Highlights from the Carter Alan Conference

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Highlights from the Carter Alan Conference

Thursday, September 21 1995 9:00PM EDT - 12:30AM EDT

Fan Club Forum on CompuServe

Melon/U2 Co-SL OK, people, are you ready?, OK, a couple of ground rules first... If you have a question, hit '?' at any time, but don't ask the question until Marcus or I recognize you... OK, here we go...

It is with great pleasure that Marcus and I introduce Carter Alan, who, as many of you fanatics know, wrote the book "Outside Is America - U2 In the U.S." and, as a DJ at WBCN-FM in Boston, was the first to play U2's music on the radio in the U.S. back in 1980 when he introduced "A Day Without Me" on the air, Now Music Director at WBCN, Carter has met with the band many times through the years.

Welcome Carter!

Carter Alan Thank you all, it is my pleasure to be here.

Melon/U2 Co-SL OK, who has questions?

Marcus Dunne Ok April Fire away

Zooropa Child Ok heres my question : When you played "A Day Without Me" could you tell right off that U2 were gonna make it big in the music industry, and what is you feelings on that?

Carter Alan When you play a song on the air that you love from a new group, you hope that that it will "go all the way," but it's impossible to know. In U2's case, I certainly hoped it would, but had no clue at the time. It sure sounded special, though. One more thing, Z.Child...nothing at thae time sounded like "a Day Without Me." A lot of the D.J's on WBCN went for "Out of Control." Others went for "I Will Folow." But, I must confess I loved "A Day Without Me" the most.

Chano I have a question for Mr. Alan. A few years ago I saw U2 @ the Meadowlands when the kicked off their Outside Zoo Tour. It was the first night and Lou Reed did a number with U2. Can you explain how Lou and U2 hooked up.

Carter Alan Lou Reed had shot a video which Bono sang to each night. It was, as they say in the biz, "in the can."

Aingeal Okay, here's my big question. Carter: I'm in a musical journalistic position as well local paper) and I sometimes find it hard to stay objective about bands when I also happen to be a fan. Have you also encountered this with your work with U2?

Carter Alan Yes, Aingeal. It is hard to put my feelings on the back burner when I'm considering U2. But, in the music industry, there are also too many people who don't become excited about the music. That's something many people lose.

Aingeal Yeah, I know. I find that my reviews are better when I had fun at a concert or am a fan of the band I'm reviewing.

- Visitor Carter I have a question for you......When is this new supposed album supposed to be out and will the do a subsequent tour follwing it's release?????

Carter Alan As far as the next U2 album goes, it's a full collaboration with Eno - it's going to be Soundtrack music. It's due out in November. The U2 "Rock" album comes out in the Spring, Bono willing, and there is no word on a tour. A tour this fall is not expected.

Man in the Box Hi Mr. Alan. I've read "Outside is America" and enjoyed it, especially your descriptions of Bono's daring stunts in early concerts. Back then they seemed to have more enthusiasm, ambition, and desire to change the world than any other group. Do you feel that this ambition has diminished over the years, or just developed into a more mature, realistic attitude toward life?

Carter Alan Wow - that's a good one MITB. There might be less energy in "changing the world" through the lyrics, but there certainly has been a ton of energy to change the world through the band's onstage presentation and the direction, musically, of the albums.

Aingeal Yes, the Zoo Tour had a distinct sort of rebellion-rally feel to it. A friend of mine likened it to the Nazis but without the evil intentions.

Carter Alan After so many years of these "political" and sociological" lyrics, it was a good time for the band to concentrate on other things. They kind of got lost in an artistic straitjacket.

Man in the Box Thanks Carter.l. I think U2 stills cares a lot, even if they don't show it as much as they used to.

Chano Mr. Alan can you explain to me the extent of the relationship between U2 and Lou Reed. Was he an influence on the band?

