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MUSICIAN - Mar 1992


Musician, March 1992, page 57
By Bill Flanagan

Here's how you get in. You ring a buzzer in a black door in a stone wall, climb an indoor fire escape, pass through a security door and desk, go through swinging doors and proceed down a very long corridor. As you walk down the hall the music gets louder and louder. Sort of like "Get Smart." Then you turn a corner, open another door, and there's U2 blasting through "The Fly." Bono's listening to the hand, swaying in place at the soundboard and making suggestions to engineer Joe O'Herlihy. Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton are creating a huge, funky bottom. The Edge is stretching out, filling in all the sonic colors of the album version of the song white singing the high counter-vocal that Bono overdubbed on the record. "We've been trying to work out how to get all the Achtung Baby sounds live," Bono explains when the song finishes. "Basically, we can do it if Edge plays something different with every one of his appendages."
Why not just add another musician for the live shows? "We seriously did consider it this time," Edge says. "I can't say I have any major reservations against it, other than an almost sentimental attachment to the concept of the four-piece."
U2's American tour begins on March first. They will stay out most of the year. At this point- January 14th- Bono reckons they are one week behind schedule with one week left to go here in Dublin before they pack up all the gear and move to the States. Bono says that the material they have worked on has been so good that he's not worried about running late. Edge is. U2's guitarist, songwriter, keyboard player and first-among-equals says that he now understands how much can go wrong on a tour this big. "In the past," he smiles, "I didn't know. I thought it was easy."
The band pick up their instruments again and begin "Mysterious Ways." Over the opening groove Bono chants, "Who loves you? Who loves you? Who loves you?" (Listening to a cassette of it later he'll laugh and call it "The Kojak Version.") Edge establishes a thick post wah-wah guitar groove that suggests what might have happened if the Isley Brothers had joined the Manchester rave scene. The news is not that U2 have found their way into new territory, the news is that they have conquered it. The band who made "I Will Follow" and Boy in their teens and became one of the most influential acts in the world in their 20s have hit 30 as experienced musicians who can take an abstract idea and turn it into something solid and strong. They are still young men, but they've come a very long way.
At 7:30 rehearsal breaks up and Edge, Bono and Adam head to a nearby pub. Edge has to leave Ireland before dawn so he can fly to New York to induct the Yardbirds- including Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck- into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Edge appreciates both the honor and the irony of a guitarist who has done more than anyone to dismantle the old myth of the guitar hero inducting the three men most responsible for creating it. At the pub what started out as one drink turns into many and Tuesday has given way to Wednesday by the time Edge goes home to catch a couple of hours' sleep. When the sun comes up he is on a plane from Ireland to England, where he is met by a car and driven to another air terminal to wait for a plane to New York. At midnight Eastern time (five a.m. back in Dublin) he is on a stage at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, playing "All Along the Watchtower" and other guitar blow-outs with an all-star band that includes- lined up together- Carlos Santana, Johnny Cash, John Fogerty, Jimmy Page, Neil Young and Keith Richards. Watching all these legendary guitarists interact you realize, with some surprise and some satisfaction, that Edge belongs among them. The sound he heard in his head has now been heard around the world, has been absorbed into rock 'n' roll's vocabulary, and will continue to reverberate when he's as old and legendary as the company he's keeping tonight.
This interview, the first any member of U2 has granted since before Achtung Baby was begun, was started in Dublin, continued in London, and finished in New York on that longest day. When it was all over, Edge was still going strong.

MUSICIAN: You're inducting Beck, Clapton and Page into the Hall of Fame. All of you worked in power trios- one guitar; bass and drums. But the Jeff Beck Group, Cream, and Led Zeppelin grew out of the Hendrix model- a guitar hero blasting hot solos while the bassist and drummer played support. U2 seems to have more in common with the Who model- where all three pieces are equal and the guitar is the glue.
EDGE:: I've always had a slight problem with the whole idea of guitar heroes and gunslinger guitar players. I was never really attracted to that. I think Townshend is different from the other players that you mentioned because he's primarily a songwriter. He understands the importance of guitar playing within the discipline of songwriting, as opposed to guitar playing that just justifies itself. I can appreciate, I suppose, guitar players who just get up there and improvise over bass and drums, but it's not something that interests me that much.

