Friday, February 28, 2014

Do you want to own Bono's sunglasses?

Always seen yourself wearing a pair of Bono's sunglasses?  
A pair signed by the man himself? 
A pair you collect, with a friend, from Bono... backstage after a U2 show in the UK? 

UK charity Sport Relief has teamed up with some famous names - Kasabian, Rizzle Kicks, Paloma Faith, Stephen Fry - to raise funds for the 'Give It Up ' fund, founded by the comedian Russell Brand, to support people with drug and alcohol addictions .

You can also support the cause by selling something of your own.

Sport Relief is a partner of Comic Relief which campaigns for ' a just world free from poverty',  an organisation the band have supported for many years.

The Edge at "Feedback Kitchen With Mario Batali"

U2 guitarist the Edge and celebrity chef Mario Batali film ‘Feedback Kitchen With Mario Batali,’ the first show in an original programming push by the Dailymotion online video site.
Via Alta

Dailymotion, the Paris-based video site is accelerating efforts to attract more viewers from the other side of the Atlantic.

In addition to courting U.S. firms as potential investors, Dailymotion is starting a risky original programming push it hopes will build an audience large enough to make it an alternative to Google YouTube, which is still the dominant force in online video.

The site’s first show, “Feedback Kitchen with Mario Batali,” featuring the celebrity chef cooking in conversation with musicians who include Patti Smith and U2 guitarist the Edge.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

'Ordinary Love' in Extraordinary Times

"We can't fall any further
If we can't feel ordinary love
And we can't reach any higher,
If we can't deal with ordinary love."


To be a Mandela is to understand the longings of the South African people. That is the first thing I learned when I set out to portray Nelson Mandela, the new nation's founding leader and inspirational visionary, in Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom.

So when I saw Winnie Mandela last week, and she tells me that her nation is united in the hope that the song for that film, "Ordinary Love," is in that envelope on Academy Award night, I fully accept that truth.

"Ordinary Love" is no ordinary song, as President Mandela was no ordinary man. Everyone has a sense of who Mandela is -- be it his nobleness, his white hair, his calming yet commanding voice. It wasn't until I read the letters -- the personal and emotionally charged exchanges between Madiba and Winnie during his imprisonment that I gained a deeper understanding of the other side of Mandela: Mandela the vulnerable. Mandela the raw. Mandela, the man in love -- in love with one woman and in love with a nation.

Idris Elba with Winnie Mandela

"This song," Winnie said to me, "carries our thirst for freedom and peace and unity on its wings. A great voice like that of Nelson Mandela, is never silenced. "

To hear this song is to understand why some oppressors fear music as much as they fear their people's cries in the street. Music, such as that which U2 contributes to the world, and wrote for our film, can move mountains and continue our evolution towards freedom and unity. Through "Ordinary Love," Bono and U2 captured the passion of a yearning people.

And I think there may be another South African up above listening to the music and hearing his own voice being carried along in the joy that only music brings.

Idris Elba for The Hufftington Post

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bono to write charity tribute to his late father

Bono and his father, circa 2000.

He penned the hit U2 song Kite about his late father; now Bono is writing about their relationship in a new book that will raise funds for charity.

The Irish Hospice Foundation charity helped take care of the singer's father, Brendan Robert Hewson, or 'Bob' as he was affectionately known, when he died of cancer in 2001.

Now Bono is contributing one of a series of essays about father-and-son relationships, which will also feature a number of high-profile figures from the world of art, music, literature and film.

Each contributor will speak about their own connection with their father.

A source told the Sunday Independent: "The book will give an insight into what shaped many of the famous contributors. The essays will talk about the lessons learned, the advice received, significant moments shared and memories. "It could be in the form of an open letter to their dad or simply a general insight into the relationship they shared."

It's not the first time Bono has contributed to the Hospice Foundation.

In recent years he took part in a radical reworking of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf by his childhood friend Gavin Friday, in which he also drew on his own, sometimes painful, relationship with his father.

Bono has frequently shared the emotional journey he went through in his father's final days, with his fans.

In his father's dying days, Bono flew home night after night to visit the retired postal worker in the hospice after performing with U2 in stadia across Europe while the band was on tour.

The singer regularly dedicated Kite to his ailing father at shows during the period.

Speaking about their last few moments together, Bono said: "Actually, his last words were an expletive. I was sleeping on a little mattress right beside him in the hospital. I woke up, and he made this big sound, this kind of roar, it woke me up.

"The nurse comes in and says, 'You OK, Bob?' He kind of looks at her and whispers, 'Would you f**k off and get me out of here? This place is like a prison. I want to go home.' "Last words: 'F**k off.'"

Bono also told America's Rolling Stone magazine that they had a very different relationship to the one he has with his children today.

"The Troubles" & "Song for Someone", Two New Songs for the Awaited Album

Bono has  talked about the new U2 material in a recent interview that aired on the radio station NRJ Energy. He did not say anything new about the release date of the new U2 album but commented the names of two new songs: "Song For Someone" and "The Troubles":

"There are some beautiful heartbreaker. There's one called 'Song For Someone'. There is another called 'The Troubles', which is like ... if you are ripped apart. It has some of the music of the soul within it "

Listen to the whole interview here.

U2 wants to avoid the 'esoteric' on new album, win an Oscar


U2 is a band that is used to big statements, political activism and rallying behind a cause. This past weekend, however, the band's larger-than-life frontman Bono was talking about the band's late-career efforts to simplify. Well, that and also his desire to get his hands on the "little gold" that is an Academy Awards statuette.

Speaking by phone early Saturday from Washington, D.C., Bono described the band's 2009 effort "No Line on the Horizon" as "esoteric," and talked up the more human aspects of the group's Oscar-nominated song, "Ordinary Love." The latter, of course, was the occasion for the call, as with Oscar voting ending on Tuesday at 5 p.m. PST, the singer was in full campaign mode. 

"Pharrell is an exceptional talent, then you have a Disney phenom and Karen O is just mesmerizing," said Bono as he surveyed his Academy Awards competition.

