in the spirit of rock star excess

Did you happen to catch Bono’s op ed in the NY Times ? Ten for the Next Ten, In case you did not know. Bono happens to be a guest columnist for the NY Times.  Here a bit of what Bono had to say in his own words. Also we have included some other U2 News that has been reported. We will be starting our guest columinist later in the week.

IF we have overindulged in anything these past several days, it is neither holiday ham nor American football; it is Top 10 lists. We have been stuffed full of them. Even in these self-restrained pages, it has been impossible to avoid the end-of-the-decade accountings of the 10 best such-and-suches and the 10 worst fill-in-the-blanks.

And so, in the spirit of rock star excess, I offer yet another.

The main difference, if it matters, is that this list looks forward, not backward. So here, then, are 10 ideas that might make the next 10 years more interesting, healthy or civil. Some are trivial, some fundamental. They have little in common with one another except that I am seized by each, and moved by its potential to change our world.

Return of the Automobile as a Sexual Object

How is it that the country that made us all fall in love with the automobile has failed, with only a few exceptions, to produce a single family sedan with the style and humor and grace of the cars produced in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s? Put aside the question of whether those models were male (as in longer, lower and wider, Dr. Freud) or female (as in fender skirts, curvy belt lines and, of course, headlights). Either way, they all had sex appeal. (In Ireland in the ’70s, it was the E-Type Jag that made sense of puberty.) Today, however, we have the mundanity of our marriage to the minivan and the S.U.V. and long-term relationships with midsize cars that are, forgive me, a little heavy in the rear cargo hold.

Are aerodynamics to blame? Economics? Or that most American of inventions, design by committee? It hurts me to say this about democracy (and I know because my band is one), but rarely does majority rule produce something of beauty.

That’s why the Obama administration — while it still holds the keys to the big automakers — ought to put some style fascists into the mix: the genius of Marc Newson … Steve Jobs and Jonny Ive from Apple … Frank Gehry, the architect, and Jeff Koons, the artist. Put the great industrial designers in the front seat, right along with sound financial stewardship … the greener, the cleaner, the meaner on fossil fuels, the sexier for me. Check out the Tesla or the Fisker Karma car, designed by the same team that gave the world the Aston Martin.

The Edge speaks to HOT PRESS

The last time we spoke, you mentioned the possibility of a new U2 album coming out before the end of the year. That’s obviously not going to happen, but when can fans expect a new record?

Edge: We would like it to be sooner rather than later. We are working on some stuff that sounds amazing, but it’s hard to say when it’ll actually be done. Well, certainly I don’t, and I know Bono doesn’t want to leave too long of a gap between the last record and the next one.

What’s the feel of the songs you’re working on at the moment?

Edge: It’s too early to say, but because the last record was an experiment writing with Brian [Eno] and Danny [Lanois] in that kind of free-flowing workshop, Bono and I — we’re really kind of songwriting in a much more formal way at the moment. We’ve got some stuff, more abstract stuff that we could put together as a release, but right now what’s really intriguing me is plain, old-fashioned songwriting, and we have some amazing stuff.

How about the Spiderman musical? It’s been reported that, thanks to the recession, it’s run into problems. Is it going ahead?

Edge: Well, it’s all ready to go. We’re just waiting for the word that we can … we’ve pretty much done our job. We’re waiting for the word that our director, Julie Taymor, can get back and get into the theatre and start putting the show together. We’re told it could be any day. We’ve got new producers involved: Michael Cohl is coming in, to become an additional producer. So they’re busy working on raising finance and getting all that stuff in order. I’m really happy with the music and the script, and the cast that we have are fantastic, so I don’t have any concerns, ultimately, but it’s kind of frustrating that it’s taking so long.

Catch the rest of the story via HOT PRESS

Other News

In other news as we have reported before “It might get loud” currently available on DVD - Check the link on the front page for details on how to order your own copy. The Edge sat down with Neil McCormick for a little one on one conversation about the movie. Hey be sure to read the whole interview you will find something very funny.