MUSICIAN: How did your style develop?
EDGE:: I suppose it really starts with picking up the electric guitar, age 15, and playing a lot of cover versions. Knowing a few Rory Gallagher licks or whatever. Then suddenly you're in this hand and there's all this fantastic music coming at you that challenges everything that you believed about what the electric guitar was for. Suddenly the question is, "What are you saying with it?" Not "Can you play this lick?" or "What's your speed like?" It's, "What are you saying with your instrument? What is being communicated in this song?" Suddenly guitars were not things lobe waved in front of the audience but now were something you used to reach out to the crowd. If you were in the fourth row of the Jam concert at the Top Hat Ballroom in Dunleary in 1980, when Paul Weller hit that Rickenbacker 12-string it meant something and it said something that everyone in that building knew. There were other bands, other guitar players. They all sounded different, but they all had that thing in common which was that there was something behind what they did which was communicating. I had to totally reexamine the way I played. It was such a challenging thing to hold up your style against this and say. Well, what are you saying? What is this song about? What does that note mean? Why that note? So much of this bad white blues barroom stuff that was around at the time was just guitar players running up and down the fretboard. It was just a kind of big wank. There was nothing to it, it was gymnastics. I started trying to find out what this thing around my neck could do in the context of this band. Songs were coming through and "Well, that sort of works" and integrating the echo box, which was a means of further coloring the sound, controlling the tone of the guitar. I was not going for purity, I was going for the opposite. I was trying to Rick up the sound as much as possible, go for something that was definitely messed with, definitely tampered with, had a character that was not just the regular guitar sound.
Then I suppose I started to see a style coming through. I started to see how notes actually do mean something. They have power. I think of notes as being expensive. You don't just throw them around. I find the ones that do the best job and that's what I use. I suppose I'm a minimalist instinctively. I don't like to be inefficient if I can get away with it. Like on the end of "With or Without You." My instinct was to go with something very simple. Everyone else said, "Nah, you can't do that" I won the argument and I still think it's sort of brave, because the end of "With or Without You" could have been so much bigger, so much more of a climax. But there's this power to it which I think is even more potent because it's held back.

MUSICIAN: Ten or twelve years into this, you can look out at a lot of guitarists you've influenced.
EDGE:: Yeah. Unfortunately when something is distilled down to a simple style, those who copy the style basically are copying something very flat. You take what I do, bring it down to a little short formula and try and apply it in another context, another guitar player, another song- it's going to sound terrible. I think that's probably what's happened to Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page. So many of their strong ideas have been taken up by other guitar players in other bands and the result is some pretty awful music. Heavy metal for one.

MUSICIAN: The sound of U2's first album, Boy, was really defined by your use of guitar echo. How did that develop?
EDGE:: We had a song we were working on called "A Day Without Me" and Bono kept saying, "I hear this echo thing, like the chord repeating." He had this thing in his head so I said, I'd better get an echo unit for this single. I got one down to rehearsal and played around with it with limited success. I didn't really like it, I thought it muddied up the sound. Then I bought my own unit, a Memory Man Deluxe made by Electro-Harmonix. I mean, Electro-Harmonix made the cheapest and trashiest guitar things, but they always had great personality. This Memory Man had this certain sound and I really loved it. I just played with it for weeks and weeks, integrating it into some of the songs we'd already written. Out of using it, a whole other set of songs started to come out. It gave me a whole other set of colors 10 use. It also helped to fill out the sound.

MUSICIAN: What's a song written out of playing with the echo?
EDGE:: The song "Fire" came out of a soundcheck where we were just playing around and got this rhythm going and everyone joined in and wrote the song around the backbeat and the guitar. But it seemed to me that the echo could become too much of a gimmick if it ended up being used in that way. I realized that was something to be avoided. There are a couple of tricks you can do with a guitar and echo that sound impressive, but I could see they were blind alleys. It would end up being gimmicky tricks and nothing more.