"Ordinary Love," featured in The Weinstein Co.'s  biopic "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," will compete for the original song Oscar with Pharrell Williams' retro-soul "Happy" from "Despicable Me 2," the grand "Let it Go" from Disney's "Frozen" and Karen O's quiet and lonesome "The Moon Song" from "Her." 

Though U2 is one of rock 'n' roll's elite names, "Ordinary Love" faces rather stiff Oscar opponents. It arrives at the end of "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" and plays over a photo montage, not having the benefit of, say, an animated centerpiece in a movie musical sung to the impressive construction of a palatial ice palace. 

"All I can say is that we didn't phone this one in," Bono said. "A whole lot of our life is wrapped up in this song." 

To fans, "Ordinary Love" signaled an early glimpse at the Irish quartet's direction for a new album, one that is currently being worked on with electronic-focused producer Brian Burton, better known by his Danger Mouse stage name. For U2, a band that early on supported Nelson Mandela's anti-apartheid stance, it was a chance to echo the less-public aspects of the long imprisoned former South African president shown by Justin Chadwick's film.

"We don't know Nelson Mandela the father, the friend, the lover, the husband," said Bono. "I think that's where Justin succeeded. Early on in the film, you see him being physically violent to his girlfriend. You gasp. 'This is Nelson Mandela?' That's what makes his transformation so important."

As a song, "Ordinary Love" builds slowly, opening with a glimmer of sounds that briefly hint at a gospel choir and then fade into more wistful digital atmospheres. A ray of hope arrives in the form of a keyboard melody close to the 90-second mark. The full band eventually joins in, and Edge's guitar work provides the final emotional uplift after a soulful chorus.
The tone wouldn't have been out of place among the more spacious songs of "No Line on the Horizon." Bono said early drafts of the song were more literal in referencing Mandela's freedom from prison. Ultimately, however, he wanted the lyrical content to be more emotional and universal, which he decided after reading the love letters traded in prison between Mandela and his wife Winnie. 

"The love letters from prison are very touching," Bono said. "They're very heartbreaking. They gave me a clue as to the kind of language to use in the song. The melancholy was in there. The song has a gospel feeling, but it adds dimension. Like a lot of my favorite gospel songs, there's an ache to it. There's got to be a bit of blues for me."
While the Academy Awards are big business to Hollywood, for U2, who will perform on Sunday's show, the Oscar appearance is a very brief break from working on a new album, scheduled for release sometime in 2014. Like the upcoming album, U2 worked on "Ordinary Love" with Burton, who is credited as a producer and a contributor to the song's arrangement. 

Bono spoke of Burton as someone who is helping U2 streamline, both in content and in sound, and is encouraging the singer to avoid the big emotional payoff in his vocals and to instead stick closer to the melody.

"I have things I can do as a singer," said Bono. "I have a lot of things I can't do, but I have a few things I can. There's certain notes I can hit, which have an effect on people. Brian Burton is extremely suspicious of those notes. He's looking for melodies that are eternal rather than ones you feel in the moment. That's the most profound impact on us."
As an example, Bono spoke of the title track for "No Line on the Horizon." a song marked by its relatively vague lyrics, heavily processed rhythmic effects and somber snyths that whir in and out. Bono sings through gritted teeth, cutting right to the front of the adventurous arrangement. 

Don't, Bono said, expect the new album to sound like that song.

"The last album, I enjoyed it, but in ways it was quite esoteric," said Bono. "There were a lot of subjects. Writing a song about infinity? It's great that a band like U2 can get away with that, but I remember enough of being a teenager. The reason we joined U2 was to not go too far on the self-indulgent front. We had one foot in punk rock."
And that footing will be represented on the new work, but it won't, of course, be the album's sole influence. Bono referenced giants of punk rock and electronic music when talking up the as-yet-untitled album.

"The Ramones are part of who we are, as well as Kraftwerk. On this album, we're trying to have a clarity of thought, of purpose, of melody to folks. It's about discipline," he said.

One song, Bono said, even owed a little bit to the Clash circa 1977. The forebears of British punk, the Clash in that year were a mix of bravado and sincerity. The band's lyrics referenced the news of the day, and vocalist Joe Strummer was a charismatic force who manically worked the stage in an effort to preach to the unconverted.
"There's a song that I think will be on this album that's called 'This Is Where You Can Reach Me,' and we as a band went in 1977 to see the Clash and it turned our life upside down," said Bono. "I went home that night, and part of me never came home. The Clash were this extraordinary sight, the most extraordinary sound. It was an audio-visual assault and we were 16, 17 years old.

"There's awful progressive rock lurking around, but I have enough of a memory of 1977 to not surrender to it," Bono continued. "There were incredibly pure thoughts in music then. You knew what the song was about. You knew the melody. You knew the hook. We're going for a bit of that on the new album."

Just don't expect it anytime soon.

Those who saw U2 on its last stadium tour, the 360 Tour, may remember that some of the "No Line on the Horizon" songs drastically shifted in their live presentation. One such number was a techno-infused "I'll Go Crazy if I Don't Go Crazy Tonight," a song that's essentially a ballad on record.

"That always should have been a dance track," Bono said. "It worked great on the 360 Tour. Some songs turn into something different live, and that’s one of the reasons for the delays on this recent U2 album." 

Bono said the band has changed its studio approach and is trying every new song in multiple keys, different tempos and altered arrangements. If "I'll Go Crazy if I Don't Go Crazy Tonight" was vastly improved by being road-tested, Bono doesn't want that to happen again.
"We're trying to discover the thing you would find out after six months on the road. We want to get those changes in before we release the album."

Monday, February 24, 2014

Oscars: Mandela Family Coming To The Academy Awards For U2 Performance


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences have invited Nelson and Winnie Mandela‘s daughters Zindzi and Zenani to attend the Oscars where U2 will be performing the Academy  Award-nominated song, “Ordinary Love” from the film  Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom. Bono and U2 were personal friends of their father, and have been working in the Anti-Apartheid movement through their music since the late 1970s when the girls were only in their teens.
In a statement the girls said, “This is especially meaningful to us because of how much our father loved watching movies. This song was inspired by the beautiful letters that my father and mother exchanged while he was imprisoned at Robben Island.”

