A Hundred Thousand Welcomes in Cyberspace
Catch up with what the band said during their AOL / Compuserve online chat.
Bono: Cead mile Failte! It's ancient gaelic...a hundred thousand welcomes in cyberspace! Well that's jumping in the deep end...but you know sometimes the Shallow Song will mean the most. On this new album what we're trying to do is to combine big ideas expressing little situations. The best rock and roll seems to have both. Both shallowness and depth in the same sentences. Our feeling "Tangled Up in Blue" Elvis Presley "Hound Dog" Nirvana "Smells Like Teen Spirit" so as regard to meaningful, in order to sing these songs, I can tell you this that some of the musical notes are very high, and in order to perform them you have to step inside the song, you have to live the song, breathe what the song is about before you can sing it. A song like "One" is not that easy to just knock out. It takes you to a troublesome place. A song like "Stuck in the Moment' you can't get out of... on the new album, it's the same. It's a little pop ditty about suicide, and not something you can step into lightly.
Edge: I'd like to add... if you sit down to write a tune and you try and be profound, you're generally gonna end up with egg on your face. You have to try the best you can to be honest and write from somewhere that's not self-conscious or judgmental. And if you end up with a tune that connects with the fans, you're lucky.
Host: I'm going to ask you the next question we have coming up. I'm a big fan of your new video. Where was it filmed? And what was the name of the director?
Bono: Over to Adam.
Adam: That was filmed in Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris, France.
Host: OK. Next question is from stwiddler 41 --
Bono: Hang on. There's two halves to that answer.
Adam: Jonas Ackerlund is the video director. He worked with Prodigy and Madonna and never liked either of them. He only came into his own on meeting U2.
Edge: Because his haircuts made sense when he started working with U2.
Adam: Jonas is the proud owner of a mullet.
Host: Next one we have is from someone named twizzler 41. I heard that U2 may play a benefit concert in the holy land. How do you feel about this particular part of the world? And do you believe a concert would actualize people's troubles?
Bono: Not true. We're not playing any benefit concert anywhere at the moment. And we would not presume that any concert or anything musical would be a solution to what's going on in the Middle East.
Edge: I'd like to know who we were going to be benefiting, if we were to do such a thing.
Bono: I might be able to help. There is an idea coming out of the holy land that when the troubles ease off, that there should be a Festival of Abraham, because Abraham is the patriarch of the three different traditions in the Middle East -- the Muslims, the Christians, and the Jews. I think this is fantastic -- a fantastic idea. Like St. Patrick's day for everyone in those three traditions. It sounds kind of ridiculous. And when you see the hatred that's on the streets right now. But you know, music, painting, and culture is often the first to unite people, even before politics. If you look at what happened with Elvis Presley in the deep south of the United States, you realize that rock & roll helped to unify black and white. It brought black and white closer than the politicians. Because, you know, people who grow up on music realize more profoundly than people who grow up in politics that we are "one but not the same."
Host: OK. The next question we have is someone who says I'm a filmmaker from New Hampshire, and when I write my screen plays I listen to your music as it is a constant form of inspiration. Do you get inspired by other forms of art other than music when you write or perform?
U2: Daylight. It's morning. The songwriter is waking up in Dublin, Ireland. It's raining outside. Dawn there is -- dawn is therefore full of melancholy. Fade to black. Evening. The songwriter is drinking far too much. Again, he blames the weather for his condition. Inspiration, he says to himself, comes mostly from perspiration. You have to work through it. His darling wife laughs at this notion of work, but she knows all too well that means time not spent with the children. This is who I am, says the songwriter. I know. But who are we, says the wife? Fade to black. Next morning, he's living on his own. Six months later, divorce.
Host: OK. The next question that we have is regarding Mother Records. And this person is a huge fan of Long Pigs and Audio Web. They still want to know if you still have the label up and running and if it's still through Island Records.
U2: Unfortunately, no. No. They were great bands. And unfortunately, they didn't have the commercial success that they should have had. And I hope that they'll be picked up by some other label.
Host: OK. Next one we have is someone saying Bono, I heard that you referred to this C.D. as having the classic U2 arrangement. What does that mean?
