3.13.00 - Sonicnet News
Singer tells chat audience that album will have 'feeling of people in a room, playing off each other.'
Staff Writer Brian Hiatt reports:
Superstar rockers U2 are abandoning the electronics of Pop and other '90s albums for the sound of "hand-played drums" on an album to be released in September or October, according to lead singer Bono.
"I wanted make sure we heard [drummer] Larry [Mullen] on the record," Bono said in a Yahoo! chat Sunday. "The presence of hand-played drums is very important in these times of canned beats and easy access to them. What's become a rare commodity is the presence of humanity and the feeling of people in a room playing, off each other."
"I'm very, very excited," U2's guitarist, the Edge, said in the chat. "I think it's some of the best things we've done in many, many years. I'm just dying to finish the record and get it out there."
The chat, set up to discuss U2's work on the soundtrack to "The Million Dollar Hotel," was supposed to include only Bono (born Paul Hewson), but the Edge (born David Evans), producer Daniel Lanois and frequent band photographer Anton Corbijn briefly participated.
The online chat - held amid a raucous 40th birthday party in Ireland for U2 bassist Adam Clayton - quickly digressed from "The Million Dollar Hotel" soundtrack to the band's next album.
While the band's last album, Pop (1997), and its predecessors, Zooropa (1993) and Achtung Baby (1991), were largely driven by electronic dance beats, the sound of the new album will be more stripped-down and live, according to Bono.
The singer credited DJ Howie B., who accompanied U2 on the Pop tour, with giving the band the courage to return to rock.
"[He] kept reminding us how unique the band was and how we didn't need to connect with a hip-hop or a dance audience - that within both, there is a U2 audience," Bono said. "[T]his record it's about differentiation, stressing the differences between dance music and being in a band - there is stuff we can do that no DJ can touch, and vice versa."
Yet the band doesn't envision a return to the echoing, anthemic sound of classic albums such as 1987's The Joshua Tree, according to Bono.
"We have no reverse gears on our tank, so the idea of a return to basics is not in the cards," he said. "We advance towards simplicity; we advance toward a stripped-down sound. That is the essence of U2."
The new album's co-producer, Lanois, who worked on The Joshua Tree, said the band still has a lot of work to do. "We're well on our way. We have a lot of its pieces already in play, and now we need to flesh them out," he said. "It's usually a combination of fun and hard work. We've had fun; we have more hard work ahead of us."
In the next few months, the band will finish the lyrics to the album's songs, then decide which 10 or 12 will make it onto the album, according to Bono. "Our problem is that we love starting things and hate finishing them," he said. "We get bored with the technical side of things."
The movie soundtrack, to be released Tuesday (March 14), is being given minimal promotion because of the upcoming album, according to the singer. "The Million Dollar Hotel" includes two new U2 songs, "The Ground Beneath Her Feet" and "Stateless", in addition to the previously released "The First Time" and Bono solo tracks.
"It's got to be a quiet release because the next U2 album is going to very noisy," Bono said.
The Irish band released their first album, Boy, in 1980. They became superstars with the release of Joshua Tree, which spawned such stadium-ready hits as "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For."
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