Meanwhile, the 45th annual NAACP Image Awards held tonight in Pasadena added a surprise tribute to the late South African leader with Oprah Winfrey leading the honors. Mandela star Idris Elba is set to join Winfrey in the tribute which will also include an appearance and performance by Stevie Wonder celebrating the late Mandela’s lifelong efforts in the name of freedom and equality. Elba will share a special message from Winnie Mandela acknowledging the Oscar-nominated song “Ordinary Love.”


Enlace permanente de imagen incrustada

Bono attended the 9th annual Los Angeles Italia Film, Fashion and Art Fest opening night ceremony held at TLC Chinese 6 Theatres on February 23, 2014 in Hollywood, California. Al Pacino was in charge of presenting the award One Hero to Bono.

Bono, Al Pacino

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Deals worldwide for Larry Mullen-starring film

A Thousand Times Good Night - Won the Grand Prix Jury award at the Montreal Film Festival last year (Picture courtesy Newgrange Pictures)
A Thousand Times Good Night - Won the Grand Prix Jury award at the Montreal Film Festival last year says the Irish-Norwegian-Swedish co-production, which was shot in Dublin and co-produced by Newgrange Pictures, has been acquired by Film Movement for a US release in the third quarter of 2014.

Directed by Erik Poppe, the film tells the story of Rebekka (Binoche), a war photographer caught between the demands of her job and her family, with Game of Thrones star Coster-Waldau playing her husband and Amber star Canny playing her daughter.

Mullen and Doyle Kennedy play the couple's best friends.

A Thousand Times Good Night screened at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival on Sunday February 16 and won the Grand Prix Jury award at the Montreal Film Festival last year.

It has already been released in Norway, where over 100,000 tickets were sold, and deals have also been agreed for releases in Canada, Japan, Australia, Denmark, Turkey, Bulgaria and Latin America.

Bono Surprised ONErs at their Summit in Washington

Bono surprises more than 200 ONE volunteers with a visit to the ‪ONESummit‬ in Washington, D.C.

Photo: “Our favorite quote from #Bono's q&a with ONE members at the #onesummit” via @onecampaign #u2

Photo: #TeamSoutheast w/ @ONEcampaign's co-founder #Bono #ONEsummit #TeamSasser via @abbysasser #u2

LA-Italia Fest to Honor U2, Song 'Ordinary Love'

The acclaimed Irish rock band joins a star-studded guest list that includes David O. Russell and Steve Coogan.

Iconic Irish rock band U2 will be honored by the Los Angeles-Italia Film, Fashion and Art Festival, adding to an already star-studded guest list at the event, which gets underway Sunday in Los Angeles.

The nine-year-old festival, which mostly focuses on the achievements of Italian and Italian-American filmmakers and entertainers, said it would pay homage to the group for its song "Ordinary Love," part of the soundtrack for the Nelson Mandela biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Actress Naomie Harris, who played Winnie Mandela in the film, will present the award.

The acceptance of the honor by U2 adds additional star power to the week-long event that already includes David O. Russell, director of ten-time Oscar-nominee American Hustle; Steve Coogan, writer, producer and star of Oscar-nominee Philomena; and a host of A-List Italian talents including filmmaker Roberto Faenza, acclaimed singer-songwriter Francesco De Gregori and choreographer Daniel Ezralow, who helped choreograph the opening ceremonies at the Sochi Olympics.

The event, which takes place at the TLC Chinese Theaters in Hollywood, is the last major event on the film calendar before the Oscars. It concludes March 1.

It was heard Bono was going to be present to accept the award.

U2 Embrace Chaos As A Creative Process In Making Their New Album

“The thing about U2 songs,” guitarist The Edge told Rolling Stone about the making of their forthcoming album, “is there is no set way they come into being. A couple of songs on the album have literally been like, ‘We’re all together, here’s some chords, let’s see what happens.’ And suddenly, an hour later, there is a song, an arrangement and a recording. Other things, you know there is something great in there, how to make it really count.”

U2’s songwriting started out chaotic because they were four teenagers who didn’t know what they were doing. Nearly four decades later, and despite becoming accomplished musicians, they have held on to their chaotic method of songwriting.

Most bands have one or two primary songwriters who bring semi-completed songs to the rest of the band, who polish them and stamp the band’s sound onto them. U2 is one of the rare bands that initiates the songwriting process with skeletal ideas that they jam, or improvise on, until a song emerges. Or doesn’t. It’s an ambiguous, long, and frustrating process with many false starts and dead ends. It takes patience, commitment and faith.

Which U2 has. They’ve been through enough transitions as a band – for example from the soulful Joshua Tree to the edgy Achtung Baby and back – to know that as a creative unit, they are most likely to grow by maintaining this improvisational working method. Because it’s worked for them in the past, U2 has resisted the temptation to adopt a more formulaic approach.

Research shows that in other creative domains, significant work comes from a chaotic rather than a structured linear process. A study conducted by Vanderbilt University Management Processor Richard Daft and colleagues compared the process behind both significant and not-so-significant academic research papers. They were trying to shed light on how people generate creative work that is exciting, innovative and impactful. They found that significant research originated with much more uncertainty and excitement than not-so-significant research, which tended to follow a more clear and linear process.

A chaotic beginning did not necessarily result in a significant result. What made the chaotic projects significant was that as they worked on it, the researchers turned a vague and uncertain idea into a project that was more clear, more certain and more methodical. The authors conclude that “significant research begins with disorder but ends with order.”

Writing by jamming isn’t just good for the quality of the outcome. It’s also good for the team. Jamming prevents teams from sliding into autopilot. It keeps them engaged and communicating with each other. When musicians jam, they engage in active listening, not just to what the other person is playing but also how they are moving and what their body language means about their emotional state and what they are trying to express. It requires team members to maintain empathic competence, which is “a mutual orientation to one another’s unfolding,” according to Frank J. Barrett, author of Yes to the Mess: Surprising Leadership Lessons from Jazz.

