In 1985, concisely after U2 broke through in America, Rolling Stone named them the “ band of the Eighties. ” Over the course of 30 years and 16 brood stories, the magazine has forged a deep relationship with U2. The band ’ s new album, Songs of Experience, topped the charts in early December, meaning U2 now have a Number One album in each ten from the Eighties on .
I first interviewed Bono in 2005, when we talked for 10 hours over a long weekend in Cancún, Mexico, starting an intimate dialogue about rock & wheel, social department of justice, religion and the aim of artwork. This interview picks up where that one left off, although this time the stakes are much higher. The election of Donald Trump and a rising wave of fascism in Europe had rocked Bono, as had a near-death experience he suffered while making Songs of Experience. While he silent finds it difficult to talk about his “ extinction consequence, ” as he calls it, Bono opened up about its profound effect on both his life and on the fresh album.
Reading: Bono: The Rolling Stone Interview
We conducted the interview over two sessions at the kitchen postpone of my New York apartment, around the corner from Bono ’ s own position in the city. In person, Bono is warm, engaging and thoughtful, even while discussing difficult subjects. What shines through a much as anything is his ambition, which burns a brilliantly as ever. U2 remain hungry – for new approaches to songwriting, for finding their rate in the long time of stream, for a new tour planned for the bounce. Bono continues to pour his department of energy into global causes, meeting with worldly concern leaders and working on behalf of his ONE Campaign, which fights extreme poverty. He is the rare of rock stars – an artist and an activist in the same measure. As always, he remains an optimist – and one of rock ’ s greatest talkers, full of brain and candor and poetry .
You just finished the Joshua Tree tour. Nostalgia is something U2 like to avoid, so what was it like going out and playing an old album every night?
The position that we took was [ to act ] as if we had good put out The Joshua Tree the week earlier. So there were no old Super 8 films or anything to give the feel of that prison term. We felt that its military capability was that it had think of, possibly even more meaning now than it did then. That was the conceit, and it got better and better. We ended with four nights in Sao Paulo, in front of, I think, closely 300,000 people, and it was quite the crescendo .
But if I am honest – and I credibly should be in this interview – I haven ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate quite recovered from it. I gave myself to the sing in new ways, but there wasn ’ t a lot of going out and discovering the places we were playing, the cities that we were playing, which I truly love to do. Stepping inside the songs was more of an ordeal than I thought it would be. They are very demanding in terms of their aroused – what password am I looking for. .. candor. And then we were preparing for Songs of Experience. All that promotion takes a batch more influence than I remember, but if you believe in the songs, you have to defend and present them .
Songs of Experience just debuted at Number One on the albums chart, which means you’ve had a chart-topping album in every decade from the Eighties on. Why do you still push so hard for hits?
I mean, it ’ s not for everybody – and it can ’ thyroxine be for us all the time. But it precisely felt right. These last two albums mix up the personal and the political so that you don ’ thymine know which one you ’ re talking to. That ’ s a kind of magic trick antic, and realizing that of path all the problems that we find in the outside worldly concern are barely manifestations of what we, you know, what we hold inside of us, in our interior worlds. The biggest fucker, the biggest asshole, the biggest, the most sexist we can be, the most selfish, beggarly, cunning, all those characters you are going to see them in the mirror. And that is where the job of transformation has to start first. Is that not what know tells us ?
How did you envision Songs of Experience in relation to Songs of Innocence , its companion album from 2014?
I had this estimate of your younger self talking to your older self for quite a while. It is an concern dramatic device. [ several years ago ] I was at an exhibition of Anton Corbijn ’ s photograph in Amsterdam, and person asked me what would I say to this photograph ; I think it was a shot of me at age 22. I thought about it, and then I said, “ Stop second-guess yourself. You ’ re right field. ”
And then the person asked what the younger me would say to the older me. I got a moment skittish. I wasn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate sure. I took that hesitation as a clue that possibly I wasn ’ thyroxine comfortable with where I am now. I was starting to realize that I had lost some of that ferocity. Some of that clarity, that black-and-white point of view .
But now it seems like you’re in another place entirely. It seems like you have more clarity, that you learned more.
I ’ thousand less diffident about taking political risks or sociable risks. When I became an militant, people were like, “ Really? ” But they finally accepted that. then I started to be concern in commerce and the machinery of what got people out of poverty and into prosperity. And then a few people said, “ You can ’ t in truth go there, can you ? ”
I said, “ But if you are an artist, you must go there. ” You and I have had the conversation over the years : What can the artist do ? What is the artist not allowed to do, and are there boundaries ? now, I would say to my younger self : “ Experiment more and don ’ thymine let people box you in. There is nothing you can ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate put on your poll if it is part of your life. ” We have this mind in the culture that came out of the Sixties and Seventies, that artists were somehow above the rub, or should be above the fray .
That they have an excuse not to participate.
I had an excuse not to participate. But I knew that some people who have regular jobs are equitable american samoa valuable as the artists, possibly more valuable. And there are more assholes per square column inch amongst us artists. I remember meeting Björk, and she said that in Iceland, making a moderate is a big deal. Like, a song is not more important than a electric chair. And I went, “ Well, depending on the professorship, irish people know that to be true. ” So if that is genuine, then stop this nonsense that an artist is an raise person .
One thing this record seems to be about is survival. The survival of the world, and of our political system. But let’s talk about your own survival. In the middle of recording, you had a near-death experience. Tell me what happened.
Well, I mean, I don ’ thyroxine want to .
