Thursday, October 30, 2014

18 Things You Learn Hanging Out With U2

U2 at Glastonbury Festival

What's left to learn about U2 in 2014? Plenty, as it turns out – especially if you get a few days worth of intimate access to the band in three different countries. Here's the best of what didn't fit into the cover story, from the making of the new album to the secrets of Adam Clayton's jewelry.

It's not unimaginable that U2 could still be around when the band members are in their 70s. 

"I don't know – if we're writing songs as good as these ones," says Bono. "I mean, I saw Leonard Cohen play Dublin, and he said, "The last time I was out on the road, I was 60. Just a kid with a crazy dream!'" Adds Adam Clayton, "When you're working up to 50, you think, 'Oh, maybe there will be some time where we can kick back and it can be slower, and we can enjoy life a bit.' And then when you kind of cross over the 50 mark, your thinking kind of goes, 'Oh, why would you want to stop? This is actually the best bit. We're really enjoying this, let's keep going.' And that's kind of odd, but I guess there's a reason why people like Paul McCartney and Elton John are still playing shows and making records."

After spending years on Songs of Innocence, they recorded the acoustic version that's on the deluxe edition in about a week. 

For the band, it was a test of whether they'd met their goal for the album: writing songs that would work in the barest arrangements. "We had to go in and test the theory," says Bono. "I saw the Edge with his head in his hands, and he said, 'It's taken us three years to finish this album, and you're saying we have to do another album in a week?' I said, 'Edge, all the work over the last three years is going to mean that we can do it." He just went 'Ah!'" And he said, 'We can do it in a week. Will we put it out? We don't have to. Let's just try.' It got pretty frenetic at the end."

The Edge doesn't think rock is dead.

"I think it goes in cycles, honestly, and I think that we've just been through a particularly low cycle point for guitar-based music, and electronic dance music has been kind of the focus. But I think it's about doing something fresh and novel, and the problem is that with a lot of guitar-based music, the songwriting has not been great, and it's not particularly fresh, you know? I think the songwriting has been better in electronic dance music, weirdly enough. So inevitably I think people have drifted that direction. So I don't fear for guitar-based music long-term, I just think we need some better songs out there. And I like my music to be a little bit more defiant. There's not a lot of defiance right now. It's gone very mild and meek. It's nice to shake things up a little bit. Punk rock was not mild and meek, it was pretty in-your-face defiant."

Songs of Innocence had some very different potential running orders. 

Says Bono, "It used to start with 'This Is Where You Can Reach Me,' which was always supposed to be the first song, and then 'Raised By Wolves.' And the reason we changed ... we put the songs first, is we thought, "Well, if we're going to have 5,000,000 people perhaps check us out, a really long intro is probably not a good idea. Let's put the songs first, like on The Joshua Tree."

Bono loves the band Future Islands. 

"Have you seen them?" he asks. "That song, 'Seasons?' A miracle, that is."

The car-bombing referred to in the song "Raised by Wolves" was a pivotal event in Bono's political awakening. 

"I asked myself, 'Why am I always writing about political violence? What's that all about?' OK, I live in Ireland. And then I thought back to 1974, to my near-miss with this car bombing, and the odds of that, and thought, "Is that part of the reason?" Through happenstance, I took my bike to school that day and I wasn't there. Any other Friday I would have been there. Is that why I'm interested? Maybe. And, you know, people like me should probably spend some time in a psychiatrist's couch, but I don't."

Until the last two months of recording, "Raised by Wolves" was radically different. 

"It was quite a pop song," says Declan Gaffney, who co-produced it. "You know, Bono, when he writes melodies, he sings in a language called Bongolese, things that aren't really words right up until about a month or two before the record is finished. And then Bono came in with these dark lyrics, and we kind of felt that the music didn't really match the lyrics. So we tried to turn the music on its head, to match the lyrics.

The band's biggest fear was seeing their new album ignored – which explains their controversial iTunes deal. 

"That's the hardest thing right now in music, is to get people to notice," says the Edge. "I'm just watching all of these albums coming out and realizing, 'Wow, they just came and went, and no one noticed.' We're not maybe as vulnerable as a lot of other artists to that phenomenon, because we do have a big, loyal fan base. But we're also always interested in finding new fans. And in this era, it just gets more and more difficult to sort of go beyond your fan base, because there's so many things in competition. When I was 18, music was the clear winner in terms of the kind of youth culture focus. Now you're competing against the whole world of gaming, technology, social networking. So I think music has to fight for its position and has to fight for attention. And I think this helps us for sure, but I think it also helps keep music in the conversation, on sort of the front page rather than page three, four, five, six, seven of the conversation."

