The members of this rock group from Dublin have become music idols throughout their growing career. Through a combination of zealous righteousness and post-punk experimentalism, U2 became one of the most popular rock & roll bands of the '80s. Equally known for their sweeping sound as for their grandiose statement about politics and religion, U2 were rock & roll crusaders during an era of synthesized pop and heavy metal. The Edge provided the group with a signature sound by creating sweeping sonic landscapes with his heavily processed, echoed guitars. Though the Edge's style wasn't conventional, the rhythm section of Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. played the songs as driving hard-rock, giving the band a forceful, powerful edge that was designed for arena rock. And their lead singer, Bono, was frontman who had a knack of grand gestures that played better in arenas than small clubs. It's no accident that footage of Bono parading with a white flag with "Sunday Bloody Sunday" blaring in the background became the defining moment of U2's early career -- there rarely was a band that believed so deeply in the rock's potential for revolution as U2, and there rarely was a band that didn't care if they appeared foolish in the process. During the course of the early '80s, the group quickly built up a dedicated following through constant touring and a string of acclaimed records. By 1987, the band's following had grown large enough to propel them to level of international superstars with the release of The Joshua Tree. Unlike many of their contemporaries, U2 was able to sustain their popularity in the '90s by reinventing themselves as a post-modern, self-consciously ironic dance-inflected pop-rock act, owing equally to the experimentalism of late '70s Bowie and '90s electronic dance and techno. By performing such a successful reinvention, the band confirmed its status as one of the most popular bands in rock history, in addition to earning additional critical respect.
With its textured guitars, U2's sound was undeniably indebted to post-punk, so it's slightly ironic that the band formed in 1976, before punk had reached their hometown of Dublin, Ireland. Larry Mullen Jr. (b. October 31, 1961; drums) posted a notice on a high school bulletin board asking for fellow musicians to form a band. Bono (b. Paul Hewson, May 10, 1960; vocals, guitar), the Edge (b. David Evans, August 8, 1961; guitar, keyboards, vocal), Adam Clayton (bass), and Dick Evans responded to the ad, and the group formed as a Beatles and Stone cover band called the Feedback, before changing their name to the Hype in 1977. Shortly afterward, Dick Evans left the band to form the Virgin Prunes. Following his departure, the group changed their name to U2.
U2's first big break arrived in 1978, when they won a talent contest sponsored by Guinness; the band were in their final year of high school at the time. by the end of the year, the Stranglers' manager Paul McGuinness saw the band play and offered to manage the group. Even with a powerful manager in their corner, the band had trouble making much headway -- they failed an audition with CBS Records at the end of the year. In the fall of 1979, U2 released their debut EP U2:3. The EP was available only in Ireland and it topped the national charts. Shortly afterward, they began to play in England, but they failed to gain much attention.
U2 had one other chart-topping single, "Another Day," in early 1980 before Island Records offered the group a contract. Later that year, the band's debut, Boy, was released. Produced by Steve Lillywhite, the record's sweeping, atmospheric but edgy sound was unlike most of its post-punk contemporaries, and the band earned further attention for its public embrace of Christianity; only Clayton was not a practicing Christian. Through constant touring, including opening gigs for Talking Heads and wet T-shirt contests, U2 was able to take Boy into the American Top 70 in early 1981. October, also produced by Lillywhite, followed in the fall, and it became their British breakthrough, reaching number 11 on the charts. By early 1983, Boy's "I Will Follow" and October's "Gloria" had become staples on MTV, which, along with their touring, gave the group a formidable cult following in the US.
Released in the spring of 1983, the Lillywhite-produced War was U2's breakthrough release, entering the UK charts at number one and elevating them into arenas in the United States, where the album peaked at number 12. War had a stronger political message than its predecessors, as evidenced by the UK, college radio, and MTV hits "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "New Year's Day." During the supporting tour, the band filmed their concert at Colorado's Red Rocks Amphitheater, releasing the show as an EP and video title Under A Blood Red Sky. The EP entered in the UK charts at number two, becoming the most successful live recording in British history. U2 had become one of the most popular bands in the world, and their righteous political stance soon became replicated by many other bands, providing the impetus for the Band Aid and Live Aid projects in 1984 and 1985, respectively. For the followup to War, U2 entered the studios with co-producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, who helped give the resulting album an experimental, atmospheric tone. Released in the fall of 1984, The Unforgettable Fire replicated the chart status of War, entering the UK charts at number one and reaching number 12 in the US the album also generated the group's first Top 40 hit in America with the Martin Luther King Jr. tribute "(Pride) In The Name of Love." U2 supported the album with a successful international tour, highlighted by a show-stealing performance at Live Aid. Following the tour, the band released the live EP, Wide Awake in America in 1985.
While U2 had become one of the most successful rock bands of the '80s, they didn't truly become superstars until the spring 1987 release of The Joshua Tree. Greeted with enthusiastic reviews, many of which proclaimed the album a masterpiece, The Joshua Tree became the band's first American number one hit and its third straight album to enter the UK charts at number one; in England, it set a record by going platinum within 28 hours. Generating the US number one hits "With or Without You" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," The Joshua Tree and the group's supporting tour became the biggest success of 1987, earning the group the cover of respected publications like Time magazine. U2 decided to film a documentary about their American tour, recording new material along the way. The project became Rattle & Hum, a film that was supported by a double-album soundtrack that was divided between live tracks and new material. While the album Rattle & Hum was a hit, the record and film received the weakest reviews of U2's career, with many critics taking issue with the group's fascination with American roots music like blues, soul, country and folk. Following the release of Rattle & Hum, the band took an extended hiatus.
U2 reconvened in Berlin 1990 to record a new album with Eno and Lanois. While the sessions for the album were difficult, the resulting record, Achtung Baby, represented a successful reinvention of the band's trademark sound. Where they had been inspired by post-punk in the early career and American music during their mid-career, U2 delved into electronic and dance music with Achtung Baby. Inspired equally be late '70s Bowie and the Madchester scene in the UK, Achtung Baby was sonically more eclectic and adventurous than U2's earlier work, and it didn't alienate their core audience. The album debuted at number one throughout the world and spawned Top 10 hits with "Mysterious Ways" and "One." Early in 1992, the group launched an elaborate tour to support Achtung Baby. Dubbed Zoo TV, the tour was an innovative blend of multi-media electronics, featuring a stage filled with televisions, suspended cars and cellular phone calls. Bono devised an alter-ego called the Fly, which was a knowing send-up of rock stardom. Even under the ironic guise of the Fly and Zoo TV, it was evident that U2 was looser and more fun than ever before, even though they had not abandoned their trademark righteous political anger.
Following the completion of the American Zoo TV tour in late and before the launch of the European leg of tour, U2 entered the studio to complete an EP of new material that became the full-length Zooropa. Released in the summer of 1993 to coincide with the tour of the same name, Zooropa demonstrated a heavier techno and dance influence than Achtung Baby and it received strong reviews. Nevertheless, the album stalled at sales of two million and failed to generate a big hit single. During the Zooropa tour, the Fly metamorphosed into the demonic MacPhisto, which dominated the remainder of the tour. Upon the completion of the Zooropa tour in late 1993, the band took an extended break. During 1995, U2 re-emerged with "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me," a glam-rock theme to Batman Forever that was produced by Nellee Hooper (Bjork, Soul II Soul). Later that year, they recorded the collaborative album Original Soundtracks, Vol. 1 with Brian Eno, releasing the album under the name the Passengers late in 1995. It was greeted with a muted reception, both critically and commercially.
Many hardcore U2 fans, including drummer Larry Mullen Jr., were unhappy with the Passengers project, and U2 promised their next album, to be released in the fall of 1996, would be a rock & roll record. The album took longer to complete than usual, being pushed back to the spring of 1997. During its delay, a few tracks, including the forthcoming first single "Discotheque," were leaked, and it became clear that the new album was going to be heavily influenced by techno, dance and electronic music. When it was finally released, Pop did indeed bear a heavier dance influence, but it was greeted with strong initial sales, as well as some of the strongest reviews of U2's career.
