Thursday, May 29, 2014

In Search of Star Power, Fender Enlists Members of U2

Few guitar makers can claim the same perch in the rock music pantheon as Fender, whose Stratocasters and Telecasters have been favored by musicians as diverse as Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain.

Now Fender, in the middle of a revival and expansion effort, is turning to two prominent musicians for help.

The company plans on Thursday to name Bono and the Edge from U2 to its board, both brought in by Fender’s majority owner, TPG Growth. Their challenge is to help Fender, which is 68 years old, thrive in a digital age, when Spotify is a more prominent music brand than the Strat
“I believe that guitars are here to stay and, far from digital technology being their death knell, I think it throws up some new ways to power creativity and give people greater access to the huge potential of the electric guitar,” the Edge wrote in an email from the studio where the band is recording its next album.

It is the latest twist for a company that helped give birth to the modern electric guitar, when Leo Fender fashioned a solid-body instrument that could be mass produced easily. The design gave rise to the Telecaster, the choice of Bruce Springsteen, and then to the world-famous Strat, the beloved instrument of Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Edge and his famously minimalist playing style.

In his email, the Edge — who was born David Evans — noted that some of U2’s most popular songs, including “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “Pride (In the Name of Love),” were recorded using Strats and Telecasters.

Two years ago, Fender sought to become a publicly listed company, hoping to raise as much as $160.5 million. But the stock sale’s prospectus revealed some signs of struggle under the guitar maker’s owner at the time, the investment firm Western Presidio. Among them were lukewarm financial results, with an $11.8 million loss for the three months that ended April 1, 2012, a reversal from a $6.5 million profit in the period a year earlier.

Beginning several weeks ago, Mr. McGlashan reached out to Bono through a mutual friend, and the U2 frontman in turn asked his longtime friend to join him in the enterprise. While Bono has had a history as an investor, including as a co-founder of Elevation Partners, the Edge had comparatively less experience. But after meeting with Fender’s owners and then touring the company’s factory in Corona, Calif., he signed on.

“It was the combination of time-honored traditions of guitar production with some very fresh ideas about what the company can do going into the future that hooked me,” the Edge wrote.

The U2 stars bring different qualities to Fender, Mr. McGlashan said. Bono brings a gut understanding of whether a brand is working, while the Edge can guide the company in innovating both its instruments and in helping to educate consumers.

The addition of the U2 members won’t change one thing, the Edge said: He will still use equipment from other companies, including an array of Gibson and Gretsch guitars and Vox amps.

“I’ll continue to use my favorite guitars and amps and effects units made by other companies,” he wrote. “I’m sure I always will, but I’m excited about what new instruments and hardware I can help create with Fender.”

Saturday, May 24, 2014

U2 and B.B. King's Incredible Collaboration

In the 1988 U2 concert film Rattle and Hum, the Irish rockers relish a special moment with a real legend when they share the stage with B.B. King, for whom they'd written "When Loves Comes to Town." Bono gets a chance to revisit that famous collaboration in the new documentary The Life of Riley, which traces the life and music of the blues icon from his birth "in a sharecropper's cabin over the cotton fields of the Missippi Delta" through his eventual stardom. Today we're premiering an exclusive clip from the doc, which includes incredible footage of U2 and King together.

fter the band and King whip through rehearsals of "When Love Comes to Town," the quick and lively King graciously tells Bono that he's "mighty young to write such heavy lyrics." In fresh interview footage, Bono recalls the band trying to show King the song's changes, to which the guitarist replied, "Gentlemen, I don't do chords."

"It was a lesson, in that he is as Keith Richards describes: a specialist," Bono says.

Life of Riley also features interviews from Eric Clapton, Santana, Mick Jagger, Derek Trucks, Dr. John and Susan Tedeschi, as well as a few quotes from the President Barack Obama.

The movie enters theaters on Wednesday, goes on demand on June 1st and will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 17th. The career-spanning soundtrack, meanwhile, will be released tomorrow. For more information on either, visit B.B. King's official website.

