The Edge en U2's The Edge and Bono Join Fender's Board of Directors <!--paging_filter--><p>The Edge and Bono have joined Fender Musical Instruments Corporation’s board of directors.</p> <p>The duo, best known as the guitarist and lead singer for U2, bring a unique blend of experience in music, entertainment, business and advocacy to the 68-year-old company. </p> <p>As members of the board, they will carry on the tradition of Fender as a creator of iconic musical instruments and will guide the company as it pursues new strategies to grow through increased engagement with fans.</p> <p>“By adding the Edge and Bono to the board of Fender, we are taking an important step toward building a company that is able to meet its potential as a business and a brand,” said Bill McGlashan, Fender co-chairman. “The music world is changing, and Fender is undergoing a transformation into a better music company.”</p> <p>“While the company’s strength is rooted in its history as a maker of authentic, iconic musical instruments, Fender is also a music company. The Edge’s track record as a guitarist and an innovator of unique sounds through his use of technology makes him an ideal partner to grow Fender’s brand,” said Mark Fukunaga, Fender co-chairman. “Bono is a visionary in the music world who also has business acumen and creativity that will help Fender thrive.”</p> <p>“This is something of a kid in a candy store situation for me. I've been a fan of Fender guitars from the beginning, playing them on all the most important U2 tours and albums. But I'm most interested in working with the Fender design team on some new ideas,” the Edge said.</p> <p>Bono added, “Wherever you go in the world Fender is a standard bearer, not just for excellence in technology and craft, but for the influence of American culture. This made-in-USA company has at its heart innovation…the iconoclasm of Jimi Hendrix, the subtle sweet murmurings of Bill Frisell, as well as the most roadworthy loudspeaker on earth. When a festivalgoer wears a Fender T-shirt, they are saying a lot about themselves. </p> <p>They love music; they're independent-spirited, they're proud of this truly American company, a nexus of technology and culture which, in the end, can't be copied no matter how hard the giants try. I'm excited to be part of developing newer technologies with Fender, as well as helping protect the jobs and commitment to excellence of their age-old craft.”</p> <p>In April, Fender announced Bob Roback as president and named him to the board of directors. Roback was most recently the chief executive officer of Dashbox and is overseeing the development of Fender’s digital strategy to engage directly with musicians and music fans. </p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/u2">U2</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Bono Fender The Edge U2 News Thu, 29 May 2014 17:28:47 +0000 Guitar World Staff 21389 at U2 to Release Fan-Club-Exclusive Live Album, 'U22' <!--paging_filter--><p>U2 are releasing a new double-disc live album, <em>U22</em>, which was recorded during their U2360° tour. </p> <p>The catch? It's a fan-club-exclusive release, and you have to be a member of <a href=""></a> to get it. </p> <p>As soon as they sign up, U2 Fan Club subscribers will get instant access to 11 downloads (from the 22 tracks on the discs), plus a bonus download of "Unknown Caller."</p> <p>Besides a slew of hits, the album includes a few offbeat choices, including "Bad," "Ultra Violet," "Moment of Surrender" and "Zooropa." The set includes an LP-sized book of photos from the tour. The book also features liner notes by U2 bassist Adam Clayton.</p> <p>For more information on the album and the fan club, check out <a href=""></a>.</p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/u2">U2</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> The Edge U2 News Tue, 14 Aug 2012 17:38:46 +0000 Lukasz Bielawski 16507 at U2's The Edge Discusses Gear and 'The Joshua Tree' in 1987 Guitar World Interview <!--paging_filter--><p><strong>Here's our first interview with U2's The Edge, from the July 1987 issue of <em>Guitar World</em>. The original story by Joe Bosso started on page 50 and ran with the headline, "The Leading Edge: U2's Minimal Guitarist Makes It Seem So Easy, But That's Only Because Maximal Thought Went Into It."</strong></p> <p><a href="">To see the entire Edge cover -- plus all the GW covers from 1987 -- click here.</a></p> <p>ILLUSIONISM IS AN ART FORM MOST OFTEN ASSOCIATED with the visual. </p> <p>But if artists like Magritte, Houdini and Spielberg are the grand masters of optical trickery, then in the world of popular music, U2's The Edge must surely reign in the court of audio sleight-of-hand. Simply put, it takes a creative mind to play the guitar in a new way; but a wizard to fake out the instrument itself.</p> <p>The accomplishments of U2 and The Edge during the past seven years could be the basis for a success scenario that any band of young hopefuls could follow. Yet they are not content to simply issue Top Ten records every other year and fill concert arenas. That's too easy a goal for a group of musicians that has challenged every cliche in the rock 'n' roll book and managed to take with them a still-growing retinue of followers.</p> <p>It's harder than it looks, but The Edge's less-is-more approach to the guitar and the band's hungry scope have paid off. In sheer numbers (fans and hero worship) Springsteen is now the only comparison applicable, albeit an unfair one. </p> <p>Both U2 and Springsteen would argue that comparison is not the nature of their work; this is true, but try to think of other artists who can draw on their influences -- increasingly more American, in both cases -- distill them and successfully make them coalesce into something more necessary, ethereal and majestic.</p> <p>A fair amount of determination and blind faith is required to paint a canvas so broad and to reject the rock 'n' roll machine simultaneously. With the recent release of the Daniel Lanois / Brian Eno-produced <em>The Joshua Tree</em>, U2 once again throw caution to the winds and let the pieces fall where they will. </p> <p>U2's songs, lately lamenting drug addiction in America, isolation, the desert and just about every nuance of the human condition debunk the immature illusion of what rock songs are supposed to concern. The notion that bands must still pen odes to hot babes is one that the Irish quartet negated from the beginning. Edge's role in this passion play is as cataclysmic as Bono's lyrics in that, while coaxing never-before-heard-of guitar sounds from his Vox amp, he does far more for the good of the instrument-and music in general-and makes it appear so simple. Almost like magic.</p> <p>Born David Evans to Welsh parents (his father, Garvin, moved the family to Ireland), Edge took up the guitar as a teenager. Reports regarding his nickname vary: his demeanor, possibly -- some claim it's the shape of his head -- but it's one he sticks by (unlike Bono, who has quietly stopped listing his surname as "Vox"). Attempts at formal practice proved limiting, and so, fueled by the music of Television and the Patti Smith Group, Edge forged ahead with his then-naïve approach to the guitar.</p> <p>By the time the young Evans found himself in the same rehearsal room with Bono (also somewhat of a guitarist), Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, his signature sound on the six strings was starting to jell.</p> <p>"I suppose at that time I knew some things," Edge begins. "But I wasn't too keen on it. I guess I was pretty fast when I started, but before long I started messing about and trying to see what I could come up with."</p> <p>Because of the young band's inexperience (only Clayton had played bass previously in a group context), cover tunes proved to be a problem they were forced to confront by writing their own material Edge used this period in time to hone and perfect-what the world would soon hear.</p> <p>"From the beginning, I was faced with decisions on how I should apply myself to the guitar. Certain aspects of the instrument were boringly technical, and I guess you could say that I wasn't particularly interested in practicing. You can do the same things over and over every day and eventually you're sounding like everybody else. What I try to do—sometimes with great success, sometimes not-is to challenge myself by creating a new set of tools to work with. Effects played a major part of it."</p> <p>Around the time U2 hit the American shores with "I Will Follow" in 1980, guitarists like Andy Summers and Robert Fripp were changing people's attitudes about effects pedals, making them a necessary color on a musician's palette. U2's debut Island album, <em>Boy</em>, bathed in an echoey, chorused shimmer, was a perfect marriage between producer Steve Lillywhite and the young band; the sound was galvanizing, rousing and a catharsis for Edge and players everywhere perplexed by the importance placed on fretboard gymnastics. </p> <p>"My whole thing with effects is to get what I can out of them but be simple. I will never play without them because they're too much a part of what I do as a player. I rely on being creative with sound. But I think simplicity, rather than the multitude of possibilities which is certainly at my disposal through various processors, is where it's at. I think you can get so bogged down that by tille end of the day you've wasted all your time."</p> <hr /> Through a succession of Lillywhite helmed outings, Edge continued to carve a niche for himself in the annals of guitardom, though increasingly he turned to keyboards for new and greater stimuli, the treatments of which can best be heard on the 1983 hit, "New Year's Day." <p>That cut, and others from the same fabric, spun themselves into <em>War</em>, which was about as angry and bold a statement that anybody could ever hope to make. Finding them-selves suddenly thrust into headlining status stateside, U2 went after their new audience like tigers unleashed; Edge, in particular, sliced his way through the new numbers, and on older material like "The Electric Company" and "Out Of Control," he sharpened his razor-like attack to a zenith point this side of dangerous.</p> <p>However, by the next year, when U2 convened in both Dublin's Windmill Lane Studios and Slane Castle for the <em>Unforgettable Fire</em> sessions, Edge surmised that a change in sonic landscapes was in order. </p> <p>''Yeah, I did alter with things a bit," he allows. "We all felt it was time for a bit of mischievous reappraisal of what our sound had become. The sound we already had was established, and it was something that we could easily fall back on, I suppose. We were aware that tampering with it was tantamount to sacrilege to some devotees of the band, but we were unashamed of our experimentations. It was time to move on."</p> <p>Moving on meant a greater emphasis on keyboard textures, while Edge and Brian Eno pulled out all the stops guitar-wise. On songs like "Wire," a frenetic heart-attack-inducing rampage, Edge applied felt tape to the bridge of his guitar, then massively delayed the signal. In general, though, the emphasis of the Unforgettable Fire was on moody surrealism, lows without the highs. For a band principally known for its anthems, it was a gamble; the pay-off was a songwriting confidence that carried through to <em>The Joshua Tree</em>.</p> <p>"In between the two albums," Edge explains, "I grew tired of options. I was doing strange things on <em>Unforgettable Fire</em> that I needn't repeat musically. Things go in cycles. I was fascinated with keyboards, the DX7, treatments, and it led to a new avenue for us. But now I'm kind of tired of options, and I kind of embrace limitations now. On this new record, I think we've taken the idea of limitations and used them as a new form of inspiration." </p> <p>For The Edge, inspiration comes in a myriad of manners. But whether they be cosmic or electronic, all appear to be openly entertained and attempted in his quest for quality songmanship.</p> <p>"What a song is is a subjective thing. There's no one real definition for it. Some of our best songs were written on a one string guitar. I think the surface impression of the new album could throw people a bit. A lot of the lyrics are undersides to things, and they're harsh -- we're exploring some very dark things. My worry is that it all might be too dark for some people. But I've distanced myself from it all, and I think we put the important ingredients of hope in each song.