The Coronas lead singer credits mum Mary Black on him becoming a songwriter
Jenny Lee chats to The Coronas lead singer Danny O'Reilly about the band's new sound, having their own record label, Love Island and the great advice he received from his mum, folk singer Mary Black
Hi Danny – how's your summer going? Are you looking forwarded to headlining at Belfast's Custom House Square?
We love doing the outdoor shows – it's great fun and great vibes. We've had some amazing shows in Belfast over the past few years, from our first ever show there in Auntie Annie's to some magical Christmas gigs in the Ulster Hall. We've been to Custom House Square before, supporting Stereophonics three or four years ago, so it's great to be doing our own set here.
Tell us about your new single, Find The Water
The lyrics are about self improvement and trying to be a better person – friend, boyfriend, brother, bandmate – and just trying to continue to improve and just enjoy the journey.
Find the Water has a different vibe and pace to your older work. Is it a reflection of the type of music that is going to be on your new album?
There are a lot of amazing new acts coming through and pop music on radio that maybe we don't fit in with. Without talking too much about it or making a grand plan, I think our music has just evolved and we've a little more depth than we used to. This is definitely were we are going with our new album. We will always sound Coronas-y with my annoying voice on top, but at the same time the sound is a bit more mature for us.
Did you enjoy making the music video and driving the vintage 1975 Ford F-150 pick-up truck across the Californian desert?
We went to LA to record for four days and it was so much fun. It's funny, we got the treatment of the video first of all from the director and the rest of the band saw that they weren't needed and were happy to have a week off. They didn't read the small print and see they were going to fly me to LA to make the video, so they were well jealous.
A lot of people who get dropped by their label may see that as a sign to give up, but it's spurred you's on?
When Island dropped us it was our first knock-back and we definitely had a moment of thinking, should we take a break or should we stop? I'm so glad we didn't as we've learnt so much from it. And the last three years, since we started our own label, have been our most successful. We've toured more and got our first number one album and it's just growing and growing. So thank God we didn't throw in the towel.
Are you enjoying having more control?
It's absolutely amazing and you only really appreciate it when you chat to friends who are in other bands and they are having trouble with their label or management. Since we began our new label, we've toured more than ever before. It makes you work harder because if things aren't going well, you've only got yourself to blame. So we've pulled up our socks and are enjoying the freedom of being able to do what we want to do and release music the way we want to do it right down to picking the sleeve, the graphic design, artwork and planning the tour, right down to choosing the acts we want to support us.
Do you think you will follow in your father Joe (who established Dara Records in 1983) and have other bands record under your label?
I definitely think it's a possibility that our label, So Far So Good, might outlast the band. We started the label for ourselves but we are at a stage now were we now understand the industry in Ireland. So if the timing was right and we were really sure about the act it is a possibility.
Did you ever contemplate a different career?
Yeah, I studied commerce in UCD. I suppose deep down I knew I wanted to do music but I didn't probably admit it until we were final year in college and started to sell out gigs and that when we said "we'll give this band thing a go". That was 12 years ago and I haven't had to get a real job since. I did a bit of part-time guitar teaching when I was in college and I did enjoy that. Maybe in the future I might work in radio – I've done a couple of shows and enjoyed that. So who knows?
You come from a musical family, with your mum Mary being part of The Black Family Celtic music group. Where you encouraged to be musical as children?
When I was very young I got a few piano lessons. I got a couple of grades, but I didn't really enjoy it so I gave it up and went to the guitar. I wanted to play Oasis songs, so I learnt to play a few chords on the guitar and I ended up getting to the stage that I could write a few songs. That was all I really wanted to do. I later went back to the piano and enjoyed it. I'd love to be able to play the drums, but I'm really terrible on them.
Did your parents give you any advice about the music industry?
They were very supportive. My mum's genre of music is so different to ours, but she did encourage me to write my own songs. I started writing from the age of 13 and it definitely shaped the singer I became, the band and everything. My mother is a great interpretor of other people's songs and folk songs, but I think she regretted not writing a bit more. I probably wouldn't be here today if she hadn't gave me that advice.
You're a fan of Love Island, I believe. They've announced they are making two more series – would you like to take part?
I've loved watching this series but I wouldn't go on it in a million years. The band have had a couple of reality show offers over the years but it's not my thing. The one side of being a lead singer in a band that doesn't sit great with me is the celebrity side. In the early days I would have discussed my personal life more in public, out of pure naivety, but I find it hard to cope with people writing about my relationships and personal life. So I don't want to do anything that would bring more attention to that.
:: The Coronas play Custom House Square, Belfast, on August 23. They will be supported by Tom Odel and Co Derry native Roe. Tickets from Customhousesquare.com or ticketmaster.ie