MUSICIAN: Was there any moment when Bono said, "Oh no,I've created a monster! him that echo oft?"?
EDGE:: When the War album was coming together we all- but particularly Bono- felt that we should try to get away from that echoey thing. It was a very conscious attempt at doing something more abrasive, less ethereal, more hard-edged. I've always left it and gone back to it. I don't like to use effects in an obvious way. I like to use them so that you're just hearing a single sound. You get sick of the same textures. Variety becomes important.

MUSICIAN: How do you feel about the second album, October?
EDGE:: I think it suffered as an album because of the lack of time we had to prepare it, but it actually is a pretty good record. There's some real spontaneity, some real freshness, because we didn't have time to have it any other way. I like "Stranger in a Strange Land," "Tomorrow." "October" was a song that could have gone places, but we didn't have time to do any more with it so we said, "Well, let's just put it out as it is."
October is a very European record because just prior to writing those songs and recording the album we spent all our time touring around Europe. We'd never been to Germany, Holland, Belgium, France. We would drive through these bleak German landscapes in winter. Those tones and colors definitely came through in the songs that we wrote.
It was a real eye-opener. Boy was written and recorded in the context of Dublin. Four guys get together, decide to be a band, write some songs because they get inspired by this huge new sort of music happening across the water. There's all these albums filtering back: the Jam, Patti Smith's Horses was a very big album for us, Television, Richard Hell and the Voidoids. It was an incredibly exciting time. But here we are in Dublin, trying to make sense of the stuff we're hearing from out there, trying to make sense of our own life in the context of Dublin. Then we end up in the middle of Europe in a transit van, driving down the corridor between East and West Germany, going to Berlin. It just gave us a totally different perspective. In a weird way it was a more Irish perspective, because suddenly our Irishness became more tangible to us, much more obvious, maybe even more important.
October was a struggle from beginning to end. It was an incredibly hard record for us to make because we had major problems with time. And I had been through this thing of really not knowing if I should be in the band or not. It was really difficult to pull all the things together and still maintain the focus to actually finish a record in the time that we had. You could hear the desperation and confusion in some of the lyrics. "Gloria" is really a lyric about not being able to express what's going on, not being able to put it down, not knowing where we are. Having thrown ourselves into this thing we were trying to make some sense of it. "Why are we in this?" It was a very difficult time.

MUSICIAN: You., Larry and Bono had doubts about whether it was okay for you as Christians to devote your lives to a rock band.
EDGE:: It was reconciling two things that seemed for us at that moment to be mutually exclusive. We never did resolve the contradictions. That's the truth. And probably never will. There's even more contradictions now.

MUSICIAN: I remember being at the Greenbelt festival outside London in the early '80s, and some of the musicians said that U2 had told them they were wrong to publicly label themselves as "Christian bands, "that by doing that they limited their potential audience. Did you make a decision, around the time of October, to go public with your Christianity?
EDGE:: No, I didn't change my attitude at all. I was still very nervous about the Christian label. I have no trouble with Christ, bull have trouble with a lot of Christians. That was the problem. We wanted to give ourselves the chance lobe viewed without that thing hanging over us. I don't think we're worried about it now. Also, at that stage we were going through our most out-there phase, spiritually. It was incredibly intense. We were just so involved with it. It was a time in our lives where we really concentrated on it more than on almost anything. Except Adam, who just wasn't interested.

MUSICIAN:A friend of mine had just been forced out of a big band when I brought October home. He looked at the cover photo, pointed to Adam and said, "That guy's going to get sacked, look at how the other three are forming a circle and he's outside it."
EDGE:: Well, he was wrong but he was also right. We never considered firing Adam. That would have been completely ridiculous. Bull think Adam did feel kind of isolated, marginalized during that period. It wasn't our intention to do that, but I suppose it is inevitable he felt a little like the odd guy.