Carter Alan Bono was always fascinated with Lou Reed's contribution to music. In fact, when he finally met him in NYC back during the "Sun City" video shoot (85) he was totally in awe. You'll remember Bono quoting "Walk on the Wild Side." Lou Reed has been an artist who has always existed on the edge, the cutting edge. He has blurred distinctinctions in rock. This is the sort of artist that appeals most to Bono. I would welcome some sort of collaboration between Bono and Lou Reed. But I'd hope they bring Edge along too!

Zooropa Child O.k. heres my questions : Carter, would you like a copy of my own U2 fanzine? alright... hehehe the real question : What is the most fondest memory or memories you have of the band so far and why are they your fondest memories ?

Carter Alan My fondest memories of U2 would have to be during those first few years when they were only teenagers in America for the very first time. I can still remember the sight of Edge walking across toward me in the MacDonald's across the street. Edge, with his little orange tray, a Big Mac towering over about to fall on the floor! The other best memories of U2 would have to be during the WAR tour when they really began to reach people. It was very exciting to be in a crowd getting turned onto the band for the very first time. Yet, there were very few people in the audience at that point. Those stories of Bono walking across a narrow balcony at Yale ands also running about with the flag are all from that period.

Chano Speaking of WAR, was the "Sunday Bloody Sunday" video shot at Red Rocks in Arizona?

Carter Alan Sunday Bloody Sunday was a Red Rocks shoot.

Bill Flanagan Carter -> I speak my mind. I, personally, think that U2 is showing some signs of sucking." This Batman song nonsense is one example, and I wasn't too thrilled with Zooropa either. DO YOU THINK that U2 will ever return to the sound that made them famous???

Carter Alan Okay Bil, "Hold Me..." was a song from the "Zooropa" sessions, so your not liking them both would make sense. I happen to enjoy the musical progress being made on those sessions, although I'm not as inspired by the lyrical advance. I am interested in these studio statements more than U2's live presentations. Yes, I think the band will again surprise us all on their next release. I do think that a band is allowed to take a "breather" if you will, after so many years of intense preaching.

Bill Flanagan CARTER ==> I'm not buying it. You mean to tell me that you like the music ofZooropa better than "Bad," Electric Co.," etc.?

Carter Alan I value the fact that progress is still being made by the band. I would not value them repeating themselves again and again. I don't need another "Free Bird".

T.A.D. Does anyone have any insight on the direction U2 is heading in their up coming works?

Carter Alan The next U2 album is a "sountrack" release. Various pieces of music that could be suited for movie soundtracks. Eno will be involved. i've been told that Pavorotti will sing on at least one track. The U2 album in the Spring will be the one that we should speculate on. Bono has said it will be a rock album. But, for U2, that could be anything. I actually haven't heard any of the music. The sessions are closed.

Chano What happened to U2's plans to release a dance (disco) album?

Carter Alan They did actually, It was the MELON album of remixes foe fan club members.No one outside of the immediate circle of band/producers/engineers are allowed in I hope you all got a copy of MELON!

Chano If we didn't are they still available?

Carter Alan That you're going to have to ask the Propaganda people about. I'd be surprised if any copies were left.

Chano Isn't that the truth!

Carter Alan What I like about that special release is that it was made available to people that were really into U2.

Zooropa Child O.k. here's my question : What are your opinions about U2's experimentation with different areas of music and what do you think of Bono dabbling in the acting field?

Carter Alan I think that Bono has always been a "natural" in front of people. That he's now acting is also natural. Even if he didn't make in the movies, he can still fall back on the MacPhisto part!

Dave Evans I thought macphisto was over after the Zooropa tour?

Carter Alan MacPhisto will always be with us, after all he IS the devil! To be honest, though, I haven't kept up on Bono's latest celluloid exploits.

Michael K. Gowder how come he doesn't use the "Vox" part of Bono Vox??

Carter Alan The vox part is something that had disappeared after the first record. The only references to it after that were from journalists referring to it in early press bios and articles.