When jamming, “musicians have to heed one another closely,” wrote Barrett, “they need to be attentive not only to what each member is doing and saying but also to what no one is doing or saying.” That’s how they provide the composition with what it needs and contribute to the collective effort. Ultimately, jamming is good for teams because it reminds each team member that their contribution matters and that together they can do more than they could alone.

The stakes are high for U2. The band has an impressive track record that would be hard to match. What’s more, expectations seem to be low. In a  survey on the fan website @U2, 22% of respondents said they expected U2’s new album to be “okay,” “bad”, or “terrible.” With some reviewers mocking the band for repeating themselves, U2 have a lot to prove. As Bono recently admitted, “We felt like we were on the verge of irrelevance a lot in our lives.”

Creative growth comes from taking risks, from going somewhere new and slightly dangerous, from being on the brink of the unknown. U2 keeps jamming because the sense of discovery is generative even though it’s not easy. “When we’re making the records, it always feels a bit like we’re drowning, and you do wonder if there’s an easier way,” Bono said. “But we seem to need some chaos to bring us together.”

The lesson here is that whether you’re musicians writing rock n’ roll songs, researchers conducting an investigation, inventors working on an innovation or entrepreneurs creating a new business, you’re likely to do more significant work if you embrace some chaos.

Friday, February 21, 2014

U2 on the 'Ordinary Love' of Nelson Mandela (Video)

"We really related to what was going on in South Africa," Bono says of the Irish band, which first performed music protesting Apartheid back in the late 1970s, when he, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, Jr. were still in their teens.

It will come as a surprise to many that the four members of U2 -- Bono (vocals and guitar), The Edge (guitar, keyboards and vocals), Adam Clayton (bass guitar) and Larry Mullen, Jr. (drums and percussion), who are nominated for the best original song Oscar for "Ordinary Love" in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom -- have been writing and performing music about South Africa since the late 1970s, when they were still in their teens. 

"At a very early stage, we realized that there was more to music than just rocking out and that we could actually -- maybe -- make a small difference," Mullen said. Therefore, when the quartet -- which The Edge describes as "the essential high school band that just kept going" -- learned about Nelson Mandela and Apartheid, they decided to take action, playing a gig to protest the institutional segregation and discrimination taking place half a world away.

Why did they care? "We really related to what was going on in South Africa," Bono said. "Irish people are very aware of how the currents of politics -- indeed, global politics -- can affect their own life. For example, it's well known that our interest in developing economies around the world is because not long ago we were one. And we're interested in the fight against extreme poverty because we were on the other side of that. And we also understand famine -- it cost our country half its population."

After studying and traveling to Africa throughout the 1980s -- on fact-finding missions, to raise funds and awareness through music (see "The Sun City" album) and, in some cases (like Bono's), even to go on personal honeymoons -- the members of the band rejoiced when Mandela was freed from prison in 1990 and were delighted that he wished to meet and work with them in post-Apartheid South Africa.
The band, which was honored to know Mandela, soon became good friends with the South African leader, who saw how they could help him spread his call for peace and understanding. "He was a very sensitive fellow and, clearly, that sensitivity was what he used to dismantle Apartheid. It wasn't just the strength; it was the sensitivity," says Bono. The Edge adds: "We actually went with Mr. Mandela to see Robben Island when we were there, and just to see the cell that he lived in for so many years was really sobering, to realize that when he went in there he thought that he would never come out."

Last summer, Harvey Weinstein, another entertainment industry acquaintance of Mandela's and a friend of U2's since his days as a concert promoter in the early 1980s, approached the band and asked, on behalf of producer Anant Singh and director Justin Chadwick, if they would write an original song for inclusion in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, a big screen version of Mandela's own autobiography. They had not released original music in years -- from 2009 to 2011 they had been traveling the world for U2 360, the highest-grossing tour in history, and were finally making headway when Weinstein called with his offer, which they couldn't refuse. As The Edge puts it, "We had to take a deep breath because we realized it was actually gonna cause havoc in other areas of our work," but, he says, "It was one of those things [we] just had to do, you know, because of our connection there."
Singh sent Bono copies of love letters that Mandela had written to his wife Winnie when he was imprisoned. "To read his love letters is a real treat," the singer says. "You realize that this was a kind of extraordinary love, but actually, though extraordinary love is the subject of movies and books and novels and songs, perhaps the more important is ordinary love -- the simple things that people do... and that's what they couldn't do. They had this passion the size of their country, the size of their continent, but actually, when he left prison, they couldn't figure it out on just the ordinary, domestic front."

Consequently, the song that Bono wrote, which "was always to be at the end [of the film], after the scene where [Mandela] stands up and he walks out and the people who had been his enemy are saluting him" -- which the singer describes as "one of the greatest moments in the last century" -- was not the uplifting number that had originally been solicited, but rather an honest imagination of what Mandela might have been thinking in that moment, entitled "Ordinary Love." Bono explains, "He said he'd won most of his struggles -- [even] if it cost him 27 years of his life -- but he lost in love, he lost his wife, and it was of profound sadness to him. That's what we wanted in that moment, that, as he was walking out, there was still that ache of love lost."
The band emphasizes that Mandela's death on Dec. 5, 2013, less than a week after U2's single was first released to the public, does not bring an end to their relationship with South Africa. "We've had wonderful times in the country," says The Edge. "It is an absolutely beautiful country. I think this is a turning point, and, in his passing, Mr. Mandela has left it up to those who have some kind of stake in his legacy to step up and really insure that all of the great work that he's done doesn't go to waste. And we're certainly willing to do whatever we can."