I understand. I had my own experience recently. People want to ask about my health, and I’m hesitant to talk about it. Why do I feel that way? Am I ashamed? Is it weakness I am trying to cover up?
It ’ s just a thing that. .. people have these extinction events in their lives ; it could be psychological or it could be forcible. And, yes, it was physical for me, but I think I have spared myself all that soap opera. particularly with this kind of celebrity obsession with the minutia of peoples ’ lives – I have got out of that. I want to speak about the topic in a way that lets people fill in the blanks of what they have been through, you know ?
It ’ s one thing if you were talking about it in a place of record like Rolling Stone, but by the clock time it gets to your local yellow journalism it is just frightful. It becomes the wonder that everyone is asking .
But let’s talk about it in an elliptical sense. I mean, it’s central to the album.
Yeah. This political apocalypse was going on in Europe and in America, and it found a perfect verse with what was going on in my own life. And I have had a hail of blows over the years. You get warning signs, and then you realize that you are not a tank, as [ his wife ] Ali says. Edge has this thing that he says about me, that I look upon my consistency as an inconvenience.
In 2000, you had a throat-cancer scare, right?
No, it was a check for it. One of the specialists wanted to biopsy, which would have risked my vocal cords – and it turned out OK.
A few years ago, I visited you in the hospital with your arm in some kind of George Washington Bridge structure.
After my bicycle accident, pretending it was a car crash .
It looked bad, and then the latest thing. That is a lot of brushes with death.
There is comic tragedy with a bicycle accident in Central Park – it is not precisely James Dean. But the thing that shook me was that I didn ’ t remember it. That was the amnesia ; I have no theme how it happened. That left me a short awkward, but the other stuff has equitable last nailed me. It was like, “ Can you take a hint ? ”
You are making the album and then all of a sudden you had to deal with your health issue. How did it affect the album and your vision of it?
Well, queerly enough, deathrate was going to be a subject anyhow just because it is a subject not much covered. And you can ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate write Songs of Experience without writing about that. And I ’ ve had a couple of these shocks to the system, let ’ s call them, in my life sentence. Like my bicycle accident or my spinal column injury. So it was constantly going to be the subject. I barely didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate want to be such an adept in it .
I met this poet named Brendan Kennelly. I have known him for years ; he is an incredible poet. And he said, “ Bono, if you want to get to the place where the publish lives, imagine you ’ rhenium dead. ” There is no self, there is no vanity, no worrying about who you will offend. That is capital advice. I merely didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate want to have to find out outside of a mental excursion. I didn ’ t want to find out the hard manner .
So how did the idea of mortality come into play?
Gavin Friday, one of my friends from Cedarwood Road [ in Dublin ], has written one of my darling songs. It is called “ The last Song I ’ ll Ever Sing, ” about this character in Dublin, second when we were growing up, called the Diceman, who died at 42, five years after he was diagnosed with HIV. I realized lone recently that “ Love Is All We Have Left ” is my attempt to write that birdcall.
Can you be more precise? Like, what songs do you think came directly out of your near-death moment?
It ’ randomness not so much songs as. . .
The mood of it.
I think. .. I mean, how about this : “ The Showman ” – that is a light birdcall, a playfulness song, and it became a very important song. not surrendering to melancholy is the most important thing if you are going to fight your way out of whatever corner you are in. self-pity ? The irish, we are fucking world-beaters on that tied ; it ’ mho our least-interesting national characteristic. And I never wanted to surrender to that, so kindling rock candy, the tempo of some songs, abruptly became truly important .
But the second verse is the key, and it has the best wrinkle in the album, which is this : “ It is what it is, it is not what it seems/This screwed up stuff is the stuff of dreams/I got barely enough low self-esteem to get me to where I want to go . “ I wish I could say it was mine, but it was Jimmy Iovine who said it. A acquaintance of mine was slagging him off, and I said, “ Oh, a small insecure there, Jimmy ? ” And Jimmy turned around and said, “ I got fair adequate low self-esteem to get me where I want to go. ”
That sounds like a realistic appraisal of you and your bullshit.
Performers are very insecure people. Gavin Friday, his line to me years and years ago was “ Insecurity is your best security for a performer. ” A performer needs to know what is going on in the board and feel the room, and you don ’ thymine feel the board if you are convention, if you ’ ra solid. If you have any great sense of self, you wouldn ’ thymine be that vulnerable to either the opinions of others or the love and the applause and the approval of others .
The whole event enriched the album, though – talk about an experience.
But international relations and security network ’ metric ton that great ? I thought Experience would be more brooding, and it has got that side, but the affection of the album is the kindling and the kindling and the drive of it. There is a kind of youth about it. A distribute of the tempo are up. And it has some of the funniest lines, I think. “ Dinosaur wonders why he still walks the Earth. ” I mean, I started that note about myself.
Being a dinosaur?
Yeah, of course, but then I started to think about it in terms of what is going on around the populace. And I thought, “ Gosh, majority rule, the thing that I have grown up with all my life. .. that ’ s what ’ s truly facing an extinction consequence. ”
In an interview that you and I did in 2005, you said this: “Our definition of art is breaking open the breastbone, for sure. Just open-heart surgery. I wish there were an easier way, but people want blood, and I am one of them.”
Life and death and art. .. all of them bally businesses .
How did your faith get you through all of this?
