Monday, January 12, 2015

The loss of innocence: A unique insight into the last year of U2

U2 perform during the MTV EMA's 2014


'This is the big sound," says the Edge. He rattles a basement rehearsal space with three monster chords from a vintage Epiphone Casino guitar, dunked in distortion so ferocious that his black baseball cap seems in danger of flying off. Bono is right beside him, listening hard, squinting at the fretwork through pale-blue aviator shades. The singer is wearing a hat of his own, a jaunty, black-banded Panama-style number that makes it look like he's in disguise, on holidays, or both.


No matter how huge a noise they make, U2 are, for once, playing in a little room. They've hauled an unreasonable amount of equipment and a half-dozen-plus crew members into a purple-carpeted, wood-walled studio at a TV station on the French Riviera, where Bono is leading them through rehearsals for radio and talk-show performances.

On this October evening, Larry Mullen Jr is at his drum kit, in head-to-toe black, running through a clickety-clacking song intro with uninterrupted intensity. Adam Clayton, in a sparkly purple shirt, bass guitar hanging at his waist, is flicking at his iPhone. He's probably checking his email rather than, say, looking for his free U2 album (or trying to delete it).

They're working up a live arrangement of their current single The Miracle (of Joey Ramone). The Edge's jagged "big sound" isn't quite working, even though it's exactly what he used on the version from their latest album, Songs of Innocence. "Songs are never finished," Bono says. Like almost all of their music, Miracle crawled out from a relentless process of forced, hot-house evolution - in this case, over four years, with three different producers. It started as a drum-loop-and-acoustic-guitar-based tune called Drummer Boy, from 2010 sessions with the producer Danger Mouse. Then it turned into a rock-ier larval-stage thing called Siren (one line compared the Ramones's music to a siren song) with heavy input from OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder and Adele producer Paul Epworth, before developing its definitive melody and lyric over two months of sessions with Epworth. But even now, it hasn't quite settled into a final shape.

"You've got a digital-sounding distortion," Bono tells the Edge. "It's not a sound that can lift. In the pre-chorus, is there a mezzanine level? You got a little brown sauce, so we need it more funky, more like Mysterious Ways. Try it with the Mysterious sound; see if it works." The Edge, stoic Spock to Bono's voluble Kirk, duly dials up that Achtung Baby track's wah-wah soup.

"All right, once more," Bono says, and Miracle shape-shifts once again, into something slinkier and more brash than the album version: Mullen overdelivers on Bono's request for "more cymbals, more dynamics"; Clayton nails what Bono describes as "a bass part so great you could build a house on it," with an occasional glance at a chord chart; Bono emotes at full concert volume into a hand-held mic, shaking his hips a bit, sounding implausibly youthful. "That was some numskull fuckin' business," says Bono. "Really good!"

As the Edge fiddles with his gear, Bono wanders over to offer some director's commentary. "We just need another colour," he says. "Because we're using a swing beat. Making this album, we went back and listened to all the music that had brought us into ourselves, then we said, 'Now let's misremember it.' The Ramones never used a swing beat in their lives - but the New York Dolls, they were glam: they did. People say, 'That song doesn't sound like the Ramones!' But that would not be a compliment, to pastiche them - we're trying to do something more interesting."

The Edge will stay here on his own for hours tonight, working out a new secondary sound and modified guitar part for the song, in hopes of "not going numskull all the way through." "The Mysterious Ways thing was the wrong idea," he'll say over breakfast the next morning, "but it led to the right idea."

U2 Shows to Help Build the Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital



U2 has thrown its support behind the Legacy of Hope Foundation, a nonprofit organization aiding to bring one of Nelson Mandela's final wishes to fruition - the construction of the 5th dedicated children's hospital on the entire continent of Africa. The Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital will provide access to high-quality medical care for the children of Southern Africa, regardless of their ability to pay. This facility will have a profound, transformative effect on healthcare in the region. All members of U2, including Bono, a longtime ally and friend of Mr. Mandela and supporter of his charitable efforts, signed one of the Edge's acoustic guitars for Legacy of Hope. Bono, who was recently injured during a cycling accident in New York City, has been recuperating following surgery, but nevertheless still wanted to show his support. Prolific rock star Bono tagged the guitar with the inscription, "There's no them there's only us!"