MUSICIAN: Even after Bono and Larry decided it was okay to go on with U2, didn't you quit the band for a couple of weeks?
EDGE:: I didn't actually leave the band, but there was a two-week period where I put everything on hold and I said, "Look, I can't continue in my conscience in this band at the moment. So hold everything. I want to just go away and think about this. I just need a couple of weeks to reassess where I'm headed here and whether I can really commit to this band or whether at this point I just have to back out." Because we were getting a lot of people in our ear saying, "This is impossible, you guys are Christians, you can't be in a band. It's a contradiction and you have to go one way or the other." They said a lot of worse things than that as well. So I just wanted to find out. I was just sort of sick of people not really knowing and me not knowing quite whether this was right for me. So I took two weeks. Within a day or two I just knew that all this stuff was bullshit. We were the band. Okay, it's a contradiction for some, but it's a contradiction that I'm able to live with. I just decided that I was going to live with it. I wasn't going to try to explain it because I can't. So I went forward from that point on, and it was great because it kind of got rid of all that shit. "That's gone. Right. This band is going forward, there is no doubt in anyone's mind." So we carried on.
I remember walking down the beach and breaking the news to Bono. "Listen, mate, I can't go on unless I really find out about this." He kind of looked at me and I thought he was really going to freak out, but he actually just said, "Okay, fine. If you're not up for it, that's it. We're going to break up the band. There's no point going on." I think he felt exactly like I did, just wanted to know which way to go. Then once the decision was made that would be it, there would be no more doubt, no more second-guessing. There would be no more taking other people's advice. This was our chosen path.

MUSICIAN: You were 20 then. You're 30 now. Do you feel that the old pieties no longer work as well for you?
EDGE:: I suppose we've changed our attitudes to a lot since then. The central faith and spirit of the band is the same. But I just have less and less time for legalism now. I just see that you live a life of faith. It's nothing to do necessarily with what clothes you wear or whether you drink or smoke or who you're seeing or not seeing.

MUSICIAN: Most of your albums capture a moment. The Unforgettable Fire is the only one that stands completely outside of time.
EDGE:: It's interesting that you say that. We've had discussions about that very point. There is a quality to great work which is timeless. You've got to balance being relevant and commenting on what's happening today with trying to attain that timelessness. Unforgettable Fire is probably less fixed to any time, more a work that will mean the same in 10 years as it meant when it was released.
On Unforgettable Fire probably more than our other records, the music has such a strong voice that Bono's vocals are almost like another musical element. We got criticized that it was a sort of copout, that we weren't writing songs anymore, that this was ill-disciplined work. I could see where the reviews were coming from, based on probably a weekend listening to it, bull knew there was far more to it than just that. It was not U2 going arty, there was actually something there that was really valuable and enduring. I still listen to that record.

MUSICIAN: With that album all the sonic elements of U2 became as expanded as the guitar had always been. For example, different layers of percussion moved around the center~ How much of that had to do with Daniel Lanois coming in as co-producer?
EDGE:: For the first time, I think, on The Unforgettable Fire Larry was working with a producer who was thinking like a drummer. I think that really helped. He enjoyed the relationship a lot. I've seen Danny develop over three records, very definitely. What he's always had is a great musical and rhythmic understanding. Just a sensitivity to drums and percussion. He plays pretty good percussion himself. That style still shows on the things that Danny is doing now. I think it's great, but he's going to have to be careful because it could become just a cliche for him.

MUSICIAN: I'm sure people call him and ask for that spooky feeling he got with Bobbie Robertson and Bob Dylan and the Nevilles.
EDGE:: In Achtung Baby he knew he was not going back to the swamp. He knew this was going lobe something different. I don't think he fully appreciated how different it was going lobe and how difficult it was going to be for him to adjust. There were a couple of weeks where it was, "Does Danny get this?"