The person who wrote best about love in the Christian earned run average was Paul of Tarsus, who became Saint Paul. He was a bully fucker. He is a superintellectual guy, but he is ferocious and he has, of course, the Damascene experience. He goes off and lives as a tentmaker. He starts to preach, and he writes this ode to love, which everybody knows from his letter to the Corinthians : “ Love is patient, love is kind. .. . Love bears all things, love believes all things ” – you hear it at a distribute of weddings. How do you write these things when you are at your lowest ebb ? ‘ Cause I didn ’ t. I didn ’ triiodothyronine. I didn ’ thymine deepen myself. I am looking to person like Paul, who was in prison and writing these love letters and think, “ How does that happen ? It is amazing. ”
now, it doesn ’ metric ton cure him of all, of what he thinks of women or gay people or whatever else, but within his context he has an amazingly transcendent view of love. And I do believe that the dark is where we learn to see. That is when we see ourselves clearer – when there is no light .
You asked me about my faith. I had a sense of suffocation. I am a singer, and everything I do comes from air. Stamina, it comes from air. And in this work, I felt I was suffocating. That was the most frighten thing that could happen to me because I am in pain. Ask Ali. She said I wouldn ’ metric ton notice if I had a knife sticking out of my back. I would be like, “ Huh, what is that ? ” But this time last class, I felt very alone and very panicky and not able to speak and not able to evening explain my concern because I was kind of. . .
When you felt like you were suffocating?
Yeah. But, you know, people have had so a lot worse to deal with, so that is another reason not to talk about it. You demean all the people who, you know, never made it through that or couldn ’ t get health manage !
Do you feel like you lucked out?
Lucked out ? I am the fucking luckiest serviceman on Earth. I didn ’ thyroxine think that I had a fear of a fast passing. I thought it would be inconvenient ’ campaign I have a few albums to make and kids to see grow up and this beautiful womanhood and my friends and all of that. But I was not that guy. And then suddenly you are that guy. And you think, “ I don ’ t want to leave here. There ’ mho therefore a lot more to do. ” And I ’ m blessed. Grace and some truly apt people got me through, and my faith is hard .
I read the Psalms of David all the fourth dimension. They are amazing. He is the first bluesman, shouting at God, “ Why did this find to me ? ” But there ’ s honesty in that excessively. .. . And, of course, he looked like Elvis. If you look at Michelangelo ’ second sculpt, don ’ metric ton you think David looks like Elvis ?
He’s a great beauty.
It is besides annoying that he is the most celebrated Jew in the world and they gave him an uncircumcised. .. that ’ sulfur just crazy. But, anyhow, he is a identical attractive fictional character. Dances naked in front of the troops. His wife is pissed off with him for doing so. You sense you might like him, but he does some severe things as he wanders through four phases – servant, poet, warrior, king. awful things. He is quite a modern figure in terms of his contradictions. .. . Is this drilling ?
But if you go bet on to his early days, David is anointed by Samuel, the prophet Samuel, and, above all, his older brothers, a sheepherder presumably smelling of sheep crap, he is told, “ Yeah, you are going to be the king of Israel. ” And everyone is laughing, like, “ You got to be kidding – this kid ? ” But only a few years late, Saul, the king, is reported as having a monster and the entirely thing that will quiet the demon is music. .. . Makes smell to me. David can play the harmonica. As he is walking up to the palace, he must be thinking, “ This is it ! This is how it is going to happen . ” even better, when he meets the king and gets to be friends with the baron ’ s son Jonathan. It ’ s like, “ Whoa, this is decidedly going to happen ! The old prophet Samuel was correctly. ” And then what happens ? In a consequence of demonic rage, Saul turns against him, tries to kill him with a spear, and he is, in fact, exiled. He is chased, and he hides out in a cave. And in the darkness of that cave, in the silence and the fear and credibly the reek, he writes the first psalm .
And I wish that weren ’ thymine dependable. I wish I didn ’ t know enough about artwork to know that that is true. That sometimes you good have to be in that cave of despair. And if you ’ re still awake. .. there is this very curious spot that comes next. thus David, our hero, is hiding out in the cave, and Saul ’ s army comes looking for him. indeed, King Saul comes into the cave where David is hiding to. .. ah. .. use the facilities. I am not making this up – this is in the Holy Scriptures. David is sitting there, hiding. He could just kill the king, but he goes, “ No, he is the anoint. I can not touch him. ” He merely clips off a objet d’art of Saul ’ s robe, and then Saul gets on his cavalry as they go off. They ’ re down in the valley, and then David comes out and he goes, “ Your king-ness, your Saul-ness, I was that close. ”
It is a beautiful report. I have thought about that all my animation, because I knew that ’ s where the blues were born .
On “Lights of Home,” you write, “I shouldn’t be here because I should be dead. I can see the lights in front of me. I believe my best days are ahead, I can see lights in front of me. Oh, Jesus, if I’m still your friend, what the hell, what the hell you got for me?”
There is a Bob Dylan citation in that birdcall ; I ’ ll just tell you ’ cause I know you love Bob. It goes, “ Hey, now, do you know my name ? Where I ’ thousand going ? If I can ’ t get an answer in your eyes, I see it, the lights of home. ” At least in my head, the reference is to one of my front-runner Dylan songs, “ Señor Señor. ” In that song, he meets an angel and he, like, goes on this ride with him. I have always imagined it is the angel of death.
The full name of the song is “Señor (Tales of Yankee Power).” Does that help explain?
No, I think that is Bob putting you off the trail .
Your song asks, “Jesus, what have you got for me?” Well, what do you think he has got for you?
There is an incredible free in letting go. I thought I already had, but this was the following installment in trust. You know, people of religion can be very annoying. Like when people on the Grammys thank God for a song and you think, “ God, that is a crap song. Don ’ thyroxine give God credit for that one – you should take it yourself ! ” I am certain I have done that myself. And person ’ second like, “ I got this immediately from the mouth of God ! ” And you ’ ra think, “ Wow, God has no taste ! ”
He can’t write a fucking tune!