Friday, May 23, 2014

"Even better than the real thing"






London artist Fin Dac paints the Edge and Bono on the first floor of the Gibson Hotel in the Point Village, Dublin. The painting is called "Even Better Than The Real Thing"

Rare U2 recordings from 1980 go up for auction

A rare U2 live recording and audio from an interview are set to go up for auction.

The recordings come from an early concert from the band, which took place at the Vera venue in Groningen, Holland on October 16, 1980. The live recording is made up of four songs, and the previously unheard interview audio is 15 minutes long and consists of frontman Bono and guitarist The Edge discussing their plans for the band. 

Stockport's Omega Auctions have said that the interview includes quotes from the pair in which they say: "We don't like England". They also show their ambitions for the group, commenting: "U2 wanna be the biggest group in the world." In addition they add their thoughts on the United States, saying: "America is sick and wounded and has a lot of bad groups".

The sale takes place on May 30 and the recordings are expected to sell for £1,000. The recordings also come with previously unpublished photos, shown above, which come complete with copyright, as does the interview audio. However, the live recording is being sold as an artefact and is therefore for personal use only. 

A spokesperson for U2 recently denied that the band have pushed back the release date of their 13th studio album to 2015. Investigations by Billboard suggested that the band would now be releasing their new LP next year. It reported that the band had booked further studio time with producers Paul Epworth and Ryan Tedder, who would join the project's main producer Danger Mouse. 

Speaking to The Guardian, a spokesperson for the band flatly denied the claims, saying: "U2's album is planned for this year (2014), is still on track and touring plans haven’t been confirmed yet."

ONE, 10th Anniversary



Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Adam: 'I Wore These Shoes...'

"I wore these shoes in the spring and summer of 2013... 
We were recording in Electric Lady in NY and they walked 

the West Village with me…and brought me back to Dublin 
in September for my marriage to Mariana..." 
Adam Clayton 

Adam has donated a signed pair of his Jimmy Choo shoes - with a note for the buyer explaining their personal significance. 

The shoes are now part of the 'Celebrity Shoe Auction' for Walk in My Shoes, raising funds for the works of St Patrick's Mental Health Foundation in Dublin. (Last year Adam's shoes were the highest seller and went to a bidder in US.) 

This year the bidding starts here.

Monday, May 19, 2014

ONE: Looking back on a decade of ‘mind-boggling’ progress

ONE celebrates 10 years of campaigning with members and partner organizations around the world. We’ve come a long way together
At ONE we believe injustice in the world is a preventable, treatable condition, one that can be cured by dealing with an underlying malaise – something called apathy. ONE is an experiment in anti-apathy on a global scale.
Ten years ago today we launched this experimental campaigning organization at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. We did this to underscore how ONE would be built on the shoulders of giant ideals, inspired as we are by the Jubilee passage from Leviticus inscribed on the Bell: that slaves must be freed, land redistributed and debts cancelled in a radical, once-every-generation gesture of divine justice.
ONE also is entirely the product of those who inspire us, fired by the same ideals: Desmond Tutu, South African activist Zackie Achmat and Ugandan educator Noerine Kaleeba on AIDS; Bill and Melinda Gates on vaccines and child mortality; George Soros, Mo Ibrahim, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala and John Githongo on open government and anti-corruption; and above all, Nelson Mandela and more recently Pope Francis on the fundamental fight against the injustice of extreme poverty.
All these people will say the same thing – they in turn are inspired by the 1 billion human beings struggling to live in dignity, struggling to determine their own destiny, who are living on less than $1.25 a day.
So how are we doing, applying these demanding ideas of justice to grubby reality? Well, we’ve helped pass some historic pieces of legislation, played a part in huge global movements, and through these, helped ONE members express themselves in practical solidarity with the oppressed fellow members of our one human family.

