'I hate to make predictions,' Adam tells Rolling Stone Magazine. 'If we get
six tunes, maybe that will roll into a project.'
"I hate to make predictions," U2 bassist Adam Clayton says with a soft
chuckle, as if he's afraid someone will hear him over the midday buzz in the
lobby of his lower-Manhattan hotel. "If we get six tunes, maybe that will
roll into a project." He pauses for emphasis. "Maybe."
As you read this, U2 are at work in their Dublin studio, where they plan to
stay until June, jamming, writing and revisiting outtakes from their latest
album, the Grammy-winning All That You Can't Leave Behind. Their intention:
to start, and possibly finish, a new record this year. Clayton, singer Bono,
guitarist the Edge and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. have already been in the
studio twice since their last U.S. show on December 2nd, 2001, and Clayton
claims that, even after a year of touring, U2 are anything but toast.
"One advantage of playing arenas is that the band is playing much better
now," he says cheerfully, dressed with quiet style in a dark-red T-shirt,
loose khaki slacks and a gray hooded jacket. "We can actually hear each
other onstage. So the band sounds good." The same, he adds, goes for the
feast of unissued songs from the sessions for Can't Leave Behind.
"Everything we had left over was finished, which was unusual for us. There
are maybe another ten pieces that are more immediate, slightly poppier,
tunes that I know will turn up." Clayton smiles. "Because they're good."
He then explains what happens behind those studio doors: "Nowadays, Edge
tends to do his homework and discipline some chord sequences. Then, as a
group, we find an interpretation, a unique way they fit together. Or a sound
will get thrown out from a jam, and we figure out a melody to go with it."
Clayton cites two examples from Can't Leave Behind: " 'Elevation' came from
a sound, that abrasive guitar: 'We've really got to do something with that.'
'Walk On' was two songs that both had great chords but weren't great songs."
He laughs. "We sewed them together."
Clayton - the oldest member of U2 (he turned forty-two on March 13th) -
remains amazed by the sustained power of Can't Leave Behind. It was a record
written, he says, "about the journey we'd been through as a band, as men in
relationships, as sons of mothers and fathers. It was about the baggage that
you have to live with, the sense of loss, like the fact that Bono's father
was terminally ill through that whole period."
September 11th changed that. "Suddenly, this happened to America as a
whole," Clayton says with lingering shock, "which means people reassess your
record and music in a totally different way." When U2 pulled into New York's
Madison Square Garden in October, "it was like when we played Sarajevo [in
1997], where the act of the band being there was just a reason for everybody
to come out. At the Garden, everyone turned up because they knew the band
would be onstage at nine o'clock. But as crazy as those shows were, it was
the audience taking us on a journey, not us taking them."
U2 are done with the road -- for now. But even with another record looming,
Clayton does not fret about Bono's manic commuting between U2 and his twin
crusades: third-world debt relief and the AIDS crisis in Africa. For
instance, Bono spent most of his Super Bowl weekend, between rehearsals in
New Orleans for U2's halftime show and the game itself, in New York at the
World Economic Forum.
"We wouldn't get any more of him if he wasn't doing this stuff," Clayton
says, noting that it's great fun to watch Bono turn his acuity and Irish
charm on politicians and CEOs. "These guys don't expect him to have a grasp
of the subject matter. He's able to go in with the facts and figures, talk
circles around them, and suddenly, where they thought they were just going
to get their picture taken with him, he's gotten something out of them
before the picture.
"You can't deny the penetration he has achieved," Clayton says. "And it
makes the rest of us realize that what we do is important to the group. We
need to keep it going forward, to allow him to come in and out. Bono has a
legitimate reason not to be around all the time. And we have a legitimate
reason to make sure that the time we are all together is used wisely."
Full story in Rolling Stone dated April 25th
More at www.rollingstone.com