Like, “ That is a regretful rhyme, God ! ” So you have got to be very careful of this, but if you ’ re asking me what I learned, I ’ ve learned to try and put time away to meditate on the day ahead. I don ’ t want to get all religious on your ass, so act forgive me, but if you ’ ra concerned, this is today ’ sulfur meditation. I will share this with you because it is beautiful and because it might make you smile. hera it comes. This is Psalm 18, and it is one of those psalms of David that has been translated into a modern parlance by this man called Eugene Peterson – capital writer. It goes : “ God made my life sentence complete when I placed all the pieces before him. When I got my act together, he gave me a fresh begin. now, I ’ molarity alarm to God ’ s ways. I don ’ t take God for granted. Every day I review the ways he works. I try not to miss a whoremaster. I feel put back together, and I ’ thousand watching my measure. God rewrote the text of my life sentence when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes. ” Isn ’ t that beautiful ?
That is beautiful. Tell me about the theme of love on this album. You start the record with “Love Is All We Have Left.”
It will take me a while to answer your questions, but I will answer them finally. I was imagining a science-fiction Frank Sinatra. [ Sings torchily ] “ Love and love is all we have left. ” It ’ sulfur about amusing in one sense, except it rips your heart out. tragic drollery. I thought it would be interesting to write a song from the point of view of a person who possibly wouldn ’ t sing another song. One of the things I ask myself on this album is, “ If you have one thing to say, what is it ? If this is all we are left with, I am content with it – love. ”
What I wanted to do on this album is to occasionally have a dialectic conversation where younger me assails the older me. And so you have that voice in “ Love Is All We Have Left ” : [ Sings ] “ now, you ’ re at the other side of the telescope/Seven billion stars in her eyes/So many stars, therefore many ways of seeing/Hey, this is no time not to be alive. ” It is the innocent you speaking to the experienced you and saying it is all right. I have come to some peace with that younger partisan that I used to be. And I think that that younger partisan wouldn ’ thyroxine disapprove of where I have ended up. possibly the procedure of getting there he might not have liked .
You’re not just singing love songs; these are deep meditations about the power of love.
It is probably our big subject as a band. When we sang “ Pride ( In the appoint of Love ), ” that was an torture thing for a young male to sing, if you think about it. But if you are asking what side of love this is, you know, the english speech is then rich people, but it is limited in this news “ love. ” There are many early words. .. .
What about the song “Ordinary Love”?
That ’ s nonromanticized love. The love that people make, the deals that people make to stay together. What Yeats calls “ cold passion. ” I love the mind that great relationships have a lower temperature .
Not a transactional love, but a day-to-day willingness to tolerate and accept, which requires more patience and less passion.
Yes. Ali and I are probably more in love now than when we got together in the inaugural place. I don ’ thyroxine think it is given much accredit, but when people work through their problems and stay together – “ Ordinary Love ” is that. I hope it ’ second interest to write love songs. not the hundreds of thousands of songs about passion and losing your mind to love. Isn ’ t it interesting to write coldness, measured, how-we-got-here songs ?
“Landlady” is an extraordinarily pretty love song about you and Ali and thanking her for so much.
Getting family – that is the big key for me. I can ’ metric ton believe it because I grew up sleeping on people ’ s couches, sleeping on their floor, running away to the circus and joining a rock & scroll band. It has taken me a long fourth dimension to figure out where home is. I left home credibly the week my mother died [ when Bono was 14 ]. I mean, I stayed there on [ childhood family ] 10 Cedarwood Road for the future few years, but I wasn ’ thyroxine truly there. On Songs of Innocence, “ This Is Where You Can Reach Me now ” explains the realization that I had, while sitting there, moved address. I was with the band. The band was where I live. They were another family .
It has taken me a retentive time, but I think I ultimately came home. But the only way I could say that is with some liquid body substance. And thus on “ Landlady, ” there is a little fake Bob Dylan line, which is “ I ’ ll never know what starving poets mean ’ induce when I was broke it was you that constantly paid the rip . ” I have learned a batch from Bob Dylan over the years, and one thing I ’ ve learned is that at your most serious consequence you need humor. You need fucking temper. That is why I am sol gallant of the album. You have all this huffy stuff, but you besides have, on “ Blackout, ” “ The dinosaur wonders why it ’ s still on the Earth. A meteor promises it is not going to hurt. ” That is funny story, but so is “ Landlady, ” and that is why “ Landlady ” works. It hopefully has fair adequate humor and humility for it not to be fucking excruciating .
Let me ask you about “Summer of Love,” which is about Syria and the refugees. Where did that song come from, musically?
There is a guy working with Ryan Tedder, who wrote a beautiful little guitar part. And this was Edge going through his small excitement, saying, “ Oh, if you want something, you fair ask for it. Like hip-hop, sample it. Sample it, or replay it. ” It was a great freedom for him. So that was region of the spirit of this record excessively. It was like, “ Let ’ s expect in places you don ’ thyroxine normally look. ” And so we got this beautiful climate, and we have this beautiful melodious classify of about ode to the Beach Boys and the Mamas and the Papas, and then found the device. And the twist is the west seashore of Syria. And not the west coast of Ireland or California, as a bunch of people have reviewed it as .
The charts these days are dominated by younger acts. Most everything on the Top 40 is hip-hop or pop. Rock is no longer at the center of our culture. Where does U2 fit into this new world?
