Highlights from the Bill Flanagan Conference

| No Comments

Friday, August 11 1995 9:00PM EDT - 11:25PM EDT

Fan Club Forum on CompuServe

Marcus - U2 SL OK, Lets begin... Welcome everyone, to an evening with Bill Flanagan, author of U2 - At The End Of The World'.If you have a question that you'd like to put to Bill, please enter a '?' and wait to be called.Hopefully, this way the conference will run smoothly .

Bill Flanagan Hi everyone!

Marcus - U2 SL I will have the honour of the first question , Question : What, in your opinion was each band members attitide to the problems surrounding Adam Clayton's much publicised no show at the Sydney concert of the 26th Nov 1993 ?

Bill Flanagan Um, I think everybody felt the same way. When something like that happens, the band members form a very tight circle. I think that once everybody calmed down, they felt maybe that it was a blessing in disguise. Because it forced Adam to face up to his responsibilities with the band, and he quit drinking that night. So it was a bad night but it had a good result.

Zooropa Child O.k. Heres my question, I had a horrible accident at the ZOO TV concert here and I know it's alot to ask but could ypu tell U2 about it or give me advice on who to contact besides U2's management. The accident was caused by a malfunctioning pyrotecnicaldevice from the stage.

Bill Flanagan The management is the best place. Everything you do will go through management anyway. I hope you're feeling OK now.

Spanky is there any truth to the rumour that 1996 or at the end of these two recordings that will be released in the near future that will be the end of U2 as we know it?

Bill Flanagan I doubt that very much. If the band the band didn't want to go forward, they would not be beginning a whole new cycle of work. They're just beginning a three-year cycle of work, so I think that they're stronger than ever.

Tammy Leinenbach What was the best time you've had with the band...tell all..

Bill Flanagan Boy I've had a lot of good times...

Tammy Leinenbach Anything you might tell your grandchildren

Bill Flanagan I'd say that either Tokyo or the Greenpeace action were the most exciting, but the very best times have just been quiet times talking without any explosions or limousines or private planes. I'm working very hard on keeping some of the best stuff secret from my grandchildren.

Spanky will brian eno become the invisable fifth man of u2 and will he tour with them?

Bill Flanagan I think he is an equal fifth member on the new Music for Films album, which will be credited that way from what I understand (U2 and Eno). But I would be very surprised if he became a touring member of the band or any sort of member on the 1996 rock and roll album. Eno has his own career including a terrific new album with David Bowie that's about to come out.

Katie I know this is a dumb question, but did naiomi break up with adam or was it the other way around? i just cant seem to find the answer anywhere

Bill Flanagan Um, I think it was mutual. This is not Archie with Betty and Veronica. These are two grown up people who remained friends, but decided their lives were too crazy to try to build a marriage on. I don't think either person "broke up" with the other. They're grown-ups who made a grown-up decision.

Shauna B. Hashbarge With all the idealism that U2 started with, how much of their (Bono's, in particular) present attitude, for lack of a better word, is sarcasm?

Bill Flanagan I don't think that they're sarcastic. I think that they're sometimes ironic, but even their irony is very, very inclusive - they let everybody in on the joke. I think that they are as idealistic as they ever were. They've just learned more about how to keep some privacy when they are always in the eye of the media.

Vox There's been some criticism about your way of saying "I was talking to Mick Jagger" or "I was with Bob Dylan". Some would say that you began to think you were in the band. How do you respond, and is it still exciting to tour with a big band or are you now jaded from experience?

Bill Flanagan I don't tour with big bands every day, so it's hard to be jaded. I don't think I'm in the band. I think I've talked to Mick Jagger, and I think I've talked to Bob Dylan. Saying so does not seem to me all that amazing. I'm not saying that I wrote "Tambourine Man" or had my blood changed.

Robtak Tell us 'bout Flaming Colossus in LA, if you ever spent any time there with the band, etc.? Is the dedication on "Trying to Throw Your Arms Around the World" about anything specific at Colossus? Also, I was in Dublin last month and Mr. Pussy's was closed, any reason? Answer any or all at your leisure.

