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Article: The Edge and The Rock - 12.13.04

 

The following is a transcription of the interview with The Edge hosted by Auckland-based radio network, The Rock FM, on Monday 13th December 2004.  The two DJ's conducting the interview are Nicholas Trott and Roger Farrelly, a.k.a. "Nick & Rog" from The Rock's weekday breakfast radio show.

THE ROCK FM
Transcription made available courtesy of The Rock FM.

(Lead-in:)

Rog:  The next hour, between now and 9:00...  The Edge.  Hard to believe!

Nick:  How’s my hair look?

Rog:  Very good, Nick!  He’s on the phone with us.  He’s calling us from his headquarters in Dublin, their recording studio, where they recorded the new album, ‘How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb’.  He’s on with us after ‘I Will Follow’!  U2… on The Rock.

[I WILL FOLLOW]

(Intro:)

Rog:  Good morning, it’s eight past 8:00, you’re with Nick & Rog… “The Morning Rumble” on The Rock… and from the ‘Boy’ album…1980, U2 - I Will Follow.

It is our honour this morning to have on the phone, he’s in Dublin… at the headquarters where they recorded their album... from U2, The Edge – Good morning!  (How are you?)

Edge:  I am really --… I couldn’t be better!  We’re in Dublin – I’m sure the weather’s not nearly as nice as it is down there in New Zealand.  But, ya know, the reason why Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle is because it gets rain… a lot!  And, right now, I have to say, I understand why it is so green.

(Laughter)

Nick:  Edge, you were speaking of course about the rain and stuff, and we’ve phoned a pub in Galway, in Ireland, just the other day, because, of course, you can’t smoke in bars and restaurants, and nor can we...

The New Zealand government recently introduced legislation banning smoking in all workplaces and public buildings, including theatres, bars, and restaurants.  This became law just three days prior to this interview.  A similar law was introduced in Ireland earlier in the year.

Ah, so he was saying it’s a bit of a hassle, because, when you smoke now, you have to go outside, and in Ireland the weather’s always crap!?

Edge (laughing):  Yeah!  Well, it’s caused a variety of reactions.  A lot of people have welcomed it and, y’know, given up smoking and decided to just get wise.  And then there’s a whole other thing, which has developed called - a new term - called [“smirssing”?], which is like “flirting” but it’s conducted amongst the smokers, and so there’s a whole new social activity... has developed as a result of the smoking ban, where people gather in groups outside of the bars.  And it’s the perfect ice-breaker – you go out there [and say], “Have ya got a light?”...  So, there’s a whole other side to it – a whole little sub-culture developing.

Nick:  Edge, are you one of these guitarists who collects guitars?

Edge:  Umm, I find it very hard not to, even though I’ve never considered myself a collector.  But I have, over the years, it has to be said, amassed a fairly respectable collection of guitars.  It’s more that every time we go to make a record, I get intrigued by some guitar that I’ve never owned before, and, y’know, and a particular sound and a particular feel.  And, the problem of course, is when we go and play live, in order to recreate the sound that I achieved on the record, I have to bring the very same guitars.  So, my poor guitar technician, Dallas, is plagued by having to restring upwards of, like, thirty guitars… to the show.  [??]  So, it’s becoming a bit of a problem!

Y’know, I’d love to be one of those guys who just had the one guitar, but, I have to say that, each guitar sounds so different to me – I don’t think I could, honestly, go to do a show with just the one.  I think it would... it would certainly sound wrong to me, but I’m sure it would also not be as good for U2 fans.

[VERTIGO]

Rog (throwing back to interview):  Good morning, you’re with Nick and Rog, it’s 8:14, "The Morning Rumble” on The Rock, and Vertigo – U2.  Our special guest this morning, from the edge (sic), the man himself – from U2, I should say!  The man himself, The Edge!

Nick:  Edge, the name of the new album, ‘How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb’ – how did that come about?