</p> <p>"Take 'Bullet The Blue Sky,' for example, which is rooted in America, musically and lyrically We were aiming for some of our feelings of the States, many of which are diametrically opposite. That song was inspired by a trip Bono had made to EI Salvador and Nicaragua, but carried over to America as an apocalyptic look at things, the urban side to much of New York City From a guitar point of view, the sort of references I was drawing on were Hendrix and the blues, my listening to Willie Dixon and some old country and blues people like Archie Edwards. It was a watershed, so to speak."</p> <p>Blues in a U2 song? <em>The Joshua Tree</em> finds Bono and The Edge indulging their recent American roots leanings in some startling applications. While he is quick to stress that the band won't forsake their commitment to hard-driving rock 'n' roll, Edge does point out that he is on the lookout for different forms of musical expression, the spaces that separate them becoming smaller all the time.</p> <p>"It's not like I've become a blues fanatic overnight," he laughs. "It's not that I know much about it at all, really, I'm still delving. But I see music really carrying over. Blues and folk. There's a huge similarity to Irish folk music and American styles. It's what you do in that context, and as a guitarist, that's what I'm searching for. </p> <p>"Like using slide, for example. I've done it before, but never like this. 'Bullet' was that kind of song. The set of images and emotions that it is, well, it's not exactly tra la la champagne for two on Park Avenue. So I tried to use the guitar as a form of exorcism, almost, an explosive array of colors to illustrate some kind of strange painting."</p> <hr /> A sampling of cuts on <em>The Joshua Tree</em> highlights a band approaching a songwriting stratosphere that knows no peak. To complement such material, Edge found that, despite his desire to keep things' simple, there still was a need for some new guitar tools. <p>"I try to remain pretty conservative, in a sense. I mistrust new devices unless they're pretty impressive. On 'With You Or Without You,' though, I'm playing a Fender Stratocaster which I've modified to be used for a new device called the Infinite Guitar. It's not really produced, as such, it's an invention of a friend of mine named Michael Brooks, who I collaborated with on the Captive soundtrack. </p> <p>"It does something similar to what an E-Bow does but with a great deal more subtlety, and generally it's more useful than an E-Bow, which is either on or off -- usually a wild sustain and then nothing, you know? With the Infinite, it's all different.</p> <p>"The Infinite gives you great control, so you get all the highs, lows and midpoints. The E-Bow, of course, would tie up your right hand, so unless you're an Indian rubber man there's only so much you can do. The Infinite is all electric, so it actually leaves your right hand free and you can choose to either pluck the strings where you want, or you can just fret the string. There is a bit of technique involved, though, because it'll go from nothing into sustain if you don't dampen certain strings down. I'd like to take it on tour with me, but I haven't finalized anything yet. If I can make it roadworthy I will, if not, then I'll try to adapt the E-Bow to give me the proper effect."</p> <p>From his earliest days, which saw him slinging Gibson Explorers, to his current Strat leanings, Edge has always viewed the guitar in an unorthodox manner. Be it the way he holds his pick (upside down) to his attack, it's all part of a blissfully blind process by which the guitarist summons the unknown. New equipment fits into the picture, but only if The Edge can find something to do with it that hasn't been done before.</p> <p>"I'm interested in abusing technology," he chuckles. "There's a revolutionary new guitar called a Bond Electric Light, which is a very finely-crafted guitar without proper frets. Instead it has little serrations. I tried to incorporate it into my playing armory and I found that it wasn't working, until I discovered the things you can do if you really sort of abused it! I got fantastic results. Like the sort of heavy fuzz guitar at the end of 'One Tree Hill,' and the last three tracks on the middle of side two — that sound is from the Bond.</p> <p>"It's an English guitar. I don't know if they're still made [Editor's Note: They're not], but I got it three or four years ago. Naturally, with us, we try to approach anything without preconceptions, we just control the room without the windows. Now, this Bond guitar, it wasn't meant to do what I do to it. Its neck is some kind of plastic, so it's more flexible than most wooden necks. </p> <p>"I discovered that I could bend the neck so that the strings started to vibrate on the fretboard as I played, and-the guitar having no frets -- it created a different kind of effect. It was an attempt to sound obnoxious. You know, you can wind up a Marshall, and it starts to sound better the higher you go. Well, this was a transistor amp and the sound was compressed to the hilt. I had it very loud and it just kind of had that edge of a sound that you don't normally get. People complained bitterly about it''' </p> <p>Coaxing pained squalls from the speakers does play a large part of Edge's sound these days, but on the other end of the aural spectrum he does, and always has, held the function of electrified acoustics in the highest regard. In much the same way that the Beatles relied on acoustics during their Rubber Soul and Revolver period, Edge has literally saturated <em>The Joshua Tree</em> with the lush, warm tones of the hollow-body. </p> <p>"We've always used acoustics. The Washburn acoustic I have is one of my favorite guitars -- live, I use it a lot. You know, you always get these run-off instruments. I don't know if the other versions of this guitar are particularly great, but this one is the only one I've come across, it's so musical. That's how I really judge the quality of an instrument, it's how I find myself playing on it, whether I'm inspired by it, if I can just pick it up and produce music. The Washburn is one of those guitars that the minute I pick it up it's a natural thing.</p> <p>"I also use a new Yamaha guitar that I've recently been given called an AE2000, which is a big, almost-jazz guitar in style, the big cello wide-body, single-cutaway and F-holes. It uses really tough, big gauge flatwound strings and it sounds sort of classical. I fell in love with it."</p> <p>Though Edge's work as a rhythm guitarist stands as some of the finest recorded (evidenced in the stunning "Pride (In The Name Of Love)" and "Two Hearts Beat As One"), the realm of the solo is one that he does hold some reticence about. When he does unleash obvious solo passages, they're firecrackers like "New Year's Day" or "Gloria," characterized by quarter-note delay and a preponderance of snarling bass notes. </p> <hr /> Lately, Edge has been readdressing the need for the solo spotlight, <em>The Joshua Tree</em> containing fewer lead guitar breaks than ever (a notable exception being the jarring, Sergio Leone excursion that graces "In God's Country"). As far as solos are concerned, it's an area in which The Edge remains happily egoless. <p>"The solo for 'In God's Country' is a pretty tricky one to talk about. The Sergio Leone reference is a fascinating one because I'm a fan. The end of the song has a new kind of rhythm solo guitar thing mixed in with a new technique I'm working on. So maybe the solo comes through because it's so Duane Eddy-ized. Again, it's the AE2000 sound, sort of country, early rock 'n' roll. The idea that this song would have a broad unashamed overdub inclusion rather than it being part of the original take, as a sort of splash of primary color "It goes in with serving the songs on this record in a way that, in the past, we felt no such obligation. </p> <p>"I don't think we intended to create an album of 45's, but each song was complete and didn't need that much. Now, on a song like "New Year's Day," it was perfectly right to put a solo in because it fit in with the concept of <em>War</em>. On this record, I think solos would only have been permitted had they worked within the context of the song itself; there are some, but I've been moving against solos because I didn't feel the need to play any."</p> <p>Coinciding with Edge's team-player instincts is his insistence that, although he is generally regarded as the principal guitarist in U2, he champions the contributions that Bono provides on his occasional forays with the six strings. </p> <p>"I never set out to be the only guitar player. When we started, Bono played quite a bit. His playing is ... well, I don't know. See, our styles are so different, there's never a conflict. Bono's a field player, nothing really amazing -- I'm nothing amazing either. The whole point is that, whatever you're going to do, do it with flair. Bono is very much like Neil Young in that he turns in some incredible guitar things. Danny [Lanois] really loves his playing. We all really like it. There was some important stuff that he did on 'Exit' and 'Mothers Of The Disappeared.' Some of the things he did on the end of 'With You Or Without You' we didn't put in the mix because the arrangement was shorter on the final tracks, but it was great stuff."</p> <p>The influence that The Edge has had on young players worldwide could probably account for the great number of delay units sold during the past five years. Aware of the effect his playing has had on aspiring guitarists, Edge is equally watchful to guitar scenes he might not necessarily be a part of, like heavy metal.</p> <p>"It's a difficult world and I wouldn't presume to condemn or sort of say that it's not valid. It's just something I'm not interested in. I mean, someone has to be the fastest. Fair enough. Music to me is a whole creative world of possibilities. Pure dexterity or technique is such a myopic view of what music is all about-just too rigid. Technique, to me, is knowing enough and being able to do enough to play what you want. I think all my favorite musicians are probably similar to me in that way. </p> <p>"I'm not a fan of the million-miles-an-hour players. I'm more into Keith Richards or Jeff Beck. See, music is such a great communicator. It breaks down linguistic barriers, cultural barriers, it basically reaches out. That's when rock 'n' roll succeeds, and that's what virtuosity is all about. If you are great and amazingly talented, it's something else. </p> <p>"I'm not saying it wouldn't be great to be a really fast player, sometimes that kind of riff can be really great, but it can be a cul-de-sac, very limiting. It's not such a high priority."</p> <p>One immediate priority is the current world tour, which will see U2 playing to perhaps one of the largest collective audiences that a rock band has ever entertained.</p> <p>The Edge's choice of guitars is certainly not among the most elaborate ever assembled -- he doesn't view himself as much of a collector -- but it might be the most essential. You won't find any custom-made jobs contoured in girlie shapes, nor do The Edge's axes light up in the dark. Reliability and sound quality are Edge's prime concerns.</p> <p>"In the beginning I was interested in Gibsons because I used a lot of high treble chords -- they had a fatter treble sound. Fenders I always thought were a bit thin when concentrating on those highs. Recently that's changed because I've been getting into some other things. I've been getting into Stratocasters a lot.</p> <p>"Again, I try to keep things simple. Guitars haven't been improving. Quite the opposite, they've been losing character and getting more homogenized in sound and feel. So generally I steer towards older designs and styles.</p> <p>"I use Superwound strings on all my guitars. I think standardization is very important in that department -- to know where you stand. I vary the gauges from guitar to guitar, usually light to medium. I have an arrangement with Superwound that allows me to buy the strings at a good price."