Bill Flanagan My memory's a little foggy on this. I could be wrong, but I think it was part of the inspiration for the 'Million Dollar Hotel', the fictional joint in Bono's movie script. But honestly, I don't remember very clearly.

Tammy Leinenbach I know Larry and Bono come to Nashville quite a bit. Do you know when they might be comingagain. You can whisper it to me. I can keep a secret. Then I've got to go. Thanks for the book!

Bill Flanagan Look behind you right now!

Patrick. R. Mergel Bill, do you if it's true about U2's next album being an instrumental with a few songs that will have lyrics

Bill Flanagan I'm not sure that the songs will have lyrics, but I assume if Miss Sarajevo, the cut with Pavarotti is included, that will have lyrics, so maybe some of the others will too.

Zooropa Child Bill, do U2 ever read fanzines people publish of them?

Bill Flanagan I'm sure they do.

Dale Souza Did you really think Bono was serious about taking the group to Sarajevo and were you worried that it might actually happen?

Bill Flanagan Yes and yes. He was absolutely serious and he worked very hard to make it happen. I was worried about going, but there was no question in my mind that if I had the chance I would go. It's amazing to me that more than two years after the events I described in the book happened, the siege in Sarajevo is still going on today.

Billy Boola Development plays a dominant role in U2s career. Zooropa turned out to be not that succesfull the album I mean). Did the band realise this? And did they and you expect such a tremendous comeback with Hold me...(at least here in Europe), as the song took such a long time until it was finally released?

Bill Flanagan I think that Zooropa was quite successful for an experimental album of disjointed pop music from which no single was released for the first six months, and the songs from which were left unperformed by the band on their Zooropa tour. That album was not meant to be a big commercial blockbuster, it was meant to expand the possibilities of what U2 could do. Remember that five rock and roll songs at least as good as "Hold Me, Thrill Me.." were removed from the album by the band in order to make a more cohesive artistic statement. In fact, Eno made a very strong case against including the Johnny Cash version of "The Wanderer" because the version Bono sang was so much more likely to be a U2 hit. In the same way, "Slow Dancing" was rejected for the album because - at least in part - it was too conventional a hit type song these guys know how to make hits. On Zooropa, they were after something more ambitious.

Robtak Flaming Colussus was a club near downtown Los Angeles around 1987-88. It's mentioned in the "thank you's" on Rattle & Hum and at the end of the lyrics for "Trying to Throw Your Arms..." I worked there for a year and all of the band came in at one time or another, Bono and Adam being the most regular. They'd roll in about Midnight and order up a bottle of Jack Daniels or Cuervo and hang out. I remember Bono talking with Bruce Springsteen on more than one occasion. He also got up and did the occasional impromptu set with the house blues band. A lot of the video for "Desire" was shot in the same neighborhood as the club. Thought it doesn't look the same, The Kitchen in Dublin as the same style as Colossus. The night of the premiere of Rattle & Hum the band, sans Larry, but including Phil Joanou came in to celebrate. They were kind enough to autograph a poster for me. This might jog your memory about the place, though even my memories are a little foggy, too. Thanks, rob.

Bill Flanagan Thanks a lot rob. Also see if you recognize yourself in Million Dollar Hotel.

Liz and Brian How do U2 feel about their fans? Do they distinguish between real fans and stupid fans, because there is a BIG (sorry, don't mean to yell) difference, and sometimes it seems that the stupid fans get the attention...

Bill Flanagan Hey what about the real stupid fans. No, no I'm only kidding... I think that U2 feel a tremendous devotion to their fans, because the fans and the band have so much in common. Some people understand the whole picture and some people just appreciate one little part of it, but I think that if you're in it all the way or just up to your ankles, it's fine. The music works on all those different levels...There's no way to be wrong about being a fan.

Zooropa Child Bill - What is your whole opinion on the band? Profffesionally and personally.

Bill Flanagan I think the world of them. Professionally and personally.

Kevin J. Kelling Up to Achtung Baby!, U2 seemed more "idealistic" as Shauna mentioned.Some even considered U2 as a Christian band. Ever since Achtung Baby!,however, the band has become far more cynical. At first I wondered if the whole persona of "The Fly" was sort of a satire. But as time goes on it seems to me that the band has done more than just "evolved". Based on your experiences with the band, have you noticed a general shift in the philosophy of the band since Achtung Baby!? How much of it is just an act?