Bono: Legends wouldn't stand a chance today
U2 star Bono is convinced the acts that have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame wouldn't stand a chance of survival in today's music business.
U2 star Bono is convinced the acts that have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame wouldn't stand a chance of survival in today's music business.
The Irish rocker, who became a Hall of Fame member at a ceremony in New York this week, insists the modern music industry isn't designed for acts who put longevity over immediate success.
He says: "There is very little chance for there to be another U2 the way the business is constructed right now. You have to have the single immediately. If you don't, you don't get a second chance.
"I don't think that's what the great American artists or the great European artists, for that matter, have come out of.
"Bruce Springsteen didn't have a single for 10 years. Neil Young, I'm not sure he ever had a single; and every song Neil Young does sounds like a single to me."
Dress Like Bono, Help The Third World
U2's Bono is joining the rag trade. The singer/activist has developed a line of clothing with his wife Ali Hewson and fashion designer Rogan. The line has been dubbed Edun (nude spelled backwards) and will be sold online and on the racks at Saks.
Staying true to form, the line will be manufactured in developing countries around the world in hopes of aiding local economies. According to the Associated Press " Edun's garments are designed after the capabilities of the factories in Lima, Peru, and Monastir, Tunisia, have been assessed, said Rogan. For the fall collection, production will extend to Lesotho, South Africa, and Tanzania in East Africa."
The mission behind Edun will be not be lost on those that purchase the clothing. Each pair of Edun jeans will feature a poem in the pocket and a label inscribed, "We carry the story of the people who make our clothes around with us."
Hall of Fame says U2 to Bono
Tonight, Irish band gets a piece of rock immortality. Bruce Springsteen will salute the U2 front man. Six years ago tomorrow, U2 front man Bono took the stage at the Waldorf-Astoria to induct Bruce Springsteen into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Calling Springsteen "a prisoner of conscience," Bono credited him with "saving music from the phonies" by, among other things, "ending the 20-minute drum solo."
Tonight at the Waldorf, Springsteen gets to return the favor. The Boss will be welcoming U2, the biggest marquee name in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2005.
The Hall's 20th annual induction — a black-tie gala for which tickets start at $1,500 — will also honor the influential new wave rock band the Pretenders, soul singer Percy Sledge, rhythm and blues veterans the O'Jays and bluesman Buddy Guy.
U2 — Bono, Adam Clayton, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr. — "has displayed an extraordinary capacity to create exhilarating music that continues to change with the times," read the Hall's induction announcement. "Songs such as 'One,' 'Where the Streets Have No Name' and 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' address complex, compelling social and spiritual issues but still manage to be accessible."
Music business veterans Seymour Stein and Frank Barsalona, will be inducted as non-performers. Stein, one of the last of the old-time record "moguls," founded Sire Records in 1966 and over the years signed artists including Madonna, the Ramones, the Talking Heads and k.d. lang. Barsalona started Premier Talent, the prototype for rock 'n' roll booking agencies. Over the years he represented Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, the Who, U2 and many others.
The new Hall of Famers will be inducted by the likes of Justin Timberlake (the O'Jays), the team of B.B. King and Eric Clapton (Guy) and Neil Young (the Pretenders). Rod Stewart, whose lukewarm past attitude toward the Hall is reflected by the fact he skipped his own induction in 1994, is set to honor Sledge, best known for the classic "When a Man Loves a Woman."
Eddie Levert of the O'Jays says the best part of being included in the Hall is that it acknowledges the power of rhythm and blues. "It shows R&B is as American as apple pie. Even in the era of hip-hop music, there's still a place for songs like 'Love Train' and 'Used to Be My Girl.'
"Music by groups like us, the Miracles, the Chi-Lites, the Impressions," he says, "it'll always be around." For his part, Guy ticks off a list of other bluesmen and says, "There's a lot of great players who should have been in before me." High on his list: Guitar Slim, whose playing, Guy says, inspired him to take up music for a living.
But he's excited about his own induction, too. "I don't know if I can make a speech or not," says Guy. "I'll try my best." The Rock Hall, in Cleveland, draws about half a million visitors a year. Following the pattern of the past several years, tonight's induction is expected to include performances through the evening. A jam session is tentatively scheduled for the end.
VH1 will tape the event and air highlights Saturday at 9 p.m. Artists are eligible for induction 25 years after their first record. They are nominated by a Hall committee and voted on by about 1,000 artists, writers and industry people. Those eligible but not voted in this include Patti Smith, Grandmaster Flash, Randy Newman and the Sex Pistols.
Bono Not in Running for World Bank-Lobby Group
Bono won't be saving the world at the helm of the World Bank.
The lobby group co-founded by the Irish band U2's lead singer on Thursday knocked down media reports that he was a serious contender to head the global institution that provides billions of dollars annually to help the world's poorest countries.
"I can't believe I need to say this, but there are no circumstances in which Bono would be nominated or accept the World Bank job," said Jamie Drummond, executive director of DATA -- or Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa -- for which Bono campaigns to raise awareness of Africa's problems.
"Bono is flattered to be mentioned for such an important job but DATA does its best work from the outside."
Who will next lead the World Bank has been up in the air since former Wall Street investment banker James Wolfensohn announced in December he would leave the post when his term expires at the end of May.
Washington has always chosen the World Bank chief, traditionally an American, under an informal trans-Atlantic deal with Europe, which picks the head of the International Monetary Fund. Developing nations want this process changed so choices are made based on qualifications, not nationality.
The 70-year-old Wolfensohn, an Australian who became American to take the job, was appointed by President Bill Clinton and the President Bush's Treasury Department has said it now wants its own World Bank chief.
Global development experts and commentators have expressed surprise at the delay by the Bush administration in naming a successor to Wolfensohn.
Bono's name first surfaced for the job in a Los Angeles Times editorial that last month endorsed the rock star as a credible candidate, based on his effective lobbying on behalf of African development.
The idea gathered global momentum -- and a new twist -- last weekend when U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow, who is part of the team working to find Wolfensohn's successor, told a U.S. television network he admired the singer.
"He's in a way a rock star of the development world too. He understands the give-and-take of development. He's a very pragmatic, effective and idealistic person," Snow told ABC's This Week in an interview on Sunday.
But Snow added that the job would go to an American.
"I fully expect that to be the case, yes, and so do the G7 finance ministers and all of the participants in the process," he said.
DATA's Drummond said he hoped that whoever wins the job "puts the interest of the poorest people in places like Africa first, and wins the trust of people around the world."
Bono may head World Bank
Front man of Irish U2, rock idol and social activist Bono may become the next to head World Bank, U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow has said on ABC's ‘This Week.’ Snow said that he wouldn't rule out Irish rock star as a potential successor to current World Bank President John Wolfensohn.
Wolfensohn is leaving the post June 1, and U.S. Treasury Secretary considers that Bono has got the right background for such a job: ‘He's somebody I admire. He does a lot of good in this world of economic development.’
This year Bono is nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for his initiative in writing off the debts of Third World countries as well as support of anti AIDS campaign.
'I suppose I could tell you about some of the people I've met in the last year. There's the powerful ones - politicians, business men, bankers - with that look in their eye, a kind of wary recognition,' group’s official Web site www.u2.com cited Bono describing his year in politics.
‘Then there's the powerless ones, dying, sick, starving in vast numbers, silent, compliant. I can't begin to describe the look in their eyes. But it's a habit I have, looking people in the eye, and it gets me into a lot of trouble...’
U2 Frontman Bono Targets Worldwide Poverty
Bono targeted worldwide poverty in the wishes he was granted as a recipient of the inaugural TED Prize from the Technology, Entertainment, Design conference.
He was among three winners who were given four months to come up with their wishes, with TED agreeing to spend $100,000 on each winner to help make their wishes come true.
The U2 frontman and global activist said Thursday he wished for the creation of ONE, a social movement he hopes will have more than 1 million Americans fighting worldwide poverty. He also wished to tell people of this movement 1 billion times and wants TED to help connect every hospital, health clinic and school in Ethiopia to the Internet.
