6.11.99 - Sonicnet News
Singer says the superstar band also plans to significantly pare down its stage props on future tours.
Contributing Editor Brian Hiatt reports:
U2, who embraced flashy electronic sounds and even flashier onstage gimmickry during the '90s, plan a return to the guitar-bass-drums roots that first made them superstars for their next album and tour, according to lead singer Bono.
"It's the sound of four people playing in a room, four people who've known each other all their lives," the 39-year-old singer said Thursday (June 10) about the album, which the band is recording with producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois -- the team behind such previous records as The Joshua Tree (1987).
Bono (born Paul Hewson) said the album, which has yet to be titled, likewise will find U2 reclaiming their earlier sound, which they abandoned for more experimental, electronic-tinged sonics beginning with 1991's Achtung Baby, which featured the hit "Mysterious Ways".
Bono discussed the superstar band's future during a SonicNet/Yahoo chat, which was his first-ever such experience and was intended to publicize his support for Jubilee 2000, a charity coalition that aims to persuade the world's wealthiest countries to forgive the massive debts owed by the poorest ones.
The singer is scheduled to travel to Cologne, Germany, next week to participate in a protest aimed at attendees of the G8 summit, a meeting of the world's leading economic powers. He will be joined there by former Jane's Addiction singer Perry Farrell (born Perry Bernstein), Radiohead singer Thom Yorke and former Boomtown Rats frontman and Live Aid organizer Bob Geldof, Jubilee 2000 officials said. Bono wrote Thursday that he and his fellow Jubilee supporters have no intention of performing in Germany.
"We're going to Cologne on business -- serious business," he wrote. "[There will be] 100,000 of us if the sun shines, and we're not going to take no for an answer."
Bono said his latest songs won't necessarily be political, despite his involvement in Jubilee 2000 and in the Jubilee-affiliated anti-poverty concert, Net Aid, which will be held in New Jersey, as well as in London and Geneva, on Oct. 8.
U2 have never shied away from political lyrics. The Irish rockers, who combine an earnest, searching spirituality with soaring melodies powered by the mighty lead guitar of the Edge (born David Evans), became superstars with their 1987 album, The Joshua Tree. Their multiplatinum-selling 1983 album, War, which focused on the conflicts in Northern Ireland, established the band's politically conscious reputation, which was also evident on 1984's "Pride (In the Name of Love)"; the song is a tribute to slain civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
"You have no choice of subject matter," Bono said. "You write what's in your heart and on your mind, unless of course it's crap, which means you thought about it too much."
He said he didn't know when he and his bandmates -- the Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen -- will be finished with the new album, the follow-up to the dance-oriented Pop (1997). But the band has already given some thought to its next tour, he said.
Beginning with the ZooTV tour that followed Achtung Baby, U2's tours became increasingly elaborate productions, culminating in the 1997 PopMart tour, which featured -- among other costly props -- a massive yellow arch and a giant lemon from which the band emerged for its encores.
But PopMart may have been the band's last extravaganza, according to Bono: "NASA wants the lemon for their museum, McDonalds took the yellow arch back," he wrote. "So I guess that leaves a drum kit, one Vox amp and a loud [P.A.] to throw in the back of our humble jumbo."
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