The Edge on guitarists, Glasbonbury and musicals

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Interview by Mike Pattenden

Times Online

The name on his passport says Dave Evans but the rest of the world knows him as The Edge, the moniker handed to him by a young Bono Vox in U2's early days in Seventies Dublin. Polite and self-effacing, the guitarist is a self-confessed "music obsessive" who finishes our interview asking what new bands he should catch up on. His status presents many opportunities, not least the chance to work and play with his musical heroes. At the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 25th anniversary concert in October he accompanied Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger, Black Eyed Peas and Patti Smith. "That was amazing," he recalls. "You don't get many opportunities to play with artists of that calibre in your life." Actually, he gets more than most, as evidenced by his starring role alongside Jimmy Page and Jack White in the big-screen rockumentary It Might Get Loud. A guitar fan's wet dream, it traces the threesome's differing approaches to their art before bringing them together to jam."What came out of the movie," he says, "was that it doesn't matter what your influences are, it's whether you are an originator. It's about attempting to express the sound in your head you can't otherwise explain."

...guitarists

Jimmy Page An utter gentleman. I found him as I hoped, great company. He came from the blues whereas we started U2 as a reaction against all of that.

Jack White (of the White Stripes) It's early days for Jack in a sense but you can already hear the multitude of Jack Whites out there. That's an indicator to his influence.

Keith Richards You know when something still sounds as luminous and bright as it did the day it was coined? The riff to Satisfaction is like that. It crystallised a moment in time but it has a power that is undeniable.

Tom Verlaine & Richard Lloyd (of Television) Television were a huge influence at the time. The composition of Marquee Moon changed my way of thinking about the guitar. It made me challenge myself. It wasn't so much "I want to sound like them" but "What can I do?"

Nick Zinner (of Yeah Yeah Yeahs) He has a really potent but minimal style. That was something we took from the nihilism of the punk era, maximum effect from minimal input, something I try to retain.

...Glastonbury

By the time Glastonbury hit its stride we were doing our own thing. It didn't seem right for us then. It feels like we really have to do it because if we don't do it now, we never will. I'm obviously familiar with the festival's ideal but I've never experienced it. I used to be sceptical of its roots, the hippy thing. I'm going along to check it out as much as anything but I have a good feeling about it. I'd like to hope we can make our mark.

...musicals

Spider-Man I've been working on this with Bono for a while and it's probably going to happen in the spring. It's not a straight rock musical, there's other stuff going on. Opera would be the closest reference. Writing character-led songs was a really fresh challenge and we're very excited about it. There's some fantastic music in there.

West Side Story I'm a fan of the great musicals but there's plenty of poor ones because they can be as ripe with clichés as any rock'n'roll. West Side Story however is undeniably brilliant and highly original.

Oliver! As a kid, one of the first records I got as a Christmas gift was Oliver!, which had some marvellous tunes. I met Lionel Bart later on and he turned out to be a sweet man.

Tommy The original rock opera. A really original story matched with some huge songs. It set a new benchmark at the time.

Cabaret I've seen it performed on stage and as a movie, and it's wonderful. I love the dark Weimar thing.

...the 360 degree tour

Working with 'The Claw' [the tour's futuristic stage set] has been a challenge, but after a while we started to get into it. The fact there are four of us means we can spread out across the stage and come back together. It reinforces the band thing. It was almost a conscious decision to get into a huddle and play for each other as much as for the audience.

...Bono

In my opinion he's the best frontman of any band, a great performer and lyricist. I've never doubted I had the best singer of his generation in the band. His politics is very much an extension of the band ethos. We've always supported the things we believe in. He took it to a new level by getting inside those things. I think there's a compromise there that I personally don't want to be involved in. I don't want to be in the meetings. In my opinion, the artist has a duty to maintain an idealistic view of the world. Bono is one of those people who can see it from all angles without compromising himself as an artist. I'm amazed by that.

Copyright 2009 Times Newspapers Ltd.

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on January 2, 2010 10:08 AM.

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