The board has been gamed a little piece. right nowadays, streaming is on the ad-based model. And that is very, identical young, and it ’ s very, very popular. It ’ south dominated by frequency of plays, but that is not actually a standard of the slant of an artist. When you move from an ad-based model to a subscription exemplary, a amusing thing happens. then, the artist who will make you sign up is actually more valuable .
Read more: Top 10 Best Songs of All Time
The one you pay for?
The one you pay for. If you are a adolescent and you are listening to whatever the pop work is, you ’ re credibly listening to them 100 times a day. It ’ s a adolescent crush, but in a class ’ s time you won ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate wish about that. But artists that have a connection with you and your life, you pay for the subscription service. In fact, we are going to witness a rotation in the way artists and their fans interact. Chance the Rapper, who has a beautiful soul and a take care to match it, has no record label. He is doing it himself, and he is successful to the point where he can give a million dollars to the Chicago school system .
But if your music is on Apple or on Spotify, you can speak straight to people. What you need from phonograph record labels is advice and, you know, help with how you manage your band or sword or the artwork and the videos and all of that. This is in truth a conversion period. It has been very unfriendly to a set of artists. I knew Spotify would come through for people, but a distribute of my friends were angry for believing me because they said, “ We are precisely getting micropayments. ” I said things were going to change once this gets to scale, and it is going to take a while. It is going to be unpleasant ; not a well time to be Cole Porter right now.
Is Spotify starting to pay off?
As it gets to scale. .. if the phonograph record labels don ’ t share out what they ’ ra pick up from Spotify, artists will bypass the criminal record labels and go straight to Spotify or Apple.
And so in the ecology of this, where do you fit?
We gave aside our last album ; or rather, Apple gave it away. And very liberally, I believe. But the album before that, No Line on the Horizon, was very adult, not of the demographic that are interest in streaming. So we are just going into this now. We haven ’ triiodothyronine actually started however .
So you think that the music you are doing now is more streaming-friendly?
Yeah. It ’ s so, so concern, though. We ’ re back to the Fifties now, where the focus is on songs quite than albums. U2 make albums, so how do we survive ? By making the songs better. And having, I hope, the humility to accept that we need to rediscover songwriting, which is one reason Edge and I took on Turn Off the Dark, the Spider-Man musical, to get into musical theater, the Rodgers and Hammerstein view of songwriting – a lot of the american Songbook came from musicals. We started to get into what you might call courtly songwriting .
We asked Paul McCartney, “ Where did you get all those incredible chords in those Beatles songs ? ” And he said, “ Well, you know, we were a rock & axial rotation band, but to get good gig we had to do weddings. Like classy weddings. We had to learn Gershwin, all that stuff. ” And I went, “ No, I didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate know. ” And Paul says, “ Oh, yeah, we got better-paying gigs. ” And I went, “ Ah ! ” It was like, “ bill to self and Edge : Let ’ s get into musical dramaturgy. Let ’ s think about that. ”
I would say halfway through Songs of Innocence, we very started thinking differently about songwriting, being more formal about it. And now these new songs have melodies you can hear across the street, around the corner. When they ’ re dependable, you can hear them through the walls .
How do you discover new music?
The band is always listening to music, and I have got my kids. Jordan is a music snob, an indie snob. Eve is rap. Elijah is in a ring, and he has got identical firm feelings about music, but he doesn ’ t make any distinction between, let ’ s say, the Who and the Killers. Or, you know, Nirvana and Royal Blood. It is not generational for him. It is the healthy and what he is experiencing. He believes that a rock & paradiddle rotation is around the corner .
Do you believe it?
I think music has gotten very girly. And there are some commodity things about that, but hip-hop is the only rate for young male wrath at the moment – and that ’ s not good. When I was 16, I had a bunch of anger in me. You need to find a stead for it and for guitars, whether it is with a cram machine – I don ’ triiodothyronine care. The consequence something becomes preserved, it is fucking over. You might american samoa well put it in formaldehyde. In the conclusion, what is rock & wind ? rage is at the center of it. Some great rock & roll tends to have that, which is why the Who were such a capital band. Or Pearl Jam. Eddie has that ramp.
And therefore you think that there is space still available. . . .
It will return.
You agree with Eli?
His lean was, if the rock candy & roll rotation international relations and security network ’ triiodothyronine happening, we are going to start it .
Who do you think U2’s audience is? A couple of years ago, you were saying you had to go out and get a younger, newer audience, had to go on a small college tour, had to reinvent.
The Apple experiment truly helped in that way. Larry [ Mullen Jr. ] had been very disbelieving about that. But, late, he was saying, “ Look, I am up on my [ barrel ] perch [ at concerts ]. I can see what you can ’ thyroxine go steady, and I can see that the hearing is younger. ” I asked him how did he know it was related to the Apple experiment. He said, “ Well, because they don ’ thyroxine know the words of ‘ Beautiful Day, ’ but they do know the words of ‘ Every Breaking Wave. ’ ” And as we go ahead with this album, we are on the radio – it ’ s amazing. I can ’ thyroxine think of another artist in their fifties who is on the radio. On mainstream radio receiver. Can you think of any ?
Nope. Not Bruce, not the Stones . . .
You know that sung Bruce wrote, [ 2007 ’ s ] “ Girls in Their Summer Clothes “ ? I heard that song and said, “ This song should be on the radio, why is that not all over the radio ? ” I spoke to person recently, a Bruce fan, and I said, “ Do you know this song ? It is the most insightful birdcall about aging. It is a song of experience, actually. ” And they said, “ No, I don ’ t know that. ” So these songs, they can slip through the cracks of acculturation. That ’ s why U2 go after selling our wares the like way we did for our foremost album.