Edge:  Umm, that’s a very good question, cos it is quite a mouthful, and when Bono first had the idea to call the album ‘How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb’, it was way, way back before we’d written half the songs, and... it was the one we said, “Alright!  Yeah, well that’s... that’s very likely, that is!”  (Laughter)  Everyone said, “We might as well forget that right now!”  But it was the title that just wouldn’t go away, y’know, it was like... we had various alternatives, y’know... [‘Songs of Innocence of Experience’?] was one we had at one point, and...  Y’know, they were either just way too kind of, y’know, heavy and portentous, or far too kind of throw-away and glib, and... ‘How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb’, it was just one that... it was, no matter who you said it to, at one point, everyone just went, “What?!”  It made everybody stop in their tracks and ask, like, “What is that all about?!”

And in the end, y’know, the record we got, I have to say, was a little bit different to the record that we started out making... which is always the case.  Y'know, you start off with certain ideas and certain aims, and on this record, I think we all thought it was going to be a little bit more overtly political.  But, as the songs started to come into focus, as a collection, we realised that, in fact, it was much more personal than political.  And so the title started to take on this slightly different meaning, when referring to the songs.  And, so, at this point, although there is an obvious political aspect to it, y’know, we--  It’s undeniably a very nervous moment in time, and people are really wondering where things are going and how we can possibly get ourselves out of this mess that we seem to be in.

But on another level, it quite reflects, y’know, the stuff that Bono’s been going through on a personal level over the last few years with the loss of his father, y’know, asking the big questions, and...  Y’know, I mean, the record, I think is as personal as it is probably because of the fact that it’s a nervous moment in time, and that, when things are really kind of--... when you feel threatened, the thing that you do instinctively, is you draw closer to the ones that mean a lot to you.  So, the record is kind of a combination of the politics of the globe, and the sort of politics of your own private life, and it’s all kind of in there... uh... all mixed up as [??].  Ya know, in the one song, you’ll have a line about something very far-reaching, and it’s next to a line that’s about something deeply personal – but that’s... that’s U2.

(Ad break)

Rog:  Speaking of the new album, Edge, we did hear that is went missing... an early disc went missing in the South of France.  The band were on a photo shoot, and it disappeared.  Umm, did that happen, and did you find it again?

Edge:  It did happen.  Yeah, a lot of people have accused us of coming up with this... some kind of publicity stunt, and, y’know, I’d love to say that we were that smart!  (Laughter)  But, unfortunately, umm--  (Laughter)  Ya know, we weren’t... y’know, it actually did happen.  Umm, it was fairly early on... we’d just finished the record, we were doing a photo session, and we had the first, like, the first version of the album that had just come from the master, which I’d received that morning by courier, and we were listening to it in a little portable CD player.  And, uh, we left the studio for literally twenty minutes to do a shot just outside of the studio, and came back in and it was gone!  And, our first thoughts were, “Oh my God!  It’s--”, you know, “it’s-- we’ve been-- it’s a sting... it’s a set-up... people knew we were here... it’s all very, y’know, sinister, and... this’ll be on the Internet within a matter of hours – or worse, it’ll be... being pressed up in, y’know, somewhere in Eastern Europe, and there’ll be literally millions on the streets by morning!”

But, I think now, in retrospect... it never did show up anywhere, so, I think it probably was somebody just seeing it there... just got tempted and took it as a souvenir, and, in many ways, that was kinda what we were already hoping would be the case, but we couldn’t assume it because there was so much at stake, so we had to kinda push the panic-button.  And, wow! – Did it go off?!  It was absolutely unbelievable.

We were in the South of France at the time, and, literally, all of us were hauled into the central police station... interrogated for, y’know, a couple of hours as individuals... ya know, like, taken off, and interrogated, and... like, all our people had the same... And [the] next thing, they were, like, sending in these... the kind of experts working for all these special divisions funded by the recording industry that look into piracy – and people, y’know, who I never knew existed were suddenly arriving...  (Laughter)  y’know, thousands of them!  (Edge laughing)... to interrogate the band and to let us know that, y’know, they were on top of it, and Interpol were involved... [it] was quite an eye-opener, really.  I guess I should’ve known that this is a, y’know-- it’s big business, and piracy’s a serious problem, but I’ve never come across all of this before.  Anyway, we were very lucky that nothing happened and it was all just a loss of a CD.

[NUMB]
[ELEVATION– Live from Slane Castle]

Rog:  We’ve got a copy here of the ‘Boy’ album, 1980… umm, it’s a long, long time ago – does it seem a long, long time ago… and what’s sorta stayed the same, and what’s changed since then?