Scott Feinberg for The Hollywood Reporter

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

U2 Open Up About New Album After Historic Rooftop 'Tonight Show' Gig

By DAVID FRICKE for Rolling Stone

U2 The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Bono The Edge
U2 perform on 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon'
Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

"I wanna be in that band!" U2's Bono shouts with delight as he stares at the screen. The singer, gripping a beer and dancing to the music, is crammed with the rest of the group – guitarist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. – into a tiny control room at NBC's Rockefeller Center studios in New York. U2 are reviewing the mix and footage of their performance less than an hour ago on top of the building – 71 floors up, in below-freezing cold under a gorgeous winter-sunset sky – for Jimmy Fallon's February 17th debut as host of The Tonight Show. "Guys, this is history!" Fallon raves to the small, lucky crowd before introducing the band, referring both to his big night and U2's appearance. The electronica-driven blast of "Invisible" – from U2's forthcoming album, recorded over the past two years with producer Brian Burton a.k.a Danger Mouse – is the band's first, public performance of new material since the end of their in-the-round stadium tour in 2011.

After a first take that Bono deems not quite perfect, U2 play "Invisible" again, flanked by members of the Rutgers University marching band. This is the keeper: Bono bounds on to the sliver of a stage like an eager boxer, punching the air as he sings, and The Edge's chiming-guitar solo rings clear and hard through the frigid air.

 The Story Behind "Invisible"

 "It's about having no barriers," Bono says afterward of that song's chorus – "There is no them" – as he hangs out in a hallway downstairs, outside the main studio, waiting for U2 to play their second song for Fallon, the Oscar-nominated "Ordinary Love." "Invisible," Bono goes on, is "about how there is no audience. There is only you and me – us – whenever we play. And how extraordinary is it," he adds, "that I decided to do this without my father's name" – referring to a line about his own willful reinvention as a teenager, from Dublin-born Paul Hewson. "It started out as a straight-rock song," The Edge says of "Invisible" during an interview in U2's dressing room. "It was a demo I worked on in L.A., almost Ramones-like. When I brought it to the band to Dublin, we stripped it back. We tried various, different arrangements. They were all promising but not quite it. Then we hit on this arrangement with Brian, taking it toward the electronica aesthetic. From that point of view, Bono was able to own it as a singer and feel like this was fresh territory."

Making "Love" with the Roots

In that control room, the band is also watches a playback of "Ordinary Love," which starts out on the couch next to Fallon's desk – Bono with a microphone, the Edge and Clayton pickling acoustic instruments and Mullen banging a tambourine. Bono winces when he hears the first note out of his mouth again – slightly flat. "I didn't have any ear monitors," he explains later. "I couldn't hear myself." But the song sounds warm and quietly intense, until Bono calls for Fallon's house band, the Roots, to bring their funk.

"We heard all about American television from Bruce Springsteen," Bono cracks. "He said, 'Remember, they can turn you up, they can turn you down. They can hit pause. You have no control.' For years, we avoided doing TV, because we didn't feel like we could get across who we are, the way we want you to hear it.

"But when you do something like this," he goes on, beaming, "you realize you can be yourself – do something special that serves the song."

The Edge points out that U2 originally planned to play "Ordinary Love" unplugged all the way through. "But yesterday, I thought, 'Maybe for the ending, we should let the Roots in for a little bit.' And when Bono asked them to come in, I could feel this thing – 'Woah!' – and Bono started to take

"It was a nice reminder," the guitarist says, "that there is nothing quite as rewarding as playing a great, new song to U2 fans."

The New Album

"We're in the studio still," The Edge admits during that dressing-room interview when asked about U2's progress on the new album. The record was expected to be out last December; it is now tentatively set for release this summer. But the Edge will only confirm that "we really want the songs to be right. That's the only reason why we're not on tour – because we're so good at starting, not so good at finishing. That's always the way it's been."

The guitarist says the band has around 30 songs "that we're excited about, in various states of being finished." Of those, "six or seven are mixed and ready to go." There is "a common thread" too – "the period of music, in our lives and history, when we really came into being, turned on by music, the seeds that made us want to be in a band.

"The thing about U2 songs," The Edge continues, "is there is no set way they come into being. A couple of songs on the album have literally been like, 'We're all together, here's some chords, let's see what happens.' And suddenly, an hour later, there is a song, an arrangement and a recording. Other things, you know there is something great in there, how to make it really count.

"We're dogged," he says proudly. "Some people go, 'We tried it. It didn't work out. Next idea.' We don't abandon our songs if we really believe there is something there. We're going to keep pushing. We just don't give up."

The Edge gets up to leave. The band is flying back to Dublin right away – they have an album to finish. When asked, as he is about to go out the door, if the album has a title, The Edge replies, "Not yet. We have a few." He laughs "That's the problem."

U2 at the Jimmy Fallon's First 'Tonight Show

U2 appears on the roof of 30 Rock (i.e. the Top of the Rock) to sing its new single, "Invisible." Behind the band, and frenetic fans, is New York City aglow in red, oranges, blues and purples. The Empire State building beams red, white and blue lights from its upper levels.

"I wonder how any act will ever match that performance in that incredible setting." Billboard reporter asked himself.

Fallon welcomes to the couch his new regime's first musical guest ("who you saw earlier"), U2. "Have you ever performed higher?" he jokes … of the band having just played 70 stories up.

Fallon asserts that activist Bono could give a speech about anything. "Can you do a speech about … this coffee mug?" he challenges. "It's not a cup," Bono begins, easily rising to the task. "It's a container that demands to be filled … by love."

 Fallon congratulates U2 on having raised more than $3 million so far for the charity (RED) from sales of "Invisible." "That's what separates you from other bands," Fallon lauds. "It's for people to buy the drugs needed to fight AIDS," Bono explains. "We're very grateful."

Fallon admits his longtime thought that if he ever had U2 on the couch, he'd ask the group to perform a song acoustic, "to see if you had the goods." The band begins playing the first music ever performed by a guest live in-studio on the "Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon": the opening notes of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven." After laughter, U2 plays its other new single, "Ordinary Love." Bono and the band obviously have the goods.

Fallon and Smith, still on the couch, watch mesmerized.

The Roots(the house orchestra) turn the acoustic song into an electrified jam. Bono stands up, Fallon and Smith clap and the crowd dances along. Bono changes "ordinary love" into "Questlove" a few times.