How will you measure success for Songs of Experience ?
I would like it to have celebrated songs, so that when we play them in our live show people don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate go, “ What is that ? Should we go to the bathroom immediately ? ”
Which songs do you think will become famous?
I know that “ You ’ re the Best thing About Me ” is going to be one of them. I think “ Get Out of Your own Way ” is going to be one of them. The biggest one of all could be “ Love Is Bigger Than Anything in Its Way, ” but it might be that that is what the radio people are telling us. It could be something like “ The Showman, ” something unexpected or, you know, “ loss Flag Day, ” “ Summer of Love ”. .. you know, I don ’ metric ton know.
What is the hardest part about being in U2 right now, in 2017?
Getting consensus .
Some people, in a very reasonable way, are thinking, “ Why do you want to do this ? Why do you want our songs on the radio ? ” And I say that, if we believe in our songs, we have to use any metier we can find to reach people. We don ’ t need to do it for money. We don ’ t need to do it for anything. And, of course, our dance band could tour for the rest of its life merely on what we ’ ve got. I am asking them to put a lot of energy into recording these new songs and then selling our wares, laying it all on the table, like we did when we were kids. Except we ’ ra not kids .
So there is a bit of an existential divide as to your ambition, which runs as white-hot as ever.
I feel a compulsion to the songs. If you are going to go this far, you have to go all the way. And I don ’ thyroxine know if that can final constantly. But, belly laugh, do we have the songs immediately. Coming down here in the car, on one station we heard “ You ’ re the Best thing About Me. ” On another place, called the Wave, I heard “ Bullet the Blue Sky. ” Quite a depend on. .. through about 30 years .
How does the rest of the band feel about the new songs?
I would say that Edge seems like person who wants to be in the band more than ever. surely more concenter on it as a unharmed. I think the past two albums have reminded him that U2 ’ s strengths – above atmospherics and invention and all that stuff that he loves – are bad melodies and absolved thoughts. That ’ randomness where we came in. The verse melody in “ The Best Thing ” was a render to form from him. I was calling it punk rocker Motown, but I was the hood and he was decidedly the Motown .
Adam [ Clayton ] is sampling older eras and dropping them into new eras like a postmodernist artist. He ’ s our postmodernist mailman. Warhol started that sampling thing ; he would see it like that. Certain songs have a palpate he ’ s copped from person else. Adam sees us all as artworks. It ’ s like he ’ mho walking through the art market and always looking for something concern. I am not sure Larry knows what to make of the album. He loved the tour, but he and I are credibly the hardest on every U2 record. After we finished Joshua Tree, I remember going to Chris Blackwell ’ sulfur place in Jamaica. The two of us held up the barricade each nox, commiserating over what a batch we ’ ve made of it. He has that classify of Irish [ thing of being ] down on all things fresh. I have had that myself at times, but not with this album. But, you know, we are barely like that. It is hard to explain .
You once said that you were in the business of applying for the job of best band in the world. Are you still in that business?
I mean, look, the singer is a crowd-stirrer and a carny pooch. We have to get attention for our band, and the firework I will throw into the towns is something exorbitant like, “ We are reapplying to be the best ring in the world. ” It is fair to get people annoyed or talking about it .
But also to get yourself stirred up a little.
That is true. We fair lived with this mind, even in the first 10 years of the set ’ south life, “ What if we didn ’ metric ton screw it up like everyone does ? Wouldn ’ t it be amazing if we stuck together for 30 years ? ” I mean, that was crazy. We are at 40 years now, and I think the entirely direction we can conceive of that is to imagine what if the Clash were approximately ? We would have been identical concerned to see what solve they would have done. And, you know, the fact that the Rolling Stones are around is a kind of a miracle and some decorate .
You’re writing about humility on the album. How do you stay humble in your position, especially in an age of over-the-top self-promotion?
There ’ s a remainder between humility and insecurity. I have the insecurity of the performer, as I said early. As a performer, you can feel the room. even if it ’ s some screen of get-together, a dinner party or an opening, I can feel the room – that is insecurity. Humility is different. Humility is a actual smell of your place in the universe and understand that it is oklahoma to play a quiet, supportive function in the lives of others. .. . I ’ meter not there yet. Greatness as a person comes from not pursuing it. Pretty dull if you ’ re a performer – the fireworks display is why people are at the show .
I used to think that my insecurity was humility because I don ’ triiodothyronine throw my weight around, because I try to treat whomever I meet with deference. But I am not sure if it actually was humility. I think that might have been just good manners .
I calm have that thing, that “ cerberus on my trail, ” whatever that Robert Johnson persona is. When I am onstage, I still meet that early self, that kind of shadow self. I calm have some exercise to do on myself to get to a position that you might recognize as humility .
But it is a struggle you constantly undertake.
I think thus. I hope you seaport ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate seen me behave in a very arrogant way.
Nothing I can recall [accidentally spills coffee].
And I have tried not to be, I have tried not to pour coffee all over people. .. .
What do you make of the refugee crisis that’s going on in Europe?
Can I step back and try to give a more macro picture before we get into that ? In the western worldly concern, in our life, there has never been a here and now, until very recently, when paleness and equality was not improving. There were setbacks, but it was as if the world was on a trajectory toward fairness and justice and equality for all .
There is the famous Martin Luther King quote.
“ The bow of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. ” You and I grew up in a worldly concern where things were getting well, despite all the setbacks. This was not in the broad universe, not in the whole world, but in the earth that we grew up in. And the reason for that was largely because after the second World War, it became very absolved for the first time that in the history of the human race we had the ability to extinguish all life sentence .