MUSICIAN: What? Did he want to put a mandolin on "Zoo Station"?
EDGE:: There were a few moments where we were a little unsure. But Brian [Eno] came in, and Danny and Brian work off each other very well, because Brian is so clear, so opinionated and so dead-ahead. Danny is, by comparison, instinctive. He feeds off Brian's theoretical side, but he's got all this music coming out of every pore. So
Danny was kind of tuning in on what Brian was feeling and thinking, based on what we were saying and playing. Danny really started to get it then, and that was good.
When we started the album in Berlin there were some pretty difficult moments. It really tested everyone very severely. To get over that hump and get on with that record and finish it was not easy. At the end of the final show of 1989 at the Point in Dublin, on the turn of the decade, Bono kind of made a speech. He said we we're going away and we had to think it all up again. A lot of people read into that that we were going to break up. Well, when we got to Berlin it was almost like, maybe that was prophetic, because it was so hard. It was so heavy. It seemed for a few seconds like, "Well, maybe this is what we should do, maybe we really have to break up and then see what happens." We rode out that storm and I think it's a great record. I'm delighted with it. Actually I think U2 has got a lot of great records left. I think we're good for another 10 years at least I think we're getting better on almost every level, and the commitment is still there.

MUSICIAN: What's the kind of tension you had to overcome?
EDGE:: It was just a real testing of the way we write our songs, the creative system within the group. When you've been doing this for as long as we have, I suppose in the back of your mind everyone thinks that maybe one day we're going to write together and we just won't have anything to say. Literally there will be nothing more to add. You all hope that everyone knows when that time has come and don't go on and do some completely awful album that everyone recognizes to be a disaster. For a week or two at the beginning in Berlin it was so hard to get things happening and get inspired and get working on the same wavelength. It was very frustrating and difficult. We were looking at each other- and sort of sensed other people were looking at us-and saying, "What the fuck is going on?" And it didn't help that Danny didn't really get it He was a little unsure about the direction.
To put it in a word, the magic just wasn't there. Whether it was the playing, the material, the arrangements, the direction, the studio, the flute sound- who knows why? It just wasn't happening.

MUSICIAN: Was there a moment when you felt it was back?
EDGE:: Yeah. I think when "One" came out. We had a song called "Ultraviolet," kind of the precursor to "Ultraviolet (Light My Way)." It wasn't going anywhere; it needed extra sections, and I went to the piano and started working on chords.
This was the culmination of three days' work. I came back into the control room and I played two suggestions to the guys on an acoustic guitar. Bono or Danny said, "Why don't you put the two of them together, what would that be like?" So I went out to the piano and put the two together and suddenly Bono just kind of got hit by something and grabbed the microphone and started singing to these changes. Adam and Larry came along and we played those chords for about 10 minutes. Then we listened back and had the basis of "One." There was a tangible feeling in the room: Suddenly it had gelled. It had clicked and everyone knew it. It's funny,I think of all the songs on the album that came the easiest We went in the next morning and cut three or four takes and chose the best one and that's what went on the album. For me anyway, that was the moment when I went, "Phew!" [laughs] "The roof for the house in the west of Ireland is looking good! I'll be able to change the car this year!"
An Irish journalist wrote a review of Achtung Baby and said, "This is a great album, and what makes it so fascinating is that it's U2 obviously hell-bent on destroying the myths of U2 and themselves in the process. They will obviously not be around very long, but if that means more great music like this I don't mind." It's not really true-that's a very melodramatic description of the situation, but one aspect of it is true: Achtung Baby is definitely a reaction to the myth of U2. We really never had any control over that myth. You could say we helped it along a bit, but the actual myth itself is a creation of the media and people's imagination. Like all myths. There is very little resemblance to the actual personalities of the band or the intentions of the band, and Achtung Baby balances things out a bit