Edge:  I mean, a lot has changed obviously.  Ya know, the band has matured and grown up as artists and songwriters and performers enormously since the first record, but, I think, more remarkably, is the fact that certain things have changed so little.  And, I think the band at that moment in time, y’know, we set out with a certain idea in mind about where we wanted to go as songwriters and artists, and I don’t think there’s very much [that] has changed in the intervening years in terms of the vision and the kind of scope of our ambition.  We’re still, in many ways, y’know, chasing the same ideals that we were chasing back then, which is to make music as good as the music that we first heard as young kids and got so kind of excited about, the albums that meant so much to us as fans. And, umm, whenever we go into make an album, that’s kind of in the back of our mind, is, y’know, can we... can we approach making music that will mean as much to our fans as the music of other bands that we loved meant to us.  So, we’re really approaching music pretty much always from that fan perspective.  And, uh, it makes it very simple, because it’s either... it’s either great or it’s not – ya know, it’s either connecting with you, it’s either... it either means a hell of a lot to you or it doesn’t.  But, what that also means is that, if that’s your main reason to be in it, you can’t, uh... you can’t kind of coast, you can’t persuade yourself that, y’know, you’ve hit on something great if it’s really not great.

And there’s no kind of rules, y’know, we don’t have a stuck approach to writing songs or a stuck approach to arranging out songs.  Every time we go into the studio, it’s like our first album, y’know, in real terms, because, y’know, we can’t rely on a particular approach to writing or arranging – it has to be a very instinctive thing that, like… from your gut.  And, I think that’s probably true for lyrics, as well, y’know, they--  In the end, I think, when Bono gets on the microphone and is singing a song, it connects.  If you feel that he means it, and, y’know, he’s passionate about what he’s singing, umm, y’know, that’s really the only time that, y’know, we would kind of sign off on it.  Even if it’s the best lyric going, if it doesn’t sound like he means it, y’know, everyone’s gonna notice and... and, in that sense, it’s kinda frustrating for him, umm--...  Ya know, he might write great words but, in the end, that’s not really what it’s about – it’s about some quite hard-to-define quality, y’know, and that’s the mystery of words and music combined, and why some songs just [??] you, and why other songs that might be great on paper just kinda leave ya cold. So, in some ways, it’s always been the same.

(Ad break)

Nick:  What does Christmas Day mean to you, and what do you-- how do you spend it?

Edge:  Well, you know, Ireland is a country where Christmas, y’know, is a huge deal, and people get very excited about it and, y’know, there’s a... obviously a long tradition of Christmas and celebrating it here.  The weather is normally at its worst, and, umm, it’s more astute to be kind of indoors, and... ‘round the fire!

Nick:  Smoking!

Edge:  Umm, unlike down there, where it’s probably at its best!  So, we, uh... we tend to kind of, basically, stick around family and friends, and uh--  It’d be fair to say now that we might take a wee little drink!

Nick:  Just a wee one!

Edge:  But, just a little wee drink, y’know, nothing... nothing to excess – y’know, we have here the... what I call the “three-drink rule”...

Rog:  Yes.

Edge:  ...I try and stick to that – that means, no more than three drinks in front of you at any given time!

(Laughter)

Rog:  Oh, nice!  Edge, if you could jam with one other guitarist, who and why?

Edge:  Wow!  Well, obviously - well not obviously - but, for me, umm, if there was anyone from any era of music, it would have to be Jimi Hendrix.

Rog:  Yeah.

Edge:  Umm, just to be in the room… I mean, forget about, like, jamming with him – but just to be in the room when he’s playing, it just would be... such an incredible thrill.

Ya know, we’re not a great band for the... the sort of the jam sessions.  Ya know, I still don’t know if it’s a strength or a weakness, but we never really grew up doing the cover-version circuit, which, ya know, even the best bands did – The Beatles being the prime example... uh, in Hamburg, spent... y’know, months and months, umm, just learning and playing other people’s songs.  We didn’t go through that phase, but, in fact, so bad were we early on as players and as a band that, in fact, we had to write our own songs cos we couldn’t play anyone else’s!