Jeffrey S. Smith Do you think Bono is going Hollywood with his movie involvments? Is the other guys involded?

Carter Alan Going Hollywood is always going to be said when someone makes movies. I think, tho, that its important to realize that this is an artist trying to create in a new field. He's chalenging himself in a new arena. As far as the othe r members, they've always had the latitude to do their own thing too.

Alizabeth I read your book a long time ago and loved it...I think you should write another! But my question is this: Is there a difference between "U2 in the U.S." and U2 Anywhere Else? And what would U2 say are the best and worst things about the U.S.?

Carter Alan The worst things about the US in culture? Probably that they will turn their back(s) on someone once they fall out of favor. Artists rarely get a second chance if they stumble. Artists seem to get more of a chance to create overseas. Here, they can be swept up, given an image and then they have to live with that image. That is one of the amazing things avbout U2. They continue to move forward even though they have built up this incredible inertia of expetation. People want to pigeon-hole them, yet thety constantly break free of that.

Carter Alan Also, they maintain their popularity. Many times, no, most times, when an artist tries something radically different, it is rejected.

Zooropa Child Carter, what is your opinion of each individual band member professionally and personally?

Carter Alan Bono is an expert on the biz after all these years, yet he is as personable as anyone. He can be warm with anyone - yet it isn't just "switched on." This is a genuine thing in him. He cares about people. He also cares about everyone, not just the people he "has" to. If that wasn't true, you wouldn't see him hanging out shaking so many fans' hands! Let me think about Edge. I find Edge so fascinating because he is so creative an articulate at expressing it. After 15 years, the act of chasing new sounds and methods of playing are still a joy to him. Adam is just a lot of fun. He gets too little credit as a musician.

Marcus Dunne Carter, how, if at all, do you think U2's performance of various songs (especially during the Zoo TV tour) differed between the US and Europe legs ?

Carter Alan I went to Italy in July 93 and saw two Zooropa tour shows. The performances were similar to Zoo TV with the main change being in the videos and graphics. Musically though, songs were performed tighter and combined better. My favorite was the "I Can't Help Falling in Love" into "Until the End of the World" into "New Year's Day" sequence.

Marcus Dunne Bullet really changed when the band reached England, it was much more powerful than any US version I'd heard.

Carter Alan Finally, by the time they got to Australia, the ZOOROPA songs were being incorporeated into the set. That was the final piece. The Sidney lazerdisc and video is a must because it represents the culmination of so many months of touring. The band was playing incredibly well.

Marcus Dunne I must say, I am a little disappointed that they didn't continue to play 'Zooropa' as far as I know they only performed it at 3 venues, luckily for me I was at all 3

Carter Alan Oh, I also LOVED what they did with "Running to Stand Still." I loved that new arrangement in concert. Ditto that Zooropa disappointment.

Marcus Dunne My personal favourite moment of the night was Ultra Violet

Carter Alan The sequence of "Running" into "Streets" blew my head off everytime I saw it! Here at WBCN, by the way, "Ultraviolet" was a big radio hit. In many places, that song gets hardly any airplay at all.

Marcus Dunne how did you compare the intro before Zoo Station from the US to Europe ?

Carter Alan Do you mean to the concert, itself?

Marcus Dunne yeah, the George Bush Rap compared to the Zooropa Intro

Carter Alan I liked the Zooropa Europe intro because the whole Nazi thing was emphasized. It was spooky to be in this huge soccer stadium seeing scenes of Nuremburg, realizing that people had submitted to a horrible stadium-wide, country-wide knid of mind control. Then, here we were in this huge stadium being brainwashed as well! But, for the good, of course.

Marcus Dunne what did you think to the Sarajevo Satellite links ?

Carter Alan I though it was brilliant - making the most use of the resources at hand, not only making a musical but also a poignant video statement.

