Adam Clayton Discusses the Next U2 Album

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Reuters, June 16, 1996


Adam Clayton Discusses the Next U2 Album

By Gary Graff

DETROIT (Reuter) - There's a legion of U2 fans around the world who are dying to know what U2's next album -- due in stores this fall -- will sound like.

So are the members of the band.

"We work in such a strange way in that we spend a lot of time trying to throw the ideas around, and in the last couple of months of recording we really start making decisions and tying things down," explains Adam Clayton, U2's bassist.

"I heard somewhere that the definition of an artist is someone who doesn't like to make decisions."

When pressed, Clayton keeps his descriptions of the new material purposefully vague.

"At the moment, it sounds like the band playing," he says. "It's unfair for me to say what it will sound like; at the moment it's kind of just like U2 backing tracks. But it'll be great."

Expectations are high, of course, because the Irish band has been one of rock's most consistently creative forces -- and one of its best-selling -- since it formed in Dublin in 1978. Over the years, the group's sound has evolved; it began with raw, ringing power (marked by the Edge's sharp guitar stylings and frontman Bono's passionate vocals and yearning lyrics) and grew to incorporate more atmospheres and textures.

Its last album, 1993's "Zooropa," was an exercise in techno-mechanical instrumentation -- a far cry from surging early hits such as "New Year's Day," "I Will Follow" and "Pride (In the Name of Love)." Clayton does acknowledge that the new songs find U2 trying to fuse all of its disparate approaches together.

"I think there's a quality to the band's playing now that needs a lot less support from technology," Clayton, 36, says. "It's a big sound, but with a lot of space there. Musically we're all playing 100 times better than last time; we've really grown in the last couple of years. We're really pushing Edge to play some way-out there stuff.

"That's the way it's sounding at the moment, at least. By the time it's mixed and finished up, we could well have added in some digital treatments, some samples and loops.

There's still no title for the album, but a world tour is scheduled to start around May of 1997, Clayton says. U2 -- along with producer-engineer-remixer Flood -- began working on the album last October and Dublin, and they've done some recording in Miami earlier this year.

But that's not all the band's been up to. Last year it joined forces with an assortment of guests -- including opera great Luciano Pavarotti -- to form an ad-hoc group featured on "Passengers," an album of ambient, minimalist music.

Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen, Jr., meanwhile, recorded a new version of Lalo Schifrin's "Mission: Impossible" theme for the film based on the TV series.

That project was originally pitched to U2 as a band, Clayton says, but since work had begun on the new album, it seemed prudent to pass. But Clayton and Mullen -- who were "Mission: Impossible" fans in their youth, were intrigued.

"I sort of thought about it and said, 'Well, it's a rhythm section thing. It's an instrumental. It actually doesn't need a whole band,"' Clayton says.

The duo held true to the original version, putting in some modern, industrial sounds and layering on more percussion. There was, however, one significant change.

"The original score is in a 5/4 timing, which is pretty impossible to dance to," Clayton explains. "Larry came up with the idea of shifting it to 4/4.

"For all intents and purposes, it's hard to tell the difference, but by putting it into 4/4, it was immediately something people could move to, without thinking about it."

Clayton says there's even "been talk" about using the song in some way when U2 plays live again "To be able to do this tune in front of a U2 crowd is going to be really exciting," he says.

Copyright © 1996 Reuters/Variety. All rights reserved.

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on June 16, 1996 8:55 PM.

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