When reached for comment, Eric Gast, CEO/Executive Producer of the Legacy of Hope Foundation, stated "We are truly honored that U2 would show their support with this wonderful gesture and I'm moved that Bono, in his current state, would have the resolve to help support Mr. Mandela's dream of free and accessible healthcare for the children of Southern Africa."

The Legacy of Hope Foundation has garnered the support of numerous artists, celebrities and distinguished civil rights leaders, some of whom serve on its Honorary Board, including Ruby Bridges, Christy Turlington Burns, Ed Burns, Viola Davis, Dame Judi Dench, Arun Gandhi, Whoopi Goldberg, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Katherine Heigl, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Ashley Judd, Nicole Kidman, Larry King, Sir Ben Kingsley, Salma Hayek Pinault, Natalie Portman, Susan Sarandon, Octavia Spencer, Charlize Theron, Ben Vereen, Barbara Walters, Elie and Marion Wiesel, Her Highness Princess Dalal Al-Saud, and the late Dr. Maya Angelou.


For more information, please visit http://www.legacyofhope.org

U2 at 2014 Meteor Choice Music Prize Shortlist

U2 - Songs Of Innocence cover

U2's Songs of Innocence has been nominated for Irish best album of the year by Meteor Choice Music Prize

The shortlist is as follows (artists listed in alphabetical order):

Aphex Twin – Syro (Warp)
Delorentos – Night Becomes Light (Universal Ireland)
The Gloaming – The Gloaming (Real World)
Hozier – Hozier (Rubyworks/Universal)
James Vincent McMorrow – Post Tropical (Faction)
Sinead O’ Connor – I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss (Nettwerk)
Damien Rice – My Favourite Faded Fantasy (Warner Music)
The Riptide Movement – Getting Through (Universal Ireland)
U2 – Songs of Innocence (Island)

We Cut Corners – Think Nothing (Delphi)

http://choicemusicprize.com/

U2's Songs of Innocence shines




U2's album "Songs of Innocence"


Musically, U2’s Songs of Innocence deserves to be decontextualized from both the positive and negative hype surrounding it so that the songs themselves can emerge. On first listen, the production is prominent. However, upon each return visit, more and more treasures are to be found. Magnificent musicianship and seamless songwriting carry the album through its various portions. Songs like "Every Breaking Wave," "Song for Someone," and "Iris (Hold Me Close)” get better with every listen, as the poignant lyrical and musical touches reverberate with sonic subtlety.
To create a flow on an album that covers so much ground is an accomplishment also worth noting. These songs don't require a previous fan relationship with the band, but it's exciting to see that a band that keeps reinventing itself and deconstructing its own mythology also still can provide its own signature sounds. Enjoying the musical surface of the album is fulfilling, but even more so is listening enough that you fully get to appreciate Bono's vocals and uniquely open lyrical style, the Edge's classic riffs, Adam Clayton's distinctively rhythmic bass patterns and Larry Mullen's perfect touch on the drums.
It may be hard to compare this album to any other one from U2, but it stands strong in its own right.

http://www.examiner.com/

U2 Debuts Biggest AC Hit Since 1992 With 'Every Breaking Wave'

U2


The band reaches the chart's top 30 for the first time since 'One' 23 years ago. 

Chart Highlights offers a sneak peek at a select group of Billboard charts every Monday. (All charts below are based on radio airplay except for Dance Club Songs, which is based on reports submitted by a panel of DJs.) Find out the top songs, Greatest Gainers and debuts on the surveys listed below.
All our charts are refreshed on billboard.com and Billboardbiz every Thursday and appear in the next issue of Billboard magazine.
Debut No. 28 "Every Breaking Wave" U2
U2 visits the Adult Contemporary chart's top 30 for the first time in nearly 23 years, as "Every Breaking Wave" crashes the list at No. 28. Aided by airplay at iHeartMedia-owned stations, the ballad marks the band's fourth appearance in the region. U2's Billboard Hot 100 No. 1s "With or Without You" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" reached Nos. 23 and 16, respectively, in 1987 and "One" rose to No. 24 in 1992.

