Reporter and Admitted Fan Hangs With the Band
Kate Snow, ABC News
Full disclosure time. I cannot be fully impartial about U2. When I was a freshman in college -- back in the days before Ticketmaster and clicking "refresh" online could score you great seats to a show -- I once slept overnight in a freezing parking garage with my friend Monica to get tickets for the Joshua Tree tour. When I told Bono that story Friday, he leaned in and asked "where?" as if he might remember the moment. Syracuse, N.Y., fall 1987.
Bono has a way of making you feel like you are the center of his universe, if only for 10 minutes in a stairwell. He is just as cool as you'd imagine he'd be in person.
Like a true politician, he greeted me with a "Good to see you again!" even though we'd met only once before, and that interview was remote via satellite. No matter. There's an instant collegiality -- feigned or not, I didn't care. He's your old buddy just catching up to chat a bit about the new album.
He and Adam Clayton, who joined us in the hallway of a classroom building on Fordham University's campus just after their big blowout performance Friday on Good Morning America, kept joking about having never gone to college.
"Adam was thrown out of school," Bono teased.
"Coming to America was our college," Clayton chimed in. "We came here when we were 19 and 20 and we got to know a lot of people who went to college."
Four kids from Dublin, who got together after Larry Mullen Jr., the band's drummer, posted a wanted ad up at their prep school. Whatever you think of their music, it is striking that they've endured for so long. Rock bands are supposed to argue and fight and break up, right?
"We still argue from time to time..." Clayton said, sitting in that stairwell. "But we're getting better at playing together." Wait, what? Getting better at playing together? After 30 years there's still a learning curve?
"It's one long argument being in U2, is my memory of it" Bono told me. Was he joking? I think so. But there is clearly an unwritten pact between these guys. Somewhere along the way, someone (Bono?) must have realized they had a good thing going, and they better not mess it up.
Maybe the most revealing moment of our interview was when Bono talked about what their motivations are. Why do they keep making new albums? "There's a thing where people tell me, even if they don't like our band, that if you go to a U2 show, and the band will play onstage, you will have an involuntary reaction -- the hairs on the back of your neck just goes up," he said. "People who don't like the band say it even happens to them. What they don't know, is that that happens to us too... We, every night we walk out as a foursome. That happens."
The new album -- No Line on the Horizon -- has gotten mixed reviews. A reviewer in Time magazine rated it one of the band's worst efforts. But other fans have compared it to a soaring effort like Achtung Baby. Bono is clearly aware of the press when I ask him about it. And he laughs it off. People always say they like the old stuff, he says. In a few years this album will be "the old stuff" and people will remember it fondly, he's pretty sure.
They don't have a lot of time, as you might imagine. A publicist is starting to make hand signals that we ought to wrap things up by the time I ask my last question. They've given generously of their time to GMA.
Bono told me all he really has time for right now is music and his family. "It's very hard to leave home when you've got four kids and their beautiful mother," he said. "So it's really hard, but they know that this is what has given them a great life."
It took them nearly three years to make this latest album, according to Clayton. "We needed time to get lost in the music," Bono said.
And there he left us with the promise of more. "We've written loads of songs. You'll be hearing from us a lot in the next few years."
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