IRISH rockers U2 have delivered a late Christmas present to their loyal fans this weekend by promising to release a new album by June.
Speaking exclusively to the Sunday Independent at Leopardstown Races yesterday, U2 frontman Bono revealed the band had been working hard on new material in the run-up to Christmas and are hoping to have a new chart-topping album on shelves before the summer.
Speaking about the upcoming release, Bono described how the band had been putting in the hard work in the studio in recent weeks: "We are working away and we have a couple of yearlings in the stables that could really turn out to be thoroughbreds in the future," he said.
"As a band you are always trying to work on new material and we had some unfinished material from the last album.
"I would love to elaborate a bit more but unfortunately it is a democracy -- and sure isn't that the world that we live in?"
One person who had no problem elaborating, however, was U2 manager Paul McGuinness.
The legendary music mogul described how the world's biggest rock group are confident of having the album released by June.
"I have heard some of the stuff the guys have played and, yeah, it is great. Bono is always an optimist but he seems confident of getting a new record out by the end of the next six months. They're talking about June. By that time we will be ready to go back on tour and I think that will give it a different flavour."
Mr McGuinness also described how sales of concert tickets "have been incredible" for the band -- despite the current recession.
"Most of the shows left are either sold out or close to being sold out, which is terrific. We're defying gravity at this stage -- it's incredible."
He also took some time out to offer his support to bassist Adam Clayton following reports last week that he is involved in a court case with his former housekeeper who has allegedly misappropriated €1.8m.
"It is very upsetting for him, especially because it is someone that he trusted and let into his life and his home. I didn't council him or advise him or anything like that.
"For Adam to discover that someone he had trusted had let him down like that. . . well, it is disappointing.
"I suppose though that is life and it could happen to anyone. But I can't really say too much about it because of the legality of it but that the courts are dealing with it."
Meanwhile, speaking about his time off over Christmas, Bono said: "We have had a really great Christmas, very homely and lovely and we had a great time. In fact, we have just had the most amazing year."
The Irish rocker was continuing what has become an annual tradition for him an his pals, by spending St Stephen's Day at Leopardstown races with his wife Ali.
"I did have one bet today but it was more of a sentimental flutter for the year that is ahead of U2.
"I put some money on a horse called Happy Reunion but unfortunately it was no good so I can only hope that we will have a bit more success."
Also at the races was Dublin publican Charlie Chawke, racing magnate JP McManus, horse trainer Dermot Weld, betting boss Paddy Power, Robbie Fox, Johnny Ronan and Guggi.
Over 14,500 people attended the races, while the Tote brought in €404,752 on the day.