Bill Flanagan OK. Well the book spends 600 pages answering that question. U2 have not lost their sense of decency, idealism or purpose. Maybe they've grown up a little bit, seen the world and realized that there's limits on the value of only preaching to the converted if you look at the cartoon video for "Hold Me, Thrill Me...", you'll see that The Fly and Macphisto are fighting over a copy of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, a Christian philosopher and writer, if you check out that book, you'll find the key to a lot of what might seem confusing about Bono's new personas, also, if you get past the images of the photos an videos, and get past the unusual production, and really listen to the songs on Achtung Baby and Zooropa you will realize that they are as heartfelt and spiritual as anything on October or Joshua Tree. U2 used to use romantic metaphors to talk about faith (I Will Follow), now they sometimes write what seem to be songs about sexual faithlessness and faithfulness that can also work as songs about spiritual matters (Until the End of the World). This isn't a new idea, it's as old as the Song of Solomom.

Christopher L. Smi For the First Time is an intersting and candid song. (perhaps the most candid besides October's Tomorrow) I enjoy the inconclusion he leaves us with but in the end I find him pessimistic as he has turned his back. Is this the case or is it yet another twist by Bono to conceal rather than reveal?

Bill Flanagan I don't think it's either. As I remember, the written lyric he was singing from had the singer returning home at the end of the song like the Prodigal Son, However, when Bono sang it in the studio, he spontaneously improvised the words about not being able to go home...Now I'm just guessing here, but I think it had to do with the fact that he was doing that recording in the middle of the ZOO tour with one year an three continents still ahead of him, and emotionally, he was still out on the journey without a map and did not know where it was going to end. I suspect that if he recorded that song today, it would have a different ending.

Dale Souza Do you know if Bono and Dylan are close and what doesBono think of him and his work?

Bill Flanagan Bono admires Dylan tremendously, I think they're friendly, but I don't think they're close, close friends, but they like each other.

Liz and Brian What can you tell us about an incident long ago in Seattle where Bono's briefcase was lost or stolen? Supposedly, there were lyrics for future songs in this briefcase and, supposedly, this is the reason they did not come back to Seattle until after Achtung, Baby came out???

Bill Flanagan He lost the lyrics that would have been the October album and had to make up new lyrics for it in the studio. But I cannot imagine, knowing Bono, that he would hold it against the city of Seattle, and there's no truth to the rumor that those lost lyrics became the first Soundgarden album.

Man In The Box I hate to stereotype my own generation(Gen X), but does U2 plan to form any kind of bond with the younger crowd in their future music? U2 has been a major influence to the rise of "Alternative" music, and the positive, uplifting power of their music is something that has greatly influenced my outlook on life. If they could write some songs relating to teenage problems and emotions, I think they could help a lot of people. Most of my friends consider them an "80's" band and I think that is unfair.

Bill Flanagan I don't think that U2 write their songs in such a way as to be limited to any generation, people from 12 to 50 can relate to "One" or "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For". Of all the divisions that separate music lovers, the year you were born seems like the one least likely to have an impact on appreciating U2.

Marcus - U2 SL In your book you included a very hard hitting work of Bono's titled 'In Cold Blood'. You gave your comments about why U2 should not include it on the Zooropa album. Do you have any idea why it was never used as part of the live set as Bono was apparently considering ?

Bill Flanagan I don't know, but I would guess that the decision to include the live satellite link-up to Sarajevo made the notion of reciting a poem about Sarajevo seem kind of redundant.

Zooropa Child Is Bono's left arm O.k.? I heard that Bono had a bit of trouble with it on the ZOO TV and ZOOROPA tours due to previous injuries to it.

Bill Flanagan I've seen him knock out three stevedores with his right arm tied behind his back.

Dale Souza In the book you implied about Bono's faithfullness to Ali,did you feel this was something that you wanted everyone to know about, or were you just reporting the facts?

