits where you’re looking back at that. ‘LA at Night’ the original was a song about an experience I had in the city. It was the last show of our tour and I was meant to fly back, but  met this person who I just got on really well with.  It was just one of those spur of the moment things. She was like “change your flight and stay. We’ll hang out for a few days and I’ll show you around.” I did it and I was really glad that I did it. It was one of those real impulsive moments. We had these lovely few days and it was needed at the time. I was in a bit of a low place and it was a really magical few days. It  reset me a little bit. I look back on it really fondly. I don’t think the person I hung out with knows that I wrote the songs. I might have exaggerated the niceness of it for the songs but it meant a lot to me. If she knew I wrote tow songs about those few days she’d probably be like, “What the fuck? You psycho.” 


[laughs] Those kind of decisions are always the best ones.

Yeah, exactly.


Is there a song on the album that stands out to you, whether it’s your favorite or was the hardest to write or the one your most anxious to hear?

I do really love ‘At Least We’ll Always Have LA.’ I was glad we got it out early. I just love the sonics of it. It was a bit of work putting it together and I just love how it turned out. I love ‘The Best Worrier,’ as well. I think that’s the most honest song. I’m just proud of it. I think there are some really  nice lyrics on this album. I think I’ve gotten a bit better as a lyricist as we’ve gotten older, but I’ve definitely never promoted an album and said, “ I think there’s some nice lyrics on this album.” I’m usually quite self critical. “ Time Stopped is another song I’m excited to get out there. I think it’ll be good for playing live. Getaway Car as well. We might do some sort of promo video for it. The people at the label think it could be a single, so we’ll be playing that live too. I’m looking forward to playing them all. I’m looking forward to getting them all there. Sometimes there’s songs that I really like that I think are going to be great and then they don’t connect as much with an audience. Sometimes there’s a song that I didn’t really think was as good and it ends up being the one they really connect with a bit more. It’s hard to tell sometimes, You’re too close to them.


Music is so subjective, so you never know. 



I know I just said ‘music is subjective,’ but what do you hope people take away from the album?

I hope they take away a little bit of hope or a little bit of optimism. I hope they just enjoy it. We’ve always been a band about songs, about singalong songs, and about having a good time. I hope the album makes people come and see our show and because we pride ourselves on being able to put on a good live show. I promise the songs sound even better live. I hope people just take enjoyment out of it and maybe see something in the lyrics that they connect with and get a bit of hope from.


I’m sure they will. It’s a good album.

Thank you.


Interview Sydney Bolen


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