Its not often that you might find yourself on stage with some of the greatest guitarists in the world, so what did you learn from the experience?

Edge: What did I learn? Even though all guitar players are reaching for the ideal guitar tone, I was struck by how different they sounded, and in the hands of other people with different set of ears to put a sound together, its such a different result, and it just showed me how the instrument is so versatile. A trumpet sounds pretty much like a trumpet, and that’s true of a lot instruments, pianos sound like pianos, but there’s something about the guitar, the range of possibilities is much broader. And I really felt our differences influences and points of view were really contained within our sound and choice of sound and ways of playing.

Indeed, the way the different personalities express themselves through their instrument is something that comes across very clearly in the film. Yet while the individual journeys that bring you to that shared stage are fascinating, when you do all get together, there’s no great musical explosion, just a lot of tentative twiddling, really.

Edge:That was the other thing I learned: how useful drummers and bass players and singers are! Put three guitarist together in a room and what you get is lots of guitars. Also I was thinking about what would I play out of my stuff  for these guys, and I realised what I do isn’t really designed to be heard solo. Its not like I sit down and write a guitar piece and that becomes a song. I actually rely on what Adam and Larry are doing to complete the picture. The Streets Have No Name doesn’t make any sense out of context, it just becomes this very Philip Glass like set of motifs, and the meaning is really in the changes in the bass and drums. So that was actually a nice realisation, I’m one of those guitar players who’s really integrated into his band. I’m not like Jimmy or Jack, who can play solo guitar that would stand up on its own

Do you often play with other guitarists?

Edge: No, I try and avoid it at all costs. Jamming is really the most awful, excruciating experience for me, I really don’t enjoy it. First of all, that’s not how I work as a guitar player. I compose using the instrument, I don’t really sit down and play for the sake of playing stuff. So the idea of jamming – endless, directionless noodling around some nondescript chord progression – I really find very boring. Obviously a great song is fun to play, but U2 were never really in that phase of The Beatles in Hamburg or Van Morrison in showbands or Dylan in the folk clubs, of knowing and learning a big collection of classics. We never did that, and at the time we were forming as a band there really wasn’t a large collection of songs that we felt like learning. It was actually a moment where the past was being thrown out the window, so its very much part of our DNA as a band not to be too reverential, as a general rule, and to try and look forward all the time. Invention being what we value most highly as opposed to emulation – which is what a lot of musicians feel is important, being able to play like the greats.

So what did meeting Jimmy Page mean to you, because at the time of U2’s origins, at the beginning of punk, Led Zeppelin and the so called dinosaur rock bands were almost seen as the enemy, something to be rebelled against.

Edge: Before meeting Jimmy, I listened back to some Zeppelin stuff and realise it has stood the test of time. It has the hallmark of timeless music, it hasn’t dated, while so much from that era really did date and in fact has completely vanished. It was really dynamic, the visceral power of it was pretty thrilling still, and it brought me back to when I was 14 or 15. That was a nice realisation. And also meeting the man and realising we had so much in common, and actually we are kind of brothers in arms rather than antagonists in terms of musical philosophy.

So what did you find that you had in common?

Edge: I think what has come through, after all the dust has settled on the music of that era, is that everybody assumed that what was important was improvising and having a dexterity with the instrument, so that Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, the gunslingers of the time, were highly revered, but it turns out it was actually always about composition, always about idea and themes and stuff that you actually had to write. And that where I think Jimmy Page scored, is that his guitar playing was a lot more composed than any of the others of that era and much better for that. And although it’s probably uncool to admit it – and I don’t know if he would ever admit it – but even his solos were really well composed and thought out. I don’t think he was just a guy who would sit down and play the first thing that came into his head, like a Gary Moore, Jeff Beck or Eric. I think he really had the chance to figure things out. It’s the discipline of the work. Its really sharp, really hard, not fuzzy. That was one of the realisations for me.

