Q&A: The Coronas, the band with the most unfortunate name, weather the Covid-19 storm

"I think we’ll be able to weather the storm but for so many musicians, venues, technicians and engineers, it’s an incredibly difficult time."

Words: Eline Joling

The Coronas may have the most unfortunate name amid the coronavirus pandemic, along with Corona beer, but the Dublin rockers - now a trio comprising of Danny O'Reilly, Conor Egan and Graham Knox - have weathered the storm so far.

A man down since November, when guitarist Dave McPhillips unexpectedly announced he'd quit the band after 12 years, and all set to hit the road for six months, the band could never have anticipated that a global pandemic called coronavirus would stop them in their tracks.

Although they are unable to tour, due to the ongoing threat of the deadly respiratory infection, The Coronas' name has seen them pick interest from press across the pond ahead of the release of their sixth studio album, 'True Love Waits', out today.

Ahead of the much-anticipated release - which features their first official collaboration with Gabrielle Aplin on 'Lost in the Thick of It' - frontman O’Reilly spoke to Lizzie’s Lowdown about their reinvention following the exit of McPhillips, his fears for the music industry as a whole, and making the best out of a god awful year...

What have been the positives of having such an unfortunate name at this time, do you think the coronavirus setback could give you a chance to break the US?

We’ve had a fair few more requests for interviews for sure, but no one really knows what will happen. I am happy to play the hand we’re dealt, talk about our unfortunate name for a couple of minutes and then promote the band and get our stuff out there.

How has Covid-19 affected the people you are closest to in the music industry?

So much. We’re lucky that we’ve been doing this for a few years now, and I think we’ll be able to weather the storm but for so many musicians, venues, technicians and engineers, it’s an incredibly difficult time. I worry that the music industry will lose a lot of these talented people to other careers and then when gigs come back, there’ll be no one left to put them on.

What do you think the future of live gigs is?

I really hope gigs come back early next year, without restrictions. The virtual gig can never replace a real show. I miss gigging so much.

You’ve evolved with every record throughout your career, and this is a new chapter entirely. Which track started off the new era?

I think 'Find The Water' was a departure for us. We knew when we wrote it that we were heading in a slightly different direction. I suppose it’s a little less commercial and has a little more depth.

You took Dave’s departure as an opportunity to change tour sound, rather than going through the process of finding a replacement guitarist and making it sound like the original four-piece. Was it easy to discover the new Coronas, or did you keep slipping back into old habits? 

When Dave said he wanted to leave, it gave the other three of us a new sense of vigour. We knew it was going to sound different without him so that sort of took the pressure off and we could just follow our instincts. A lot of the songs on the album were written after he told us he was leaving so I’m sure his departure had a bearing on the songs themselves too. 

Is there a particular song on the album that addresses Dave leaving the band?

I think there are some lines in different songs about relationships and friendships that probably fit it, but I didn’t set out to write songs about him. Sometimes lyrics flow out of your subconscious and you think to yourself: 'That could be about me and Dave'.

You made a joke about it, but do you think we will eventually get a Coronas and The Vaccines joint tour? 

No, I don’t think so, but then again much stranger things have happened.

Are you guys working on the next record with gigs off for now or has it been important to take some time for yourselves?

I’ve been happy taking some time for myself in Dingle [a small town in the Republic of Ireland] for most of the summer. It’s great to be back in Dublin now to promote the album, but I’m looking forward to heading back to Dingle in mid-August to chill and write some more.

'True Love Waits' is out now.