</p> <hr /> Unlike most successful bands, the U2 stage set has always been the embodiment of minimalism, and this year should remain no different. Edge feels that the equipment set-up should complement the visual presentation of the band. <p>"I've never been tempted towards stacks of Marshalls. What I have is my vintage Vox AC30, which is my favorite amp. I'm terrified to bring it on the road this time. I've used it pretty exclusively for what, four major world tours. I'm going to have to give it up eventually, but for now, it's still going strong. So I'll bring that, probably, and a Boogie as a back-up. I've been getting into transistor amps, as well, like the Roland JC 120, which is a great amplifier. And I've also acquired an old Fender Pro Reverb combo. It's real delicate. What I've been finding is that the old Fenders have this beautifully mellow distortion to them, the tubes have been worked just so, they're nice and clear.</p> <p>"For a while I was toying with stereo amplifiers onstage, but that became too much of a headache. I know a lot of players have a dry amp and then have the effects-out from another amplifier. Somehow I've always subscribed to the idea of a mono amp, no matter if I'm playing Wembley Stadium or wherever.</p> <p>"Keyboards too, which I try to keep spare on. I'll probably have a piano, a Yamaha, the new MIDI one, and, of course, the DX7. I've been messing with the idea of sampling keyboards, but I have no real illusions about them." </p> <p>Touring as heavily as U2 does keeps the band away from their homes much of the time. All four members continue to live in Ireland and show no signs of relocating. When not on the road, The Edge leads a quiet home life with his wife, Aislim, and their two daughters, Hollie, two; and Arrin, one. But when the road beckons Edge remains excited about the prospect of America.</p> <p>"It's such a great place. You have such diversity, such contrast. Politically you have things from the CIA to George Jackson, Black Panthers to Marxists. Musically you have from the weirdest kind of New York nightlife band all the way to 39 Special -- I mean, 38 Special! </p> <p>"When we were an opening band, the J. Geils Band was a good choice for us. We wanted to see how we'd do in arenas, so we were on for 11 shows with them or so. At like the first show in Phoenix, the promoter came to the dressing room and said, 'Look guys, Phoenix doesn't have a reputation for accepting opening bands, so if you get bottled, well ... ' So we just went out there. </p> <p>"I remember the J. Geils Band had a banner that they'd raise before the show, it was like this big fist, so they'd raise it and the crowd would go crazy, but the thing is that we went on as they were doing it and I think at first the crowd thought we were the J. Geils Band! We started playing without letting them realize their mistake and wouldn't let them off the hook for the duration of our set. So we ended up going down pretty well. Lots of other bands would probably throw us off the tour, but they were great to us.</p> <p>"The thing about touring, and about being in U2, is that it's a hell of a lot of hard work. I mean, it's a fair amount of luck involved in making it, as we did, but it's work all the time, year round. This band is special, and it's been a real privilege to be in it."</p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/u2">U2</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> GW Archive The Edge U2 Interviews Features Wed, 14 Sep 2011 14:07:43 +0000 Joe Bosso 12738 at U2 to Reissue 'Achtung Baby' for 20th Anniversary <!--paging_filter--><p>U2 will be marking the 20th anniversary of <em>Achtung Baby</em> with a deluxe reissue package.</p> <p>As reported by <a href="">Rolling Stone</a>, the reissue will feature unseen footage of the band and rare versions of some of their most famous hits.</p> <p>"There's some very interesting alternative versions that we discovered of songs that wouldn't have seen the light of day," said U2 guitarist the Edge. He also described the songs as sounding "like <em>Achtung Baby</em> out of focus."</p> <p>U2 manager Paul McGuinness added: "If you pile a lot of extra material and packaging and design work into a super-duper box set, there are people who will pay quite a lot for it, so you can budget it at a very high level and pump up the value." </p> <p>As <a href="">previously reported</a>, the band were ranked No. 1 on Forbes' recent list of the highest-paid musicians in the world.</p> The Edge U2 News Fri, 24 Jun 2011 13:04:50 +0000 Josh Hart 11388 at It Might Get Loud: Pump Up the Volume <!--paging_filter--><p>Originally published in <em>Guitar World</em>, September 2009</p> <p><strong>Larger-than-life guitarists Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White make a big noise in <em>It Might Get Loud</em>, a documentary that explores the electric guitar through each man's music and experiences. <em>Guitar World </em>sits down with the trio for a high-level discussion. </strong></p> <p>Hollywood meetings don't get more direct than this: In February 2007, one week before that year’s Academy Awards ceremonies, filmmaker Davis Guggenheim was in the office of producer Thomas Tull, president and CEO of Legendary Pictures. Guggenheim was enjoying a bit of increased industry cred at that moment, having received a Best Documentary Film nomination for his direction of the 2006 Al Gore global-warming treatise <em>An Inconvenient Truth</em>.</p> <p>Before Guggenheim could ask “How’s it going?” Tull launched into his one-sentence sell: “You’re going to win an Oscar next week, Davis, and I want this to be your next picture.”</p> <p>And with that, Tull pointed to a Les Paul guitar hanging on his wall.</p> <p>“It was one hell of a way to start a meeting,” Guggenheim says with a laugh, “but I have to admit, I was immediately hooked. Thomas proceeded to tell me how important guitars were to him—he probably loves music as much as movies—but that, in his opinion, nobody’s ever truly captured the beauty of the guitar on film.”</p> <p>Tull, for his part, explains, “I told Davis, ‘You took a subject like global warming and you made people care. This should be easy for you.’ ”</p> <p>It wasn’t.</p> <p>“The thing is, no matter where you stand on the issue of global warming, facts are facts,” says Guggenheim (who, as Tull predicted, won the Oscar in his category). “But with music, and as it relates to the guitar specifically, we’re talking about art, poetry. It’s one thing to write a poem, but explaining why the poem is important, or getting inside the head of the poet and showing why he wrote it, what drove him to do it, what makes his poem different from others—that’s a tall order. But the more Thomas and I talked about doing a documentary of the guitar, the more I couldn’t resist its pull.”</p> <p>Tull’s enticements included his production experience: Legendary Pictures was riding high on the success of the revamped <em>Batman</em> franchise. But Guggenheim was concerned momentarily when Tull announced that he had already cast the project—at least in his head. “I told Davis, ‘I don’t know how you feel, but in my mind we have to focus on three guitarists who bring to the guitar a point of view and have changed the way people hear the instrument in very profound ways.”</p> <p>Guggenheim says, “I kind of braced myself. A producer casting a movie can sometimes be a tricky thing. But Thomas knows from where he speaks. When he said the names Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White, all I could say was, ‘I totally agree.’ If we could get that amazing trio of guitarists to sign on, I knew we were halfway home to making the movie we wanted to make.”</p> <p>And what if Page, Edge and White said no? What then?</p> <p>“Then we would’ve bagged the movie,” Guggenheim says. “This was the movie we wanted to make, and we were determined to do it right.”</p> <p>The result is <em>It Might Get Loud</em>, a new documentary about the electric guitar as told from the point of view of Page, The Edge and White. Scheduled for an August 2009 release in New York and Los Angeles, the film explores the instrument through each man’s career and playing style.</p> <p>Several months after his meeting with Tull, Guggenheim found himself filming Jimmy Page in the guitarist’s home just outside of London, as Page pulled records from his collection and played them. Guggenheim says, “There was one record in particular that just knocked us both out: a vinyl copy of Link Wray’s ‘Rumble.’ Immediately, he started changing right in front of me. He was entranced, transported back in time to when he was a teenager. And then this charming, little-kid smile spread across his face. It was beautiful!”</p> <p>It was also a little surprising, especially when the famously guarded Zeppelin guitarist broke into an impromptu moment of unbridled air guitar.</p> <hr /> <p>“That scene is so gorgeous and fun, and it’s one of the very important heartbeats of the movie,” Guggenheim says. “We wanted to capture the love of craftsmanship. It would be the same thing if I had the chance to go back and interview da Vinci. I’d ask, ‘What made you want to paint?’ ‘What colors do you experiment with?’ ‘Does the process ever drive you crazy at times?’ ”</p> <p>Guggenheim addressed similar questions to The Edge at the U2 guitarist’s private music room in Dublin. In the film, these inquiries provide a glimpse into the trials and errors that go into crafting U2’s sound.</p> <p>Working on the riff that would eventually become the backbone for the group’s recent single, “Get on Your Boots,” The Edge seems both amused and frustrated. “Some days, there’s just nothing,” he says.</p> <p>Elsewhere, the guitarist illustrates the importance that pedal effects have on his much-copied style by playing the riff to U2’s “Elevation” unplugged. It sounds simple, ordinary even, and The Edge admits as much. Then he pushes a few buttons, works the wah-wah, and <em>viola!</em>—a king-sized arena riff emerges from his amplifier. The music inside the technology, how machines can further a guitar’s possibilities—these are the things that make The Edge get up in the morning.</p> <p>Guggenheim says, “I found The Edge very brave to lift the veil off his sound. You always hear these stories about guitarists who never want to show you how they do what they do. The Edge had no problem taking us inside his head. I think he’s pretty secure in the knowledge that nobody can do what he can do.”</p> <p>As for Jack White, some of his sequences proved to be among the film’s strangest and, ultimately, the most moving. At one point, at a broken-down farmhouse in Tennessee, the guitarist builds an instrument on the spot. “We were talking about the blues and what people played before they had ready access to guitars,” says Guggenheim, “and Jack said, ‘A diddley bow.’ Right there, he found an old plank of wood, a Coke bottle, some wire, and he made this instrument that can just take your head off.”</p> <p>Elsewhere in the movie, White instructs a child actor nickednamed Young Jack (a dead-ringer for the guitarist as a youngster) how to kick and stomp his way through the blues. “That kid really had it,” White says. But he refuses to refer to the child as an actor, insisting, “He’s me. He’s Young Jack. How cool is it to see me show myself how to play the blues? That’s the genius of Davis Guggenheim.”</p> <p>But White’s most revealing sequence takes place in a ramshackle room of the farmhouse, when he puts on a copy of Son House’s “Grinning in Your Face.” As White gets lost in the track, his face softens, his eyes dance and a sense of wonder emanates from his entire body. Taking the record off the turntable, he says softly, “From the first time I heard that, it was my favorite song. Still is.”</p> <p>To reveal the muses that helped shape the guitarists, Guggenheim takes each one back to the rooms and geographical surroundings of his youth: for Page they are Epsom, England, and Headley Grange, the 18th century former workhouse where <em>Led Zeppelin IV</em> was recorded; for the Ireland-bred Edge, Dublin and the high school where U2 formed; and for White, the gritty streets of his hometown, Detroit.</p> <p>But the undisputed centerpiece of the movie is the three-man summit at a Los Angeles soundstage, during which the celebrated axmen swap stories, show off their instruments and do a little jamming. There is a hilarious bit in which The Edge instructs Page and White on the correct way to play “I Will Follow.” Calling out the changes to Page, Edge looks momentarily uncomfortable, as if he’s thinking, Who am I to tell Jimmy Page how to play guitar? But within moments, the three men make a massive sound.