Bono is believed to be among the list of nominees for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, which is kept secret by the awards committee. The final count of nominees includes 163 individuals and 36 organizations. The winner will be announced in mid-October.
The other recipients of the TED Prize were Canadian photo-artist Edward Burtynsky and medical technologies pioneer Robert Fischell.
U2's Bono Scores Another Nobel Peace Prize Nomination
Singer is nominated along with Colin Powell, Ravi Shankar, Oxfam and the Pope.
Bono might have faced Killers and Velvet Revolvers at the Grammys — but for his next challenge, the singer will take on Pope John Paul, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko.
Bono is among he 166 nominees for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize, according to Reuters. This is the second time the singer has been nominated for his philanthropic efforts, with his last nod in 2003. The U2 frontman has been a longtime campaigner for AIDS awareness and the elimination of Third World debt.
"We have received 166 nominations so far, of which 29 are organizations," the director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, Geir Lundestad, said to Reuters on Thursday. "The geographical scope is wide."
Bono will also go up against the Beatles' favorite sitar player and Norah Jones' dad, Ravi Shankar, as well as organizations helping victims of the tsunami disaster (including Save the Children and Oxfam) and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Though the list of nominees is ostensibly secret, some names were leaked to the press or made public by people eligible to nominate the individuals, which include members of the British Parliament, former Nobel laureates and selected university professors.
Last year, the Nobel Peace Prize went to an unexpected winner: Kenya's Wangari Maathai, who headed a tree-planting movement and was the first environmentalist ever to win the prize.
The official list of nominees will be announced in October and the prize will be awarded on December 10.
It's U1 for U2
U2 have shot straight to the top of the pop charts with their new single "Sometimes You Can't Make it On Your Own".
The confessional ballad, U2's second track from their critically acclaimed album "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb", was reportedly performed by the band at the funeral of Bono's father.
It went to the top spot ahead of a re-release of Presley's "Wooden Heart", the latest of 18 Elvis number ones being reissued before the 50-year copyright protection on sound recordings in most European countries expires on his earlier hits.
Six former hits by the King now hold spots in the top 40, according to the Official UK Charts Company on Sunday.
U2's the Edge fights to keep kin out of papers
The Edge, the lead guitarist of U2, is fighting an Irish newspaper in court over its report into a relative's serious illness that forced the Irish rock band to delay the start of its next world tour.
A High Court judge in Dublin agreed Monday to a two-week delay to the hearing of rival lawsuits between The Edge and the Sunday World newspaper.
The Dublin-based tabloid identified the relative and condition the person was suffering in a front-page story Jan. 8, but withdrew the report from later editions when The Edge's lawyers immediately obtained a temporary injunction.
This barred the Sunday World from repeating its story and warned other Irish newspapers not to pick it up, claiming it amounted to an unwarranted invasion of privacy. The Edge wants the injunction to be strengthened into a permanent injunction against publication.
The Sunday World wants the injunction overturned. Its lawyers are arguing that the details of the relative's illness are newsworthy because they are cited the reason why U2 has delayed the U.S. start of its new "Vertigo 2005" tour.
Originally slated for March 1 in Miami, Florida, it now is supposed to start March 28 in San Diego, California.
The Edge, whose birth name is David Evans, married Aislinn O'Sullivan in 1983 and had three daughters with her. They broke up seven years later and divorced in 1996.
The Edge, 43, has two children with Morleigh Steinberg, a belly dancer and choreographer from the band's "Zoo TV" tour. They married in 2002.
That Bono likes to talk politics, doesn't he? So much so that it seems that he's definitely got an eye on a second career should the rock star thing go awry.
The U2 frontman has revealed to former Downing Street press guru Alistair Campbell that he wouldn't object to giving political life a go, but only if they could change the way democracy works, just for him!
He was speaking on a new Channel 5 TV show called Alistair Campbell Interviews Bono (three guesses what the format is...) and said: "I'm oscillating. I'm between a rocker and politician. I like to be able to say what I want. Politicians can't do that. I think I like power without responsibility. And I'd have to have a smaller house."
But there is a way he could achieve all his ambitions at once. Bono, all you have to do is pick a country, invade, take over the biggest mansion you can find and bob's yer uncle..
U2 Tour Set to Begin March 28 in San Diego
Irish rock band U2 is set to explode on the road at the end of March, just in time for a beleaguered concert industry desperate for a major buzz-generating tour. The band will begin its worldwide Vertigo tour March 28 at the San Diego Sports Arena, Billboard has learned. Details will be provided in a Jan. 24 announcement. Tennessee rock band Kings of Leon will open the first leg.
Conservative estimates put the Vertigo tour's gross potential at $225 million-$250 million from as many as 110 shows. U2's Elevation tour in 2001 grossed $143 million from 113 shows worldwide, playing to more than 2.1 million fans.
The first U.S. leg will wrap in Boston in late May. The tour, in support of its latest release, "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb," is routed to accommodate multiple shows in many markets.
History suggests quick sellouts. In 2001, U2 rang up six sellouts at Chicago's United Center that grossed a combined $9.6 million. The band also notched four sellouts in 2001 at Boston's FleetCenter ($5.6 million) and at Earls Court in London ($4.5 million). Two sellouts at Dublin's Slane Castle drew 157,418 and took in $6.7 million.
Following two months of U.S. shows, the Vertigo tour will hit some 30 European stadiums, beginning June 10 in Brussels. The band will stay in Europe through mid-August, then return to North America for another run of 30 arena dates.
Ticket prices will average $90, with $49.50 at the low end and $165 at the high end. Last time out, the range was $45-$135.
As on the Elevation tour, the arena floor will be general admission for about 1,700 seats, depending on the building. And, again like Elevation, the tour will feature unique production elements. "This tour will be not unlike the last production, in that the lowest- priced tickets will be on the floor," said U2 manager Paul McGuinness. "The best seats are the cheapest, and we want people to get excited."
STADIUMS VS. ARENAS
Stadium dates were not considered in the United States, partly because of higher U.S. ticket prices, said Arthur Fogel, president of the tour's Toronto-based promoter The Next Adventure, a unit of Clear Channel.
McGuinness said another factor was the lack of state-of-the-art arenas in Europe. "The arenas in America are just absolutely ideal for rock'n'roll," he said. "I wish there was one in every city in Europe." On-sales for North American shows will begin Jan. 29 and a day earlier in Europe. Rather than putting all dates up at once, on-sales will be rolled out over a three-week period.
The tour will carry about 150 crew members and 18-19 trucks on the arena leg, though McGuinness kept details of the show close to the vest.
"Production will be different (from Elevation), but I'd rather it be a surprise on opening night," McGuinness said. "We have always felt it was incumbent on the band to give value for money. We will have a very elaborate but seemingly simple and very stylish production, as before. Then when we go to Europe in the summer, the rules change completely, because what works in an arena doesn't necessarily work in a stadium, so we have to rethink it completely."
It is possible some shows will be available as downloads. "We're exploring technology where it might be possible to download the show you've just seen," McGuinness said. "We've been talking to iTunes and the folks at Apple, with whom we have a great relationship, but it's not quite there yet. We're certainly looking at it."
A DVD is also likely, according to McGuinness. "We always do that, but that will come toward the latter end of the tour."
At one point the tour was scheduled to begin March 1 in Miami, but it flipped coasts and was pushed back three weeks. Despite published reports speculating that the tour might be severely delayed or even canceled because of a family illness, Fogel contended concerns were strictly related to routing.
"At a point in time we had to reorganize the tour, but we did it and now we're ready to go," Fogel said. "There were logistical issues to resolve." Even though last year was brutal for some on the concert trail, McGuinness was confident in U2's ticket-selling ability.
"Nobody's bulletproof, but I'm not worried about the ticket sales at all," he says. "The U2 audience knows that we do great shows, and they are one of the greatest live acts in history. And they're touring on their biggest-ever album. Simply because of the size of the world and the number of places where they're popular, it's impossible not to underplay."
