17 December 2004
'U2 Drops Bomb'
Maybe we should have called this one Man.' Great read in Rolling Stone on how U2 'closed the circle' and got 'back to our first album'.
The new edition of Rolling Stone features a cracking U2 cover story by David Fricke on the making of the album as well as four intriguing individual band interviews. Including: Adam about what makes a hit for U2; Larry on realising, a year ago, that the album wasn't finished; Bono on going back to where the band started and Edge on making an album when the singer has a day job.
Below we carry the answers to a single question put to each band member.
Check RS's lengthy online feature and interview highlights here
or buy the new edition of Rolling Stone for the whole story.
When you start touring again this spring, do you think that, with the changes in this country since 9/11 and the recent presidential election, you will be playing to a much different America than you did at the beginning of 2001?
Larry - 'I hope we're playing to a much younger America [laughs]. The purpose of rock & roll, what it can achieve, has changed. The world we're in now is one in which people recognize the value of family. People are drawing back and looking at a very dangerous world. That's what this record is about. It's about living in a state of fear. But people want to see U2 and feel like they're part of something special.'
When we last spoke, in early 2002, you mentioned that U2 had started writing for a new album, right after the last, post-9/11 U.S. leg of the Elevation tour. At that point, you said you had quite a few songs going already.
Adam - 'Out of that session, the survivor was "All Because of You." That tour, playing indoors, playing the material from All That You Can't Leave Behind: We really seemed to connect with people. In some ways, the songs from that album were much bigger live than they were on the radio, because they touched people in a certain way.
I think that's what this record comes down to: questions about how you fit into the world, how you feel about it, and the power and strength of family and relationships. That's what people want from music, at the end of the day. They want the power of those eight notes, and those colours and moods, to touch them.'
When you went with Bono to the recent opening of Bill Clinton's new presidential library in Arkansas, that was a rare foray for you into Bono's political world. You and the rest of the band have worked hard to keep that separate from the music.
Edge - 'We figured that out early on. If I disappeared into that world, we'll never get anything done in the studio. That world -- it's about Bono's personal relationships with people in high places, his ability to persuade them that they can do more than they think. I don't know what part I would have to play in that. I like to maintain the position of the artist, where it's about writing from the heart and not about having to come up with a workable solution for changing the world.
The difference is, Bono is doing both. I was shocked when I realized he was as successful at this as he is. When it comes to those meetings and telephone calls, you have to be a great presence, someone who can put over a story, to command respect. And he has that. He's always had that. That's the performer in him. He's done that every time he plays a U2 show.'
You've been in high-gear this weekend, and for the past month, launching the new album. Do you feel like you're in control of its destiny?
'I know we're in control. But it is a little frightening, because trajectory is everything. Two inches off on Earth, and you miss Mars [laughs]. But I won't really feel confident until "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own" or "Original of the Species," one of those two, punctures the "pop" balloon. Otherwise, the album won't be what it should be.
There are two routes for you. There is your relationship with your audience. But that can go on, and the rest of the world not know. And that's OK when you're in a band. It's not OK if you're a songwriter. Because every songwriter wants their song to belong to people other than their audience.
It's like you want your kid to do the best he can. You want your songs to go all the way. And if you can't get them on the radio, you want other people to sing them on the radio. "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own" -- that's not so easy to get through, because it comes from such a different world than everything else on the radio now. It sounds like it's from the Fifties.'