There are lines in "Volcano" where Bono's younger self is talking to his current self.

"The second verse is, the younger guy goes, 'Your eyes were like the landing lights/They used to be the clearest blue/Now you don't see so well/And the future's going to land on you.'" It's this young guy going, "The fuck happened to you?" And on Songs of Experience, there will be a little bit more of that cross-talk, and I think that's going to get very interesting. So for a live show you can imagine Quadrophenia where Pete Townshend could walk in any minute and have an argument with his younger self. You know?"

Bono initially imagined "Every Breaking Wave" as somewhat in the vein of Bob Dylan's "Every Grain of Sand." 

"'Every Breaking Wave' was Steve Jobs' favorite song," says Bono, "and he said, 'Do you have one like that?' And I said, 'I think so. At least we started one.' I might have even sent him the lyrics way back, like as soon as I started. And I wouldn't dare compare the two songs now, I'm just saying the idea was, could you just do a song that simple? Like you and piano?   It was a song about how hard it is to give yourself completely to another person. And the two characters in it are addicted to failure and rebirth. I like the idea that they say to each other, 'Are we ready? Are we ready to be swept off our feet?" Adam [Clayton] was more like one of the characters in that song than I am. And then he went and got married! It took him to be 52 or whatever he was to be swept off his feet. And he got there."

Larry Mullen might be too good a drummer. 

"My timing is pretty good for an old man," Mullen says with a smile. During the making of Songs of Innocence, one of the producers wanted to alter Mullen's performance to make it less perfect. "They basically said, 'We have to make it sound like it's live.' It's like, it is live! The idea is making it sound slightly out of time just in case somebody would think it's a machine. That gave me a lot of belly laughs, and also some restless nights. "

Mullen doesn't mind being a dissenting voice in the band from time to time.
"Some decisions are not welcomed, or aren't popular, but I'm not in a popularity contest. I'm in a band."

The band is weighing a two-night structure for their 2015 tour.

"There is talk of doing two different kinds of shows," says Clayton. "One night would be a kind of loud, explosive rock & roll kind of event and then the other night's show take the acoustic arrangements of some of the songs, and kind of present those songs in a much more intimate way. But we don't really know how that's going to sound and look." One thing the band hasn't figured out: how to make sure audiences understand in advance which show they're getting.

The Edge went to Coachella this year. 

"The band that I liked at Coachella was Cage the Elephant.  Their commitment to the performance really blew so much of the other stuff away. They really did own it in a way that few other artists did. Broken Bells were great, and Skrillex's thing was pretty cool. Pixies were on, that was good to see them. And I love Outkast. Some of the more strange hippie stuff wasn't that great. Neutral Milk Hotel, you know them? If you were sort of one of the faithful, you could sort of get excited about it. It didn't really have a universal appeal at all. And that might be its appeal."

The band found the recording and songwriting process humbling this time. 

"We probably had 50 songs," says Bono. "Some would come and go in favor, and some you could get them halfway up the hill, three-quarters of the way up the hill. A lot of times, we just couldn't get them up to the top of the hill. And that was the humbling element. And there's some humiliation in realizing that your talent is just not up to the task. And then you realize, after that, no one's talent is. People who are smarter and more creative, more prolific than U2, stopped being able to get songs across after, 20 years, 30 years, and you don't know why. And I think the muse is a jealous lover, and you really have to serve and wait on her."

Bono feels that the lyrics on Songs of Innocence are more accessible than anything he's written in years. 

"Edge was really worried about getting so personal, that it would appear nostalgic. But strangely, by being this intimate, it's much more relatable, because the last album's quite esoteric. There are esoteric themes – like in 'Moment of Surrender,' the guy falls to his knees in a busy street beside an ATM machine. People are saying, 'I haven't been able to understand you for years, but this I get.'"

"'Esoteric' would be a good way to describe No Line on the Horizon," says the Edge. "It had a certain introspective darkness to it and I'm always going to be interested in the sort of darker, more melancholy musical mood. But we might have slid a little bit too strongly in that direction, and we wanted this record to be accessible to a wider range of music fans. I think the last record was very much a sort of U2 fan base record. I don't think we made a hell of a lot of new fans on that record. And with this album, I believe we can. And I fee; much more confident, for instance, that we've done this whole Apple thing with this album than I think I would have felt if it was No Line on the Horizon."

