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'I still have what people might call a rage,' explains Bono, in a new band interview just published in the UK. 'Not a moral rage; I don't know quite where it comes from. it's just rage. I still always expect a hail of blows even when they're not there.'

A useful ingredient in the artistic process, quips Edge. 'That's what great rock'n roll bands are really. Finding a way to turn personal flaws to your own commercial advantage.'

The interview is published in this week's edition of The Big Issue, the magazine sold by homeless people, in which 60% of the cover price goes to the vendor. It finds Edge and Bono reflecting on their journey in U2 through two decades - and their arrival in a new millennium. Commenting on a hit British TV series POPSTARS, which charts the struggle of new singers and bands desperate to make the bigtime, Edge is sympathetic: 'I remember the sheer white heat of ambition. It was like being a junkie, wanting to do this so badly.'

As for the nineties, says Bono, 'We had to rid ourselves of a lot of our moral baggage. For artists it can be like a straightjacket. I think in the 1990's we sort of defaced ourselves to the point where we are now allowed the ups and downs of the regular alcohol life.'

And the new album rings in the changes again: 'It was so important for us to climb down from the past decade of artifice in the presentation of material. The irony is, there is no irony in those songs.'

And what are they listening to at the moment? Edge namechecks Radiohead's Kid A ('a few prog-rock moments but you can forgive them that') and Andrea Corr's voice while Bono recommends Richard Ashcroft, late of The Verve and JJ72 who 'have got something going.'

Asked whether the arrival of a fourth child in May will herald 'pipe and slippers time', Bono seems surprisingly resistant to the notion. 'You know, having kids has actually made me more militant. You think it would chill you out. But it really made me start to understand what's at stake.'

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