In the past decade, with our partners, we’ve helped achieve the following pieces of pretty mind-boggling progress:



Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Bono and The Edge serenade Clooney and fiancée

Bono and The Edge serenade Clooney and fiancée

George Clooney and new fiancée Amal Alamuddin were serenaded by U2’s Bono and The Edge at a family party at Malibu’s Cafe Habana.
Clooney and Alamuddin joined his Casamigos Tequila partner Rande Gerber and wife Cindy Crawford Sunday afternoon at the oceanfront café.
A source reports that many of the stars joined in the karaoke session that had been specially set up for the party.
The insider said, “The party was a combined celebration for a number of people’s birthdays and Mother’s Day. It was George’s birthday, Rande’s birthday, Bono’s birthday and Bono’s daughter Jordan Hewson’s 25th birthday. The Edge sang the Oasis song ‘Wonderwall,’ then Bono and his daughter performed a duet of ‘Something Stupid.’ Even Cindy sang, but George and Amal — while having a great time — declined to sing.”
Clooney and human rights lawyer Alamuddin got engaged last month, and sources said the couple looked happy, while the British beauty showed off her enormous diamond engagement ring.

Bono also celebrated his birthday at Guy Oseary's home in Beverly Hills. Apparently it was a pizza party from Freds Best Wood Fired Pizza , they posted the pic above in their FB account:

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Bass & Guitar

Some seriously collectable band equipment and memorabilia coming up for auction later this week, raising funds for Music Rising

The stage backline bass rigs that Adam used on U2360°, donated by Aguilar Bass (and signed by Adam), are up for auction, along with a With or Without You MTV Award, a platinum disc of The Joshua Tree and a signed guitar from Bono

Adam's bass rigs, donated by Aguilar, include two DB 750 heads (which have been autographed by Adam), two DB 410 cabinets and two DB 115 cabinets. These are being auctioned as separate lots - not complete rigs. 

The 'Music Icons, Legends and Rebels' auction takes place on May 17th and includes memorabilia from The Beatles, The Stones and Michael Jackson as well as U2. Details of the U2 related items on pages 220/221/222 of the online catalogue.

Monday, May 12, 2014

ONE leaders join call for action to free kidnapped Nigerian girls


The plight of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls who were kidnapped by the militant group Boko Haram has caused a tide of sympathy and alarm to sweep around the world, with millions joining the call to help.

The latest sign of how this tragedy has sparked global concern: a group of over 40 eminent individuals and business figures from around the world are calling for a global effort to free the girls.

Bono, ONE co-founder, and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s Finance Minister and a ONE board member, are amongst the signatories alongside Desmond Tutu, Bill and Melinda Gates, Aliko Dangote, Rupert Murdoch, Mo Ibrahim, Ted Turner and François-Henri Pinault.

In an open letter published today, the high level group calls on the Nigerian authorities and international community to mobilise all necessary resources and expertise to help locate and free the missing girls.

The letter says:

‘We urge all local, national and regional governments, with the full support of the international community, to dedicate their expertise and resources – from satellite imagery to intelligence services to multinational corporations’ supply chains – to #BringBackOurGirls.”’

Read more.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

'Give And Take'

“We give something to the crowd and they give us something back,” says Bono. “Everyone pushes themselves until they sweat – and through that, a type of force or power is created by the people."

North Side Story is the definitive account of the emergence of U2 in Dublin in the 1970's and early '80's. Along with a unique catalogue of interviews and reviews from Hot Press magazine, the book features a series of profiles from influential European music titles  - including this one from Germany's Music Express in 1982.

It was by far the biggest gig that U2 had undertaken as headliners. Rather than doing two nights in the National Stadium in Dublin – scene of the triumphant gig, which had secured a deal for them with Island Records – the band had decided to up the ante significantly with a show in the Main Hall in the RDS. It was a statement of intent that this was a band that could fill big venues and make it work. That was the spirit in which Island Records issued an invitation to Steve Lake to travel to Dublin to see their hottest young charges in action for German magazine Musik Express. The writer, Steve Lake, was quartered in one of the most obviously jerry-built hotels in the city, which may well have aˆffected his mood somewhat. As it turned out, his view of Dublin was far folksier than would have seemed right to Irish eyes at the time. Nor was he entirely sold on U2. No matter....