Bill Flanagan I was just reporting the facts. You've got to understand that a lot of normal etiquette and good manners goes out the window when you're writing a truthful book about someone. You become kind of a professional tattletale. Luckily, Bono comes out looking pretty good, but that's down to his behavior, not my discretion.

Marcus - U2 SL In your opinion, what impact, if any did U2's involvement with the 'Rock The Vote' campaign, the phone calls to the White House and the 'Phone In' and the meeting with Bill Clinton have on the result of the 1992 Presidential Election. If you do think they had an impact, however small, do you think that they should get invloved with elections in a country other than their own ?.

Bill Flanagan They may have had a slight impact on 'Rock the Vote', which in turn, may have had some impact on the Presidential election by registering voters. But those voters - all of whom were Americans made their own choices. Certainly all of the 'Rock the Vote' efforts meant a lot less to the election than did , say, Ross Perot. I could suggest that anyone affected by US policy, as Western Europeans surely are, has a right to try to influence the US Presidential process.I could also point out that U2 have historically resisted the notion that human issues should recognize national borders.But all that aside, the band actually bent over backwards to avoid the temptation to endorse any American Presidential candidate. They drew a line between the fact that they were interested in Bill Clinton as a man, and politicians, and actually telling people that they thought he should be voted for. They were actually pretty careful about that.

Dale Souza How many copies of the book have you sold? If you don't mind my asking. Any more in the works? I enjoyed your writing.

Bill Flanagan Thank you, I don't mind your asking, but I do mind my telling. It seems to be doing quite well. There will certainly be another book, but not right away. I want to refill the tank.

Bob R. Tamashunas This might be a tough question to answer, but through your relationship with the band members, where do you see U2 in ten years? Do you think they will remain together, or will they become disunited (beginning of Achtung)?

Bill Flanagan I assume that by ten years from now the millenium will have come and they will be numbered among the righteous. However, should the millenium not arrive on time... I see them performing at the Watkins Glen 30 year anniversary concert, supplemented by the TCB horns...a gospel choir... and a bunch of South African musicians in the Page and Plant tradition.

Zooropa Child Bill - Did you have fun traveling with U2 and is their any highlights of the your travel with them that you would like to point out?

Bill Flanagan I had a gas. The book contains only the highlights. The low lights were left on the cutting room floor...One funny thing that happened, was that while I was traveling with them, I was working so hard to keep track of everything - with notebooks and tape recorder - that it was when I got home and started editing all and typing it all up, that I really began to have a great time remember and reliving all the things that I was so wired going through the first time around.

Liz and Brian Are you going to continue hanging out with the band, or were you there just to research this book? If you are going to see them soon, tell them "Thank You" - and Thank YOU for your time!

Bill Flanagan I knew the band for 10 years before I started writing the book. While I was working on the book, I had a good excuse to see them constantly. Now things have gone back to normal. I bump into all of them occasionally. In fact I saw one of the guys two days ago, but luckily for all of us, it's gone back to the world of off the record. And I don't think they mind not seeing me under their beds every day.

Marcus - U2 SL Ok, me again.. In your opinion, what is the best way of submitting freelance articles to magazines and such ?

Bill Flanagan Give them something short and timely, that fits the format of the magazine, that they might not be able to get on their own.

Man In The Box I see Bono smoking in some videos. Does he smoke a lot? I'm worried it might ruin that amazing voice of his. (But so far his voice seems to be getting better!)

Bill Flanagan He swears that he does not inhale. Do you think he's been hanging around Clinton too long? One last question...

Zooropa Child Bill - What I want to say is not really a question. I think your are a brilliant man and very skilled in what you do. I've had a great time here and I am sure U2 enjoys hanging out with you.. I can see why

Bill Flanagan Thanks a million, it's been really fun.

Marcus - U2 SL Ok, on that note, I think we can call it a day. I think I can speak for everyone who's been here tonight, when I thank Bill for his time tonight, I for one have enjoyed the chance to talk to him via CompuServe.

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on August 11, 1995 9:20 PM.

Bono's essay of "Elvis: American David" was the previous entry in this blog.

Highlights from the Carter Alan Conference is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives


OpenID accepted here Learn more about OpenID