"How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb," released in late November, has sold 2.26 million units in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. "Aha Shake Heartbreak," the new set from Kings of Leon, already out in Europe, is due Feb. 22 in the United States.
U2 to play at Grammy awards show
Irish rock band U2 are to play live at the Grammy Awards presentation in the US next month, organisers have said. Other acts to play include soul singer Alicia Keys, country singer Tim McGraw and punk band Green Day at the event on 13 February in Los Angeles.
U2 are nominated twice for their recent single Vertigo, including a nomination for best rock song.
This year the Grammys have been dominated by rap star Kanye West, who is in contention for 10 awards.
US comedian Ellen Degeneres and singer Christine Milian will present awards at the event. Last week Grammy producers announced the show will be hosted by rap star and Chicago actress Queen Latifah. It will be held at the Staples Center.
U2 had number one success in the album charts on both sides of the Atlantic in November when their latest studio album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, topped the US and UK charts. The band, who are also dominated for best international album at this year's Brit Awards, are to undertake a major world tour this year, their first for four years.
U2's desire to be number one
U2, who release their 13th album in 25 years in the UK on Monday, are stubbornly clinging to their status as one of the biggest bands in the world. The most popular groups in the history of rock all have several things in common. The music must be inspired and appeal across generations and be distinctive, if not always groundbreaking.
But such success is down to more than music. They have to be compelling performers, charismatic and intelligent enough to make good decisions and keep their feet on the ground. They also have to want it. They have to want to be the biggest band ever and not stop wanting it.
The Beatles had it, the Rolling Stones still have it, REM hold onto it and Queen were it in a catsuit. And U2 have it in spades, and keep churning it out.
Their new album, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, comes 28 years after the schoolfriends got together in Dublin and 17 years after The Joshua Tree cemented their place on the all-time rock A-list.
They may have lost some of the edginess and raw, youthful force that propelled them to the top, but they have lost none of the desire or ability to craft songs and albums.
Vertigo, the first single from the new album, went straight into the UK singles chart at number one, knocking Eminem off the top spot and giving them their 26th top 10 hit.
"The challenge is to be bigger and bolder and better - to make records the whole world will listen to," Bono recently said. Drummer Larry Mullen Jr echoed those sentiments: "We're very competitive - we want to be on the radio, have big singles. We don't want to be thought of as a veteran band."
The band have done "everything in their considerable powers" to ensure they remain the biggest band in the world, according to Q magazine editor Paul Rees. "This makes them hugely determined and formidable." He added: "They are equally determined to push themselves to make music that continues to stand up.
"As such, they've constantly re-invented and challenged themselves. They are, perhaps, alone as the only rock band that has got better with age." The other key ingredient was the fact they were highly organised, Mr Rees said. "They do everything in the right way."
The group were born when Mullen put an appeal for bandmates on a high school notice board, attracting fellow pupils Paul Hewson (Bono, vocals), Adam Clayton (bass), David Evans (The Edge, guitar) and his brother Dick.
Dick Evans soon dropped out and the four-piece were known as The Feedback and The Hype before settling on U2. By 1978, they had won a talent contest and got noticed by a manager, Paul McGuinness.
"They were brilliant, but very coarse," McGuinness recently said. "In a way, they were doing exactly what they do now. Only badly." They struggled to attract record company attention, later being described as "pretty damn average" and "strange and eerie" by scouts who saw them live.
They released two Ireland-only singles, which topped the national charts in 1979 and 1980, leading to a deal with Island and their debut album Boy.
The stadium-filling, anthemic sound was U2's aim from the start, and their third album, War, saw them make the breakthrough on both sides of the Atlantic, going to number one in the UK and 12 in the US. Songs like Sunday Bloody Sunday and New Year's Day brought success and an image as a political and spiritual band - which Bono rejected as a cliche.
His stage performances - which included flag-waving, speaker-climbing and drum-throwing - earned him a reputation as an electric performer, and their appearance at 1985's Live Aid is widely seen as sealing their global stardom.
In 1987, The Joshua Tree broke sales records and saw the band reach the height of their powers with hits including Where the Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For and With Or Without You.
Those songs took the band's epic, atmospheric sound to a simple, powerful and popular pinnacle. The end of the decade marked a crucial point for the band - they had reached the top but still yearned for new challenges and achievements. These came in the form of explorations of different branches of rock and forays into electronic dance music, plus wildly extravagant stage shows, while still trying to retain their mass appeal.
The Achtung Baby album in 1991 was followed by Zooropa, Pop and their corresponding stadium tours, which featured giant olives, flying cars, live phone calls to the White House and Bono's transformation into alter-egos The Fly and MacPhisto.
He was also building a parallel reputation - not always to the pleasure of his bandmates - as a campaigner on issues from global debt to Aids. Before the release of How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, they had sold 125 million albums around the world. But they still want more.
U2 among the 2005 inductees in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Irish rock band U2, British new wavers the Pretenders, '70s R&B vocal act the O'Jays, '60s soul man Percy Sledge and Chicago blues titan Buddy Guy have been named the 2005 inductees in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The 20th annual induction ceremony will take place March 14 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.
Premier Talent Agency founder/president Frank Barsalona, who inaugurated modern rock 'n' roll booking, and Sire Records chairman Seymour Stein, discoverer of such rock talents as Madonna and the Ramones, will receive lifetime achievement acknowledgment in the nonperformer category.
Artist inductees, who are eligible 25 years after the release of their first album, are nominated by a committee of rock 'n' roll historians and selected by a body of 700 international voters. The Hall of Fame facility is located in Cleveland.
U2's induction will cap a period of near-ubiquity in the media. The Dublin band recently launched a high-profile campaign with Apple that included the release of a special U2 iPod edition. Its new album "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" entered the Billboard 200 at No. 1 early this month. The group embarks on a world tour in March.
Fronted by Akron native Chrissie Hynde, the London-based Pretenders made their mark in the early 1980s with a string of hard-edged pop hits like "Brass in Pocket" and "Back on the Chain Gang." Founding members James Honeyman-Scott and Pete Farndon both died of drug overdoses in the '80s; Hynde and drummer Martin Chambers continue to perform together, and released the album "Loose Screw" in 2002.
Formed in Canton in 1959 and led by Eddie Levert, the O'Jays scored a memorable run of hits during the '70s for producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff's Philadelphia International label, including "Love Train," "Backstabbers" and "For the Love of Money."
Sledge cut a string of powerful deep soul hits, including the soaring "When a Man Loves a Woman," at Alabama's Muscle Shoals Sound in the '60s. He released a new album, "Shining Through the Rain," earlier this year.
Louisiana-born singer-guitarist Guy became a star at Chess Records in the '60s; his fiery playing influenced Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, among others. His career enjoyed a renaissance in 1991 when Silvertone Records released "Damn Right I've Got the Blues," which featured guest turns by Clapton, Jeff Beck and Mark Knopfler.
U2 Postpone Announcing More Tour Dates
Rockers U2 have postponed announcing any further tour dates after guitarist The Edge learned one of his family is seriously ill.
For the time being, the Irish supergroup will not be adding more stadium concerts after their British gigs in June, in order to give The Edge, whose real name is David Evans, more time to be at his sick relative's bedside.
Band manager Paul Mcguinness says, "Routing is still being worked on."
Just be U2 is enough
U2 has made albums with messages since it first entered rock's upper echelon. "Look, we discovered America!" "We discovered irony!" "We rediscovered our roots!" How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb is the sound of U2 discovering that these days, just being U2 is enough. With the exception of the volcanic first single, "Vertigo," How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb has already been defused. This is U2 at its most familiar, most comfortable and least interested in carrying the weight of the world on its shoulders. It's also among the band's most disjointed albums, production-wise, with virtually every producer from the U2 recording stable -- Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, Steve Lillywhite, Flood, even Nellee Hooper -- back behind the boards for a song or two. Some of the results, like "Miracle Drug" and the excellent "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own," resurrect the classic U2 sound, while the dirty sci-fi blues of "Love and Peace or Else," shaped by Eno and Lanois, is the album's most idiosyncratic track. As for the band's prime movers, the Edge is back to being Edge-y, tossing in jagged little riffs, ringing harmonics and other antihero effects. Bono is ever impassioned, feeling our pain with every breath. But his lyrics are more banal than usual, filled with inspirational boilerplate and half-fleshed out religious metaphors chosen for easy emotional effect rather than clarity. And, darn it if that isn't just the way we like it.
