BBC Interview on Christmas Eve '97"); include("../../header.php"); opentable(); ?>

U2 Interviews

BBC Interview on Christmas Eve '97

Bono phoned into BBC 1 Radio in Britain on Christmas Eve and gave us a glimpse of his Christmas.

Bono talks over the phone from Dublin to the interviewer, Jo Whiley on her lunchtime show.
Where words were emphasised, I've included in capitals.

Bono: (interrupts the fade-out of Radiohead, singing) "Its Christmas....boom-boom-boom-boom....."

Jo: Its Radio 1, its the lunchtime social and THAT was who was lurking behind the advent calendar today. Would you like to identify yourself a bit more? The Christmas Eve celebrity is...

Bono: Ha...Arrrgh! I'm NOT a celebrity, though.

Jo: Because you're that special.

Bono: I said I'll always be a roll 'n roll star as long as I don't become a celebrity. I'm BONO!

Jo: OK (giggle) Bono, rock 'n roll star, how are you?

Bono: Actually I couldn't be better.

Jo: How's your state of mind this morning?

Bono: I'm high as a kite and I've just been blown around by all the breezes here in Dublin, its a windy day.... but do you whats GREAT about it?

Jo: What?

Bono : It isn't America! It isn't anywhere else in the world.

Jo: It's home.

Bono: I'm AMAZED to be at home, yea.

Jo: Describe your surroundings, where you are - in your house..?

Bono: I'm in a house on the sea. I've never really strayed far from the sea, even when we had.... I used to live in our first rehearsal room - it used to have a bed in it. And that was right on the sea and now I've got a POSHER place but its the sea that makes it special. It's outside of Dublin.

Jo: Which ROOM of the house are you in?

Bono: I'm in the ... its a blue room with basically just windows in it - you just see right out onto the sea...

Jo: It sounds lovely

Bono: ...Liam Gallagher - what was it he said he said (imitates Manchester accent "You live in a house in the sky..." coz you just get sky, sea and some furniture. Its an old Georgian house, but its great.

Jo: What's it like when you get home after long absences? What do you do when you first get in the house?

Bono: I have to remind everyone at home that I am in fact the boss (laughs). They just start laughing at me - they think its very funny and ... you know... there's nothing I EAT in the house, there's nothing that I might DRINK in the house...

Jo: Do you feel like a stranger in your own house?

Bono: Yea...but I've always been like that. I am a kind of a travel rat. Its actually not that important ... that they know who I am...(chuckles)

Jo : Is it difficult for THEM to you wander around the house and feel restless and is it difficult to get on with each other?

Bono: Ali, my missus says "We are not 50,000 people...SHUT UP!" (laughs) But actually over the years, I think I've gotten much easier at coming and going. I'm always surprised when I'm leaving, they get really excited! That's not the way its supposed to be.

Jo: (laughs) Surely its the other way around. Is the Christmas tree up in the house now?

Bono: Yep. I'm sitting right beside it now in this room. It's got a load of mirrorballs hanging from it... and a lemon.

Jo : Oh really? Cheap at the price? Promotional were they?

Bono: the Popmartians have built this.

Jo: How do you celebrate Christmas. What do you do on Christmas Eve?

Bono: On Christmas Eve, what Irish people do is they go down to Midnight Mass, drunk and get into a fight. I don't know if you ever listen to the police radio...I have a um... relation that listens to the police radio... he's just one of those kind of guys. He says it's MADNESS in Dublin, it's like "Car 2 go straight down there to St Cannister's, there's been a row at the back of the church..." (laughs) That's what I love about Dublin and Ireland - at Christmastime it DOES get messy. It's like an Irish wedding, there's always tears, always trouble, but a LOT of laughter, too.

Jo: But YOU wont be doing that though.

Bono: What, laughter?

Jo: No, going out and getting into trouble and making noise and stuff...

Bono: I will. I absolutely will.

Jo: You will? Who with?

Bono: I've got all my mates here - and there's a lot of them.

Jo: I thought you'd be at midnight mass or something.

Bono: Oh, I will probably go to midnight mass...

Jo: ... then vomit afterwards outside?

Bono: No... (laughs) I'll probably go out AFTER Midnight Mass becuase
actually...I am a .... vampire. I won't be going to bed early.

Jo: But then you'll be all messy on the day itself. Christmas morning - you're
not good on Christmas morning?

Bono: Christmas morning the kids walk over me...unwrap their dad...put him in bed, get their presents out...(laughs) Actually, I'll try not to keep it too late on Christmas Eve...but I will be going out. We've got a great club here in Dublin y'know called "The Kitchen" but I suppose I'm realizing that there are two little kids that, y'know...