'As the plane drifts towards Ireland, green meadows can be seen through the window. Farmland stretches to the horizon: rectangular fields, dark patterns marked by the plough. Has it ever been different here? A voice sounds through the speaker: any passengers, who came in contact with farm animals over the past week, please register with the Department of Health after landing. The honest farmers form a queue, as Airport Security checks our luggage, filled with the cameras, tape-recorders and other equipment needed for our work. I feel like a visitor from outer space. 

And when Dublin tries to meet the so-called demands of our so-called lifestyle, something doesn’t quite fit. We pitch our tents at the Stillorgan Park Hotel, an unimpressive cluster of imitation Art-Deco bars and discos. Tears form in our eyes at the sight of this imposing debris, in what is a barren residential area.
In the bar, the Coconut Grove, waitresses clad in tiger-print numbers bring cocktails to our table, which is situated between two Palm Trees. And although the drinks have exotic and decadent names – “Miss, can I have a multi-storey Coconut on ice?” – their efforts to impress us are in vain. The highlight of the afternoon comes when Alan Bangs spots a giant canister of rat poison in the restaurant. In town, however, things look a whole lot different. Dublin comes to the fore. There are travellers out on the street. The bookshops are overflowing with Irish literature and an avalanche of religious works. The range of rock’n’roll LPs in record stores is nothing when compared with the volume of trad records. Guinness on tap magically fills the pubs with life. The real Dublin seems self-sufficient, as if it has its own sense of time, different to that of its neighbour England, yet in no way inferior. 

A change of scenery. We find ourselves in the Main Hall of The RDS, where I meet a mass of Irish kids, who have come to pay respect to their hometown heroes. The band’s manager whispers something about ‘six and a half thousand’ in my ear. Although it doesn’t look like that many to me, the number is not important: I am intrigued instead by how unusually dressed the crowd is for a Rock ‘n’ Roll show. At first I’m not sure how or why: then I see it. Or rather, I see nothing. No colour, no fashion. Hair that is not particularly long, nor particularly short. And clothing? There’s almost nothing but Levi’s for the working masses and teeshirts all round, on men and women alike. Which is refreshing after seeing nothing but Phil Oakey fringes in The Rainbow when Human League played there in December.

In this respect, the support acts – Jump Iceland and Some Kind of Wonderful – hardly distinguish themselves from the audience. They look as though they’ve come directly from working in a dockyard, a building-site or a bakery. Something similar could also be said about U2, had I not heard by chance how bassist Adam Clayton had ordered silk pyjamas from the band’s fashion advisor, Jenny something-or-other. I guess that U2 have somewhat cultivated their radical chic: however, I won’t judge them for that. It is showbiz after all; contact with a different world has clearly rubbed off on the band. However, as soon as The Edge, the creative guitarist of U2, plays the opening chord, the crowd is electrified, moving in rhythm just like football fans: a remarkably open-minded response to a remarkably dramatic entrance from the band. That is what the band’s singer Bono calls ‘a question of give and take’. 

“We give something to the crowd and they give us something back,” he says later. “Everyone pushes themselves until they sweat – and through that, a type of force or power is created by the people. I believe that’s important, because there’s so much BULLSHIT out there – so much highly polished, heartless music, like the cover of fashion magazines.” 

“It’s like with the synth-bands, they say: ‘The world is coming to an end – and we’ll watch it go down’. That’s what I fight against. We try to fight against this mood of impending doom, against this encroaching music of the dead.” And so they begin with ‘Gloria’ – not Van Morrison’s wonderful proto-punk song but their own composition. And just like many of Morrison’s works, there are mystical and religious undertones in the U2 song. On ‘With A Shout’, Bono blabbers something about a new Jerusalem, while ‘Rejoice’, a song about laughing in the face of destruction and “buildings tumbling down” invokes a near Buddhist mindset: “I can’t change the world/ But I can change the world in me.” 