Marcus Dunne the press in England slaughtered U2 for that link up

Carter Alan The press in the UK spend too much time on the act and not enough on the impact. Everyone else was touched by that. bono was passionate about trying to do something to make the World more aware of that horrible situation. Here he was using the biggest forum he had available and I though it succeeded brilliantly. I loved the fact that Bono had a video of one of the Italian shows presented to the Sarejevo TV station people who were over so that they could take it back and offer some kind of entertainment to those people. The people there knew then that at least someone on the outside cared.

Marcus Dunne I was disappointed that they only used the link up for the first 2 Wembley shows, it looked as though the press criticism had put them off using it futher

Carter Alan I do not knowif it was because of press pressure. However, if it was, it might have been the first time the press ever caused U2 to change its mind about ANYTHING.

Chano where did macphisto come from?

Carter Alan The exact origin of the name MacPhisto escapes me, but it does have a certain similarity to Mephistopholous (I know I spelled that wrong). Anyway, it was a character that really let Bono act out his wildest fantasies - something Bono would not be invclined to do as Bono on stage. MacPhisto, on the other hsaand, could do anything he wanted. The evil anti-Bono!

sparky is U2 proud of their "batman" song?

Carter Alan The Batman song was from the Zooropa sessions. It was left off that album because the band felt it didn't fit in with the more dancey feel of that album. As a song, though, I think it holds up - it does have a Batman, James Bond big-sound feel to it. so, I think it was a cool choice for the soundtrack. If you need proof on the "Hold Me" on ZOOROPA question, check out BP Fallon's book - he was in on the session. I think the vauable thing here is that U2 made the attempt. They wanted to try something new and did it. I think the idea of doing an electro-dance song with Johnny Cash singing about Atomic skies is about ad "out there" as anything! This is not unlike what everyone was saying when they came up with UNFORGETTABLE FRE. Everyone was aghast at first. What the hell is this! Eno! Hello U2? Everyone was used to U2, the Irish rock band and they were not prepared for U2 the thinking electronic-searching travelers. Then, of course, they wiped everyone out when we got used to U.FIRE and gave us a roots thing called JOSHUA TREE!

Wandalee But i think Eno wrecked their style

Carter Alan Edge would say that he needed to have his style wrecked. U2 are huge popular musicians - they're albums sell millions, yet, they are first and foremost artists. They thrive on change.

Fellini I don't think they should change to just not be 'stale' there should be a better reason. Wandalee, They're striving for something better

Carter Alan U2 would say they change for themselves - to feel fullfilled. That they trake us along is the bonus. Any artist , if he or she is a true artist, should change for themselves. Feel the inner direction and just follow it.

Zooropa Child Carter, I got hurt at a U2 concert not long ago by a malfunctioning pyrotechnic device... Has there been any accidents that has happened to their fans and if so what do you think U2 thinks about it?

Carter Alan I know of no specific accidents, except when Bono jumped on me in Philadelphia off the Tower stage, but I know that the band is concerned about people being hurt at shows. There were several cases in my my book where I described moments when bono had to stop shows because the audience was getting too violent.

Zooropa Child U2's management were very rude to me... They told me they wouldn't tell U2 what happened ever.

Carter Alan It happens a bit much these days with the mosh thang - but whenever a dangerous situation has developed in concert, Bono has done his best to disarm it.I find it upsetting that U2's management was rude to you, ZC.

Zooropa Child It cut off half of my nose..... It was from a malfunctioning pyrotechnic device above the stage shooting out coal and other foriegn objects..

Carter Alan Did you receive medical aid at the concert?

Zooropa Child Thanks Carter.... I guess U2's management doesn't believe me that it happened because they haven't seen proof they have just heard it.

Carter Alan I could see U2's management being skeptical if you didn't talk to them immediately at the show. That still doesn't condone anything.

Thomas Harbinson Now that U2 has reached the "big time" do you ever think they will go back to the intimate club setting for performances?

