This much I know ( Series )
The Observer, Sunday 2 August 2009
Adam Clayton, musician, 49, Amsterdam
I don't think rock'n'roll is necessarily a young man's game. I think Neil Young is just as rock'n'roll now as he was in his 20s. I'd like to think we can still be edgy and challenging.
I was not an obvious contender. I was actually pretty shy in school. My defence mechanism was to be the class clown. I remember getting into a lot of trouble for being disruptive, and I was brought in front of the headteacher, who said: "What's going to happen to you; what are you going to do when you grow up?" and I said: "Well, I'm obviously going to be a comedian."
From an early age I didn't buy into the value systems of working hard in a nine-to-five job. I thought creativity, friendship and loyalty and pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable was much more interesting.
The longevity of U2 is primarily based on the friendship of four men that have grown up together. Four men that respect and support and love each other. We won't let each other fail.
It's very confusing when fame comes early on in your career. You get a little bit bent out of shape in terms of what's important. Fame is like the dessert that comes with your achievements - it's not an achievement in itself, but sometimes it can overpower the work.
I really enjoy the privileges of fame now. It opens doors and allows you to meet people, and you're in control. When fame first happened I didn't feel in control, and it closed doors to me.
I've never necessarily chosen to be a bachelor. I've had girlfriends throughout the last 20 or 30 years. It's just that there were times when I met people that fascinated me and times I didn't.
The biggest misconception about me was that I was some kind of wild, crazy rock'n'roll firework. It was an easy image to pick up on, but I'd like to think I was a little deeper than that.
I stopped drinking 12 years ago, and it was time. I'd had enough of drinking, drugging and nightclubs. It was a difficult decision to change my life, and it took a while to reprogram, but I've no regrets at all. I've enjoyed every bit of my life. I've had the best of it both ways.
My greatest achievement is managing to cope with four fingers and four strings.
The worst thing that ever happened to me was being busted. It wasn't that I was treated particularly badly, it was just so stupid, so pathetic, to be busted for cannabis. It was a big newspaper story, and it becomes a whole talking point with your parents and your parents' friends and your friends' children, and you just don't want that debate opened up.
I feel there is a lot more to achieve. In the first 20 years I was functioning on instinct and attitude and rawness, and now I know what I'm doing and can apply those skills in a different way. It's no longer about attitude and rawness, but it's about sophistication and understanding.
If I could only take one thing on tour it would be Irish tea bags. Barry's decaffeinated tea bags. I know it sounds crazy, but if you don't travel with your own tea, it never tastes the same.
In a loving relationship, as an expression of freedom and fantasy, I think sex is very important.
I don't think I would ever try and repeat U2. I'd be very happy when U2 came to whatever end, and there is no end, really. But I would be happy to move on. It's a very fast world, and a quieter world would be welcome at some stage.
I can look at myself in the mirror. I didn't use to be able to do it. I see someone who is incredibly lucky, who still has so much ahead of him rather than behind him, and I'm very grateful. I cannot believe how good my life is. I did not expect this.
• U2 plays Wembley Stadium, London on 14 and 15 August