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U2 Joshua Tree Tour 2019
· Bono's Madrid setlist, 28/11/22
· Bono's Paris setlist, 25/11/22
· Bono's Berlin setlist, 23/11/22
· Bono's Dublin setlist, 21/11/22
· Bono's Manchester setlist, 19/11/22
· Bono's Glasgow setlist, 17/11/22
· Bono's London setlist, 16/11/22
· Bono's Los Angeles setlist, 13/11/22
· Bono's San Francisco setlist, 12/11/22
· Bono's Nashville setlist, 09/11/22


Sound Off - Interview with Bono

Posted on Sunday, November 05 @ 06:13:49 CET by Macphisto

(Wallofsound.go.com) -- Twenty years ago, U2 - via frontman Bono - announced "I Will Follow" and then instead proceeded to lead its fans on a stirring, challenging journey. Things took off with War and The Unforgettable Fire, then The Joshua Tree, ultimately ending up with the "PopMart" spectacle, in which the earnest Irish quartet that came to change the world and make it a better place for rock and roll cloaked itself in irony and humor. In other words, it`s been a long, not-so-strange trip, but one that`s had plenty of twists, turns, and deliberate deconstructions of image and expectations.

Then again, we`ve come to expect nothing less from U2; even when they`re joking, Bono and his mates — The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen Jr. — do so with serious intent, with grand statements in mind and good, important music as their primary mission. The group`s 12th album, All That You Can`t Leave Behind, doesn`t disappoint in that regard. Longtime U2 fans will surely delight in its return to an emphasis on conventional songcraft, along with the reappearance of some of the group`s sonic trademarks. But they should also be pleased that it doesn`t abandon the experimental tack, either, but rather finds a way to weave together the strains of U2`s `80s and `90s work into a collection that heralds the beginning of a new path for a group that`s never shied away from tangents. It had a difficult birth — at least one false start and the theft of Bono`s lyric-filled laptop computer — but Bono says the results more than justify the effort.

Prior to the new album`s release, there was lots of scuttlebutt about what it was going to sound like, including reports that it was going to be a raging rock record. What was the group was looking for? Songs. That was it, really. We thought, "It`s not time to be hip, it`s not the time to be groovy, and the time is right to write songs with melodies that you can hear across the road and through the walls." And to limit our options by just making it about that and about the dying art of the single, because it`s the era of pop. But, of course, all the great rock bands were pop groups, too, including Nirvana; I remember Kurt Cobain saying, "We`re a pop group. That`s a pop song," talking about "Smells Like Teen Spirit." And he wasn`t just being funny.

You have kids who are right in the wheelhouse of the whole current pop scene. What`s your view of that world? I sometimes get cross when I think things have just gotten too sweet; you feel like your teeth are rotting, just listening to the radio. But the guy from Sweden, Max Martin, he knows a hook, and I just wish more rock bands had an ear for a hook. The kids are really sharp about the schlock, too. Occasionally I`ll say, "That`s a great tune. What`s that one about?" And one of them will say, "It`s not what it`s about. It`s a tune." Some of the tunes they listen to, they know they`re nothing, but they`re just enjoying them. It`s a fun ride, and I don`t want to take away from that, either.

Was the focus on songs for All That You Can`t Leave Behind a reaction to your musical approach on Pop? There were some real songs in there [Pop]; we just didn`t get to bring them out. And we`ve been thinking more about songs over the years. Edge and myself have written songs for other people, and we`ve been getting into that as an idea as opposed to just improvisation, which is how we used to write songs in the past. Now we`re actually writing in the old school, just real songs, even though some of the arrangements are very modern, very contemporary.

How did Steve Lillywhite, who produced the first four releases, come to be involved again on this album? Well, he`s so about that, just focusing and honing in on the song. We can get really … I can go off. I can just go. I can rant and go on riffing in every way with ideas, music, and all of that. Suddenly Steve will be, "Can you stop a second and finish the song?" [Laughs] which was good to have around. Daniel Lanois, who stuck with us the whole time, he`s an extraordinary thing; he`s the kind of musician who feels sick if somebody`s playing out of tune. And Brian [Eno] comes up with these strategies about how to make the record. But Steve, he always comes in with how to finish the records.

The lyrics are thought-provoking as usual, and there are lots of references to relationships gone awry. How autobiographical do you let yourself get? They`re not literal, but they`re true. I take an arm of one experience, a leg of another and kind of put them together. Often it can be things that are going on in the room or in your family, and I try to make it real. Like, "New York" is not my story; it`s somebody who`s had it with the country and the quiet life of the suburbs and is going to the big city with the hope that the city will crack them wide open and they`ll discover other sides of themselves. And it happens. But that`s not me; if anything, I would love some of the suburbs right now.

"Beautiful Day" has really gotten the album off to a strong start. What`s that song about? That lyric was written very easily; all the lyrics were written very quickly and very easily. It`s an interesting idea, I think, that you can lose everything — lose a relationship, lose your possessions, lose everything — and never feel better. It`s just a nice thought to plant in the airwaves that sometimes when people are right at the bottom is when they realize who they really are and what they`re capable of. I love that idea that you can start again, that you don`t have to go down the route prepared for you, or that you may have in the past prepared for yourself, that you can turn right or left or keep going. Probably the only thing you can`t do is stand still, really.

That`s an interesting comment, given that some of the criticism that`s been leveled at U2, especially since Pop, has been for not standing still. Was this album at all a conscious retrenchment in reaction to that? Hmm. We knew this was a record that was against the odds, and a lot of people would be thinking, "U2, they`ve gone all arty and they can live off their past now, or else they`ll come up with some esoteric idea of the future." And we thought, "We`ve got to make something that feels really pleasant, that`s not about what`s fashionable this week, but what`s about the moment we`re in right now." We were up against it, and I think there`s a feel that rock music isn`t up to the challenge of R&B and hip-hop. And we just want to say "nay" to that and say, "Write better tunes than us, then, whoever you are." That was sort of the attitude of the record.

So after the "Zoo TV" and "PopMart" tours, what is next year going to be like? I think perhaps on our last tour, some of the songs got swallowed up, to be fair. That`s not going to happen this time. It`s going to be about the band and not the spectacle, though I still want to make it special. I still think if people are going out to see you in an arena, it`s your job to blow their minds. So it will be visual, but it won`t be about spectacle. I went and saw Beck a couple of weeks ago in France, and he had a really funky show, capes and a lot of that. I could see a lot of the George Clinton paraphernalia, and I thought, "Yes, you can still have the soul in your songs intact." That`s important.

by Gary Graff

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