'We always want to do better': Mullen

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By Jane Stevenson, Sun Media

U2 drummer Larry Mullen Jr. sat down with Sun Media in an exclusive Canadian newspaper interview late Thursday backstage at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, just hours before the band performed their second show at the venue.

Mullen gets the credit for the formation of U2, as he was the one who posted an ad on his high school notice board when he was just 14, looking for bandmates. The rest is history. He used to joke it was The Larry Mullen Band for about 10 minutes, before frontman Bono walked in.

Here's the best of what Mullen had to say during our 20-minute chat. Contrary to his reputation for being quiet, he was chatty and warm in person:

Sun Media: The band formed in 1976 and put out its first album, Boy, in 1980. Why after all this time are you still touring, do you think?

Mullen: There's nowhere else to go (laughs). What else am I going to do? I'm not qualified to do anything else. It's been a long time. And it's not always an easy choice to make, leaving your family, leaving your friends. That's a huge decision. However, we are very anxious to push the boat out as far as we possibly can. We always want to be better, and to do more. And I think that comes from when we were a young band out of Dublin. We were uncool, we were not terribly hip, in comparison to our contemporaries at that time, so we've always kind of felt a little like underdogs. And I know that sounds really preposterous at this stage but we always felt a little like that. ... So when we go out on stage it's just we want to basically prove ourselves every night."

Sun Media: Does anything surprise you anymore about U2 on stage?

Mullen: It is still a lot of fun. We actually like playing together. We like each other. We enjoy it. I mean that's always a surprise because you imagine that, 'Well, you're going to get tired of this and everyone's going to go their separate ways, and it'll all just fizzle out.' And it's always a surprise that that hasn't happened (to us), and that the value and the strength of those relationships is in some ways confirmed every night when we get out and play. And I think for a lot of people, four people who have been together for this period, walking out on stage together is a very powerful thing for your audience, but it's also hugely powerful for us."

Sun Media: Are Canadian audiences different than European or American audiences?

Mullen: Before we were big in the United States, we were big in Canada. Canada has always been huge for U2. And Canada traditionally has been very open to new music and, particularly, to U2. So we know this audience and they know us. Does it mean we don't have to work hard? No. Because it's a discerning audience because they know music, so we gotta work hard ... I'm not exaggerating and I'm not blowing smoke. Canada sustained us through some difficult periods of time. (Canadians) always supported us and, again, were music savvy, so they were always, on a musical level, an educated audience. So it was very important to us. So I love coming back here. I've spent a lot of time in Toronto and Montreal, on and off, on my own time, and I love it. Actually, I came back here a lot when I hurt myself. I had some injuries after the last tour and there were a couple of doctors here I was coming to see."

Sun Media: Do you have a post-show routine?

Mullen: I'm not a young man. I'm doing all right but over the years from bad posture I've managed to injure myself. I've been playing since I was nine, a street drummer. I didn't learn properly and so I did all the wrong things, and I certainly didn't expect to be playing 25, 30 years later. I thought you'd end after a certain period of time and I'd get on with my life. So continuing to do this and to pound and to play badly really has had an effect. The good news is that I found a physical therapist ... On stage I wear a plaster on the back of my neck just to hold my neck up, which is something I've never done before, I've always sort of tilted forward. So it forces me back just very slightly so it's made a huge difference ... I'm feeling much better. I'm actually really enjoying it."

(c) Copyright Sun Media, Saturday, September 19, 2009

Copyright © 2009, Canoe Inc. All rights reserved.

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on September 20, 2009 1:08 AM.

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