U2 joining line-up for Brit Awards
U2 will be among the artists performing live at the 2005 Brit Awards next month.
NME.com reports that Franz Ferdinand and Scissor Sisters are also on the bill for the show, dubbed 'The Brits 25' to mark the 25th year of the awards.
Bob Geldof is to receive the Outstanding Contribution to Music Award at the ceremony in London's Earl's Court on 9 February.
In other U2 news, the band won the award for Favourite Group at the People's Choice Awards in the US last night.
U2 and Geldof to hail Brits 25th anniversary
The Brit Awards will celebrate their 25th birthday next month with U2 headlining the UK record industry Oscars and Bob Geldof lined up for a lifetime achievement award, organisers say.
Flamboyant disco rockers Scissor Sisters, who are joining the line-up to perform on February 9, could well be in line for best album when the Brit nominations are announced on Monday evening.
Record executives will be reaching with relief for the champagne after a rollercoaster year.
UK album sales rose 2.3 percent in 2004 as Scissor Sisters, who hail from the United States but made it big after signing with a UK record label, made an 11th-hour surge to finish at number one.
With U.S. album sales also growing for the first time in four years, the music business is buoyant again after a lengthy downturn in sales while illicit music downloads soared.
Another group performing live at the industry's annual orgy of self-congratulation will be Scot rockers Franz Ferdinand. They could land a string of gongs for best band and best single.
In a fast-changing musical scene transformed by new technology, U2's "Vertigo" was the top-selling UK download, boosted by a high-profile partnership with Apple Computer's iTunes.
The Brits have raised more than six million pounds over the past 25 years for UK musical charities.
This year's recipients could be different with organisers promising to make an announcement about channelling funds to Asia for tsunami aid relief.
Irish rock star Geldof, who led the Live Aid efforts to relieve famine in Africa in the 1980s, has appealed for people not to forget Africa's plight in the rush to help Asia.
To celebrate a quarter of a century for the Brits, the organisers have come up with an intriguing one-off award -- picking the best song of the last 25 years. The shortlist is being announced on Monday.
Appearing at the nominations launch will be teenage chart-toppers McFly, a sure sign that they too could be up for record industry recognition.
U2 Drops Bomb
If there was any doubt that U2 is the biggest band in the world, there's none now.
Bono spins around on his heels to take in the dazzling night above and behind him: the illuminated cables of the Brooklyn Bridge, lacing the sky like golden thread; the lighted offices of the Manhattan skyscrapers across the East River, staring back at him like jeweled eyes. "Look at this!" the singer yells. "It's wild! What a sight!"
He swings back to face the U2 fans packed on the riverside grass of Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park for a free concert, the climax of a November 22nd video shoot in which the Irish quartet plays all day, all over Manhattan, on a flatbed truck. "When you've been doing this for years," Bono tells the crowd, "you remind yourself why you wanted to be in a band in the first place -- to come to the U.S., over the bridge into Manhattan for the first time. An amazing, powerful time."
Then he introduces "City of Blinding Lights," from U2's magnificent new album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb: "The chorus is set in New York," he says, "looking from Brooklyn." Guitarist the Edge fires up a steely barrage; bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. lock into a jubilant gallop. At the mike, in black leather and dark glasses, Bono again becomes the excited, twenty-year-old Dubliner, the former Paul Hewson, who first saw these lights in December 1980, on the way to U2's U.S. debut at the old Ritz on East Eleventh Street: "Neon heart, day-glo eyes/A city lit like fireflies/They're advertising in the skies/For people like us."
Then as the Edge builds a wall of chime under him, Bono achieves liftoff. "I'm getting ready," he sings with delight, "to leave the ground."
Later, in the encore, Bono, 44, shows what that feeling sounded like in the beginning by leading U2 into a thrilling version of their first single, a song he wrote in 1978, on his eighteenth birthday: "Out of Control."
The next morning, Bono is in his Manhattan apartment, sipping a Diet Coke to nurse a throat ravaged by the long-weekend campaign for Atomic Bomb: the free gig, the flatbed shoot, a three-song appearance on Saturday Night Live. The payoff will be huge. The album debuts at Number One in Billboard with first-week sales of more than 840,000 copies, the third-best figure of 2004 (after Usher and Norah Jones) and the year's best for a rock band.
Bono, Clayton, Mullen and the Edge (real name David Evans) took two years to record How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, with a small army of producers and mixers, including Chris Thomas, Steve Lillywhite and new Irish wunderkind Jacknife Lee. Now U2 are in high rock-combat gear: chewing up screens with a TV ad for the Apple iPod that doubles as a knockout video for the single "Vertigo"; compiling a "digital boxed set" (Bono's phrase) of U2's catalog for iTunes, to go with a personalized U2 iPod; revving up for a world tour to start in the U.S. in March. But today, in his high-rise living room, Bono is looking back at the start of his life with U2, recalling the incident that inspired his flood of memories in "City of Blinding Lights."
Bono was attending the opening of a museum exhibition in Holland by U2's longtime photographer Anton Corbijn, "and he had a room full of Bonos, if you can think of anything worse," the singer says, chuckling with embarrassment. "But to see these giant pictures, through the years -- I got stuck in front of one, it must have been 1981 or '82, of me taking a ride in a helicopter. The eyes were so open. The whole face was so open.
"A journalist sidled up to me and said" -- Bono affects a thick, old-world accent -- " 'Vat vould Bono now say to dis Bono?' I went, 'Well, I would tell him, he's right -- and stop second-guessing himself.'
"The band was what I believed in then," Bono contends. "My faith in myself was a different matter. That innocence -- you don't just want to shed it. You want to beat it off you, scratch it off. You think that knowledge of the world will somehow give you an easier route through it.
"It doesn't," he says emphatically. "In a lot of ways, that's the essence of this album -- the idea that you can go back to where you started, that you can start again." To press his point, Bono quotes the last verse of Atomic Bomb's Who-ish blitzkrieg "All Because of You," chanting the words like a prayer: "I'm alive/I'm being born/I just arrived, I'm at the door/Of the place that I started out from/And I want back inside."
"We've closed the circle," he says, beaming, "back to our first album" -- 1980's echo-drenched thriller, Boy. "Maybe we should have called this one Man."
Three of the four members of U2 are on the stage at Studio 8H in New York's Rockefeller Center, sound-checking for Saturday Night Live. Bono is not one of them. He is late, which is not unusual.
It is not a problem, either. The Edge, Clayton and Mullen are used to Bono's long, frequent absences. They spent much of this and last year working on Atomic Bomb as a trio while he was busy with his other job: touring world capitals, debating and charming dignitaries into joining the fight against poverty and AIDS in Africa. Bono first went to Africa in the mid-Eighties as a volunteer aid worker. In 2002, he co-founded the nonprofit activist group DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa) with Live Aid creator Bob Geldof and billionaire philanthropists including George Soros and Bill Gates. Bono is nearly as well-known now for his tireless lobbying as for his singing. "He seems permanently on view," says U2's longtime manager Paul McGuinness. "Somebody once said to me, 'In America, you can only be famous for one thing at a time. That's clearly not true in Bono's case.' "
"I'm not sure if him being around more would have made a difference," the Edge, 43, says of the new album before the SNL sound check. He notes that he, Clayton and Mullen nailed five backing tracks in two weeks while Bono was gone. "But when he is around, he's completely fresh. Bono's creativity has always been a quick thing, a head rush. He often gets something amazing right away."