I have a weakness for the same feeling. To try and change the gears of the cosmos, however awkwardly – that seems to me to be a job most suited to artists. The bottom line here is something more remarkable than the triviality of dishwashing or job centres, which a lot of the New Wave outfits seem to dwell on. Although U2 hardly approach religion with the same sensitivity as Van Morrison, let alone James Joyce or Yeats, the fact is that the attempt alone shows an awareness of their heritage, in a land where they have had to deal with conflicts over religion for centuries. To make their feelings of nationality clear to every last person, U2 unveil a bagpiper for ‘Tomorrow’. The instrument delivers an incredibly fluid, bellowing drone. It’s a shame that the group can’t use the instrument on all their songs. Beyond their handful of truly inspired songs, U2’s music is difficult to analyse. This is partly because they are not yet fully developed and partly because their direction, though apocalyptic, in the end appears – at least to this listener – to be somewhat flat and forced.
In the beginning, in their enthusiasm, the band play overexcitedly. They exhibit a wildness, which can’t be surpassed later. This is an old problem in rock music. Someone once wrote that the most exciting moment at a concert by The Who is when they arrive on stage – from then on, it’s all downhill. I think the analogy is interesting, because U2 could be the next Who. They fill a vacuum in contemporary pop music. Hip music critics crave a scene led by the likes of The Lounge Lizards or Red Crayola, but that could never work in commercial terms. U2 hit all the right notes, delivering a reasonable illusion of unrestrained energy and absolute force – and the listener doesn’t need to read the well known music magazines to understand what the band represents.

Considering their relatively conservative sound, U2 could have worked equally well in the ‘60s as they do in the ‘80s: it is a quality that makes them more marketable. The 16-year-old kids in The USA, whose support guarantees that concerts by The Rolling Stones and The Grateful Dead are sold out, need a band of their own generation, with whom they can identify. U2, who make old-fashioned music (this is not at all a negative characteristic), could really bridge this gap. The band was formed five years ago, in an experimental school in Dublin, when Bono, The Edge, drummer Larry and bassist Adam discovered their common interests in music: you guessed it, The Stones and The Who. 

At this remarkably enlightened educational institute – Ireland’s first inter-denominational school – teachers support the founding of bands, even so far as giving them use of rehearsal rooms. Nonetheless, things moved slowly in the beginning. Still today, U2 willingly admit that The Edge is the only musician in the band. Adam is, measured by modern standards, just an average bassist and Larry is a workable yet primitive drummer. Bono would be an interesting singer, had the songs an interesting structure. 

“Had you heard us four years ago,” Bono says, “then you’d have really laughed. I was supposed to be the guitarist at the start, but because I couldn’t manage that, I became the singer.

“Still today, our rhythm section is highly unusual,” he adds, “because we have a bassist who is unable to clap in time, never mind playing the bass. But as we began, we decided: ‘Good. It’s about who you are, not how you play – and we’ll get through it all together’. And then to witness how Adam became a musician – he’s at least halfway there! What really scared me, during the last tour, was that he even learnt to dance.” 

“In U2, we measure ourselves by our own unique standards,” he adds. “Our scale is what we expect of our music. We want nuances of feeling to come through. We want to broaden the medium and we want to use the colour palette of bass, guitar and drums to the maximum. We want to convey not just feelings of happiness, naturally; and not just feelings of anger, although they do play a part. But when I see a certain mentality in pop acts, The Exploited for example, who come along with such a violent attitude, it really gets me wound up. You know that it’s nothing more than a pose.
 “I know violence,” Edge states. “I grew up beside it. Fifty miles from here, people bled to death on the streets. And then they try to sell violence as an image, as a cheap little trick. That’s just amoral. “It’s always somehow frightening, the fanaticism a band can cause, isn’t it? I’d really like to believe that we couple our influence with a sense of responsibility – and that the people who come to our concerts get rid of their aggression in a positive way, that they don’t go back out onto the streets filled with hate.” 
(First published: Musik Express, Germany, April 1982)

Commissioned from the Hot Press team in Ireland, North Side Story  covers six formative years from 1978 to 1983, from the first single, 'U23', to the live album, Under A Blood Red Sky.  Running to 274 pages, this heavyweight book of rare photos, original interviews, diaries, letters and profiles comes with 'North & South Of The River, Wandering In U2's Dublin', a poster-size map charting U2's Dublin.