http://www.billboard.com

LITTLE BOOK OF A BIG YEAR BONO’S A TO Z OF 2014



On the first day of the new year, Bono decided to dedicate some time and words to his fans. He wrote a letter (Shall I say confession? New Year's Resolutions?) posted at U2.com.
Here are some parts: 

"...On the day of my 50th birthday I received an injury because I was over indulging in exercise boxing and cycling, which was itself an overcompensation for overindulging on alcohol coming up to the big birthday. I promised myself I would be more mindful of my limits, but just four years on, it happened again - a massive injury I can't blame on anyone but myself, mainly because I blanked out on impact and have no memory of how I ended up in New York Presbyterian with my humerus bone sticking through my leather jacket. Very punk rock as injuries go. .."

"A IS FOR ALI 

If her name were Zena I'd start the alphabet with her anyway; everything for me starts with her. Watching Ali this morning as she and a low bright winter sun clean our kitchen from the night before... I'm writing on a long table that was last night ringed by family and friends home for Christmas and New Year… the sea and sky were ink then with spots of little festive lights, infiltrating our winter evening. I didn't want the night to end, which has not always been the case for me during the last six weeks."


"B IS FOR BONO 

Talking about yourself in the third person is a little weird... But Bono embraces it. Bono thinks solipsism for an artist is like an overactive thyroid for a comedian; it's hard to fix if it's paying your way... "



"C IS FOR CLAYTON 

Adam's bass playing on Songs of Innocence was as fresh and original as his work on our first album, BOY, which was genius as far as I'm concerned. Songs like The Troubles or Volcano, or This Is Where You Can Reach Me Now depend on Adam... to glue together elements that might otherwise fly off in different trajectories. 

Adam is also the happiest he has ever been in his life since he married Mariana... she is so special and they share a passion for contemporary art that has them great friends as well as lovers. The only thing that bothers me about Adam Clayton is he seems to buy better gifts than I do. He bought Ali a snowflake pendant that she hardly ever takes off despite all my attempts to ply her with things that shine. 

Truth is Ali is too modest and old-school frugal
to wear anything showy. Yet another lesson there. (Note to self. Look up "frugal.") "

"Above all else E IS FOR EDGE 

This year during the recording of SOI the band ended up sharing houses in London. I had the room under the Edge… this was a mistake. The dude doesn't sleep. When we record, he's often playing guitar right through the night. I offered him sleeping tablets. He said he'd rather the album be crack than valium. 

Edge is not just one of my dearest friends, he, like the missus, remains a mystery to those who know him best.... a paradox… a true gentleman but with the rage of rock'n'roll under quite thick skin.... though he is U2's lightning conductor, he moves like a very calm breeze...you might not notice it but for the ripples in the sand, the subtleties in his playing, his songwriting hooks… some of them not obvious at first turn out to be eternal. He is the only one who doesn't know that he is the most influential guitar player in a quarter century.

Edge is very proud, as is the rest of the band, of our involvement in Music Generation...making sure in Ireland that any future Edges can get their hands on a guitar. By November, 19,000 kids had had access to instruments and lessons thanks to the brilliant Rosaleen Molloy who runs the scheme. " 

"L IS FOR LARRY MULLEN 

The cover of the U2 album is, I think, our best. 


There was a moment when we did the Graham Norton show - a moment that, to keep the pace up, got left out of the final edit, but that really knocked us all out. When Graham asked Larry why he and his son would agree to appear on the album cover (the Mullen Juniors are very protective of their privacy), Larry talked about how he and his son have at times had a stormy relationship - and that beautiful photograph by Glen Luchford meant so much to the two of them in their new closeness. "I'm not sure who is holding onto who," Larry said. "Check my son's hand... He's a tough kid but not so tough that he can't hold onto his father as his father holds onto him". 

"M IS FOR MANDELA 

It's one year on, but I and more importantly the world miss him. "Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings". "


Read the complete post here.

http://www.u2.com