If you were to listen to a collection of the best selling singles of the last year, the guitar is almost noticeable by its absence. When it comes to pop music, its all about synths and electronically treated sound, so even where  there is a guitar, its not necessarily recognisable, or the featured instrument. What do you think is the future of the guitar?

Edge: I don’t think it’s in jeopardy. It seems pretty bright. There’s always somebody on the horizon who seems to be really able to make the instrument their own, and find ways to use it that haven’t been heard before. The biggest band in America right now, in terms of profile and records is The Kings Of Leon, and before them it was The Killers, so there seems to be still a huge interest in guitar music. I’m looking forward to the next Arcade Fire album, and I think Nick Zinner from Yeah Yeah Yeahs is a guitar player who’s really done some interesting things. Ok, the electronica movement seems to be very much in vogue at the moment, probably MGMT kick started that, then you’ve got Justice and the Bloody Beetroots and all that hard dance stuff, but the guitar is managing to hold on, its one of the essential ingredients in contemporary music, like drums. Them Crooked Vultures is also quite cool. I’m not sure it’s on the level of classic but it’s a very interesting guitar record.

It’s been a strange year for U2. You had the biggest tour in the world and sold about four million of your album No Line On The Horizon, but it never really caught fire the way other U2 albums have. Indeed, its perceived as a flop.

Edge: Yeah, there is that smell in the air. We allowed ourselves to think about having a big hit record when in fact it’s a very interesting record but it’s quite a dark record, it’s not really radio friendly. Even ‘Get On Your Boots’, which is high octane, its not  a slam dunk of a hit song. I think everyone just got caught up in the plan as opposed to sitting back and thinking about the record we’d made. But I feel OK about it. Often U2 are accused of being more successful than we deserve, in this case I think this record is less successful than it deserved. I think its got some of the best songs we’ve ever written. ‘Moments Of Surrender’ is right up there, and ‘Unknown Caller’.

What about the new album, the long rumoured ‘Songs Of Ascent’, which is supposed to be based around more low key material from the Horizon sessions.

Edge: Well that’s what I’m working on this week, actually. I’m songwriting. In fact, I wrote something this morning just before getting on the phone with you, it sounds great. So on that level we’re pushing forward, we’re not taking it easy, but we won’t really know til the new year what we’ll be able to achieve. There’s a certain sort of practical window of opportunity to release the record that we are operating within. If the material isn’t ready for the early new year we’ll probably have to put it on hold. But I’m looking forward to the idea of playing some of the songs live before they’re released. That would be my consolation prize if we don’t get the album done. We’ve never done it, we’ve always talked to all of our producers about the idea, but I think it would give the tour a little frisson which I  think it needs. If you have two or three new songs no one’s heard before thrown in from time to time, I think that would be very exciting, for us as well, to try them and see how they get on

So we can expect to hear new U2 songs at Glastonbury.

Edge: Glastonbury is going to be fun. I’ve never been.

I think Adam is the only member of U2 whose been to Glastonbury. He went with the Waterboys in the Eighties

Edge: We’re busy men! We’re often actually doing U2 tours when Glastonbury is on, or working on a project, so its not so strange that we’ve not been. But what is interesting is the way people talk about it, its got this semi-religious aspect. Bono and I were talking about our last record, one of the sub plots is pilgrimage, and in some ways that’s exactly what Glastonbury is. So we’re going to make our pilgrimage.

And what about Spiderman, the musical you have been working on with Bono, which seems to have run into a few funding problems?

Edge: It’s in this hiatus and were just waiting for word on the fundraising to get the production back on track. All the songs are pretty much written, we’ve got a bunch of lyrics to finish off, but all the music is pretty much there, and its all sounding really convincing. It’s a great script, great director, great choreographer. It will happen.

So 2010 is shaping up to be another busy year for U2
And they’re shooting the film of your book (Killing Bono). That’s great news. I was talking to the director about who should play me, and I think we agreed on Brad Pitt