The U2 sound check is a revelation, a rare look at what goes on under Bono's voice and bravado: Mullen's natural, martial force; Clayton's melodic brawn; the pregnant echo and cutting distortion in the Edge's cathedral-guitar reveilles. A blast of "I Will Follow" from Boy and the trio's slow dance through the Atomic Bomb ballad "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own," Bono's elegy for his late father, are so strong that the entire SNL stage crew stops to listen and applaud.
But when Bono arrives for the live-audience dress rehearsal, you can see what the Edge means by "head rush." Looking like a cross between a priest and a Ramone in a black leather jacket and black turtleneck sweater, with a crucifix hanging from a necklace and banging against his chest, Bono takes the band's vicious chop in "Vertigo" to higher catharsis. He pushes his voice up to a fighter-jet scream and punctuates the song's bridge ("Just give me what I want and no one gets hurt") by head-butting an SNL camera: "a Glasgow kiss," he calls it.
"People think I tell the band what direction to go in," Bono says later. "The truth is, they tell me. The singer has to put into words the feelings in the music." He quotes another of his favorite lines on Atomic Bomb, this time in "Vertigo": "A feeling is so much stronger than a thought."
"This is where U2 live -- a four-piece in a room, struggling to get it right," Mullen, 43, contends over a cup of tea one night during U2's New York stay. "We are deficient in many ways musically. We don't have the standard vocabulary. But to play at this level, you have to have commitment. You have to have really good reasons -- and they need to be your songs."
"We couldn't give you an analysis of what makes a U2 song," the Edge claims. He will tell you this: "You don't go into the studio unless you have a shot at making Album of the Year. We had no interest in being the biggest if we weren't the best. That was the only way being the biggest would mean anything."
Actually, Clayton, 44, can tell you what makes a U2 hit. " 'Pride,' 'With or Without You,' 'Beautiful Day' -- they're all simple structures," he says. "The verses and choruses have virtually the same chords. There is a build that starts slowly and keeps going. And you get a climax at the end. But you can't make a formula of it. So much of ending up with that simplicity is arguing about the complications along the way."
U2 Dissect "Bomb"
There is no such thing as a quick interview with U2 singer Bono. That also goes for guitarist the Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. Despite the short supply of spare time that U2 had for speaking to Rolling Stone during their recent, mad November weekend in New York -- performing on Saturday Night Live, touring Manhattan on a flat-bed truck, playing for free under the Brooklyn Bridge at night -- they went into deep, revealing detail about the personal and creative trials and triumphs that led to their Number One album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.
What follows are additional excerpts from the nearly six hours of interviews that produced the current Rolling Stone cover story -- which comes just three months shy of the twentieth anniversary of U2's first appearance on our cover, in March, 1985. The headline then: "Our Choice: Band of the Eighties."
The decades have changed. Our choice has not.
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.
Is the pop success of that song particularly important for you, because you wrote it about your late father?
I hadn't thought of it in that light. But as a song, I want to hear it sung poorly in a bar [laughs]. I really do. I want to cringe as the cheesy piano player in the blue tuxedo grins, as you walk across to order your vermouth. [Affects Bill Murray-style lounge-lizard voice] "Someti-i-i-i-mes you can't make it . . ."
I noticed that on Saturday Night Live and at the free Brooklyn show, you sang a couple of extra lines at the end, from "No Regrets" by the folksinger Tom Rush. It's a wonderful song, but I was surprised that you knew it.
"I don't want you back/We'd only cry again/Say goodbye again": That song came to me through a version by Scott Walker. I'm a big fan. You can hear that in our music -- "City of Blinding Lights," that painterly side of the lyrics, that kind of melodrama. But that just came into my head on Saturday Night Live. It was the first time I did it. It went through my head, and I sang it.
Yet in making "Atomic Bomb," you recorded a number of the songs more than once -- with producer Chris Thomas, then Steve Lillywhite -- and dropped several that you had nearly completed. You wrote three different sets of lyrics for "Vertigo" alone. Why is it sometimes so hard to come up with something that, at other times, comes to you so naturally?
Because you look everywhere else, don't you? There's a certain hit you want to get off a song, and we weren't getting it from the material. It happens. And that's the problem. We're addicted to that feeling. We could have had an album out [earlier], and it would have been pretty damn good. You would have really liked it, because it was a rock & roll album. But we have to sing these songs for the rest of our lives, and they have to work on so many levels. Two years -- it's a song a month. There are twenty-four songs that came out of the sessions. Eleven of them are on the album.
How would you describe your first set of lyrics to "Vertigo"? Originally, it was called "Native Son" -- a reference to the jailed American Indian activist Leonard Peltier.
It was a new-journalism approach. I don't think this man should be in prison. But the song just didn't change the molecules in the room. We made the mistake of sending "Native Son" to Interscope, because we were jumping up and down over it at first. And they started jumping up and down. And then we sort of stopped. It wasn't as good as we thought.
How do you explain the strange Spanish math at the beginning of "Vertigo"? In English, that countoff is "one, two, three, fourteen."
There might have been some alcohol involved [smiles]. Improvisation is where this group really hits its form. That's when Larry and Adam feel they're contributing the most to songwriting. Through improvisations, we got "Miracle Drug." That's Adam's chord sequence. "Yahweh" -- that is something that came into my mouth, out of my lips, before I knew what I was singing. [Yahweh is the Hebrew name for God.] What an amazing word. You know it's a holy word, even if you didn't know what it meant.
One of my favorite lines on Atomic Bomb is in "Miracle Drug": "Freedom has a scent/Like the top of a newborn baby's head."
Have you ever smelled the top of a baby's head? It's incredible. That line came out of a conversation I had with Sean Lennon, when he was doing his work for Tibet. He asked me what freedom smelled like? And I said, "Like the top of a newborn baby's head." I carry definitions around with me a lot.
How long was that one in your head before you wrote it down?
I don't know if I ever wrote it down. I love definitions, aphorisms. I have a few around, like "laughter is the evidence of freedom."
But for me, it's not about the lyrics. That's the last thing. What's important is the world you create, finding this thing that makes you want to be in a band, and then finding out what that sounds like and what it means. Then the subject matter falls into place.
You've talked about how this album has brought U2 full circle, back to the feeling of empowerment on Boy. Does mean that U2 has an assured future, and that we can expect another album before, say, 2007?
I think there will be a record in 2006. Because we're on it now. But I don't think it's a healthy state of mind to imagine that this band should go on and on. Everyone in it asks very hard questions about its continuing.
What is the question you most ask yourself?
Me? I don't want to betray the trust of our audience -- but more than that, the gift, and the life that comes with that gift. When I feel we're abusing that, when we're just knocking them out, treading the boards . . . I don't think this band would be capable of doing that. There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, that's what most people do -- they're just doing the job.
But you have set higher standards, and you are prisoners of those standards.
Yes. It's a tyranny. If we'd had more sense, we would have outgrown it [smiles]. But it seems to be hardwired into us. It is our DNA. I imagine we would just self-destruct if we weren't true to our own code. It's not that it's better than anyone else's or somehow nobler. It just is that.
During the making of Atomic Bomb, there were long stretches when Bono was absent, off doing his political work. Did you ever feel you were doing the lion's share of the labor?
That always happens. You get different times when someone has to take the strain and push forward. It starts with me, early on. Then when we started to record tracks, it's Adam and Larry that have to step up to the plate. And when it comes to the end, when it's about vocals and finishing the lyrics, Bono is in the hot seat.
My job is to come up with material that will get everyone else excited and inspired. And some of the things I come up with go nowhere. They don't get anyone going. Others take off, and pretty soon, everyone is involved in developing them, and they become U2 songs. Until everyone gets a chance to do their thing with them, they are not U2 songs.
Was that the same process in the beginning, when you wrote songs like "I Will Follow" or "Stories for Boys"?
It's changed. Early on, because of the pressures of time, we did most of our songwriting as a group, in a room. Occasionally, Bono would come in with an idea: "Here, I've got this." But the first two albums -- we would all be in the rehearsal room, grinding out arrangement ideas. From the War album on, we developed other ways of writing. I went off to develop material on my own and bring it to the band -- some very undeveloped, some more so. It became another way for us to arrive at music.