Bono: I would never say something so classic. It's true that we stopped
editing ourselves. And when we hit something that sounded like U2 of old, we let it through on this album in a way that on the last few albums we wouldn't. And this was an attempt -- this happened probably because of releasing the "Best of U2" a couple of years ago reacquainted us with some of the sounds that are the essence of U2. But the essence of U2 is not something that happened in 1983 or 1993. It includes from 1980 to 2000. You know, all that you can't leave behind, yes, to me the best bit of U2. I thought it would make it through the fire, you know, the purifying fire that separates the wheat from the chaff. That's what this is about.
Host: Do you see yourselves collaborating with anyone else anytime soon? I was a huge fan of "Miss Sarajevo," one of your fans says.
The Edge: Collaborations are a lot of fun. But at the same time, you've got to put trying into what you are doing yourself, and right now that's what this record is all about. I think the band are rediscovering the center, rediscovering what we have when we play together, when we're in a small room and so I don't think we're going to be doing any collaborations in the near future. But who knows? Knowing Bono, it will be something.
Bono: It's nice to have what you might call a wobbler. You know, to throw a wobbler. It means to have something from the outside world come into your very own private place and upend things. We love the idea of a rock band like U2 collaborating with unusual influences, like Luciano Pavarotti. Willie Nelson. Frank Sinatra. And the group Suicide. A D.J. like Howie B. And hopefully The Corrs.
Host: OK, next question we have is, with artists like Pearl Jam making recordings of their European tour available for purchase, would there be any chance U2 would do something along the same lines, like making recordings of shows of upcoming or past shows available to fans?
Edge: I think we might well use the Internet to make our shows available, because it's a very Democratic way of getting in touch with the community of your fans and we see it as a great opportunity to do that. And so through U2.com, I think we might well make our shows available. We've never had a problem with bootlegs or people recording our shows for their own use. Our problem has always been people ripping off our fans with inferior recordings that they sell at exorbitant prices. So --
Bono: Can I interject? Edge mentioned the word "fans." And when I was a kid, and I heard a rock star use the word "fans" I used to get upset. It annoyed me just a little less than the word "kids." But "fans" in the U2 definition of the word is the most positive place to be. We, myself, Edge, Adam, Larry, we are fans of music. We are fans of Johnny Cash. We are fans of The Clash. We are fans of Nirvana. We are fans of beauty wherever you might find it, in the most unexpected places. I think it's really amazing and generous thing to applaud somebody else's work. And that is our definition of "fan."
Edge: Just exactly.
Host: The next one we have here is from AOL Argentina. And the comment is we want to congratulate you on the strength that you've given people in the middle of a terrible war, offering them your music and support. You're good people and good musicians. It's a pity that governments don't take care of social problems, but thank God people like you exist and you do yourself to help them. So it's not quite a question, but instead a comment.
Bono: Well, thank you very, very much. You know, often it's sad but true that music has stepped into the void sometimes that politicians have left an open wound. And in the United States during the Vietnam War, it was musicians that were the conscience of America. And during the 1980's and the famine in Ethiopia, it was Live Aid, We are the World etc, that actually rose to the challenge of that famine in Africa that politicians were ignoring. In the year 2000, and when it came to debt cancellation as championed by Jubilee 2000, the idea of using the millennium year as an opportunity to release the poorest countries on the planet from the burdening debt of the richest countries of the planet, it was musicians that came to the fore. It shouldn't be, but it is often true. And the lesson to be learned from this, that whatever you do, whether you work at McDonald's, you're a teacher, or work in a factory, or you're in a rock band, you can actually change the world with your point of view. That is what rock music does.
Host: Next question is from Nicole. And she asks, what is the reference to the J 33-3 printed in the background on the album cover? Does it have any meaning?
Edge: Yes, it does. It's a very obscure reference to the gospel of John. And we're not very religiouss people, but we are believers. And we believe in God, but we find it very uncomfortable to see what religion has turned God into. And that reference is to the Gospel of John. John was a dreamer. And I'm not talking about John Lennon, but the guy who wrote the Gospel of John and who wrote Revelation was kind of a mad poet. We quoted from him because that's more the way we see the world and you're kind of fundamentalist-type folks who pro claim on their bumper stickers peace and goodwill to all mankind, while they carry a double-barrel shotgun in the back for anyone who disagrees with them.