Carter Alan Probably not, Thomas. The band has always been concernred about the problems "over-demand: can have on a concert. The scalping and security problems would make it prohibitive.I have the feeling that U2 may not "tour" their next album at all.

Chano What does Carter find the most unique characteristics that make the band what theyare?

Carter Alan U2's curiosity is their most endearing attribute.

Alejandro Velasco What encounters have you had with U2?

Carter Alan Many personal travels and interviews with the members since 1980. I feel priviledged to have been a fan and a radio associate for many years.

Thomas Harbinson It seems very difficult to get tickets to any concert these days. Do you see any solution to the scalper demand situation, specifically how it relates to U2?

Carter Alan The only possible solution is to release tix just before showtime OR do what the DEAD and Pearl Jam do - sell tix through the fan club before the regular audience tix go on sale.

Thomas Harbinson i attended the amnesty concert at NJ a number of years back and the mail order system seemed to work then, could it still work today or does the ticketmaster monopoly effect that method?

Carter Alan Unfortunately, we'll always have the laws of supply and deamnd and we'll always have scalpers.

Fellini What Edges cap say. in the numb video

Carter Alan Wow - I'm hazy on that one! My TV tube is kinda dark tho, so I could have missed it!

Chano Do You have any idea what Bono is smoking in the "One" Video? Are those cigarettes or minature cigars?

Carter Alan Bono's been smoking those small cigars. Honestly though, I've often wondered why Bono and Edge STARTED smoking when they got to their 30's.Everyone quits...they start!

Zooropa Child I thought they always smoked.... they smoke on rattle and hum.

Carter Alan Yeah, I think RATTLE was the first time I noticed the boys with a fag or two (Adam excepted of course.).

Dave Evans What was the significance of the buffalo in the other One video?

Carter Alan That Buffalo image was painted by David Wojnarowicz, an artist who later died of AIDS. Indians used to hunt Buffalo by driving them off cliffs. Wojnarowicz painted that as a way of showing how we often have no control of our lives.

Dave Evans I thought that U2 were Bills fans or something

Carter Alan Definately.

Fellini Dave, the One single talks a little about the image on the back

Carter Alan That they used his painting on the single and in the video was a powerful thing. The image was powerful.And yes, I believe the single does have an explanation on it about the painting. That Buffalo video is probably my favorite of the recent U2 videos. I'm glad they used it in the concerts too. I mentioned back a ways that I haven't kept up on Bono's video exploits. But Million Dollar Hotel is the answer!

- Visitor does U2 still hang out at Dockers when in Dublin?

Carter Alan Last I heard, the Dockers was a hangout while recording sessions were underway - it is around the corner.There have been U2 sightings there recently.

Bullet Carter, wife (honestly) wants to know when Adam is getting married to Noami.

Carter Alan It ain't gonna happen.

Dave question...is bono a very humble person or is there that sense of selfinduced prima donna when hes around

Carter Alan The last time I interviewed U2 was in July 93 in Verona, Italy. I was worried because I hadn't talked to Bono in four years - they hadn't been around. I wondered if he'd wear the FLY glasses during the interview and play the part, or whether he'd be Bono. Well, I'm happy to say that he was Bono, the glasses were off and he was as warm and friendly as he'd ever been. He answred passionately and energetically, not with a put-on personality, but with his real self. He was especially pasisionate about the Bosnian crisis and expressed his concern. So, when you see THE FLY or MACPHISTO onstage, that's just Bono playing a character. That's all on that one.

I do believe, that I'm going to have to wander off.

Melon/U2 Co-SL OK, Thanks so much Carter

Carter Alan It's been a great time and I'm amazed at how fast the time flies! I'll look in on the Cafe in the future, I promise!

Nice to meet you all - God Bless n' Good night!

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on September 21, 1995 9:31 PM.

Highlights from the Bill Flanagan Conference was the previous entry in this blog.

"First Of All, I Am God" is the next entry in this blog.

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