Adam Clayton gets down as Idris Elba hits the decks in Dublin

Adam Clayton and Idris Elba pictured Buck's Townhouse. International Super Star Idris Elba returned for his third DJ set at Dublin's Number 1 VIP venue. Pic Patrick O'Leary NO REPRO FEE for one use only
Adam Clayton and Idris Elba pictured Buck's Townhouse. International Super Star Idris Elba returned for his third DJ set at Dublin's Number 1 VIP venue. Photo: Patrick O'Leary

ICE-cool actor Idris Elba (41) joined Adam Clayton (54) for a surprise collaboration in Dublin over the weekend -- and to hit the town with a vengeance. The Herald can reveal how The Wire actor and U2's tee-total bassist met up in celebrity haunt Bucks Townhouse for an impromptu night out. British star Idris, who stars in BBC detective show Luther, came over to Ireland to guest DJ in the Leeson Street club. Under his moniker of DJ Big Driis, he got the revellers in a right spin as he belted out the hits for the Bank Holiday party crew. And they were even more delighted when the actor was joined on a rare night out by his good pal Adam, along with his stunning wife Mariana Teixeira de Carvalho. An onlooker said: "Idris got a brilliant reception from clubgoers -- they were all high-fiving him and looking to get their picture taken with him. No one could believe it when Adam just strolled into the club with his wife". The pair first met last year at the premiere of the Nelson Mandela movie, which saw Idris playing the part of the legendary leader.

Adam 7_2.jpg

It was a busy weekend for both stars, with Idris appearing on the Saturday Night Show ahead of his DJ stint while the U2 star was on the Late Late Show on Friday night.

He opened up to Ryan Tubridy about his lengthy battle with depression -- and credits Eric Clapton with helping him deal with his issues.

"From a teenager onwards I always had a low level depression and I found that music relieved that and I think that's why I went into music," he said.

When he was working with the band, he was able to put it to the back of his mind but he also began to drink heavily.

"My drinking increased and increased and because I kept being successful it was covered up and taken care of and I'm in a band with three great guys who put up with me."

His fellow bandmates eventually sat him down and told him to get his act together.

"I was lucky enough to take the hint," he added. Someone put him in touch with Eric Clapton, who said he had to go to rehab.

"He told me a place to go that he recommended was a good place and I said, 'well if he's telling me to go do that, that's what I'm gonna do' and that was when I started listening to what other people said to me instead of doing the exact opposite," he said.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Walk In My Shoes Day

Adam joined Irish celebrities Alison Canavan, Brent Pope and The Original Rude Boys for the Dublin launch  of next week's Walk In My Shoes day.


Inspired by a 16year old at St. Patrick’s University Hospital, who wished his friends could ‘walk in his shoes’ to understand what he was going through, Walk in My Shoes raises funds to provide mental health support, information and services to vulnerable young adults in Ireland.

'We need support growing up, but especially if you’re vulnerable and you need someone to talk to,' explained Adam, patron of the organisation. 'It’s ok to ask for help and Walk In My Shoes is working hard to remove the stigma around mental health difficulties. I hope everyone will join in on 9th May for Walk In My Shoes day and step out in stylish or mismatched shoes - let’s make a real difference.'

Adam Clayton was one of Ryan Tubridy's guests on  The Late Late Show on RTE-TV.You can watch the whole show for the next three weeks on RTE's website.

UPDATE:  Adam Clayton on Ireland AM - TV3 -