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Bono with Piers Morgan

After the Oscar Nominations Luncheon , Bono was interviewed by Piers Morgan for his programme "Piers Morgan Live" at CNN.

Should U2 win the Best Original Song Oscar for “Ordinary Love", the "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" anthem, it’ll be the man around whom the biopic is centered that the frontman will be most thankful for.

In a Friday evening interview with Piers Morgan, U2 frontman Bono says the song helps depict an often unseen, overshadowed perspective that many close to the South African leader knew—his romantic side:

“I've been working for him since I was a teenager; so have the members of U2,” said Bono. “He's kind of taught the world some serious lessons, but taught us some personal lessons.”

Leadership, “the most precious thing we have and the rarest,” was one such lesson Bono says Mandela preached:

“You look in the Arab Spring and you look in - in Syria now and you just think, ‘Oh, my God. Where - who's going to lead these people out of this mess and where will that grace come from?’”

U2's forthcoming Oscar's performance will mark the band's first live performance of the song since its recording.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

U2 Interview: Oscar Hopes, That Unfinished Album, Anxiety About Staying Relevant

2014 Issue 7: U2

The world's biggest band tackles politics, technology and now, with an Oscar-nominated song, Hollywood: "We don't want to ever be a heritage act. It might happen, but we'll go kicking and screaming into that mode."

Just after Finnegan's pub opens at noon on a blustery, rainy, intermittently sunny winter day in Dalkey, a seaside suburb south of Dublin, Bono slides in the door and settles into a corner booth with his back to the wall and a wide-angle view of the establishment, like a wary gunfighter who wants to see what's coming. In a hoarse whisper, he orders tea and a plate of smoked salmon. His unimmaculate red-tinged quiff and tired eyes seem to be telling me this is a man who recently rolled out of bed.
The 53-year-old lead singer of the perennially biggest rock band in the world is quick-witted and preternaturally eloquent, but he also is one of the most interviewed humans on the planet, and he has a stash of well-rehearsed riffs that, understandably, tend to play on repeat. Once his throat is soothed by the tea and he's fully awake, however, I'm pleased to discover that the man loves to talk movies and has fresh things to say about them, ranging from Scorsese and Hitchcock to Wenders and Tarantino.

Unlike your average cinephile, of course, Bono is, along with his band U2, an Academy Award nominee for best original song -- "Ordinary Love," a bittersweet anthem that plays as the coda to Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. It's the group's second nomination, after "The Hands That Built America" from Gangs of New York in 2003, and they'll be at the Oscars on March 2 to perform the song.

Bono on U2's Oscar Nomination
The gift of a nomination arrives as U2's latest reinvention is just ramping up, with a new album and tour looming. This time around, the challenges facing a band that won't settle for anything less than owning the future might be more dire than at any time since the early 1990s, when Achtung Baby and the avant-techno Zoo TV tour saved U2 from irrelevance and cemented its world domination as a cultural force. Not unlike a hungry startup, U2 is pursuing business alliances as well as brainstorming music packaging and distribution innovation like its life depends on it.
Figuring out a new identity also is a theme that emerges in our conversation, as we range from Mandela and the marathon work on U2's next album, still ongoing with a tentative release date of this summer, to the early influences on the band's identity and worldview.

"I've been thinking a lot about this because of the new album," says Bono. "I was drawn in by movies that fashion you and make you who you are." He also has been revisiting music that fired U2's first visions of new possibilities (Joy Division, Kraftwerk, the Ramones) and the DIY fan enthusiasm that made them pick up instruments and launch Feedback, as U2 briefly called itself in the very beginning.

"I don't want to grow out of that," says Bono (real name: Paul David Hewson). "We consider ourselves to have been the people who stepped out of the audience at those early punk rock shows onto the stage. There was no 'them'; it was only 'us.' We actually took it out of the audience and onto the stage before we could quite play."

The Edge

"There is no them / There's only us" -- it's a talismanic phrase that not only reflects U2's founding ethic but the implications of the band's name and its decades-long engagement with conflict and injustice, from Ireland and Nicaragua to Ethiopia, Somalia and South Africa. (It also happens to be the final chorus of the single "Invisible," U2's follow-up to "Ordinary Love" and the first hint of where the forthcoming album is heading.) Given U2's close relationship with the first black leader of South Africa, which evolved from the political to the warmly personal, you sense that winning this particular Oscar would be a vindication far beyond a career accolade.

When I bring up the Academy Awards, Bono enthuses about the other category nominees and the stiff competition, saying he's been urging the band to lower any expectations of winning. But "if the song gets to shake the hand of the little gopher," he says, "it would give a whole other imprimatur to our audience, which would be great. I would love if it had a life outside of the film. Because we poured so much of our life into the song and, I hope, his life, the life of Mandela."

U2 being U2, and Bono being Bono, these awards-season interludes must be reckoned alongside a blurred succession of fast-moving, high-profile activities in recent months. In June, for example, the singer and his wife took Michelle Obama and her daughters to lunch at this very pub while President Obama was attending the G8 summit in Belfast. In November, Bono presided at his collaboration with Apple designer Jony Ive and Ive's design colleague Marc Newson in a Sotheby's New York auction of one-off, bespoke consumer objects that raised $26 million for The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. In December, Bono attended the memorial for Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg. In early January, U2 was in California shooting a Super Bowl spot and music video for "Invisible" that raised another $3 million (from Bank of America) for Bono's (RED) campaign and playing a benefit at the Montage hotel in Beverly Hills for Sean Penn's Help Haiti Home fundraiser before attending the Golden Globes, where U2 won best song.

A week later, it was announced that U2 would be the musical guest on Jimmy Fallon's first Tonight Show broadcast in New York on Feb. 17, and then Bono was in Davos, Switzerland, tackling progress on extreme poverty with British Prime Minister David Cameron and warning the Masters of the Universe that "there's an avalanche of cynicism about us just by being here, and capitalism is in the dock, and the jury is going to decide based on how we deal with these issues, not in the abstract but in the concrete."

