The Coronas in Dubai

Seven things you didn't know about huge Irish band

Interview

In Ireland they play to crowds of 50,000 and nab awards off U2 and Snow Patrol – but the rest of the world has barely heard of them. Ahead of a double-nighter at McGettigan’s, we thumb up some facts on the band, with a little help from guitarist Dave McPhillips.

They’re not as rock and roll as they claim to be in ‘San Diego Song’, where they boast that they ‘sleep all day and drink all night’.
‘That’s not entirely true! It depends where we are. When you’re on holiday, certain activities can go on that wouldn’t otherwise, but it’s not a day-to-day thing – maybe when we were younger. It’s funny: that song was written a few years ago and it’s still very popular live.’

They don’t even drink the beverage with which they share a name.
‘We were in school together, 14 years old, and the name of the typewriter the boy uses in the Martin Scorsese film where he goes out and follows the band [we think he means Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous] was a Corona Smith Deluxe [actually it was Smith-Corona Galaxie DeLuxe]. We were entering a battle of the bands and we just went with Corona before we really knew any other use of the name. When we released the first album there was an Italian dance band called Corona – who did that [sings] “this is the rhythm of the night” song, so we had to be The Coronas. We might have been offered a sponsorship deal, but we’re not really interested in tying ourselves to that.’

They’re good mates with former Sandance headliners The Script.
‘We’ve played with them around the world. They’re really, really good guys, really professional – we learned a lot from them about how to interact with the crowd in a way that gets the best out of the show. There’s no dirt I can give you, nothing stands out – they’re just normal guys.’

They beat U2 and Snow Patrol to the best album award at ‘Irish Brits’ the Meteor Awards in 2010.
‘That was amazing; we’re really, really proud of it. With the first album a lot of the songs were written by (lead singer) Dan (O’Reilly) when he was younger, and we felt we’d improved a lot between the first and second, so we were really proud of it anyway. I think every album ever released by U2 had won the award before, so we just threw on a shirt and went along for the show. (U2 bassist) Adam Clayton was there, and he just congratulated us and said it was great to see some fresh blood picking up the awards. He was very, very nice and wished us luck. As for Snow Patrol, we’re big fans of theirs, although we’ve never jammed with them or anything. Their new album came out on the same day as ours, which was unfortunate, because their fan base is bigger than ours they went to number one – we went to number two. We never expected to win that battle. Honestly.’

The band grew up together in Dublin.
‘It helps a lot to be school friends. You’ve been through so much together, you know each other inside out and you can take the mickey, and if you really want to get your point across there’s no way you’re going to offend anyone. It’s not just us four – our manager and two guys in our crew went to the same school as well. It really, really helps you keep your feet on the ground.’

They dig Irish musician Van Morrison more than anyone else from their homeland.
‘Rory Gallagher is my favourite Irish musician, but Van Morrison stands head and shoulders above anyone. You’ve got to mention U2: it’s easy to dismiss them, but they started out as a punk band.’

They’ve never been to Dubai before, but they’re sticking around to get to know the city.
‘None of us have been before – I’m expecting a city grown out of a desert. I’m expecting it to be very wealthy and to look spectacular. We’re coming over for a week, so we’ve got plenty of time to explore.’

The Coronas play at McGettigan’s Irish Pub, The Bonnington, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, on February 16 and 17, 7pm. Dhs150. www.timeouttickets.com

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