That was a shock to the organization that we haven ’ t properly calibrated. It changed the way Giacometti made art. It changed the way Picasso painted human figures ; everything changed both consciously and unconsciously. Rock & roll erupted. All that sexual love and peace stuff came from people born out of the debris of the Second World War .
When the [ 2016 ] election happened and people intuited that something atrocious and something unprecedented was happening, there was a sense of grief. We had Brexit, so people in Europe are feeling this arsenic well. And I thought, “ This is melodrama. ” Why are people, rational people I know, feeling like they are grieving like person just died ? It is an election, and it will correct itself, any .
But then I realized that something had died. People ’ mho innocence had died. And a generation that had grown up thinking that the human spirit had a natural development toward fairness and judge was learning this might not be the shell. My position was, “ OK, good. now it is time we wake up and realize we can ’ t take any of this for granted. ” Big primates have been around a set longer than democracy, and this dandy who shall not be named – he is fair a new demonstration of that boastfully archpriest. We got judder. even in Europe, people have forgotten what fascism did to them. Whether it was fascism described as Stalin or Mao in the state of matter communism, whatever you want to call it. It is forgotten .
We are actually going back to the way we used to be. The modern normal is the old convention. That is terrifying. The demonize of “ the other ” has returned .
But to get back to your question. In Europe, people are afraid for their lives and their lifestyles and their livelihoods and their cultural homogeneity, and have started to put up walls around their definition of Europe. It ’ second becoming fortress Europe, and there ’ s an up-drawbridge brain probably stoked by outside forces. The shame of it is, at the start of the refugee crisis, you had those incredible photograph of families arriving from Syria on trains in Germany, in Munich, and the fantastic reception they received. People bringing shoes and clothes for the kids – spontaneously, not organized. Just the actual good of the german people. And [ Angela ] Merkel all of a sudden become not alone the head of Europe, but the heart of Europe. And what happens ?
Those to the right of her start to crowd in, and people start to carp. And there was a here and now in France where if Le Pen had won the election, not Macron, the fusion of Europe would have been under threat. Think about that. One of the big positives that came out of the negativity of the Second World War could have been lost .
What happened here in the United States is that Le Pen won.
That ’ s right.
There is this long history where we have seen the country split apart over great moral issues, and survived it, more or less. What might happen here? Are you talking about democracy being a dinosaur?
As I said, bad primates have always ruled the environments, and majority rule is not the natural habitat of homosexual sapiens .
democracy is a noteworthy amour propre that depends on an effective news program media. indeed “ talk through one’s hat news ” is not a bogus threat. You have a post-truth president leading a post-trust nation. The chilling act is not that the adult primate is quite smart, which he clearly is, but what if he was very smart and less easily to read. What besides should be easy to read are the lessons the impart and correct need to learn from how this absurdity came about. It shouldn ’ t take a reality-TV star to read the boo and hisses of discontent people ready to roll the die on business not as usual. We all need to do a better job of understanding where that anger and sense of displacement comes from .
As an activist, you have a history of working with politicians. How do you work with anyone in Washington, D.C., right now?
I realized I couldn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate work with this president whether he wanted to or not, because you can ’ t believe what he says. So I took a meet with Mike Pence. He had been a defender of PEPFAR [ President ’ s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief ]. Thirteen million people owe their lives to PEPFAR, and Pence stood up and fight for it in Congress when I was there. So I went, “ Great, I can work with him, ” but that was in the early days. Cuts [ to -PEPFAR ] were promised with the overall flog of foreign aid. The vice president of the united states told us in our merging that he was supportive of PEPFAR, but I have to say it ’ s Congress that deserves credit rating for stopping the cuts from going through. That makes you ask harder questions about the administration .
You visited George W. Bush in Texas recently. Tell me about that.
I think that on his exit from the Oval Office he was a a lot humble man. When I visited him at his ranch, I found him living very restfully. He hasn ’ triiodothyronine done a lot of speechifying but does do a draw of painting. I am certain he ’ sulfur pained by seeing casualties of holocene wars that returned home, and he paints those very people .
Laura and his two daughters are very proud of the work America has done in the competitiveness against HIV/AIDS. We worked closely together on that. Condoleezza Rice and Bush ’ s headman of staff, Josh Bolten, besides deserve a batch of accredit. It is the largest health treatment in the history of medicine. There ’ second now approximately 20 million lives saved in a war that had previously cost 35 million lives. If you want to think about it this means, american samoa many as half the people who died in the second World War were lost to a bantam little virus. It still hasn ’ metric ton sink in. There ’ sulfur a set of us who worked on this, but I ’ m not certain we tied now amply appreciate the scale of what was accomplished in the face of such repugnance, but it should remind people of what ’ s possible if we can put aside partiality .
What do you say to people discouraged by this moment? Is there hope after this?
There is. There is. I think the consequence just has to be reclaimed. This is surely the bleakest earned run average since Nixon. It surely undermines the very estimate of America, what is going on now. And Republicans know it, Democrats know it – no matchless ’ s coming off well here. We know some who should know better have tried to piggyback the man ’ mho celebrity to get stuff done. They will live to regret it. Before I went out against him in the primaries, I called a batch of Republican friends that I have and said, “ I can ’ metric ton in all conscience be quiet as this hostile coup d’etat of your party and possibly the area happens. ” And I made the quotation, and I distillery stand by it, “ America is the greatest idea the world has ever had, and this is potentially the worst mind that has always happened to it. ”
In “American Soul,” you said America “is a dream the whole world owns.”