Bono never liked it when people tried to compliment him by saying, "You haven't changed." 
"Things must change," he says. "I remember people would say, 'You haven't changed' — like it was a good thing. I was thinking like, 'What do you mean I haven't changed? I have changed!' And I want to continue to change — I want to continue to peel off the layers and if there's anything in this onion, I want to know what it is."

Adam Clayton has had a jade bracelet stuck on his wrist since he was 21 years old. 

"I was given it when I was 21," Clayton says with a laugh. "And it's a women's size, and I can't get it off.  My hand was a little smaller. And I actually really forced it on at the time. Because I was 21, and I was having a good time."

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Audio: entrevista a U2 en el programa de radio de Jim-Jim Nugent

The whole band gave an interview to Jim- Jim Nugent program Strawberry Alarm Clock on FM104 Radio Dublin . The almost 30-minute interview can be heard on SoundCloud .

"Songs of Innocence" First in a Trilogy of Albums

It took a while for U2 to finish off their latest album, Songs of Innocence, but it doesn’t seem like we’ll have to wait as long for a follow-up

Bono tells Rolling Stone in a new cover story that the band has planned a follow-up to Songs of Innocence, entitled Songs of Experience, which he hopes will be released in the next 18 months.

“We’re hoping Songs of Experience will be less about intimacy,” adds bassist Adam Clayton. “And more about a celebration of sorts.”

In addition, Bono says that Songs of Ascent, which was originally announced in 2009 as a follow up to No Line on the Horizon, will also be released, forming a trilogy of sorts with Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience.

Songs of Ascent will come,” he says. “And there are some beautiful songs.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Bono admits that he once had an argument with late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs that included the words “go f**k yourself.”  “I had a tantrum, like a child,” the singer says, adding that he ultimately reconciled with the technology pioneer before his death.

“I had a tantrum, like a child,” Bono says, adding that he ultimately reconciled with Jobs before Jobs’ death.

You can read the entire interview in the October 24 issue of Rolling Stone.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Bono: Irish paid too high a price for the banks


Bono has revealed he saw world famous investor and philanthropist George Soros "go for" Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, over the issue of Ireland being forced to pay off all our bondholders. The singer also says that Ireland should have burnt bondholders when the country went through the troika bailout.

"They are all big boys and they could have afforded a haircut and a new suit and some underwear if that was necessary," he said in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Independent.

The singer went on to say: "That was a grim, grim moment in our history. Our people paid far too high a price."

The singer says he saw investor and philanthropist George Soros, "go for Van Rompuy", over the matter, "and it was embarrassing because George Soros knew more about the details of the Irish bond market than I did".

Bono says the whole thing was "just very, very unfair". But he did say he was, "amazed at the subtlety of the response [of the Irish people] because we could have thrown a monumental tantrum - it just wouldn't have made things any better."

Bandmate Larry Mullen agreed, saying: "When the truth comes out, and it will, I think, Europe and the European banks - we'll be astonished by what they did to Ireland."

Bono agreed that "it will emerge", and that "it wasn't a nice moment".

Despite the furore in certain quarters around the release of U2's new album Songs of Innocence for free on iTunes, the album has been downloaded and listened to by tens of millions of people and is the band's most popular and critical success in years. Five years in the making and heralding a return to old-fashioned songwriting, after what Larry Mullen now calls the "incomplete" No Line On The Horizon, the new album is a stunning return to form and the band have been hugely re-energised by getting out and playing the new songs on the radio and TV shows, including Friday Night's Late Late Show.

Bono also spoke of his respect for Enda Kenny, with whom he has worked on bringing tech businesses to Ireland. "I've a lot of time for him," Bono said of Enda, "and I've seen him deal with tough crowds." Bono laughed that he did not mean the Irish public, but Enda Kenny's "contemporaries and the high fliers at meetings in Davos and things like that, and it gives me pride that he can speak off the hoof, and not just poetically. He can actually get down to brass tacks, and I've seen him go after companies to get them to Ireland. I witnessed him headlock Brian Cheskey from Airbnb to get their headquarters into Dublin, and I was working on this too."

