U2 om HTDAAB - del 1 & 2
I dessa två första delar av intervjun diskuterar bandet dels singeln Vertigo och albumet i stort. Och jodå, Adam nämner The Hives.
Fler delar följer inom kort.
del 1 - Vertigo
About Vertigo. What is the mood of this track?
Yes, these are nervous times, they really are, just turn on the news and you think wow, where’s next? You know, my brother, my sister, my uncle, my aunt, they’re just nervous times. We’re right up there, capitalism and just toppling, and you don’t want to write a rock and roll song for the end of the world.
U2 are not really a rock and roll band, we’ve never really been a rock and roll band, but with Vertigo I was trying to come up with a sound and a guitar riff that was unashamedly rock and roll, full on, the best of that form which I love, like the Pistols or The Stones at their best punk, and the best of metal. I worked up some music, and for a while I had the working title of Full Metal Jacket, and I had some melody ideas on the music but nothing I was very happy with. I worked over the demo with some Larry drum loops, and that was really the bench mark for the tune for quite a while. We didn’t really better it until the take that is on the album, and it was one of those moments where everyone arrived and came together at the same moment, and it was immediately clear to everyone in the room that we’d hit the best take on that song that we had ever done. Bono came up with some great new melody ideas and we were pretty much there.
I think with Vertigo we really wanted to have something that was a very vital, "up” rock and roll track. I think we’d been hearing that sort of energy coming from The Hives, The Strokes and The Vines, and that sound really connected with where we came from. I think Edge felt that he could produce and write a song or riff that was even better than some of those, so that was where that came from. Then it sat around for a while and it was worked up as a song called Native Son, but it was a bit third person in the delivery to have real impact and we had a re-write of it in January of this year and it turned into Vertigo, and it just was much more vibrant.
The album ends in quite an ecstatic place, so we wanted to start off with a little bit of electric shock treatment, and it’s a club and you’re supposed to be having the time of your life but you want to kill yourself. It’s a light little ditty.
About Vertigo. Where is Vertigo?
It’s a dizzy feeling, a sick feeling, when you get up to the top of something and there’s only one way to go. That’s not a dictionary definition, that’s mine, and in my head I created a club called Vertigo, with all these people in it and the music is not the music you want to hear, and the people are not the people you want to be with, and then you see somebody and she’s got a cross around her neck, and you focus on it, because you can’t focus on anything else. You find a little tiny fragment of salvation there.
Is it important to have a hit single?
Yes, because it tells people that you’re back. I think it’s harder and harder to get people’s attention these days, there’s a lot of competition out there and I think if you don’t try and grab people’s attention with a track that’s indisputable, that fires people’s imagination, then they’re not that interested in what the rest of the record is about.
Oh yes, I want to have hits, sure! The greatest rock and roll songs are pop songs. I love that interview with Kurt Cobain where he says I’m a pop star, this is a pop song. He was a great student of The Beatles and The Buzzcocks, and whether it’s The Sex Pistols or The Clash or The Rolling Stones or The Kinks or The Who, they’re great moments, those great 45s. Vertigo is definitely a 45. It’s 3 minutes long. That should be the definition of a proper 45, I think it’s our only one though. Oh, Desire was two and a half minutes.
U2’s never been a band that has relied on hit singles, in fact we were known in the 80s and 90s as the biggest cult band in the world, because we had this major success, sold lots of records, played in big venues, but never really had any history of hits and single sales. But it’s always nice if you get one away into the consciousness, whether it’s a hit or not in any official sense, just a song that connects on a more broad level than just to U2 fans, and we’ve had a few over the last few years, Beautiful Day I think definitely did that. But I think there’s a few songs on How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb which are potentially capable of connecting way up, way broader than just our fans.
del 2 - generellt om albumet
About How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. Was it a difficult album to make?
No. I thought that it was quite easy because Edge kick-started the thing so I thought, wow, that’s great, I don’t have to kick him. So he was off and running, and I thought, wow, maybe I’ll have to run very fast to keep up with him. And the ending was amazing, when Steve Lillywhite came in and did his usual, do your job, songs only four minutes long, what’s the problem, the English common sense. That was a joyful noise we made unto the Lord, and it was the middle, I think, where things got a bit messy. We’d invested a lot of time and energy, and we weren’t getting to magic. We were getting close to it, right up next to it, you could almost smell it, you could just about kiss it, but you couldn’t get your lips to it. We had a fantastic producer, Chris Thomas, who was working with us: brilliant guy, worked with The Beatles, Roxy Music, Sex Pistols, and we were getting great guitar sounds, great things, but I think finally we must have driven him crazy. We wore ourselves out, if not him. We needed a new lease of life, so we brought in Steve Lillywhite, who we’ve made all our records with in some shape or form, most of them anyway, and it was like the second half of the cup final, we changed a few of the team. Got some fresh legs, out onto the pitch and off we went.