</p> <p>The Edge and White don’t dare pick up their guitars when Page shows them how he chords “Whole Lotta Love.” The apprentices sit in awe as the sorcerer lays down the seismic riff that inspired millions to pick up the instrument. For a fleeting second, The Edge and White share sidelong glances, both undoubtedly thinking the same thing: How cool is this!</p> <p>“I have to admit, I was thinking the same thing,” Guggenheim says. “Getting the three of them together was so important, but I was scared to death: Would they get along? Would they have anything to say to one another? What if only two guys hit it off and the third guy felt left out?</p> <p>“But everything worked out beautifully. And yes, when you see Jimmy Page play ‘Whole Lotta Love’ right in front of you, you become 13 years old again. You’re in your room in front of the mirror, and you’re dreaming of being him one day. That’s there on the faces of The Edge and Jack White. It was on the faces of the crew. It was amazing. To me, the movie was in the can when we nailed that scene.”</p> <hr /> <p>Recently, <em>Guitar World</em> conducted a three-man guitar summit of its own by assembling Page, The Edge and White to recall their involvement in <em>It Might Get Loud</em>. The three icons were more than happy to discuss what The Edge calls “one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen. I’m so glad we took part in it, and of course, I’m honored to be in the company of the other guys. Who wouldn’t be?”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD</strong> I assume you’ve all been asked to appear in other “rock” films and music documentaries. What made you want to get involved with <em>It Might Get Loud</em>?</p> <p><strong>JIMMY PAGE</strong> Davis contacted me and outlined the project. He had just done the Al Gore film, but he was obviously a music fan, and I liked that. He had passion. And one thing he said was, “First, we’ll have an interview and I’ll record it, but it won’t be on-camera—more of a get-to-know-you thing and to build some momentum.” And I thought, Hey, that’s cool. The whole thing grew out of that.</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> I was told that they wanted to go after the guitar not just in technical terms; they wanted to explore the reason why people pick up the instrument—what is it about the guitar that offers people the opportunity to express something that they couldn’t in any other way? The approach was going to be more sophisticated than what we’ve seen before.</p> <p>I met Davis, and we really hit it off. We talked for hours about creativity and the state of the planet. Then he mentioned Jimmy Page and Jack White, and I thought those were great choices. That’s when I decided to take the plunge.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> Jack, you weren’t so sure at first, were you?</p> <p><strong>JACK WHITE</strong> I talked to Davis, and I thought, I don’t know… It seemed a little too “out there.” But what sold me was that he didn’t know what he wanted to do. That spoke volumes to me, for someone to relinquish control and let things happen while the camera rolled. And, of course, when he said Jimmy Page and The Edge…well, what can you say? [<em>laughs</em>]</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> So the big selling point was that you guys were going to guide the movie, that it was going to be cinema vérité: “whatever happens happens.”</p> <p><strong>PAGE</strong> I knew exactly what Davis was going for. It might have been nice for him to discuss a few numbers beforehand, you know: “Do you want to have a crack at these songs?” But that wasn’t part of the equation. He wanted to see how we’d relate under unchartered circumstances.</p> <p>None of us had ever played together before, and I think that was interesting, because each of us defines an era, if you like.</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> Davis explained that what he likes to do is just talk. And from the conversations he has with the people he’s filming, that’s how he gets a sense of the heartbeat of the movie. And believe me, I find it incredibly hard to talk about music and guitar playing. In my mind, that’s the reason why I pick up the guitar, because it’s easier to express complex feelings and ideas with the instrument than to explain them.</p> <p>When I found out that Davis was far more interested in that side of the human story, the driving force of what makes us pick up the instrument, I knew he was on to something.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> The fact that you were the only three names considered for the film, was that a big part of your decision to do it? If Davis or Thomas had floated other guitarists as possibilities, would you have been as inclined to sign on?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> There was something very appealing with the trio of guitarists Davis had come up with. It showed a great insight and judgment.</p> <p><strong>PAGE</strong> And Thomas Tull, he’s had such success in the world of film, but this was a real pet project for him, something he really wanted to do. His heart was definitely in the right place. Seriously cool.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> Jimmy and Jack, you two have met before, obviously [<em>the two appeared together on the February 2006 issue of</em> Guitar World]. But Edge, was this your first encounter with Jimmy and Jack?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> I had met them before, but very fleetingly, not even so much as to have a proper conversation. It was more like, “Hello. How’s it going? Love your work.” That type of thing. This was my first time sitting down to have a conversation with either of them. That’s one of the things that’s so powerful about the film, that initial breaking of the ice and people getting to know each other. It was happening live.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p><strong>WHITE</strong> Jimmy and I had already hung out and he’d come to a White Stripes show, but it was my first time really meeting The Edge. I think we felt comfortable pretty quickly. And the real truth is, the guitar was the star. “Who are these three guys who play the guitar?” Who cares, you know? It’s all about the instrument.</p> <p><strong>PAGE</strong> The part where we all meet on the soundstage of the Warner Bros. lot was called “The Summit.” It was funny, because we all stayed in individual hotels and each of us had our own trailers. Davis was very keen to have that meeting be a real moment. There was no passing around of notes about what we were going to do or play.</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> He didn’t want us to talk beforehand. Everything was to be fresh.</p> <p><strong>WHITE</strong> That’s what I liked so much about the whole thing—nothing was pre-determined. Guggenheim threw out some general ideas: “Hey, why don’t you guys play ‘The Immigrant Song’ together?” or “Hey, how about ‘Bullet the Blue Sky’?”—stuff like that. And actually, we did play “Bullet the Blue Sky.”</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> You did? That jam didn’t make the finished film. Any idea why?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> I really don’t know why. You know, I forgot that we played that one! [<em>laughs</em>] So much was happening. I’m sure Davis got the best of what happened, though.</p> <p>I was just so into the whole thing. I think you can really see that by the look on my face and on Jack’s face when Jimmy started playing “Whole Lotta Love,” which is just the quintessential guitar riff of all time. Just to see how he played it…</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> I was going to bring that up: Jack, Edge, you two definitely had that look, like, “Holy cow, here’s <em>the guy</em> playing <em>that riff!</em>”</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> [<em>laughs</em>] It was great! I was trying to look at his fingering, trying to figure out how he was doing it. You know, it’s one of those things you grow up with. It’s embedded in you like a nursery rhyme.</p> <p><strong>WHITE </strong>It was certainly an electric moment. A song like “Whole Lotta Love,” we know it so well—it’s like background music, or the Bible, or a street sign. But to see the original fingers playing it…it’s like going inside the pyramids or something. [<em>laughs</em>]</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> And Edge, what was it like teaching Jimmy Page how to play “I Will Follow”? Talk about a kind of reverse form of hero worship: “Here, learn one of my songs, Jimmy!”</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> [<em>laughs</em>] What was so amazing was, there were certain chord changes that Jimmy was questioning in his head, like, This just can’t be! They didn’t seem to fit in his palette of sounds and harmonic reasoning. So that was interesting.</p> <p>But you have to remember, when punk rock came along, one of its missions was to create a sound that was distinctly different from the music that had come before, and when you think of the band that was at the forefront of music at the moment, it was Zeppelin. So that early U2 song was one of the most clearly defined differences between our musical backgrounds.</p> <p>It’s weird: we didn’t really talk about when we heard about each other’s music so much as we did the music that we regarded and were fans of.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> What did you all come away having learned from one another?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> On a very visceral level, the guitar can sound so different in different hands. I was surprised at how different our sounds and playing turned out to be. I thought there would be more of a common thread, but we were so different from one other. And that was kinda cool. I was starting to hear guitar sounds through the other guys’ ears. I was getting insight into how they listen. I loved that. They had sounds and ideas that I never would have gone after.</p> <p>Jimmy got me really interested in other approaches and tones, and I think that carried through to U2’s new album. Certainly “Get on Your Boots,” there’s a little bit of the Jimmy and the Jack influence on there.</p> <p><strong>PAGE</strong> Edge is a sweetheart of a guy. Very committed to doing what he’s doing. It was very interesting to see the way his mind ticks. He’s such a sonic scientist.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p><strong>WHITE </strong>What I got was…it was like the way you can hear the same story as told by three different people: each guy is going to have his own style. Edge is coming from a totally different place than me. He’s coming from a lot of effects and a lot of manipulation of the signal. And he knows he’s doing that, and there’s beauty in that, if it’s done correctly and if it’s done with respect for the instrument.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> That brings me to something you said in the film, Jack. At one point early on you made a comment that “technology can be the death of creativity.”</p> <p><strong>WHITE</strong> It can. It sure can.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> Given that both Jimmy and certainly The Edge have made marvelous music with technology—and Edge would probably say that his music wasn’t even possible without it—how do you stand by that statement?</p> <p><strong>WHITE</strong> It’s a fine line. You can make a great record on Pro Tools, or Pro Tools can be the bane of your existence and destroy anything beautiful you put into it. It takes a lot of restraint and respect to keep it pure. And I think The Edge does that. He uses technology to his advantage.</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> Anytime you plug a guitar into an amp, there’s technology involved. The important thing is that, if you use technology to create a unique sound and it winds up being a big part of the inspiration for what you end up playing, then it can be a great thing. Certainly, in my experience, finding a unique sound has been through the use of hardware—the <em>abuse</em> of hardware. It’s not about allowing the technology to dictate your sound; it’s about allowing the technology to take you in another direction.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> The sections of the movie where you all revisit important places in your past—each was fascinating in its own way. Jack, you went back to Detroit, to the upholstery shop you used to work at. I imagine you might have thought, Wow, if it weren’t for just a little bit of luck, I might still be here.