Bono got to know the Taoiseach when they collaborated on bringing companies like Google and Facebook to commit to Ireland. He also praised the work of the IDA, saying they are "unbelievable, like the Jedi".

Monday, October 27, 2014

Stories Of Innocence

Songs Of Innocence is inspired by the band's earliest days in Dublin – the gigs they went to, the places they hung out in, the friends they made. 

That story of U2's emergence in the late 1970's  is nowhere captured better than in North Side Story, the special Hot Press publication ( for subscribers).

Here's some of the ways in which Songs of Innocence and North Side Story are a perfect combination. 

1. Playing Ramones songs to the music press.

'After the Ramones', writes Bono, in the sleeve notes to Songs of Innocence, 'I could try and be myself as a singer.' Seeing Joey Ramone sing ('like a girl') had inspired the U2 frontman to find his own style, but when influential Hot Press staffer Bill Graham came to a band rehearsal in the earliest days, it's fair to say they weren't entirely being themselves. Paul McGuinness recalls the incident in North Side Story.
'They played some songs which Bill immediately spotted were Ramones songs, which was a bit embarrassing,' he recalls. 'But he was impressed all the same. It is well documented that it was Bill who subsequently introduced me to the band and told me that I was going to manage them.' 

2. Within spitting distance of the Stranglers

'We were in love with the punk rock scene', as it says in the SOI sleeve notes. The teenage band members were in the house to see the Ramones and the Clash in Dublin during those formative years, and 'The Miracle' and 'This is Where You Can Reach Me Now' (see below) pay homage to Joey Ramone and Joe Strummer respectively. 
But in October '78, the band grabbed the chance to play their own part in the emerging scene, scoring a  prized support slot for The Stranglers, at the Top Hat, Dun Laoghaire. Larry had been visiting (promoter) Pat Egan's record shop in Duke Street, drumming home the message that U2 were worthy of a bigger stage. 'He was a very polite as well as a very persistent young fella,' recalls Egan in North Side Story. 'So when The Stranglers' people told me they weren't bringing a support act with them I thought, 'Okay, I'll give these U2 guys a go.'
Turns out The Stranglers were late for their sound-check, so U2 didn't get one. Edge's guitar kept cutting out, and the 1,800 Stranglers fans didn't just hurl spit but lit cigarettes at the band. Rumours were, too, that U2 had upset the headliners by stealing beer from their dressing room. Yet still, the Hot Press review - which you can read in North Side Story - was kind: 'They won't look back at it as one of their most satisfactory sets... but the gig was a giant step. Given the circumstances, they've acquitted themselves with pride.' 

3. Complete Surrender

'I can vividly remember when I first saw the Clash,' recalls Edge. 'It was in Dublin in October 1977 at a 1200 capacity venue at Trinity College. It had a massive impact around here. This wasn't just entertainment. It was a life-and-death thing. They made it possible for us to take our band seriously. They showed us what you needed. And it was all about heart.' As 'This Is Where You Can Reach Me Now' puts it, 'We signed our lives away/Complete surrender...' 

4. Ireland in the 1970s, a tough place to grow up in.

'It was a war zone in my teens,' sings Bono on Cedarwood Road and lifelong friend, Gavin Friday, 'who lived at the top of the road', concurs. 'It felt like this wasteland,' he recalls, in North Side Story. 'The way I remember it, there was incredible violence everywhere in Dublin at the time. The amount of beatings I got was incredible, even going down to the bus...'

He remembers going to see U2 at the Baggot Inn, Dublin, when 'this crowd that called themselves the Black Catholics came and started throwing stuff at the stage. I think Bono jumped down and went for them ... It was always Bono and Guggi that defended me.' 

Cedarwood Road itself was 'full of people I still admire and love', Bono writes in the sleevenotes. 'Like Gavin Friday.' 

5. 'All of us are wondering why we're here...

...In the crystal ballroom underneath the chandelier.'  The map 'North And South Of The River:Wandering In U2's Dublin', published with North Side Story,  carries dozens of notable landmarks, including the location of McGonagles in South Anne Street, originally known as The Crystal Ballroom. A generation of people went to dance there, including Bono's parents. 'The song, 'The Crystal Ballroom', is me imagining I'm on the stage of McGonagles with this new band I'm in called U2 – and we did play a lot of our important early gigs there - and I look out into the audience and I see my mother and father dancing romantically together to U2 on the stage.' 

