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Interference U2 interview - 09.15.04

Interference.com: Since the release of "The Joshua Tree" and on to "Pop,"
your albums have reflected an amalgam of musical interests while also being
sonic maps of what's been going on in the world. "All That You Can't Leave
Behind" looked more inwardly at family matters, the idea of grace and
emotional transcendence. What can be said for the influences on this latest
album, be it musical, political or emotional?

U2: Political for sure, you always get that with us in some form. Personal,
probably more than anything this time. There are also the fun songs and I
think "Vertigo" falls into that category, just the pure recording of it.
Steve Lillywhite produced that one front to finish. That’s a song that just
smells like U2, once you hear the first 10 seconds you are hooked. It's kind
of like "Pride" or "Elevation."

I love that track, a lot of ideas in one song. It was recorded using the
guitar from the early U2 LPs, different amps, of course. When you get to the
break in the song you think, "What is this guitar? The 'Boy' LP?" Then as
you wait for a vocal you hear what appears to be the sound of someone
pulling the power cord out of the wall as you are listening to vinyl on a
turntable, then back into it—smash—soaring vocal and music. Everyone in the
band was fantastic on this track.

Interference.com: Moving into your third decade as recording artists, how
have your feelings about recording changed? Did making this album have the
same power as making "Boy"? Was there an overriding goal you set out for the
album?

U2: They have not changed at all. It's a passion. It's a love. It's like
taking out your paintbrush and hitting the canvas. I’m not comparing us with
Van Gogh or Shakespeare, but one would think they had the same feeling each
time they set out. The main difference now is that we have families to
consider, you can't record three LPs in five years. You can't tour on a
wooden stage with a paper backdrop anymore, either. The time between each LP
and tour gets longer the more success you have.People in and around the band
look at the Internet, they know the want of the fans. The band always tries
to deliver the goods. I mean, being in a band like this one, you get a lot
of mail and gifts from fans, it's impossible to read it all or answer it but
a lot does get read and some of it is inspiring as well as terse, "An LP
every four years?!" But I think you would have to live in the belly of the
beast to really understand, it’s a mad circus at times.

As for big goals, none, just make a great rock LP. Bono says it best, "Two
crap LPs in a row and you quit." Well, I think that danger is starting to
leave, we may not have enough time in our recording lives to produce two
crap LPs in a row. That’s why the last LP was the crucial one, it sets us up
for this one and another. You then look at a Best of 2000-2010. I mean,
"Walk On" and "Elevation" need a home on a best-of package, right?

Interference.com: U2 has tried throughout its career to stay at the
forefront of technology. ZooTV and Pop Mart were by far the most elaborate
U2 shows, pushing the envelope and challenging the audience's senses, while
with Elevation we seemed to see a "less is more" approach. What new
innovations does the band have in mind as far as the Internet, videos, and
tour?

U2: Well I think now the theme may be "more is more," and I don’t mean Pop
Mart. That, of course, was brilliant. I think we look at different ways to
get a show across and this sets up nicely. Rotating the set list more
frequently is definitely something we are looking at. I think Joe and Willie
have their hands full with the stage and lighting. It's almost like topping
yourself each time out.

Since 1992-97, there have been a great number of new inventions come
through. Some of these sound-in-light applications will be used. I also have
to mention a new software that anyone can get called "Vertigo." Vertigo lets
you make 3-D images that can be projected on to a big screen. It's stunning
and its applications in a live show are unlimited.

Interference.com: Each of U2's album titles is distinctly unique. What
transpired in order to decide this album's title?

U2: It seemed like the title was going to be "Hanover Quay" as a nod to the
soon-to-be-dismantled studio. It stayed that way as a working title until
the LP took on a personality. It went through a hundred titles. Then you hit
upon one that everyone thinks is brilliant or best sums up the LP. Everyone
just has to agree to like it. It also has to make sense in the context of
the LP. I suppose that’s why we never made an LP titled "Windmill Lane,"
it's too Beatles, "Abbey Road" or "Penny Lane." We love The Beatles far too
much to borrow ideas from them. In the end you just go with your gut and it
works out—“Boy," the first LP, "War" sprang from "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and
the anger around that LP. In the end, I think they name themselves.

Interference.com: Neil Young said it's better to burn out then fade away.
What are your thoughts on that as a band, and what have U2 yet to
accomplish. To follow that up if you were asked to choose one song to date
that best defines "U2" what would it be?

U2: Second question first. I think the unanimous selection would have to be
"One," that’s the song that saved this band from being a 10-year wonder and
propelled us to go further. When that song was finished, everyone was like
this is a masterpiece. It happened at a time when we were really groping for
a big song. Fate, I guess. It's been a great ride after that turning point.

Well we love Neil, he’s an old-school genius who is just as relevant today
as he was in 1969. That being said, I think there is a fair balance between
work and family. There will come a time when you won't see U2 that much. We
would record less. I don't think that’s in the near future, though. We still
have plenty to accomplish. In the next two years we will be all over the
map, we'll see how that goes. Everyone in the band is really pumped to play
the new songs live, they beg to be played live.

We are no doubt going into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame very soon. It's
staggering and humbling—The Beatles, Elvis, Marvin Gaye, Chuck Berry, etc.
It also feels very premature for us because we started so young. I don’t
think induction into that group means you have to quit, the Stones were
inducted 20 years ago and they treated it like a speed bump. The same can be
said of Neil Young 10 years ago. The problem is who to induct us, I think
between us we have inducted at least five or six bands or individuals. I
think the best person to introduce us would be Bono, because is a master at
it, but I am joking. I just think it’s a real honor. It will be a great way
to kick off what looks to be an amazing tour for us next year.

Interference.com: And in closing, is there anything you want to add for the
fans?

U2: Please fasten your seatbelts and put all of your carry-ons under the
seat in front of you, we are about ready for take-off. Have all of the
fireplugs in your town ready. We will see you soon!