(Laughter)

So, as a result, umm, we don’t really... none of us really function particularly well in that kind of free-form, uhh, “Do you know this one?”, you know what... uh, y’know, “I’ll start the verse, you join in for the chorus!”  So, umm, y’know the few times we’ve tried it, y’know, it’s kind of either been spectacularly great or spectacularly bad, and umm... so we tend to avoid those sessions if at all possible.

Rog:  Do you have a favourite song off the ‘How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb’ album?

Edge:  Umm, ya know, as an album, I’m so happy about how it turned out, y’know, because of the flow of the songs, and when I first--...  I put the sequence together, and when I strung the songs together, what I was most happy about was just the balance and the flow.  Now, picking out an individual song is difficult because, you know, I really like them all so much.  But, there’s certain songs that are really starting to... start to really come through.  Uh, ‘Miracle Drug’ is one of those that really...

Nick:  Yeah.

Rog:  That’s a good one.

Edge:  ...starts to really grow in stature as time has gone by.  And, actually, Vertigo, y’know, when we finished the song, I was really delighted that such a full-on rock’n’roll song had made the album and... and that all of us shined... in it.  It wasn’t, like, a case of somebody standing out – it looked like four guys really kinda stepping forward and shining.  What I didn’t fully appreciate at the time was, actually, that it was a great song!  Umm, I know that sounds weird, but, to me, it was, like, just a fantastic rock’n’roll moment.  But, as time has gone on, I’m really starting to appreciate just it as a pure song, and so it’s also, I have to say, a big favourite at the moment.

Rog:  Edge, it has been an absolute pleasure speaking to you this morning, from Dublin.

Edge:  Well, ya know, I’m very jealous of your sunshine, umm – but I’m not jealous of your Guinness!

(Laughter)

Nick:  You’re right there!

(Laughter)

Rog:  The weather’s not as good as you think!

(Edge laughs)

Edge:  But, anyway, uh, great talking to you, and, umm--

Oh, listen! We heard... we heard a few years ago that the tree had fallen down from One Tree Hill, is that true?

Rog:  It has.  Yes.

Nick:  Yeah, it got removed, unfortunately.  Somebody tried to chop it, and, uh, then they had to, umm... they had to pull it down.

Rog:  It was so sick, they had to pull it down.

Edge:  Well it wasn’t any of us!  I just wanna say – it was none of us... were responsible!  Umm, and is there another one planted, or--?

Rog:  No, there’s nothing!...

Nick:  They haven’t decided yet.

Rog:  ...You’ll have to come back and plant something, because there’s nothing there.

Nick:  Either that, or write something called ‘No Tree Hill’, or something!

Edge:  ‘No Tree Hill!’  Ha!  Maybe we’ll have to come back and plant something up there – that would be pretty special!

Nick:  It would be!

Rog:  I don’t know if you’re coming to New Zealand--

Edge:  Well, we heard the other day also that, umm--  I hope that this isn’t symbolic in any way, but we heard the other day that, The Joshua Tree, like, the one from the cover, had also, uh... given up.  Umm, we’re expecting to get it in the post any day!

(Laughter)

We’re looking forward to getting down there, hopefully, sometime soon, but, umm... y’know--  We have some incredibly fond memories of your country, and being there, and, y’know, it’s the place that we have a real strong connection with, so we’re always, y’know, really pleased when our music seems to be accepted and celebrated down there.

Rog:  It certainly is here – it’s number one at the moment, so it’s going well.

Edge:  Yeeeeeeeeeaaaahhhhhh!!

Rog:  Hey, Edge, great talking to ya!

Edge:  Great talking to you guys, and we’ll talk again soon, I hope.

(Back-announce:)

Rog:  The Edge from U2, what a great bloke!

[DESIRE]

Rog:  Good morning... “The Morning Rumble” with Nick and Rog.  Five to 9:00, and there you have it, an hour of The Edge from U2 – the guitarist from U2, amazing stuff!  The new album, in New Zealand... still number one – ‘How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb’.  Great to talk to him, and we’ll replay some of that as well after 9:00 this morning.

INTERVIEW courtesy of Mike Vaney, The Rock FM and U2 New Zooland