</p> <p><strong>WHITE</strong> Yeah, but that’s okay. I embrace anything that was in my past, whether it was painful or regrettable, because it’s all a learning experience to getting to the next step.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> What was it like for you, Edge, to go back to your high school in Dublin where U2 formed?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> I hadn’t been there for many years. Quite an extraordinary feeling. In some ways, it changed very little. Some wear and tear, but basically, it was how I remembered it. Our formative time as a band occurred there, figuring out that maybe there was something between us as musicians and writers. What flooded back to me wasn’t so much the music but the relationship building, the friendships that we still share.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> And Jimmy, you went back to Headley Grange, which looms so large in Zeppelin lore. What was that like for you?</p> <p><strong>PAGE</strong> To be honest, it was pretty emotional going back there. It was interesting walking around it, as it’s furnished today as opposed to the shell it was back in the day. It was quite emotional going back into the hallway. It’s an extremely ambient hall. You definitely get the idea of the spectrum of the sound in that hall. Just by clapping, you can hear the natural reverb in there.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> Near the end of the movie, you all play Zeppelin’s “In My Time of Dying.” How did that come about? Jimmy, did that come from you?</p> <p><strong>PAGE</strong> It did. We were playing bottleneck steel and I wanted to see how it would go. I thought it could be quite interesting. I think they kind of knew it.</p> <p><strong>WHITE</strong> That came out of us playing some slide songs. We had played “Bullet the Blue Sky,” and it built into this crescendo, and it just kind of came up to play that one. Jimmy taught us how to play it. There was a real connection happening at that point.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p><strong>GW</strong> Edge and Jack, it almost seemed as if you two were a little tentative at first, as if you were pupils at the feet of the master. But then, Jimmy, you seemed to give them this little signal that said, “Go for it,” and then suddenly they loosened up and started playing in their own unique styles.</p> <p><strong>PAGE</strong> Well, that would have been the natural process of us all coming together and saying “hello” on the stage and knowing there was going to have to be some musical delivery. But Davis wanted to get a real meeting of the minds, and it turned into a real organic thing.</p> <p>I have to say, it was great to hear The Edge play that song. He just went roaring into this bottleneck lead, and it was really trippy to hear him play so off-the-cuff and do it so well.</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> It was fun to delve into. There’s moments where you’re trying something out and you think, This is how it goes, and then, suddenly, music happens. That’s what happened there. It was great.</p> <p><strong>WHITE</strong> It’s funny. You can hear these connections between that song and U2’s “Even Better Than the Real Thing” or even some of the things that have gone on White Stripes records. Really, it all goes back to the blues.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> Jimmy, what are your favorite parts of the movie?</p> <p><strong>PAGE </strong>There’s a couple moments I particularly like. When Jack says, “You have to have a conflict with the instrument,” I like that. [<em>laughs</em>] And with The Edge, when he’s sitting and listening to the tapes of “Where the Streets Have No Name.”</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> That was in this little cottage in North Dublin, just after the second album was recorded. It was a place where we wrote and rehearsed for the <em>War</em> album.</p> <p><strong>PAGE</strong> I liked where he was listening to the tapes and showing how he shapes his sound. There are a lot of moments that really grab you. Some are quite poignant, some are really urgent.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> Was that strange for you, Edge, playing your old demos on film for everybody to hear? Did you feel vulnerable?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE </strong>No. [<em>laughs</em>] I’m beyond embarrassment about the way we operate. We’re a dysfunctional band on so many levels.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> One of the most memorable parts of the movie is where you, Jimmy, put on your old vinyl copy of Link Wray’s “Rumble.” The look on your face, your smile—it says it all. And then you even do a little air guitar to it. That song really affected you and still does.</p> <p><strong>PAGE</strong> Sure. I was a kid when I first heard that, and I remember going, “What the <em>hell</em> is he doing on that?” And he was just turning up his vibrato. It was so cool! It’s just a majestic piece of music, isn’t it? Just wonderful.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> The guitar is such a large topic when you think about it: what makes people want to play it, what makes people come at it in their own way. Do you feel the film illuminated the artistic process of playing the guitar?</p> <p><strong>PAGE</strong> I think it really does. You’ve got three real character guitarists; everybody’s so individual, with such unique styles and techniques. And yet, there is a good blend within it all, which is a wonderful thing. We’ve heard these three guitarists’ characters come through on the guitar, and now we have this very interesting forum where they can all come together.</p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/jimmy-page">Jimmy Page</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Jack White Jimmy Page The Edge Interviews Mon, 24 Aug 2009 15:35:43 +0000 Joe Bosso 2472 at It Might Get Loud: The Edge Shows Off His Effects <!--paging_filter--><p>In this clip from the soon-to-be released feature film <em>It Might Get Loud</em>—starring Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White—The Edge shows how his effects color his distinct sound. </p> <script type="text/javascript">// <![CDATA[ writeFutureVideo({configEmbed:'/video/playerConfig.php?embed=0&viewportWidth=452&viewportHeight=373',playlistEmbed:'/video/generatePlaylist.php?videoID=1723',width:'452',height:'373'}); // ]]></![cdata[></script> The Edge Lessons Thu, 13 Aug 2009 15:33:38 +0000 Guitar World Staff 2454 at It Might Get Loud: Jimmy Page, Jack White and The Edge's First Guitars <!--paging_filter--><p>In this clip from the soon-to-be released feature film <em>It Might Get Loud</em>—starring Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White—the guys tell the stories behind their first guitars. </p> <script type="text/javascript">// <![CDATA[ writeFutureVideo({configEmbed:'/video/playerConfig.php?embed=0&viewportWidth=452&viewportHeight=373',playlistEmbed:'/video/generatePlaylist.php?videoID=1724',width:'452',height:'373'}); // ]]></![cdata[></script> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/jimmy-page">Jimmy Page</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> Jack White Jimmy Page The Edge Interviews Thu, 13 Aug 2009 15:30:02 +0000 Guitar World Staff 2453 at It Might Get Loud: Jack White and The Edge Show Off Their Unique Gear <!--paging_filter--><p>In this clip from the soon-to-be released feature film <em>It Might Get Loud</em>—starring Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White—White and The Edge give a glimpse into their weird worlds of gear. </p> <script type="text/javascript">// <![CDATA[ writeFutureVideo({configEmbed:'/video/playerConfig.php?embed=0&viewportWidth=452&viewportHeight=373',playlistEmbed:'/video/generatePlaylist.php?videoID=1721',width:'452',height:'373'}); // ]]></![cdata[></script> Jack White The Edge Gear Thu, 13 Aug 2009 15:13:03 +0000 Guitar World Staff 2451 at The Edge interview: Memory Man <!--paging_filter--><p><strong>As U2's innovative guitarist, The Edge is no stranger in taking risks. Here, he reflects on his 25 years with rock's most musically adventurous and life-affirming band.</strong></p> <p>It's hard to tell if the Edge is having a midday or midlife crisis. “Why am I here?” the U2 guitarist asks inscrutably, rubbing his salt-and-pepper chin stubble and staring at the tranquil vista of the Hudson River and, beyond it, the banks of New Jersey. We’re standing in the penthouse of Manhattan’s airy, swanky M Studio, taking in some ephemeral sun on an otherwise resolutely cloudy afternoon.</p> <p>Just as I’m about to go for some high-minded response like, “Well, Edge, we’re doing a photo shoot, and then an interview,” he abruptly expands on his thoughts: “Starting a band is the easy part. Once you’ve formed the band you have to tell a story, and that story requires songs. And not just good songs, but great songs. After a while, great songs won’t do—they have to be the best. Success doesn’t make it any easier. Each time I start a new record, it’s a brand-new search.”</p> <p>Occurring now at roughly four-year intervals, the U2 album/tour cycle is an important opportunity to convince past allies that it’s still the same band, with the same passion and beliefs, even if the music is totally different. The Edge considers this contention, chuckling with embarrassment. “That sounds like doublespeak, but the new album is proof enough.” He is referring, of course, to <em>How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb</em>, the group’s latest album, released late last year. Its stripped-back arrangements and production recall the U2 of old, before dance beats, synthesizers and club music trappings engulfed their music in the late Nineties. In that respect, the album is nothing so much as an extension of the back-to-basics endeavors of its predecessor, 2000’s <em>All That You Can’t Leave Behind</em>.</p> <p>“Soundwise, it’s us completing a circle,” says the Edge, “but by no means are we talking about only one circle. By referencing our past, by allowing ourselves to sound like the ‘old U2’—the Eighties U2—we’re not in a box anymore. Now we’re free to sound any way we please. It’s very liberating.”</p> <p>To many longtime fans, the very notion of confinement runs counter to everything they hold dear about “Eighties U2.” And there is much they hold dear: Bono’s towering vocals, matched with the raw, naïve immediacy of his lyrics; the rousing percussive force of the bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr.; and, of course, the Edge’s guitar sound, among the most distinctive in rock music.</p> <p>Chimerical and chiming, echoey and evocative, it came into existence with no evident beginning. Even on U2’s debut, 1980’s <em>Boy</em>, the Edge’s cascading guitar textures are in full bloom. Armed with just a Gibson Explorer and a Memory Man echo unit, the guitarist lashed out at parochial attitudes about what rock should sound like and what it could communicate. On a series of dizzyingly iconic albums throughout that decade, the Edge created an entirely new language for the instrument, one of harmonic squalls and ringing ostinatos, by turns space-age and rural. Nothing seemed beyond his reach. Even while jamming with the redoubtable B.B. King on “When Love Comes to Town,” from U2’s 1988 album <em>Rattle and Hum</em>, he was no apprentice, dispensing pure sound (and fewer notes than B.B.) with an exactitude and delight still unsurpassed by any other guitarist.</p> <p>To acknowledge one’s heritage is not necessarily to approve of it, and during much of the Nineties, U2 set about fixing what many saw as not being broke. In the band’s view, the Edge’s sound had become part of its overblown image and sound, a pretension to be dispensed in small doses, if at all. As U2 entered the next phase of their career, ironic self parody ruled the day, and on such adventurous albums as<em> Achtung Baby!</em>, <em>Zooropa</em> and <em>Pop</em>, the guitar revelries so intrinsic to U2’s success were replaced by anything the band could think up. “Our M.O. at the time was simple,” recalls the Edge: “ ‘If it sounds like U2, it goes. If it sounds like anybody else, it stays.’ And yet, somehow we sounded like us all the same.