Irish Times : Part 1 - Closer to The Edge - U2 France
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Irish Times : Part 1 - Closer to The Edge

samedi 21 octobre 2000

Source : Irish Times

From The Irish Times :

(Accompanying image :

Closer to The Edge - Part 1

And you thought he was the quiet one. Once he gets going, though, there’s no stopping him. The Edge talks to Brian Boyd about Bono, Dublin, Wales, celebrity, egos, fish farms, the press and, of course, music.

If Adam is Posh U2, Larry Baby U2 and Bono Scary U2, then obviously The Edge is Permanently-hatted, Zen-of-expression, Doesn’t-say-that-much U2. Or so you’d think. The received wisdom is that he has taken up permanent residence in a place known as "Bono’s shadow" ; that he works in the U2 engine room noodling away on his guitar while referring any queries about rock ’n’ roll superstardom to a different department.

He’s just not a save-the-world, bed-a-supermodel type of guy. He does nothing to dispel the image when he arrives at U2’s Dublin headquarters. Dressed in street casual, ringed of ear and clutching a bottle of mineral water,he smiles broadly as he escorts you into a boardroom-style room with shelves collapsing below the weight of so many music awards and trophies. "And they’re just a few of them," he says, not quite knowing whether to be proud or embarrassed by these shiny spoils of victory.

"I don’t find interviews easy," he says by way of an opener. "All the introspection involved isn’t good for you. I’m sort of uncomfortable talking about what I do and who I am in that it’s a very unnatural thing to do. Mostnormal people don’t have to do it. It’s a very odd situation. Even after all this time doing them, you’re still wary, one bad interview at the start can send out the wrong message. But you soon get into the rhythm of it."

Which he does. He’s certainly up for it about the new U2 album, their 10th, All That You Can’t Leave Behind. "It’s funny thinking about it - most bands have an arc and build on each album they release, but I see us as being more consistent rather than expanding all the time. Sure, we’ve been through musical changes, particularly over the last 10 years, but we always been consistent in that we’ve always tried to make the same record as we did on our first, Boy. We still want to blow our own minds and produce music that is powerful on every level." Given its clean, unprocessed sound, the new work sounds like it could have been recorded just after The Joshua Tree (1987), steering mostly clear as it does of the dance-influenced trilogy of Achtung Baby, Zooropa andPop. A bit like U2 first thing in the morning without their techno make-up on ?

"Certainly, yes, this is the most band-centric album we’ve made in a long time," he replies. "It really has that four people playing together feel about it. We’ve stripped a lot out on this one, the dynamics are very different. There’s not so many textures on this, the arrangements are simple and the guitar is to the forefront. I think on the last album, Pop, we had obliterated the band, it was a sort of trip-hoppy album and the most abstract we’ve ever got from the U2 sound. I mean, the songs on Pop sounded great live, but when I listen to them on the record, I just think there’s something not there, as opposed to playing them live. On this one, we just decided : `Here are the songs, here are the parts we play and here’s the performance of them.’ It is a simple album but the challenge was to make something simple mean a lot."

There seems to be more of a Bruce Springsteen song-based type sound going on as opposed to the squelchy techno bits of the last album. "When we’re writing, we do tend to bump into a combination of sounds we were influenced by growing up. It’s not a huge list : Dylan, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Leonard Cohen. Sometimes the influences are more obvious than other times. What really surprised me though about this album is that we were using sounds that we haven’t used since the first album, Boy. That was quite a trip."

Readers will probably know the lead-off single, Beautiful Day, but other highlights include the potential second single, Wild Honey, Walk On and In A Little While. The album also contains what The Edge says is "the most bitter song U2 has ever written" in Peace On Earth. Written the day after the Omaghbombing, the lyric has Bono recounting how "they’re reading out names on the radio" before a moving chorus of "Jesus can you take the time/To throw a drowning man a line/To tell the ones who hear no sound/ Whose sons are living in the ground" and then closing with : "The words are sticking in my throat . . . hope and history won’t rhyme". The song title in itself is ironic : "Peace On Earth was written in the heat of the moment right after Omagh, I had some music and Bono wrote the lyric in one piece and they just combined to makesomething very direct and very strong."

Born David Evans, the 39year-old Edge grew up in Malahide, the son of Welsh parents : "Although I feel completely Irish, my people are certainly Welsh. And yes, it did make you feel a bit different growing up, but I think any of that sense of Welshness has receded with time, it’s not like I make annual pilgrimages back there or anything. I do have great memories of the place from childhood holidays." So have the Welsh ever tried to reclaim him the way the Irish are quick to do with The Smiths and Oasis ?

"You do get the odd request to do an interview with BBC Wales, but in a way my experience is directly opposite to that of Oasis. Whereas they grew up in an Irish household but developed into an almost quintessentially Manchester group, I grew up in a Welsh household but assimilated very easily to Irish life."

What happened to Edge between growing up and now is fairly well documented elsewhere, so here is the micro version : Lypton Village, Shalom peace group, Mount Temple School, Dandelion Market, Baggot Inn, Island Records, Boy, October, War, Red Rocks stadium, Unforgettable Fire, Live Aid, The Joshua Tree, Enormodomes, cover of Time magazine, Superstardom, Berlin, Achtung Baby, Zoo TV, Pop Mart, Freeman of Dublin.


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