Jo: Yea Dad - behave! Is there anything you want or need for Christmas? I'd
imagine there's not much you can buy you really.

Bono: The band said that we werent going to buy each other presents this year, that we'd buy each other books, because books are a great present; they're not so expensive and you can kind of live in them for a while. I don't want to do the big Christmas thing. I don't want to get lost in all of that...sometimes I do. Y'know when you're a rock star you get to play Santa Claus don't you, if you're not careful. I'm making sure the kids know what it's supposed to be about ... apart from their dad getting in too late, getting a hangover, presents... I would like to take them out and do SOMETHING, not with cameras and all of that, I'd just like them to understand that they're very lucky.


Jo: On this tour there's been several occasions when you've had your emotions pulled out, you've had to expose them in front of the crowd, y'know with Diana, playing Sarajevo, with Michael Hutchence... Is that difficult or is that kind of cathartic for you?

Bono: Thats what I do. I mean ... U2 has always been a bit of an opera... we're
not very stiff-upper-lippy are we?

Jo: (Agreeing) No!

Bono: ...and I feel that music is about being honest about the way you feel, you're hopes and the big ideas in your head. Thats what music is to me. And when I'm singing songs, I have to live in them to make them connect with people, I can't just ... sing it, you know.

Jo: Just reading the reviews and seeing what the gigs are like, it has often just felt like you're kind of reflecting the audience's feelings at the time...its like a mutual sharing of emotions...

Bono: I find it very difficult and still do, to deal with Hutch's passing. I find that difficult because I don't really believe that he meant it in his life. He loved life and kinda KNEW that suicide and all that is TOO EASY. I've discussed it even, about other people and he knew that wasn't smart and he knew it was vain, and ... he wasn't selfish enough. That's just where I'm at today...

Jo: Its difficult to understand it completely.

Bono: It IS very difficult and I still can't figure it out. Ali went down to Sydney for the funeral, but I never quite got a chance to say some of the things I'd like to have said to him in person because I missed most of the last year, because he was out working and I was out working but he was a great singer and he loved Tiger Lily and Paul and loads of mates... I can't really get it
together for you, but it was very hard to be AWAY because you'd only hear little reports in America...we were playing Texas: actually we were on stage in Texas when they were carrying his coffin out and I found that out literally as it was happening...

Jo: The tour continues until March : what do you do after that? Is there going to be a new album next year? Other projects...

Bono: I don't want.....The thing I'm holding onto at the moment is the idea of simplifying our life in U2 because when you start out in a band you have a single passion and thats to write the song you hear in your head and to take it as far as you can. Then as you get on you get all kinds of ideas, but coming thorough at the moment is a strong sense of wanting to make the record that no-one else can make -- I want to be in a great group and don't want to make it
easier for any of these whipper-snapper groups.

Jo: (laughs) that whip your ass...OK... So when did the lemon last get stuck?

Bono: There was only one Lemon Breakdown on this whole tour ... which was a damn shame. It wouldn't open in ... I think it was Norway and we had "Lemon Breakdown." And we had no plan so we just started to laugh on the inside and we sent it out there anyway and came in at the back of the place and that was a bit of a ... voi-la.. It wasn't very George Clinton when it opened and there was no band there...but it kept us going.

Jo: Yea. Listen we're going to have to stop this because I have to do my radio show. I'll say thank you very much for talking to us today, and can you give us some Christmas presents to give to people?

Bono: YOU want ME to give you a Christmas present?

Jo: Yea, AND the listeners as well, obviously. Something from each member of the band, maybe like a plectrum from Edge...and do you think you could cobble together a Christmas present?

Bono: I pledge YOU my loyalty, first off...

Jo: Thank you.

Bono: That's for you, Jo and your producer, Pat. From the rest of the group I will take something ... can it be from South America?

Jo: Yea

Bono: Can it be from Mexico, because we did this broadcast from Mexico, which is THE business which went out over America, I'm sure its going to come out in the UK in the next month ... and I'm going to get each member of the band to send you something from Mexico City.

Jo: OK That would be lovely. Finally choose a Christmas record for us to play on Christmas Eve.

Bono: On Christmas Eve? Well, just because of what's going on in Ireland, and my...our prayers for the future, y'know and peace and this may sound corny, but its the first record I ever bought - Its John Lennon "So this is Christmas... War is over ... IF you want it."

Jo: Thank you very much. Say Happy Christmas to the listeners for us.

Bono: Er... Happy Christmas ... from Bono and the U2ers. God bless.

Jo: Take care. See you. Bye.

Jo: (whispers) Happy Christmas Bono.

Bono: (whispers) Happy Christmas Jo.


Transcribed by Andy Rees (