Host: Elizabeth asks, how much longer U2 plans to record together. Is this your last album?
Edge: Well, I can't say we're planning that far in advance, but we still have a lot of fun making records together, because we actually still feel that our music has got a lot of life in it, and vitality. And as long as that's true, we're going to work together.
Larry Mullen: Unfinished business.
Host: OK. Next one we have is regarding a rumor that someone's heard. I've heard that the "Best of U2" 1990-2000 will come out in the next year or so. Is that the case?
Edge: No, we didn't get quite around to that. We originally wanted the best of the 1980's to be followed by the best of the 1990's, but got sidetracked by a much more important project which was "All That You Can't Leave Behind." "All That You Can't Leave Behind" is our new album, but it's also the greatest hits, the greatest hits of the last two years of U2's life. We're going to leave the next collection until the dust is really settled on that work, because it's far too recent. It will be another few years before we feel that we even have perspective on the work of the 1990's.
Host: OK. Next question is involving your tour. I heard that you'll be starting a tour in February. Is this true? Do you plan to play smaller venues or large arenas?
Adam Clayton: I'm going to say yeah, we are planning to start a tour in April, and we felt we wanted to try and keep it intimate. We don't want to go out there and play the big places. We're going to let this record kind of get out there a bit and see what happens to it. And that tour may grow from a six-month tour into a year. And it may grow into bigger places. But you know, it's all kind of loose at the moment.
Host: OK. Do you endorse any particular candidate in the U.S. race for President?
Edge: We're Irish, so we don't feel like we should make any clear endorsements. If you were to ask us our opinion of who we would like to see elected, that's a different thing. Personally, I would like to see Al Gore elected. But I know that this is a matter for the American people and not for me. The reason I would like to see Al Gore elected is because I think that he is likely to continue the Clinton tradition of a foreign policy with a conscience, which has been so important in the peace process of Ireland, and I think that that, from a perspective of the Irish people or other European peoples or people of the Middle East, would be very, very good.
Host: OK. Well, we're starting to near the end of our chat, but we have a couple more questions for you. And the next one is, do you feel that Napster aids or hinders the development of artists?
Edge: I think that my personal opinion is that Napster is making it possible for people to enjoy music on their computers. That can be only a good thing for music. As regards the issue of getting paid for your copyright ownership, that's something that can be worked out at a later date. But like when cassette tapes first came available, the record industry went into a very paranoid phase, thinking that home taping was ruining music, even as far back as when radio first started broadcasting music on F.M., people thought that that would destroy the music industry. Well, it didn't. And I think that Napster is just like those technological innovations. It's a very powerful and -- it's a new thing, but I don't think in the end it's going to destroy the music business. I think it's just something that the music industry has to get hip to.
Host: OK. Do you use the Internet when you're on the road, like e-mail, for instance, to keep in touch with friends or family?
U2: Yes, we do. In fact, we've actually been using it since the mid 1980's. In the production side of our touring business. And that's what it's best for, really, communicating. In the end, it's just a great way of staying in touch with people.
Host: OK. The final question we have is, what is your next single after "Beautiful Day"?
Adam Clayton: We don't know yet. We'd like some votes. We'd like people to tell us what they think would be the best next single. So let us know.
Host: OK. They definitely could probably give you some feedback on U2.com, or through the message boards, I'm sure.
OK. Well, AOL Live would like to thank U2 for chatting with us this evening on the eve of the release of their album "All That You Can't Leave Behind," featuring the hit single "Beautiful Day." Did you guys have any closing remarks?
Bono: Vote for Bono. Vote. If you can't vote for Bono, just make sure you vote. Edge?
Edge: It's great to be back in cyberspace.
Adam Clayton: Yep. Good night.
Larry Mullen: What?
Bono: Closing remarks.
Larry Mullen: Advice for the American youth, don't get spots.
Host: OK. Also, Larry, we've had a number of people send in comments tonight wishing you a happy birthday tomorrow.
Larry Mullen: If you would just send a personal message to all of them thanking them very much and giving our address for the management and all donations will be gratefully received.
Host: OK. Well, for more information on U2 check out U2.com, Interscope Records web site. Or better yet AOL key word U2. Thanks so much, guys.
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