In the credits for Atomic Bomb, some songs have the line "Lyrics: Bono with the Edge." That's an interesting distinction, as opposed to "and the Edge."
I suggested that. On this record, I sat in more as an editor, rather than contributing. We'd sit down and talk about what the song is about. We'd throw couplets around. Sometimes I would help with the particular rhythm of a line. It's rock & roll -- the rhythms of the vocals are very important.
Is Bono proprietary about his lyrics?
Not really. I wouldn't turn to Bono and say, "I've just written a far better, second verse." I would say, "I think that line can be better. How about this?" And he might say, "You're right" or "No, you're wrong." And that's the end of it.
That's how a great band works. He would do the same for me, for a guitar part or an arrangement that isn't working: "Try that" -- and it's the missing piece. An example would be "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own." We had this tune that we had started working on for the last record [2000's All That You Can't Leave Behind]. I had a good feeling, but it never came together for us. I had another go at the music and got very close, but it still wasn't quite there. I was sitting on the steps with Bono, outside the house in France where we were working, trying to figure out something. He took an acoustic guitar and said, "Maybe this is what it should be." He played the first two chords, except the second chord was different, this weird thing. I was like, "You can't do that -- that's illegal, musically" [laughs].
But we went into the studio, tried it -- and it was what the song needed. That simple change of the second chord changed the whole song. It took on a whole, new life. In fact, we're going to release the earlier version in this U2 Complete Works set [on iTunes]. So people can get a chance to tell us if we made the right choice or not.
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.
We figured that out early on. If I disappeared into that world, we're 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.
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.
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 colors and moods, to touch them.
How have Bono's extracurricular activities changed or raised those stakes for your music? He does his political work outside the band, but no matter where he goes or what he does, he represents you.
People see and hear a very pragmatic, determined man, who is not in it for the glamour, who is getting up early, going to those meetings, having those arguments and slowly gaining ground. It is a real job, and he is getting results. I don't think people see him as this frivolous pop star. So while what he does might demystify the band, it creates more gravitas for the band at the same time.
He seems to be able to strategize and set goals for himself. If he had spent the last two years being frustrated and not getting anywhere, it might have been a very different experience. But he is very realistic and humble, in terms of going after these things. And when he comes back to the band, it's a relief. He is in this other environment where he has to be quite methodical and concentrate. When he comes back to us, it's fun. He can cut loose.
Was he that organized in 1977 and '78?
Not really. He is, as he says of himself in "All Because of You," "an intellectual tortoise." He is a unique character. He is organized intellectually, but he wouldn't know where his car keys are. And to say he is disorganized is kind of derogatory. That stuff isn't important to him, and it never was. As long as he could borrow money off someone, he didn't care if he had any. And likewise, as long as he had money, he would lend it to someone else. And that wasn't just money -- it included clothes, meals, somewhere to sleep. As long as he could find somewhere warm and dry, he was happy with that.
At what point, during the making of Atomic Bomb, did you know you were finally on the right track? And in going back to Steve Lillywhite to produce, were you trying to recapture something from your beginnings as a band?
I wouldn't say that. Steve has had a durable career: He's virtually from the same era as us, and he's kept making successful records. That gives him a certain perspective on us. Initially our first reaction was, "Let's check our heads. Let's play him where we are and see what his advice is."
And that advice was?
His reaction was the same as ours. You could see that certain songs had stopped -- they weren't going to make it up the hill. Then he mentioned that unmentionable of words in the middle of a U2 record, which is: "I think you need more songs." We knew then that the man was speaking the truth.
But out of that came "Miracle Drug" -- and "A Man and a Woman," which although it existed in demo form, hadn't been paid any attention. With those two, suddenly the album was coming up a notch. It became more of a U2 record.
Don't you find a certain irony in obsessing over simplicity? You didn't have that leisure or leeway when you made Boy or October, and no one would accuse those records of being unfinished.
Funnily enough, looking back on them now, I would say we should have taken more time to get them right. But we didn't have that luxury. We were trying to survive, without being dropped from our label. But every time we have taken more time, the music and the records get better.
All I can say is, if you ended up listening to the songs as much as we did, and they weren't any good, you wouldn't have finished them. Quite often people say about U2 songs, "I listened to it fifty times, and it keeps getting better." That's the reason -- we listened to it 50 million times. It may appear simple, but you live and breathe every quarter note, every beat. You know it's there for a reason. And you know what would happen if it was removed -- and that nothing else would have done the same thing.
LARRY MULLEN, JR.
How far did you get in recording Atomic Bomb with Chris Thomas? And how hard do you think it was for him to come to grips with U2's way of recording?
We got quite far with Chris. It was a real learning curve, and I don't regret it at all. Chris Thomas is a great producer -- he did work with the Beatles [as an engineer] and the Sex Pistols. But U2 is unlike any other band you've ever worked with. U2 is a band in which things are constantly changing. The ground is always shifting, and everyone has strong opinions. There's been blood, sweat and tears on every record we've made.
Everyone in the band has an opportunity to be involved, and, for Chris, it was extremely frustrating. We had ideas for songs, we recorded them, and they were very close. But some people thought they were closer than other people.
What did you think?
We'd come off the road and started writing and recording early on. Later, after we'd done two or three months with Chris, I took my foot off the gas and said, "I need some time to settle down." Edge was in the studio doing a lot of work on his guitars. Bono was doing his political work, writing lyrics, coming in and out. At some stage -- I think it was towards last Christmas -- Bono and Edge said, "We've put down lots of guitars and vocals. Let's have a listen." I said, "I don't think it's as good as it could be." And they said, "If we release this now, we can get on and make another record."
I felt uncomfortable with that. And it was hard saying it. Edge was in the studio for days and nights, working hard, with his screwdriver out, doing these guitar parts. Then I come in, and I'm like, "I'm not sure." It was hard to say it, and it was hard for him to bite his lip and accept that. But that's what makes us U2.
How hard is it to withstand Bono's enthusiasm?
You can get away with that on the debating stage [smiles]. But it's much harder doing that with U2. There are very clear rules of engagement. And one of them is, unless everyone agrees that this is something special, there must be something not right with it.
You created your signature sound with Steve Lillywhite, on your first three albums. What was it like when you first worked with him?
Steve Lillywhite was our choice. He had done XTC and, before that, Siouxsie and the Banshees. He was a hot, young, English guy, good with young bands. He was used to working with people who were not proficient players -- which U2 were not and, to a large degree, still aren't. I found it particularly hard. I was younger than the rest of the band, and there were demands on me, to be professional, to do this right. "You're playing for keeps. This isn't just for fun." I was so wet behind the ears, and so righteous.
Steve reminds us where we came from. I think he's amazed that we got away with it for all these years.
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?
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.
People respond to U2 in an unusual way. People trust U2 and believe what we do. And that's much bigger than the music -- and it's despite us. I remember one of Bono's classic lines. We were on the last tour, running the names of the victims of 9/11 behind us [during "One"]. There was crying, applause -- everything seemed louder and bigger. And those old songs, "Sunday Bloody Sunday," "I Will Follow," "Out of Control" -- they suddenly had new meaning. But Bono said, "When people applaud, when people laugh and cry, it's nothing to do with you. It's memory -- that song takes them somewhere."
We have to separate ourselves from that. If we thought it was all about us, it would fuck us up. Something happens, but it is not something we can make happen. It only happens when God walks through the room.
But the result is, you're not allowed to break up. People won't let you.
After twenty-five years, to break up over musical differences would be quite funny. I'd love to see that headline: "They Finally Disagree."
U2 Asks Fans To Donate To Tsunami Charity
Campaigning rockers U2 are encouraging fans to donate money to various charities to help raise funds for the victims of the Asian tsunami.
Bassist ADAM CLAYTON was holidaying in Malaysia when the deadly waves hit on 26 December (04), although he was left uninjured.