Yeah, that is on this album. Ireland is a very courteous country. France is a great state. Great Britain is a great state, but it is not an mind. America is an idea, and it ’ s a great estimate. And the world feels a venture in that idea. We want you, it, to succeed, which is why we become fucking objectionable and shoot our mouths off about it. The world needs America to succeed, now more than always .
Tell me about the ONE Campaign, which fights against extreme poverty. Where are you now with it, and how involved are you?
We have about 9 million members now, precisely over 3 million members in Africa. I am hoping that the voices south of the equator will drown out the voices north of the equator. I hope finally to be put out of a subcontract. And it is becoming a more and more independent organization. Women are stepping to the vanguard. Our lead campaign at the moment is called Poverty Is Sexist. And there is another one called Girls Count. About 130 million girls can ’ thymine go to school who want to go to school. And I am working more in the background. And that is all right .
so I am trying to make my own leadership more strategic, more behind the scenes. If I am called on for meetings, I will go. We campaign for foil in the mine sector and the extractives diligence. I am gallant of all that work. It is not much written about, but it ’ s equally crucial as fighting HIV/AIDS. Biggest cause of death in the develop universe is not a disease – it is corruption .
How are you fighting corruption?
ONE campaigned for a rule demanding every mining company registered on the New York Stock Exchange declares how much it pays for mining contracts. Because if those arrangements are not guileless, then it is easy for local governments to fiddle with those numbers, and they are identical bad numbers. There is a new African proverb, I kid you not : Pray that we do not discover oil. Because it brings all the wrong people to town. If there is an antidote to corruption, if there is a vaccine, it is transparency. barely bring it out in the open .
How involved are you with it? You’re trying to withdraw from it?
I ’ thousand not withdrawing at all. I am placid heavily involved, but I think it ’ south healthy that the organization doesn ’ metric ton have to rely on me. We ’ ve some brilliant people. Our raw knob, Gayle Smith, ran development for President Obama and is a real number force out – Gayle Force, we call her. You ’ d think during touring it would get quiet, but actually we ’ ra meet leaders in every single stead we ’ ra in. When U2 played Paris, I went to see Macron and [ his wife ] Brigitte .
What was he like?
Macron was very kind to see me ; he had just been elected to one of the most mighty offices in the earth. I was actually taken by his humility in letting me enter it then jovially. He has a promptly and inspiring mind, and a privy weapon of a wife who was superaware of ONE ’ sulfur push on girls department of education in the evolve world. .. . education is not easy, it ’ randomness expensive. We talked about his commitment to get France to allocating 0.7 percentage of GNI [ gross national income ] to development aid, ODA .
And he agreed to 0.55 percentage by 2022, something he had not been public about until that confluence. It was a great confluence. But what was impressive about him was that he wasn ’ t focused on the numbers. He was focused on it being effective. He said, “ You are making us keep our promise. We are happy to keep our predict. You have to make sure that the french people get rate from money. Because we want to support the fight against extreme poverty. ”
now, would I have gotten that merging if the enlistment wasn ’ thyroxine coming to a stadium near you ? possibly, because he is more curious and interest than most, but for other leaders, no. The ballyhoo and razzle-dazzle of arriving into town with the circus makes people anxious to have a meet. In America, we have had as many Republicans as Democrats visit us on this last tour. This is no joke. Senators, congressional people, flush though we have a moment in the usher where we stick it to the serviceman who shall not be mentioned .
You’ve been associated with Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of Myanmar, whose release you advocated for when she was a political prisoner. Now, she seems to be, at best, standing idly by as her country perpetrates what appears to be an ethnic cleansing. What is your take on what is going on there?
That is very intemperate, and I ’ megabyte – I feel kind of nauseating about that. I have truly felt ill, because I can ’ triiodothyronine quite believe what the evidence all points to. But there is cultural cleansing. It very is happening, and she has to step down because she knows it ’ s happening. I am sure she has many bang-up reasons in her mind why she is not stepping down. Maybe it ’ mho that she doesn ’ t want to lose the nation back to the military. But she already has, if the pictures are what we go by, anyhow. The homo rights that are being torched, the lives that are being burned out in Rakhine State are more important than a oneness without them.
You think she should resign?
She should, at the very least, be speaking out more. And if people don ’ triiodothyronine listen, then leave office. This is all fair actually troubling. I am still confounded by it, actually .
It is startlingly brutal.
Is it that we project onto people who we want them to be ? We find person we like, and we tell ourselves that a person exists that is better than us. More able than us. A truthful moral compass than us. We imbue them with all these qualities. We do that with people. I think I have had it done to me. People have their version of you, they project what they want to see on you. possibly she was constantly a politician. She was not a ideal. She was not some screen of savior. possibly we were constantly wrong, and we just have to accept we were wrong. Or possibly something atrocious has happened to her that we good don ’ metric ton know.
You have done the Joshua Tree tour, you’ve gotten the new record out, and now you are getting ready to come back for another tour in the spring . What are your thoughts now that the year is over? Any last words of wisdom?
I am holding on to the mind that through wisdom of solomon,
through experience, you might in some significant ways recover purity. I want
to be playful. I want to be experimental. I want to keep the discipline of
songwriting going forward that I think we had let go for a while. I want to be
useful. That is our family prayer, as you know. It is not the most grandiose
prayer. It is merely, we are available for work. That is U2 ’ s entreaty. We want to
be useful, but we want to change the populace. And we want to have fun at the lapp
time. What is ill-timed with that ?