MUSICIAN:But the myth has a basis in the personalities. For example, the cartoon image of Bono, love it or loathe it, may be a caricature- but like all caricatures it bears some exaggerated resemblance to the real person.
EDGE:: It's a caricature of one facet of his character. It's Bono as seen through the songs. But the character of Bono is totally different to that. Maybe over our career our ability to create music that shows the full range of the personalities of Bono and the other members of the band was very poor. But that's the truth- that guy is totally different to the way most people think of him. He's far funnier, takes himself far less seriously than most people think. He's wild, you know, he's not reserved, none of the cliches that spring to mind when you think of people's perception of him.
This is not just a problem for Bono, this is a problem for the whole band. Everyone has this sort of caricature impression of what we are like. We just decided that we were going to find out how we could allow the other aspects of ourselves to come through. We're exploring whole new avenues of music and it's great fun. I mean, we can do it as well, that's what's brilliant about it. That's the good news for us. It's actually something we can do. I suppose we just weren't that interested early on.

MUSICIAN: Is it possible that because U2 were serious and focused at a very young age, you are now going back and going through at 30 what most young men go through at 20?
EDGE:: I think there's a bit of that, yeah. This is actually quite an important point. Throughout our career we've been struggling and fighting for survival: to gel out of Ireland in the first place, to get a deal, to just make it happen. And I think we've finally got to a stage where we realized we could relax a bit. It's still not easy, but it doesn't have lobe quite so much do-or-die.

MUSICIAN: You guys are very careful about who you give interviews to, how Anton Corbijn photographs you, how you're presented to the public. I'm not saying you've crossed it, but there's a fine line between controlling quality and controlling an image and projecting a false image.
EDGE:: I'm all for propaganda. [laughter] It is a fine line. And you're going to get it wrong sometimes. A lot of bands, though, don't even think that's important or relevant I think we're aware that maybe that is part of why we ended up being the caricature. A little bit
Rattle and Hum, the movie, was an example of that We were criticized by some people for not revealing more. We actually made quite a conscious decision not to reveal more because we didn't feel comfortable with it Its a balance because you have to give up so much more when you reveal all. It's like you no longer have a private life. But at the same time, if you don't reveal all, people don't really get the full picture. So it's a compromise. With Rattle and Hum we just didn't want to reveal ourselves. My attitude was, "What? Do you think we're crazy? Cameras in the dressing room? What do you think we are- STOOPID?"
I love what we do because we control it. Because we ye set it up where we're comfortable with it. This is the bottom line: That's why we could do it. If it was done in a way where our private lives were an open book, I don't think I could be in the band. I didn't get into the band to become a celebrity. I got into the band because I wanted to play music and write songs and tour and do all that stuff. Some people might object to that, bull say, "Well, fuck you." [laughs] It's my life and this is the way it works for me.

MUSICIAN: As U2 gears up to go out on tour again, is the sheer size of the operation intimidating?
EDGE:: Yeah, a bit. But what's actually more intimidating is the expectations. I don't really worry about mistakes. I've never had a problem with mistakes. There's a certain thing that happens to us onstage, a certain spark, a certain electricity. It's impossible to describe but it's sort of like, that is the show, you know? That's what the band's always had. "Chemistry" only describes one aspect of it.
We haven't played for a while and we're assuming that spirit, that spark, will still be there. I don't know whether it will. I remember shows when it wasn't there. It scared the shit out of me. It was like, "Oh.. .this thing can go away!" That was an eye-opener. I suppose if I have any dark fears it's that that thing will have gone.

MUSICIAN: You do tap into something powerfull onstage. What goes through your head when you're playing "Bullet the Blue Sky"?
EDGE:: Whoa. "Hope I don't luck up!" It's obviously an incredibly dark song. We used to call that part of the set "The Heart of Darkness." From "Bullet" to "Exit" was all very, very intense. Sometimes Bono would come offstage in the break and would not have left character. The darkness would still be there with him. Sometimes it was hard for him to shake it off and get into playing the next songs. That darkness has a certain kind of adrenalin.