However, his Irish bandmates are asking for donations to be made for the men, women and children left homeless, starving and at risk from disease in the aftermath of the catastrophe.
In a message on the U2 website links are given to numerous charities including THE UNITED NATIONS WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME and THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.
U2 Clip Joins Orange Bowl Halftime Lineup
Bono and the Edge won't be on hand to rub shoulders on stage with Ashlee Simpson, Kelly Clarkson and Trace Adkins, but U2 will have a presence during tonight's (Jan. 4) FedEx Orange Bowl 2005 National Championship Game halftime show. A two-minute version of the video for the band's "All Because of You" will receive its world premiere during ABC's live broadcast of the game.
The clip will be seen as the background for highlights of the first half of the game between the University of Southern California and Oklahoma at Miami's Pro Player Stadium.
The game and halftime festivities will be broadcast live on ABC. Following the halftime airing, the full video will be available on demand through ESPN.com. The full song will also provide the soundtrack for highlights of the game during the midnight (ET) broadcast of ESPN's Sportscenter.
ESPN is 80% owned by ABC, which is an indirect subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company.
"All Because of You" is the second single from U2's latest Interscope album, "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb." The album debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200, where it rebounds 5-3 this week, its fifth on the chart. The set has sold more than 2 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Simpson and Adkins warmed up to Orange Bowl fans by turning out brief sets at last night's annual PATCH Beach Bash in Hollywood, Fla. OutKast's Big Boi and JoJo were also among the performers at the daylong event.
Prior to tonight's game rock acts Oleander and Three Days Grace will perform during the Miller Lite Orange Bowl Tailgate Party, taking place outside of Pro Player Stadium. Local bands and football personalities Barry Switzer and Michael Irvin will also be on hand throughout the carnival-like eight-hour event.
U2 team up with Pavarotti again
Irish rockers U2 are to record with tenor Luciano Pavarotti again.
Despite their different styles the two acts collaborated in 1996 when U2, going under the name 'Passengers', recorded Miss Sarajevo with Pavarotti.
The next collaboration came when Bono accompanied the tenor for a rendition of Ave Maria for the Pavarotti and Friends concert in Italy in 2003. Now the band are going to work with him again to record the same song as a B-side for their next single, Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own.
The single will also feature a Trent Reznor remix of the band's recent single Vertigo.
U2 Kick Off World Tour In March
U2 have officially confirmed that they will be beginning a ten month world tour in America on March 1, while certain unofficial websites have already started to sell tickets for the band's (still unconfirmed) UK dates.
The start date for the most highly anticipated tour of 2005 has been confirmed as March 1. U2’s manager Paul McGuinness has told www.u2.com that the band will be playing 115 shows beginning in Florida in the Spring, reaching Europe in June, heading back to North America in the Autumn before finishing up in Japan and Australia in November and December.
McGuinness went on to state that the dates and venues are still being finalized, and insisted that no official announcement have been made as yet. However various unofficial ticket websites have started selling tickets for U2’s as yet unconfirmed UK dates.
The sites claim the band will be playing City Of Manchester Stadium on June 15 & 16, Glasgow Hampden Park on June 21, Croke Park Stadium, Dublin on June 26 & 27 and London's Twickenham Stadium on July 2, but punters are warned that these have not been officially confirmed and they should not purchase anything from them at this point.
Elsewhere it’s reported U2 have got two new collaborations on the cards. Firstly the band are to record with legendary tenor Luciano Pavarotti again.
Having worked together on the ‘Passengers: Soundtrack’ album in 1996 and once more when Bono sang at the ‘Pavarotti and Friends’ concert in Italy in 2003, Digitalspy now reports that the band and opera legend will record the B-side for U2’s new single, ‘Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own’.
Secondly, the organisers of The Brit Awards are reportedly begging Bono and Sir Bob Geldof to perform a duet at the ceremony. Geldof is to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the ceremony in February, which is rumoured to also include a performance by U2.
The 25th anniversary Brit Awards takes place on February 9 at Earls Court, London and will be hosted by Chris Evans. U2’s new single ‘Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own’ is out on February 7, 2005.
U2 Brilliantly Combusts
I procured the latest offering from that little band from Ireland otherwise known as U2 last week. Immediately, I threw myself into it just as fast as I could throw it into my CD player. And yet, to my surprise, I did not love it after one listen. Somehow I had forgotten rule number one of listening to a new U2 album: leave any previous notions of their style on the cliff, and freefall into their new one.
Once I did, I left All That You Can’t Leave Behind behind with the Joshua trees and achtung babies on the ledge. I realized that there is no fathomable way that someone could get all the intensity, complexity, and sheer sonic glory that is How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb after listening to it once.
In fact, it is like sitting in on a calculus class as a six-year-old. You comprehend that the equations on the board are supposed to be meaningful, but the jumbled mess of lines and letters is so complex that frustration sets in and you assume in ignorance that it is, for lack of a better term, bad. The truth is that you do not know enough about it to grasp its profound nature.
However, when you least expect it, this album blows you away. It has to get under your skin first, and then you hear the bells in “City of Blinding Lights,” or the jubilant laugh in “Original of the Species” as lead singer Bono extols his love: “You are the first one of your kind/Everywhere you go you shout it/You don’t have to be shy about it.” These moments remind you that, despite the tendency of the day, there does not have to be an “average” song on an album. This quality explains U2’s continual relevance and freshness despite their presence on the music scene since the early 1980s.
Guitarist Edge takes an assertive role on the record in sharp contrast to the more minimalist one he holds on the past few albums. Indeed, crunchy, omnipresent single “Vertigo” spins you back to the early days when all that mattered was “three chords and the truth.” The catchily syncopated “Love and Peace or Else” boasts a complex ending riff that stands as a not-so-discrete reaffirmation that he is one of rock’s greatest guitarists.In another exercise of his increased role, the Edge even takes lead vocals from Bono for a verse of the uplifting “Miracle Drug,” a stirring reflection about an old schoolmate of the band.
The work closes fittingly with “Yahweh,” a beautifully composed vision of those inexplicably spiritual moments where you are suddenly aware of so much more than yourself. You are caught off guard by the brilliance as “the sun is coming up on the ocean,” layered between a driving beat and ringing notes that seem to glisten off the surface of the rippling water.
And as Bono cries out, “take this soul, and make it sing”- you want to too.
U2 is 10th most successful band of all time in British charts
U2 are the 10th most successful recording artists of all time in the British charts, according to this year's list in the annual Guinness British Hit Singles and Albums book.
US band Red Hot Chili Peppers have entered the record books to become one of the 100 most successful recording artists of all time.
The Guinness British Hit Singles and Albums book ranks artists every year according to how many weeks they have spent in the UK singles and albums charts.
The likes of Madonna, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and Elvis Presley are already in the top 100.
This year, US band the Red Hot Chili Peppers are the only new entry – making it to number 97.
Those who have a chance of getting in next year include Britney Spears, Eminem, Westlife, Radiohead and Iron Maiden, according to the list’s compilers.
Spandau Ballet has fallen out of the top 100, while Michael Jackson is the highest climber as he is now number eight.
Elvis Presley still tops the list having notched up 2463 weeks in the UK singles and albums charts – more than the time he was alive for.
The acts which have climbed the list include The Stereophonics to 84, The Corrs to 89; Guns n’ Roses to 74; and Robbie Williams to 43.
George Michael has risen to 56; R.E.M to 32; Cher to 68 and Simply Red to 26.
Those to fall down the list include Electric Light Orchestra to 54; Bruce Springsteen to 47; Blur to 91; and Mike Oldfield to 48.
British Hit Singles & Albums editor David Roberts said: “It’s very rare to get new acts breaking into the Top 100, so this really is an incredible achievement”.
Rank Artist Weeks Total
1 Elvis Presley 2463
2 Cliff Richard 1972
3 Beatles 1742
4 Queen 1725
5 Madonna 1653
6 Elton John 1615
7 The Shadows 1578
8 Michael Jackson 1477
9 David Bowie 1459
10 U2 1402