Wednesday 19 June 2019

New U2 album could be finished later this year - The Edge

Barry Egan

Barry Egan

THE Edge has revealed to that a new U2 album could be finished later this year.

The band opened their new world tour in Canada last night.

Prior to the show , Bono told exclusively about the almost cinematic tales behind some of the central moments of the show – Cedarwood Road and Raised By Wolves, both from U2’s current Songs Of Innocence album, and, of course, Sunday Bloody Sunday . And how the three songs work together to help form the concept of innocence lost.

“Gavin Friday, who is the creative director on this tour, has Guggi on a horse on Ceadarwood Road, “ Bono explains of the street in Finglas where he grew up with Gavin and Guggi as his neighbours.

I ask Bono why is Guggi on a horse.

 “Because Guggi once knocked on our door and my father answered! You know no one believes this!”

“Americans especially don’t believe that this could have happened. ‘That’s impossible!’” Bono says impersonating just such an American person in disbelief. 

 “You know, that could happen on a suburban neighbourhood in Dublin. There was no f**king way!” he laughs, “that there would be wild horses or people wild enough to ride the horses! And that they weren’t going to knock on your door on the f**king horse! Guggi on a horse! And on his high horse too! So Gavin put that in the show!” (Once you get Bono going, he is as entertaining as anyone out there - equal parts Oscar Wilde,  Dorothy Parker and Johnny Rotten. And you have to love him for it,  his golden gob.)

 “The most complicated piece for Irish people,” Bono continues, now on a roll, “is that you then go to Cedarwood Road and then you go into my bedroom. And then something wild happens. Sunday Bloody Sunday is played in a different arrangement to what you have ever heard. It is in the end of Innocence. Gavin made this sonic structure of the sounds of 1974 where the three bombs went off,” Bono said of  the terrorist bombing in Dublin that year.

“It is really shocking. And then the news comes on. And it is Caroline Erskine reading the news. At that point there is only 23 people killed  [more than a 100 others were injured].

"And even though the bomb missed us, it didn’t miss our friend, Guggi’s brother [Andrew]. It turned his life upside down,” Bono says referring to the fact that Andrew  was in Dublin’s Talbot Street  in his dad's van on May 17th 1974 when the terrorist bomb went off. As the lyric on Raised By Wolves puts it all too harrowingly: 'I'm in a white van as a red sea covers the ground.'

“It was kind of the end of our innocence because what they had up the North was now down the South,” Bono says.

"It turns out that I cycled to school that day because there was a bus strike. I would be there most Fridays in Golden  Discs  [the record shop]. I would go in to look at records after school."

"So then we do Raised By Wolves in the show" he says, before pausing for a second.

 "Why am I so obsessed with non-violence?" Bono asks rhetorically.

“I don’t know if this is known,” he  continues, “I called up Guggi’s brother Andrew – or Guck Pants as he was known – to ask his permission to write his story in Raised By Wolves. I hadn’t spoken to him in years. He said, ‘Yeah, man. Hold on.’ Then he went off and came back with a piece of the car from that day. He has taken it with him to every single place he has lived in – including living on the street for a while when he was a homeless addict. He always took the piece of fucking shrapnel, which is actually forensic evidence.”

Talking to The Edge, you will get plenty of hard evidence of the man's passion for his art.. He talks about the beauty of songs like most men his age talk about craft beer or younger women.

“We have rewritten a couple of choruses.  Miracle Drug got a new chorus,” the guitarist said in reference to the song from U2’s  2004 album, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. “It is not radically different but we realised that it needed to be refreshed somewhat. And that’s great. You can sort of finish off the songwriting on certain things that you feel you didn’t quite nail the first time around. But we are looking forward to people a lot of different songs as the tour gets up and running.”

The Edge added that they didn’t want to “go so far into pleasing the real train spotter fans with weird and extraordinary B-sides or whatever, that you leave everyone else behind. We might not be playing An Cat Dubh this time!” he laughed referring to the enigmatic song from U2’s 1980 debut album Boy.

“I was talking to Quest Love, the drummer from The Roots, and he randomly said, ‘You know, man, that song 4th Of July [from the Unforgettable Fire album in 1984]. . . I just loved that tune. As I was growing up, I always wanted to come up with something like that.’  I was like – wow! That was us under Professor Eno [Brain Eno who produced The Unforgettable Fire] going right out there.”

The Edge added that the follow-up album to 2014’s Songs Of Innocence titled Songs Of Experience is “not finished yet. But we have a lot of material that we are really happy with. We have been working on it, recently, but it is coming together. I would say it is a lot more developed than Zooropa [the 1993 U2 album] was when we started the Zoo TV Tour. "

"I guess it really depends whether we feel it is worth pushing for within the ten weeks that we have at the end of this tour," he says of Songs Of Experience.

"We might just go for it. We might just say, ‘It is more important to get it out than to make it perfect.’ Which was the truth with Zooropa. And it is a lot of people’s favourite album!” The Edge smiles, which he does a lot.

“We love to do stuff that kind of breaks rhyme and you are not doing the obvious shit. It gets more challenging. In the case of Passengers [the 1995 side-project album recorded by U2 and Brian Eno under the pseudonym of Passengers], it was not so bad because no one thought of it as a U2 album. But there are no kind of small U2 albums any more. You can’t sneak anything out."

"The magnifying glass is on every single thing we do.  I loved when [Bruce] Springsteen brought out Nebraska.  A weird acoustic album.“

As for how the Songs Of Experience album might sound, The Edge says that there is an influence of dance and electronica “but", he quickly qualifies, ”it is quite malleable. And actually the last few mixes are quite raw again. So, it is really too early to say, I have to be honest."

"We could make all the announcements but then it would probably serve to make a fool out of us at the end when the album comes out – and the album is a country and western album!” The Edge laughs.

 In terms of the much-derided U2 album from 2009, No Line On The Horizon, The Edge is honest enough to admit that “where we erred starting out experimental and then trying to bring it into something that was more accessible."

"I think probably we should have said, ‘It’s an experimental work. That’s what it is.’ It was a kind of a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario because if your work is really groundbreaking and challenging, it’s probably going to have a limited audience. If your work is really, really accessible, then it probably is not going to be very experimental. So we try and do both, because that is what we ultimately love in music."

"But sometimes you have to choose one over the other. And we kind of changed horses slightly mid-stream on that album [No Line On The Horizon]. Brian Eno would say that working with U2, you kind of have to move every fast to try to get them [U2] to finish a song and move on."

"Because," The Edge added, ”we have a terrible tendency to take something and see it for what it isn’t , rather than what it is. Sometimes it means we end up with three songs from the original idea. That happened on Achtung Baby!" he says referring to  1991's game-changing album.

 "It was great, but sometimes we end up missing the wood for the trees," the esteemed U2 guitarist said yesterday in the particularly wood-y environs of British Columbia. 

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