“</p> <p>In artistic terms, the albums were triumphs, but commercially U2 began to fall out of favor. <em>Pop</em>, a metaphysical potpourri of trance and dance electronica, veered further away from their classic sound than most fans cared to follow. So it was a no small relief when they issued <em>All That You Can’t Leave Behind</em> and threw their arms around themselves again, allowing the anthems—and the Edge’s guitar—to fly once again. “ ‘Beautiful Day’ got us to thinking it could work again,” says the Edge. Any doubts they had were certainly dispelled by the time U2 settled down to record <em>How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb</em>. Its singles “Vertigo” and “Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own” recall nothing as much as prime U2, with their “big” vocals and guitar sounds. Yet, for all the familiarity of the music, it’s evident in the new songs that U2 aren’t merely rehashing the past but rather exploring it with fresh senses.</p> <p>“Just as a comedian doesn’t want to tell the same jokes over and over, we don’t want to play the same songs the same way,” says the Edge. “On the other hand, we’ve now come to a place where we’re comfortable admitting we have our own style and we can do what we want with it. It’s our sound. We made it, and we can break it if we want. Of course, we’re the only ones that know how to put it back together again, too. All it takes is lots of arguing.”</p> <hr /> <p>Things are never Swiss-timed in U2-land, especially on tour. Today’s activities are sandwiched between sold-out shows at New Jersey’s Continental Airlines Arena and New York’s Madison Square Garden, which means every minute counts. The Edge’s entourage of handlers field calls and negotiate last-minute schedule changes. At one point, food is ordered, cancelled, then reordered. The one-hour photo session requires twice the scheduled time. But Curtis Mayfield is pumping on the stereo (“great choice,” the Edge remarks), and after exhausting his impressive array of cover boy faces, U2’s guitarist is feeling suddenly spry. He turns down an offer of green tea in favor of strong black coffee, then settles back to ponder and scrutinize his career. Belying his bookworm-like, taciturn reputation, the Edge holds forth and laughs easily, buzzing with an agile sense of humor and an instinct for punchy ripostes. Several times during our conversation, I’m tempted to check his coffee for traces of Guinness.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>GUITAR WORLD</strong> There are hallmarks of your guitar sound—drone notes, piercing highpitched tones, lots of wide spaces—that are distinctly Irish. Although you’re Welsh, you grew up in Ireland. Did you listen to much Celtic music?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> I hear where you’re going with that, and I think it’s valid. When I was a child, I’m sure my ears picked up sounds and stored them away, to be used at a later date. The biggest thing for me, though, has always been how I hear music—or how I <em>want</em> to hear it. I’ll do anything I can to avoid being cliché. So if I do stand out in any way as a guitarist, it’s because I steadfastly refuse to travel down a well-trodden path. I want to bring a new perspective to what I play. It’s hard to do, but that’s what gets me off.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> At what point did you discover that you had some sweet skills with the echo pedal?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> We were cutting some of our early demos when we got our first Memory Man echo unit. By then we’d been playing together for a couple of years and were looking for ways to colorize the sound, to bring something more than just the flat aesthetics of the band playing together. Within minutes, I was drawn not only to the textural qualities of the echo but also the rhythmic possibilities that it suggested. As we are essentially a three-piece outfit with a lead singer, it was very useful to be able to create multiple rhythms.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> Traditionally, the bassist and drummer set the rhythm for the rest of the band to follow. Did you start to feel as if the echo unit was turning you into the band’s timekeeper?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> Oh, yeah, but I think it was more that Larry and I became the rhythm section, which allowed Adam to be more creative. Up to that point we were pretty punk rock—a lot of straight 4/4 rhythms—and Adam would just barrel along. One cool result of playing with echo is that it makes you more precise in your timekeeping and rhythm playing. It’s like playing tennis against a brick wall: the ball’s going to fire back at you the same way every time; it isn’t going to waiver. You find ways to groove with it, to anticipate the way the sound is going to come back at you. Echo has made me a tighter player.</p> <p>The creative aspect of it is exciting, too: echo takes a guitar part somewhere else. It’s like what Andy Warhol did to art with his silk-screened prints of soup cans and photos. He played with art; he turned it upside down. The conventions that were supposedly sacred about imagery are the ones he threw away. I draw on that aesthetic decision. Weirdly enough, if I’m having trouble with a guitar part—not the playing of it but the writing— I’ll mess around with echo and other effects, just turn everything up and make it as crazy as can be, and it winds up taking me somewhere. I’ve found so many guitar parts from echo. It’s limitless.</p> <p>The biggest difference between me and other guitar players is that I don’t use effects to color my guitar parts. I create guitar parts using effects. They’re a crucial element of what I do. And I don’t consider effects a crutch. Using them doesn’t constitute “cheating,” as some people have said. They’re part of the art.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> Onstage you use a short delay and a long delay together. What’s the story behind that combination?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> They work together to become part of one delay sound. When I use two delays, I like to mess with the pitch modulation of the delay signal. It increases the depth of the sound and gives it a tremendous 3-D sensation. But straight slapback echo with no modulation isn’t very inspiring; the shape of the sound doesn’t change.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> One or two tours ago, it looked as if Dallas [<em>Schoo, the Edge’s guitar tech</em>] was triggering most of your effects. When I saw you play the other night, however, you were tap dancing on your pedals like it was 1985 again.</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> Dallas has the same rig underneath the stage that I have onstage. As the tour progresses and he gets to know what I’m doing, I’ll have him take over on some things. It can be quite handy, depending on what I’m playing, and especially if I’m singing. And while it’s nice to have that option, I still feel assured knowing that I’ve got everything right where I need it. The set changes a lot, so there’s not a script to follow.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p><strong>GW</strong> When it comes to playing, you’ve always been a “less is more” kind of guy. But have you ever felt that more is more? “Three chords and the truth” has long been U2’s slogan. But why not 10 chords and the truth, or 25 chords, for that matter?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> [<em>laughs</em>] It’s got a ring to it, I think. I’ve never been one to bash around the guitar for the hell of it; I’m always looking for a more economical way to get a point across. Great songs, riffs, ideas—these are the things that get me off. Running my hands really fast up and down the fretboard…I mean, anybody can do that. It’s the Guitar Olympics, and I can’t think of anything more pointless.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> However, on <em>Achtung Baby!</em> you were jamming the hell out of songs like “The Fly.” It was a total blast to hear you wail away on that crazy wah-wah solo.</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> [<em>smiles, nods</em>] That was fun, sure. What can I say? It felt right there, but not everywhere. Again, I was after a sound, and I’ll do anything it takes to get the sound I want. But it’s never about showboating my impressive skills. Chops don’t interest me. “Look what I can do” never enters my mind.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> Sonically, however, you were going after “more is more” on <em>Achtung Baby!</em> The guitars are blurred; they weave in and out of the mix and move in and out of focus. It’s clutter, but in the nicest way possible. “Waiting for the End of the World” is a whirlpool of guitar.</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> That’s fair to say. The material demanded that. I keep going back to the search for maximum effect with minimum… effort. [<em>laughs</em>]</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> So, now it comes out: you’re lazy.</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> Could be. No, look, I realize that sometimes you have to give the guitar a good whirly, and I’m totally cool with that. But choose your moment, you know what I mean? So many guitar players don’t know when to apply the brakes.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> What about songwriting? A lot of your well-known songs—“Bad,” “One,” “I Will Follow”— are based around one or two chords. Three, tops.</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> That has tremendous appeal to me. Powerful ideas are usually the simplest. “One” is a two-chord progression with only the slightest variation. It’s an inarguable piece of work. If we put anything more into it, it would suffer; it wouldn’t get better. The same thing with “Bad”: I remember working with Brian Eno, and the idea was to keep this two-chord mantra going, keep it going, keep it going, as long as we could stand it, and then <em>bam!</em> We made this chord change, and it was dramatic. Songs like that fascinate me.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> Starting with the last tour, U2 have been dialing down the irony.</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> Oh, yeah. We pushed that just about as far as it could go with Popmart [<em>U2’s 1997 tour</em>].</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> And in addition to getting back to more heartfelt rocking, the band has gone back to a more politically aggressive stance. The other night in New Jersey, Bono was as in-your-face as he was in 1983.</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> Yeah, he’s… It’s very hard to boil it down to any one thing. The biggest thing for Bono, and for all of us, is that this tour should be <em>about</em> something. When you look at our history, it’s what we’ve always done: ZooTV was this grand concept. We were drawing on a very general idea of what was happening in the world of media and digital technology, and God knows what else, and we put the whole thing in a blender. Popmart, similarly, was a high-concept concoction. When we started talking about this tour, the first thing we asked was: What’s the point? What’s the thread? A tour should be about something. It’s probably safe to say we are in some ways continuing to present ourselves and our songs the way we did on the <em>All That You Can’t Leave Behind</em> tour, where the emphasis is on just us and our songs.</p> <p>The work that Bono’s been doing outside of the band is his thing, but it draws on what we’re doing, and have always been doing, as a band. The issues of the moment are folded into our work. The biggest difference is that, now, instead of standing outside a meeting with a placard, Bono is actually inside the meeting, beating everybody up with his statistics and knowledge of the issues. As a person, he’s in a much different place than he was years ago, and what we do is we draw that back into the band and give it a rock and roll context.</p> <p>Musically, however, our show is informed by the songs, always. The songs direct the show. That said, I think it would’ve been weird, given what’s going on in the world since our last tour, if there hadn’t been any references to politics. Our music reflects what’s going on around us and what’s happening on a personal level. Politics, spirituality, sexuality, fashion—it’s all in the mix.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> It was cool to see you change some of the more familiar songs around onstage. On “Bullet the Blue Sky,” Bono turned the last half of the song over to you for a straight-ahead blues solo.