MUSICIAN: "Exit" and "Bullet the Blue Sky" are both from. The Joshua Tree. What was the band trying to capture on that album?
EDGE:: I think that record was a great steppingstone for Bono as a lyricist. He was going for something. Points of reference were the
New Journalism, The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer, Raymond Carver, the bleak American desert landscape as a metaphor. There's a definite cinematic location, a landscape of words and images and themes that made up The Joshua Thee. It's a subtle balance, a blend of the songs and lyrics.

MUSICIAN: Do you think that Bono was talking to you in some of the Achtung Baby lyrics?
EDGE:: I think that what was going on in my life had an influence on Bono and therefore on the lyrics to some of the songs. That's for sure. A lot of people have read into the lyrics that it's the story of Edge's marriage breaking down. I'm not denying that that has had an influence, bull think there's a lot of stories in there and it's not just my story.

MUSICIAN: Mat Snow wrote that "Until the End of the World" is sung in the voice of Judas addressing Jesus. Is that true?
EDGE:: Yeah. There's an Irish poet named Brendan Kennelly who's written a book of poems about Judas. One of the lines is, "If you want to serve the age, betray it." That really set my head reeling. He's also fascinated with the whole moral concept of "Where would we be without Judas?" I do think there is some truth that in highlighting what is rather than what we would ideally like to be, you're betraying a sort of unwritten rule, but you're also serving.

MUSICIAN: The man accused of murdering the actress Rebecca Schaeffer has apparently claimed that he was inspired to do it by listening to 'Exit." When I heard that I thought of Bono's remark on Rattle and Hum that Charles Alanson had stolen "Helter Skelter" from the Beatles. Now a killer's trying to steal "Exit" from U2.
EDGE:: Well, what do you want me to say? I think it is very heavy. It gets back to censorship, whether self-censorship or government censorship. Should any artist hold back from putting out something because he's afraid of what somebody else might do as a result of his work? I would hate to see censorship come in, whether from the government or, from my point of view, personal.

MUSICIAN: Bono wrote the lyrics to "The Fly" as a series of truisms.
EDGE:: Yeah, it is, I suppose. It's typical Bono in that his greatest gift is his imagination, but it's also sometimes his worst enemy in that to tie himself to one idea is like torture for him. He'd sooner have 10 ideas in a song. I suppose the list of truisms in "The Fly" is pretty close to following the device from beginning to end. But even there, he brings in a character.

MUSICIAN: What saves that song from being just a clever exercise is that the things he says are all very powerful.
EDGE:: Yeah. What's amazing is that he gets so many ideas into a song and somehow makes them work.

MUSICIAN: It would have been easy to end Achtung Baby with "Tryin' to Throw Your Arms Around the World." The sun comes up and the character goes home and the night is oven Instead the album makes us follow the guy home and face the consequences.
EDGE:: Yeah, it's not a very comforting ending, is it? But that's okay, I think. I suppose that's what we've learned. Things aren't all okay out there. But that's the way it is.

An Strat Dubh

The pile of guitars at the U2 rehearsal hall contained four mainstays: a white '73 Les Paul Custom, a '76 Rickenbacker 12-string, an '89 Fender Clapton Strat with Lace Sensor pickups and a '68 Strat with a Gotoh vibrato. Edge also has an SG doubleneck and a Washburn electra-acoustic with a Photon MIDI pickup, and assorted vintage guitars. His Bradshaw switching system controls a complex series of effects amplified by four Vox AC30s and two Randall combos: an AMS digital delay, two Yamaha SPX90s, two SPX1000s and a GP50, two t.c. electronics 2290s, an Eventide H3000, two Korg A3 processors, an Infinite Sustain box, the Photon MIDI converter and two Roland SDD3000 delays; Edge's wireless is a Sony UHF WRR37. On the floor, there's a MOSFET preamp, SD-1, Turbo Overdrive and graphic EQ pedals, MXR compressors and some t.c. preamps and EQs. On the sidelines are a CryBaby wah, a DigiTech Whammy Pedal, some chrome slides and an E-Bow. Edge's tech Dallas Schoo strings the guitars with nickel-composite Rotosounds, .011 through .048s.

U2 - Atomic: Then and Now
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