His name is Dave Evans, but everyone
from roadies to relatives calls him the Edge. As U2's guitarist, he's one of the world's most famous rock stars. As co-founder
of Music Rising, he has taken a lead role in getting New Orleans musicians back on their feet. TIME's Josh Tyrangiel spoke
with the Edge about the beginnings of U2's next album, a couple of songs he wishes his band had written, and what it was like
to be a young man with a large head.
You're speaking from a London recording studio. Does that mean there's a new U2 album
around the bend?
Noooo. Nowhere near. We're here with [producer] Rick Rubin and enjoying the chemistry,
but we're nowhere near a timetable or anything. I will say that we're having a good time. And I have a feeling that because
of Rick's presence it's going to sound very different. But really, it's early days. And we are messing about with other stuff
Messing about meaning ...?
Well, right now we're recording a duet with Green Day that we'll perform on Monday
Night Football [Sept. 25] for the re-opening of the Superdome.
When you record with another band, who plays lead guitar?
[Laughs.] That's the great thing about punk rock. It was anti the very concept of
lead guitar. This song [The Saints Are Coming by Scottish punk act the Skids] is pure 1978, a big inspiration to us at the
time, and it couldn't be more in the sweet spot of what Green Day are about. And it's really right for the occasion.
This will be your second time playing a football game, right?
The first was the Super Bowl in the Superdome, right after Sept. 11, which was obviously
memorable. But a little added irony is that an hour after I got offstage that night, I got a call from Dublin saying that
the U2 [storage] space had been flooded. All our instruments and amps had been destroyed. The only ones that survived were
the ones we happened to have in New Orleans.
What prompted a Welsh Irishman's interest in reviving the music culture of New Orleans?
If you understand what goes into making great music, you can't help but worship the
miracle that is the combination of all those influences. It's an incredibly precious and delicate thing, and it has to be
What have you accomplished so far?
Music Rising has given instruments and aid to about 2,000 musicians, but it's barely
a start. New Orleans is like one giant music academy; all of those neighborhoods fostered multigenerational music tuition.
Grandfathers taught grandchildren in churches, homes, schools. People were passing on knowledge everywhere.
You don't sound terribly optimistic.
It's not a great situation. Obviously we're getting money and instruments to them,
but a large part of it is just to offer a little bit of encouragement and to get the rest of the country to realize that this
is something we'll all regret if we let it disappear.
Let's get abstract for a moment.
If you could attach your name to any song written over the past few years, which
would it be? Interesting. There's quite a few songs I've been jealous of. Certainly Wonderwall by Oasis. Oh. Easy. The New
Radicals' You Get What You Give. That's a great tune. I really would love to have written that. Great spirit, great energy.
U2 is putting out a coffee-table book next week of old photos and
first-person tales about your lives. I presume you did this because the band has been so overlooked by the media all these
We really did need the publicity. [Laughs.] I don't know, the book idea ... it just
felt right somehow. Then we got into it and realized it was actually a big commitment, going through scrapbooks and memories.
But it turned out well.
One of the most revealing things in the book is that as a child you had a freakishly
huge head. Was this a concern for your parents?
I wouldn't say a concern, but looking back I was like, Wow! That was a weird phase!
As Bono says, the stage is like a giant platform shoe, and we all have reasons we end up in bands. For me, my awkward phase
corresponded to an interest in rock 'n' roll. From experience, I'm guessing an insecure childhood is probably quite a common
thing among people who start a rock band.