Larry Mullen Jr.
Clearly, any close observation of U2, whose members incessantly zag around the planet like quarks, is a complex physics problem. Nabbing Bono at his local watering hole had been a near-run thing, and by the time I track down the whole band, it's several days later and I'm crashing a photo shoot in West London at a converted studio in an old Sunbeam auto factory.
Sitting down with the members of U2 between photo setups, it soon emerges that writing and recording "Ordinary Love" was a major disruption in the U2 flow and still is having fateful repercussions. Intensive work on the band's 13th studio album, the first since 2009's No Line on the Horizon, was underway in the summer, with a target release date of December 2013 when Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Co. and a longtime friend of Bono and the band, called on behalf of Mandela's South African producer, Anant Singh, and director Justin Chadwick to solicit a song for the nearly completed film.

"When we got the call from Harvey to say, 'It's happening, are you in?,' it was like, 'Oh man, really? Now?' " says The Edge, the U2 guitarist whose passport reads David Howell Evans. "But we just had to do it, with the history that we have with the man and the cause."
"It was hard to stop what we were doing," says drummer Larry Mullen Jr. "We were on a roll -- it was clear where we were going. And a decision was made to abandon ship, more or less, to focus on this."

Adam Clayton
Despite the angst, all four members express zero regret about doing the song (the Oscar nomination helps), and they're eager to detail U2's long-running involvement in the anti-apartheid movement of the 1970s and '80s, from the band's early days through Mandela's release in 1990 and the emergence of a free South Africa. Together with Amnesty International, it was U2's earliest international political commitment. "This was the one project you just couldn't say no to," says Adam Clayton, U2's bassist. "For our generation, South Africa was a real illustration of how music could affect change in the world, and it was a rite of passage in terms of our political awareness."

To create "Ordinary Love," U2 characteristically obsessed and tinkered and faltered. "We had three or four goes at it to get it right," says Bono. "The lyrics changed course for me after reading his love letters to Winnie. Maybe the reason they asked us was to do a kind of 'Pride (In the Name of Love)' moment, but it just did not seem correct. The only place in his life he felt that he was the loser in the conflict, that his enemies had prevailed, was in his marriage. He just couldn't make that work, and the most important part of that film is the love story."
Says Weinstein: "Edge is as tough on the music as anybody I've ever seen. We didn't have the song in time for the Toronto Film Festival screening [in September]. They will perfect the song, and deadlines be damned. And it's not because they're being difficult about it -- it's just that they really want to make things right."

The question of how badly the "Ordinary Love" detour slowed forward momentum on the still-unnamed and now long-overdue next album is not easy to answer from outside U2's opaque inner circle, but the distractions were compounded by promotion duties for the film, the pause to mourn Mandela's death and the nominations hoopla. The band's track record in the studio is replete with evidence that U2 is perfectly capable of languishing there without needing outside help. (Bono has been joking that the working title of the album-in-progress is Insecurity.) As always with U2, reports and rumors swirl about producers and collaborators coming and going: Danger Mouse (the stage name of Brian Burton), Paul Epworth, Ryan Tedder ...

"We've always needed collaborators to challenge us," says Mullen. "We're slow learners. We need to be creative, on the cutting edge, challenged, and it's really hard going, it's relentless, and we're relentless, and we have a history of breaking engineers, producers. I mean, people come out of working with U2 and just go, 'I just don't know what's happened; it feels like a lifetime has passed by.' And that's just the way we work."

Adds Bono: "The album won't be ready till it's ready. But right now, people are walking a little differently -- well, they're not walking, they're running as if to a finish line. There's a couple of songs that are part of the story we haven't quite finished. We know we have to spend a couple of years taking these songs around the world, so they'd better be good."
If you're a fan (writer raises hand), getting the chance to watch U2 going through the paces of a cover shoot, to study their interaction and body language, to sniff the psychic air surrounding them and then chat them up is a sort of rock dream-fulfillment, with intimations of Fab Fours, Glimmer Twins, Zimmermans, The Boss and The Clash. Given that these now are four men in their 50s who've been playing rock stars for 37-some years, it's an impressive display. They're fit, and they manifestly thrive in one another's company. "At this point, it's like some sort of ESP," Weinstein later tells me when I ask about U2's chemistry. "I don't think they need to talk. A look says it all."

Bono with his three bandmates is a completely different beast than Bono solo -- lighter, looser, infused with jollification. As Spotify's T. Rex station pulses in the hangarlike space, and the mostly female and black-clad U2 entourage flits hither and yon, creative consultant/wardrobe stylist Sharon Blankson, a friend of the band members since they were all kids, stands back and bounces and peers from side to side to monitor how her boys are faring as the camera flash strobes.

Hovering over all this fabulousness and alpha-pop puissance are some nagging questions that the members of U2 will be the first to worry out loud about. For starters, the whole notion of being a chart-dominating superstar rock band is in grave danger of becoming an obsolete concept. Having sold 150 million albums and won 22 Grammys is all well and good, but it's getting lonely at the top for U2, surrounded as it is by pop confectioners, hip-hop monarchs, the odd cowboy hat, Taylor and Adele, and the empty places where lots of other rock 'n' roll bands used to be. The winners of two of the three big rock awards at this year's Grammys were a one-shot mashup of Paul McCartney and members of Nirvana, and a 2007 reunion concert album by Led Zeppelin. However deserving -- yikes.

U2's last big moment revolved around the launch of No Line on the Horizon in February 2009, followed by the two-year, three-leg, completely sold-out 360° tour. By the time it was over, in July 2011, 7.1 million tickets had been purchased totaling $737 million, making U2 360° the highest-grossing tour in history.

It was a massive, gargantuan success (and the shows were transcendent), but No Line on the Horizon, a highly acclaimed album that ranks among U2's very best, sold 5 million copies -- a disappointment only in the context of U2's huge sales before the music-business implosion. One of the many self-frightening things Bono has said to make his job more difficult is that "to be relevant is a lot harder than to be successful." And U2 still craves relevance and shudders at the thought of "turning into a jukebox," as Mullen once said. 