</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE </strong>We don’t want to repeat ourselves, even with the songs people know really well. The songs get worn out if you play them the same way night after night. I realize that people want to hear a song a certain way, but I think they get off on seeing us attack a tune and have some fun with it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p><strong>GW</strong> The group has been diving deeper into its catalog than it did on previous tours. Is there any coincidence that in the same year you were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame you’re playing “The Electric Co.” and “I Will Follow,” songs that are 25 years old?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> [<em>smiles, considers</em>] There’s two things: First, it’s in recognition that we’ve got a lot of people coming who have seen us recently. We don’t want to do a greatest-hits set; we want to mix it up a bit so that we cover all the phases in the band’s development. In addition, some of those songs, including “The Electric Co.” and “Gloria,” are starting to sound current again.</p> <p><strong>GW </strong>Dude, the Eighties are back.</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> So I hear. But I don’t think I’ll be wearing the mullet again.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> Why not? You and Bono had some serious mullet action around ’83, ’84.</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> [<em>groans</em>] You’re not wrong. We can’t take credit for inventing the mullet, but we can certainly lay claim to extending the envelope for what the mullet can mean.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> What does the mullet mean?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> [<em>laughs</em>] I don’t know! Nobody knows. Although Bono committed the more egregious crimes against fashion with his Live Aid hair. [<em>closes his eyes, shakes his head</em>] Out shining moment in mullet lore. No, I don’t think we need to relive <em>everything</em> about the Eighties.</p> <p><strong>GW </strong>What’s involved in dusting off some of the older songs? Do you have to listen to the old records and try to get back into the mindset of the Edge at 20?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> The music draws you in. When I approach an older song, when I go back and listen to something I recorded a long time ago, it’s like I’m trying to unlock a secret code. Oftentimes I find that I have no memory whatsoever of what I did back then, but once I go through the process, something happens and I’m able to play completely on instinct. The song directs me; it takes me back in time. That’s what’s amazing about a good song: it can be prescient. There are times when we play the old songs onstage and they feel completely current; they’re right on the pulse. I’m amazed at the enduring quality some of these babies have. It’s not a “retro” thing.</p> <p><strong>GW </strong>Have any of the old songs proved difficult or impossible to revive?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> Certain songs get worn down by repetition and start to lose their potency, and if that happens for us we know it’s going to happen for people in the audience. We didn’t play “Sunday Bloody Sunday” for the longest time because we were just at a dead end with it, so we tabled it for a time. You have to wait, though; songs come back when they’re meant to come back.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> By the same token, are there some songs that just can’t be denied, that are unbreakable? “Pride (In the Name of Love),” for example: U2 have played it on every tour I’ve seen.</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> “Pride” is a good example. We weren’t playing it at the start of this tour, but we put it back in because we found a place in the running order and it seemed to call out to us. I wouldn’t say anything’s really unbreakable, but you can wear songs out. We’re not doing “With or Without You,” for example, as well as a few other hits, because they don’t feel right in the set.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> You guys have too many good songs, that’s the problem.</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> [<em>laughs</em>] It’s a good problem. I’ll take that problem any day. But you know what I’m saying—we have to keep ourselves awake. There has to be a reason for us to do a song. True, the audience wants to hear them, but we have to be able to give them the song 100 percent. Like I was telling Bono: “We can’t overrehearse. Otherwise, we won’t make any mistakes.” And mistakes are a big part of what people love about U2. There’s still this element of jeopardy. You’re not going to see a band that’s so polished, where every night is a repetition of the previous night. We’re up there and we’re giving it everything we have. Sometimes we overreach and we make a mess of things, but I think that’s fine. The last thing we want to be is professional. [<em>laughs</em>] We don’t want to be one of those bands that turns up and becomes like wallpaper. If we screw up, fine, but it won’t be for lack of effort.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> U2 have a reputation for amazing live shows. Does the pressure to perform ever get to you? It must feel at times as if you’re battling your own legacy.</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> Not just our legacy—everything. When we’re onstage, so much is at stake. I remember the first three live shows I ever saw: Stiff Little Fingers, Rory Gallagher, the Clash.Talk about having your mind blown. I felt the same way when I saw Springsteen for the first time. It was like having my eyes opened for the first time. It was a catharsis, and that’s what we try to bring to every show we play. We never want to forget what a live show should mean. We don’t always pull it off; some shows are better than others, and that’s inevitable. But we always try.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p><strong>GW</strong> In consideration of U2’s induction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, what image from your past stands out the strongest: performing in the fog and rain at Red Rocks, walking out of a giant lemon on the Popmart tour or performing on a flatbed truck through the streets of Manhattan?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> [<em>smiles</em>] Probably all of them in different measures. See, that’s something people sometimes forget: that we’ve always played with theatricality. Even as a young band in Dublin, we knew rock and roll was a show. David Bowie was a big influence on us. He had amazing songs, but what a performer! Putting it all together is what keeps us going. We constantly ask ourselves, How can we put on a great show but still be a big garage band? It’s funny you mention Red Rocks. Looking back on that footage—and not just how fashion-challenged we were [<em>laughs</em>]—it’s amazing how many mistakes we made onstage. Some of it makes me cringe. Of course we were nervous as hell; it felt like a big gig. But despite the mistakes and everything going wrong, you can’t argue with the commitment we brought to the stage.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> What about Red Rocks makes you cringe?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> Bono waving the white flag. It became such a symbol for us. But the thing is, it’s something we took from our audience; it isn’t something Bono went out to do intentionally. Lots of people would bring flags and banners to the shows, and Bono just went with it.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> U2 have never shied from being “big.” Your sound was big, your ideas were big, the way you approached live performing—big… Has “big” ever felt like a burden?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> In a word, no. We grasped early on that this is what we want to do. We wanted our music to get everywhere. When we grew up, it was always a thrill if one of our favorite bands got on the radio or <em>Top of the Pops</em>, ’cause most of the time they weren’t. When punk rock broke on a mass level, when the Sex Pistols and the Jam got on <em>Top of the Pops</em>, the impact was huge. It was like, “Look, our heroes are next to the enemy!” So right away, we knew we wanted to be a band that has the reach to become successful on a global scale, to get on TV and to be played on radio, but also to be the musical exception rather than the norm. We never felt embarrassed about our aspirations. We couldn’t do what we wanted without getting big. We were always very upfront about wanting…everything. [<em>laughs</em>]</p> <p><strong>GW </strong>Even so, did you feel as if you were, to some degree, outsiders? The ethos of Seventies punk rock was so anti–rock star—antibig.</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> It wasn’t so much anti–rock star as it was anti–shite music. Punk rock was a response to all the boring, pretentious bands. It was about getting back to essentials and remembering what rock and roll was all about—that it <em>should</em> be political, it <em>should</em> have passion; that it should play a social role in the community, and that it affects people’s lives. It sure affected <em>my</em> life. I’m convinced that the worst thing musically that ever happened to rock was the whole Seventies progressive-rock, jazz-fusion period. Music got so up its own arse. No passion. It was real navel-gazing crap.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> What bands are we talking about?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> I don’t even want to name bands, although, come on, it’s so clear who I’m talking about. Bands that made these ridiculous progressive musical excursions that ultimately took you nowhere. Again, where’s the passion, the life? You see, rock and roll isn’t a career or hobby—it’s a life force. It’s something very essential. We didn’t go into this because we thought it’d be a good way to put our kids through college. Rock and roll is just something I have to do. It’s my <em>raison d’être</em> on every level. Great music changes your life. That’s the kind of music I want to listen to, the kind of music I want to make. I don’t want to make interesting wallpaper. I need to make something that’s challenging, I don’t want to make…</p> <p><strong>GW </strong>You don’t want to make <em>product</em>.</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE </strong>“Product.” See, that’s a record company term. No band thinks about making product. But I do think that, all too easily, bands get caught up in the trap of trying to please the industry, and that’s the kiss of death. The only way to make something pure and unique is to ignore what is going on, what’s hot this minute and the next. After you’ve made your record, sure, then it’s entirely appropriate to think about where it’s going to go in the marketplace and what steps have to be taken.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> But the industry should follow the music, not vice versa.</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> Absolutely. A lot of people forget that one.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> In a recent interview with <em>Time</em> magazine, you described songwriting and making records as “painful and laborious.” You also said that Adam and Larry were particularly tough on you and Bono during the writing sessions for <em>How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb</em>.</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> They can be very tough gatekeepers, it’s true. See, I get so involved in writing and recording that I’m probably the first one to lose all objectivity. Adam and Larry aren’t as involved in that process, so it’s that distance that enables them to come in and go, “Hey, Edge, you might think we’re done, but we’re not. In fact, we’re <em>far</em> from done.” [<em>laughs</em>] That’s what happened with what I call “phase one” of this record, the stuff we did with Chris Thomas.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p><strong>GW</strong> Let’s talk about “phase one.” Did you originally set out to make a record only with Chris Thomas?