6. The cover star of Boy was also one of the neighbours

Just along the way from the Hewsons on Cedarwood Road lived the Rowens. 'That family were like an Old Testament tribe,' Bono writes in the sleeve notes. 'I learned a lot from them.' His close friend Derek Rowen - aka Guggi - was one of the clan . But one of the younger Rowen siblings, Peter,  also came to  prominence in U2 iconography - being photographed, as a five-year-old, for the cover of Boy, and later War, and appearing in the video for Two Hearts Beat as One.
'Bono was over in our house quite a lot,' Peter remembers in North Side Story. 'I was only a little kid, but one of my older brothers said he used to eat us out of jam sandwiches. His mum died when he was quite young, so his own house was often empty and he'd come around for a bit of company.' 

7. Early artistic influences on Cedarwood Road

Guggi has been friend and confidente throughout U2's career. 'I painted with Bono from childhood,' he reminisces, in North Side Story. 'His Dad set up a couple of little tables for us in the garage of the semi-detached house on Cedarwood Road, where he lived, and we would go out to the garage and draw and paint. Bono's dad, who himself was a painter, would give us critique and watch our progress.'
Guggi went on to become, in the words of Hot Press Editor Niall Stokes, 'one of the most successful artists of the modern generation in Ireland.'
'While the atmosphere of stagnation in Dublin was profound for boys growing into, and becoming, young men, underneath all that, currents of far-reaching change were swirling,' Stokes remembers. 'Gradually clawing their way out of the anonymity of their North side suburban upbringing, U2 and their cohorts would in many respects come to embody what that change was all about.'
Painting remained an important part of the artistic relationship for the former Cedarwood Road residents. 'Later on, during the making of the Joshua Tree,' writes Guggi, 'the band had this huge house in the Dublin hills with lots of spare rooms where they had set their studio up, and Bono asked myself and Gav [Friday] whether we would go there and paint, and we did. The three of us had painted on a Wednesday night for a number of years.' 

8. Stronger than Fear

Another of the Rowen clan, Andy ('Guck Pants Delaney, we used to call him,' writes Bono in the sleeve notes) inspired the song Raised By Wolves. He was in Talbot Street, locked in his dad's van, on May 17th 1974 when a bomb went off, killing 33 people. As the lyric goes: 'I'm in a white van as a red sea covers the ground.'
Introducing the book, Niall Stokes describes how the artistic and cultural ferment in 1970's Dublin played a crucial role in helping young people counter both the social deprivation and the political troubles. 'The sectarianism and isolationism which gripped the country for... 50 years had a shockingly negative, repressive effect,' he says. Yet at this pivotal moment in the city's history, 'a less conventional breed of artists and activists - painters, poets, playwrights, actors and musicians gathered [at haunts such as the Project Arts Centre] in a spirit of experimentation and adventure.' 

9. Blood orange sunset brings you to your knees.

The sleeve notes again: 'LA seemed like the polar opposite of Dublin. We love being somewhere between extremes. I remember Edge, Larry, Adam and me getting off a plane in California and looking at each other like 'This is better than the movies' and that was just the airport!'
It was the spring of 1981, when U2 landed in California for their first ever gig in LA. And Charlie McNally,  Dublin exile living in LA, was on hand to watch the band launch their US invasion, and report back for Hot Press. The band played the Country Club, he reported, 'the most prestigious venue in Los Angeles' and  'the showcase gig in LA of everyone from local hot shots Naughty Sweeties to Ry Cooder.' U2 'took the place by storm.'
A young Paul Hewson had asked McNally two years earlier if U2 could play support 'for nothin'' to his own band, at the Stardust [nightclub] in Artane. 'Little did I think that only two years later I'd witness that same band playin' their asses off in Sunny Califonria,' wrote McNally. 'Tonight, I had the pleasure of observing a tiny paragraph in Irish rock music history - U2's debut in LA.'

U2 in “60 Minutes”,Australia


Click on the image to see the interview 

Another amazing performance of "Every Breaking Wave":

Bono & Edge in “The Late Late Show” (RTE One)

'It's a strange feeling when the plane comes down and you see the lights of Dublin, a lovely feeling and this show, growing up in Ireland, it's quintessential...'

Edge and Bono were guests of Ryan Tubridy on The Late Late Show last night - performing acoustic versions of 'The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)' and 'Every Breaking Wave'. 

See all the interview here