"We don't want to ever be a heritage act," says Edge. "It might happen, but we'll go kicking and screaming into that mode. We feel the place for us to be is part of the conversation of contemporary culture and music and film and everything else, and we don't see the reason why we can't, because it's been possible for various artists in different forms. Frank Lloyd Wright, to the day he died, was designing the most incredible things -- we want to be part of that rather than grow old gracefully."

Looking at U2 in terms of discography and ticket and album sales is, in some ways, to look in the wrong direction as the band gears up to reconquer itself and the world one more time. One of pop music's great business stories is how U2 never let itself get screwed by the record industry, retained ownership of its publishing and master tapes, mounted one technologically unprecedented tour spectacular after another, built a global fan base and now negotiates with the biggest companies in entertainment and technology as a peer, not a supplicant.

(U2's most bruising and traumatic endeavors tend to be audacious side projects, like Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, the chaos-plagued 2011 Broadway show with music and lyrics by Bono and The Edge; it closed in January after reported losses of as much as $60 million and an embarrassing legal contretemps involving fired director Julie Taymor. There also is the saga of Elevation Partners, a private equity firm Bono co-founded in 2004 that stumbled badly early on, though its major stake in Facebook now is soaring in value.)
All of this was accomplished with one man, Paul McGuinness, in the job of band manager from the birth of U2 until November, when Principle Management Ltd., the company he founded in 1984, was acquired by Live Nation in a reported $30 million deal that also brought Maverick, headed by Madonna manager Guy Oseary, into Live Nation's artists division. With the deal, McGuinness, 64, assumed an emeritus role in the U2 organization, and Oseary was named U2's new manager.

McGuinness is an exceptional figure who inspires awe in a profession where continuity exceedingly is rare, hardball tactics are common and wisdom is not what practitioners are renowned for bringing to the table. He was, as the saying goes, "the fifth member of U2," and made himself and the band very rich (good luck finding out how rich -- but The Sunday Times estimates U2's net worth at $852 million). Noting how often bands split over unequal division of songwriting revenue, he persuaded U2 to embrace an even four-way split from the start. The philosophy and values he devised in collaboration with U2 systematically subtracted the pressures that tend to break up acts and impede emotionally intelligent growth.

"We are designed to survive success," said Edge in a recent tribute to McGuinness, a statement that is startling when you consider what an unusual strength it is in the music industry. "We've never had the attitude that a lot of bands did around our era," Edge told me, "which was that the record business was the great Babylon and to be a collaborator was to compromise your values. We've always wanted to know the people in the label, the people representing what we do."

McGuinness also seems to have accomplished a final rare feat in the management racket: a peaceful transfer of power. As dramatic as the headlines were, the substance is a mild and seamless shift. McGuinness and Bono have known Oseary, 41, for two decades, and Oseary talks about the two men as mentors and friends, calling the transition "a loving passing of the baton."
"I'm really humbled to be invited into the U2 family," says Oseary. "It's really a family business, a family-owned brotherhood."

If Oseary, who's based in Los Angeles, represents a significant change, it might be a shift in the center of gravity to the West Coast. "That coast is becoming the place where everything starts and happens," says Edge. "All the new tech companies, Guy is very immersed in that. We're well-placed to start integrating new opportunities to meet our fans and to do cool things."

Says Oseary: "L.A. is a lot closer to Silicon Valley than New York, Dublin or London. We launched the Mandela music through our Facebook relationship. We're working with YouTube on the next video. We're working with a lot of companies on functionality and innovation. That being said, there's innovation in other places. SoundCloud's in Berlin and Spotify's from Stockholm."

Back at Finnegan's pub, Bono had his sights on the same targets, both for the band's purposes and for his ONE campaign and its (RED) division, which has raised more than $215 million to fight AIDS in Africa. "We've been talking to Bob Iger" -- the chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Co. -- "and we haven't yet found a way, but that would be the ultimate company for me to get in with us in the (RED) boat. He's like the president of California, isn't he?"

Bono also has been brooding for several years on the challenge of rejuvenating his chosen art form, the album, and locates much of the problem in the loss of the marriage of "listening and looking" that the vinyl LP once provided. He talked with tech companies, including BlackBerry, and worked with U2's photographer (and now feature film director) Anton Corbijn to produce Linear, a dialogue-free, black-and-white road movie whose soundtrack was an alternative, prerelease version of No Line on the Horizon.

The secret, he believes, is to put display technology at the service of the musical experience. "It's album artwork. Not videos, because videos demand your attention. You need to think it's supposed to be on in the background when you listen to the music -- a much more ambient experience. People could watch while listening -- the way we used to when you'd open up, say, The Clash's Sandinista! and get lost in the lyrics. 'Where are they? Where's Nicaragua?'

"This format is coming -- the relaunching of album artwork. A plasma screen, poof! Your phone, boom! While you're listening. Because music used to be an immersive medium, not just sonically, it was always the visuals, too. Elvis is an audiovisual phenomenon. The Beatles were audiovisual. It's harder and harder to get people to pay for an MP3 file, but it will be easier when you're getting something much more interactive."
I asked about U2's popularity in Los Angeles, the first place in the States where the band broke big as a major rock act.

He nodded yes. "When punks and slackers from around these waters would roll their eyes and say, 'Hollywood?' " he says, "I used to remind them that more people live off their imaginations in that city than anywhere else in the world and that I find people there to be incredibly optimistic about the possibilities of creative life. Even when they're being darkly cynical -- which to me is a relief -- I never feel like I'm having my pocket picked. I respect the fact that U2 has not had the garroting that other capable artists have had at the hands of the music business, so I might be a little bit rose-tinted. It's a community that I feel has been an ally, not an enemy, for years and years."

With that, Bono is running late, he says, to drive to the Dublin airport and pick up director Richard Curtis, one of his co-conspirators in art and activism. And then, hatching new plots and scheming his schemes, he's gone.