At this point for us there’s no such thing as an easy album, it’s the kind of tension between our quite unrealistic expectations, and therefore our impatience with anything that doesn’t sound like it’s going to ultimately make it. So that means that we’re quite hard on ideas and work, and songs that we’re working on, and that can be quite difficult for people on the project because it would seem at times like we’re getting nowhere, but the great moments on a record are where you see in action this idea that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and that occurs from time to time. That’s when suddenly the idea you’re working on, and the band as musicians and performers, suddenly it all comes together. You get a moment that defies the elements that make it up. That happens from time to time. On this record, towards the end, it happened quite a lot. So after doing a lot of work that might seem a waste of time to people outside of the process, in fact it’s the beginning of the process that leads you to that period where it all starts to fit together. If you didn’t have the early development phase, then it wouldn’t fit together. Our song writing and production process is a very strange process. Somebody said it’s a bit like the Zen artists who spend hours and hours mixing the paints, and then the actual work happens really quickly, so that’s what took a long time on this project. It was not the recording of the final versions, but all the various different phases we went through with the songs to get them to the place where they were finished.
About How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. What’s the album about?
You don’t hear people talking about atomic bombs very much these days, do you? It comes from my father’s lexicon. His generation would call it the atomic bomb, we call it weapons of mass destruction, but although everyone in the world is trying to figure out how to put the toothpaste back in the tube, ie. once you have this knowledge available on the internet, are we ever going to be safe? Even though that is a thought that’s hanging in the air, in my head How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb is about my father, Bob, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bob. He died a couple of years ago, and his demise set me off on a journey, a rampage, a desperate hunt to find out who I was, and that resulted in a lot of these songs so, it’s a lot more personal than a political record, I think.
U2 as a band are not at this point into concept records, and we’re not a band that’s going to follow an idea down. Writing songs is a far more instinctive process for us, and certainly the intention was much more rock and roll feeling, and then in the end you have to step back, when it’s all done, and ask yourself, well what album did we get? This is what we set out to do, what did we get? I think I’m happy that it captures that spirit, but it’s got other stuff besides. I think it’s better than it would have been if it was all straight ahead rock and roll.
About How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. Is it a rock and roll album?
I think it is a guitar record. I think Vertigo, Love And Peace Or Else, City Of Blinding Lights, All Because Of You, I think they’re all rocky tunes. A lot of them are a kick back, if you like, to our very early days. It’s as if with each year we’ve gathered a little bit more and that’s what we are now in a way, what those songs are.
No. When we first went into the studio it was mad it, was like the MC5, The Stooges, just rifferama, Edge with a stick of dynamite up his hole, just going off. He was pissed off with something, I don’t know what it was… probably me. It was really powerful rock and roll, and Edge is much more Zen, much more monkish, much more ethereal. So to see him with this amount of metal in his system was an amazing thing. But in the end we couldn’t get it to the other place, whatever that is, that feeling that I want from a U2 album, and I think that other people want, that thing where you just lose yourself, so we’ve left a few of those songs behind from what you could call the rock and roll album, and it started to become more dimensional and more unique, and the songs started to transform more into our own image, whatever that is..
About How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. How does it compare to your other albums?
On All That You Can’t Leave Behind, I think we had the best collection of songs. I don’t think that the whole was greater than the sum of the parts, in the way that The Joshua Tree had some songs that weren’t quite as good, but the overall feeling of that album was that it takes you over, same on Achtung Baby. Don’t think we quite got there on All That You Can’t Leave Behind… although I think there’s better songs. I hope on this album we have both… but only time will tell.
About How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. Is this an album or a collection of songs?
I’d like to think that this is a real classic U2 album and that there is this spine to it, and certainly as we were making it, we were very conscious of this moment in time and what was going down worldwide, the mood out there. Even if it’s not necessarily overtly about what’s happening now, I think in a major way there is an undercurrent that pervades the whole album. So I’ve a feeling that looking back on this album in a few years time it will have a very strong identity from beginning to end, and I think ultimately, that’s what an album is about, something that’s very clearly of its time and sums up a feeling of one sort or another.