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> Yeah. We were on the final lap of finishing an album with him. I’d say we had two or three songs that we felt were done and ready to be mixed and five or six that were almost ready. At one point we were a couple of months away from finishing an album, but then it became apparent that we weren’t there. The record felt finished one day and then, suddenly, it wasn’t finished. So that’s when we asked Steve Lillywhite to come in and help us figure it all out. It’s such a hard process. I always think it’s going to get easier.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> But Steve wasn’t the only producer to jump onboard. In fact, the new album resembles a who’s-who of every producer who’s worked with the band: Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, Flood…</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> Our records get made over extended periods of time, and oftentimes we utilize different people for different periods of a record. On the <em>Pop</em> album we used Flood, Nellee Hooper, Howie B.—it’s not unusual for us to work that way. I think what’s different with this record is that, near what we thought was the end of the record, we had a substantial amount of rethinking to do—and rerecording. Going back to the drawing board in such an extreme way felt a little odd at first. You tell yourself, “Nothing like a fresh start.” You have internal pep talks and all that jazz. But it’s hard not to feel a little defeated, like you’re going around in circles.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> Sounds like a musical Gordian knot.</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> It’s exactly that. A few of them at the same time, in fact. The biggest lesson I try to learn is to not be so rigid. Records are organic, fluid—the songs tell you where to go, and you have to keep your ears open to hear what they’re saying. Every song is a gift. That sounds cliché, but I really do believe that. And they can be brutal gifts, as well. Some songs come so fast you can’t believe it, and you start to think, <em>Wait a minute. That came so quickly, it can’t be complete</em>. Other songs—the majority of them—take a long, long time. Those are the brutal ones. But again, the guys in this band are very tough. Generally we’ll kick the hell out of a song—rewrite it, rethink it, throw it up and down, beat it to death. But beating a song into submission helps you figure out its essence, and to that end we attack every element—hook lines, riffs, tempos, lyrics, bridges, verses, chorus, outros… At least I think that’s everything. [<em>laughs</em>]</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> Can you give me an example of a brutal gift? What song that took an inordinate amount of time?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> “Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own” was slow to come about. We began working on it during the <em>All That You Can’t Leave Behind</em> sessions—before Brian and Danny [<em>Daniel Lanois</em>] arrived, now that I recall. We did a demo—or should I say <em>demos</em>—of it. We really chased it around through different guises. The verses weren’t happening, so I reworked them. Then I reworked them again, and again. It was a very frustrating song, deceptively, maddeningly so. No matter what we tried, it kept sounding too traditional. And there’s a danger there because you don’t want to make some reverential pastiche, which is what we kept battling. Anyway, we ended up tabling it, but we brought it out of retirement while working on the new record. Some songs don’t want to die, and that’s one way of identifying the good ones.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> What did you ultimately do differently to the song to make it work?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> Bono changed a chord. [<em>laughs</em>] Something so minor! He changed a chord in the verse and the whole tune just blossomed. But the saga didn’t end there. We recorded it with Chris Thomas, and we made a very good recording, but it didn’t gel. Frustrating. So we tabled the song <em>again</em>, and then it wasn’t until Nellee and Steve Lillywhite came in that we got it to the point where we could all be happy with it.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> The song definitely has a laidback Memphis soul vibe. Going back to <em>The Unforgettable Fire</em>, but particularly on <em>Rattle &amp; Hum</em>, U2 has been fascinated by the American South and its music. Only now you’re not merely dabbling in genres—the music’s clearly absorbed into the band’s DNA. You can do a song like “In a Little While” [from <em>All That You Can’t Leave Behind</em>] without sounding as if you’re trying on somebody else’s clothes.</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE </strong>That’s a good way of putting it. I think we’re better versed in our influences than in our early days. <em>Rattle &amp; Hum</em> is sort of this musical exposition of our exploration of American music. It was us going, “Here are the songs that resulted from our interests.” You have to remember, growing up in Dublin we weren’t exposed to American music beyond the punk groups that we loved. To us at that time, America was Lou Reed, it wasn’t, you know, Creedence Clearwater Revival.</p> <p>But that’s more of a generational thing. It wasn’t a reflection on our view of the music— we just weren’t exposed. And I hope we do sound natural and authentic as we draw on other styles and influences. The worst thing would be for us to be this crappy parody of American music, trying on other people’s clothes, as you say. There’s a place for reverence, obviously, but not at the expense of new ideas.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p><strong>GW</strong> Tell me about “Vertigo.” How’d that one come about?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> Ah, “Vertigo”! Now that’s a song that happened [<em>snaps fingers</em>] one, two, three.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> Don’t you mean “unos, dos, tres, catorce”?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> [<em>laughs</em>] Right! How could I forget? These are the important elements of songwriting—the correct way to count off. I wrote “Vertigo” during one of the first sessions I did to come up with ideas for the new album. I was playing along to some loops that Larry had made, and within minutes I laid down a scratch guitar part, and there it was—“Vertigo.”</p> <p><strong>GW </strong>Lucky!</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> You gotta savor those moments when riffs just appear—good riffs, obviously.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> Do you stockpile riffs? What do you do with a killer riff that can’t seem to find a song?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> Like you said, I stockpile them. I have loads of riffs. They’re great things to have because they’re going to become songs at one point. Some we have a go at, some we don’t. They all seem to have their time. You just have to wait for their time to come.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> “Love and Peace…Or Else” is a pretty cool track. What are you doing to get that sound right before the solo? It almost sounds like you’re underwater.</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> The whole track is going through a filter, so it’s not just the guitar part. Yeah, the idea was one of rising to the surface. When it came time for the solo, though, I was careful not to be cliché. Playing a bluesy solo is loaded with clichés. I ended up using an acoustic guitar with a slide.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> That’s an acoustic?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> I swear to you. I tried playing it with an electric and it sounded so off-the-shelf. But miking up the acoustic really made the part stand out in a jarring way.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> What kind of acoustic is it?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> I believe it was an old J-200 Gibson. Very cool sound. I’m pretty proud of that.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> Take this the right way, but your solo in “All Because of You” is pretty straightahead classic rock. Do you listen to that kind of music?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> Nope. Well…the Kinks.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> Let’s talk about some of your guitars. Back in the day you played a Gibson Explorer. What made you go with that one?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> It was the only guitar I had! [<em>laughs</em>] You should’ve seen us in the studio when we recorded <em>Boy</em>. Steve Lillywhite was aghast when I took the Explorer out of the case. He just looked at me and said, “Uh, what else you got?” and I put my finger up and said, “I got one guitar and you’re looking at it.”</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> Did he bring in any other instruments?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> We borrowed an acoustic… [<em>thinks</em>] We didn’t have any keyboards so we used a guitar tuner as a keyboard. During the opening of “Shadows and Tall Trees,” you can hear it—“<em>doo-doo-doo-doo</em>”—some amazing keyboard stuff there.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> How did you come to buy the Explorer?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> I was on a trip to New York and I went to a guitar shop. I didn’t go with the intention of buying an Explorer. A Rickenbacker six-string was what I was after. But when I picked up the Explorer it felt really, really good. I wasn’t expecting it, but the guitar seemed to talk to me. There are some songs in this, I said to myself.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> Visually, the Explorer is a tricky guitar. How did you think you looked when you strapped it on?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE </strong>I was a little nervous about that. When I went back to Dublin and took it out of the case in front of the band, I was thinking, How is this going to go over? It was so off people’s perceptions of what I might go for. There might have been one or two comments at first, but it clicked pretty quickly—the look, the sound. It felt natural.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p><strong>GW</strong> I tried to count the number of guitars you were using onstage the other night. You played an SG, a Tele, a Les Paul, a Strat…</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> They all do different things. I’m always trying to get the best version of the sound as possible onstage, the sound as closest to what I recorded, but obviously I can’t drag every guitar I own around the world. And I still use 17 of them onstage! I make some compromises. For instance, the Tele I play onstage, it’s not <em>the</em> Tele. That would be a blue Sixties Telecaster with a Bigsby. I played it on the original demo for “Vertigo” and I’ve never been able to fully recreate the sound. I get close, but the moment when you’re inspired and something happens, you can never get that again. Unfortunately.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> Let’s talk about your relationship with Bono. Obviously, he’s a big wheel in the world arena in a way he never was before. How does that play within the band musically? Does what he’s doing make it harder to rock with him, or does he rock harder?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> I think he rocks harder. He’s got more to prove. He has to show everybody that he hasn’t gone soft. Music is still his main thing, so it’s not like he’s got another day job and music is something he does on the side. Put it this way: he wouldn’t be in the meetings he’s in, meeting the people he’s meeting, if it weren’t for the band. And he knows that. He knows he’s pushing his luck talking to all these politicians and beating them up for money.</p> <p>In certain other ways his extracurricular activities have helped. He’s out of the studio more, but when he’s in he’s <em>in</em>—100 percent. We have his full attention now, whereas in the past he might have been with us in the studio, kicking ideas around, but in the back of his head he was elsewhere. It’s better this way. We don’t want a distracted Bono; we want U2 Bono all the way.</p> <p>And there’s another thing that’s come from Bono doing this other work: it’s helped me try to figure out why I want to keep doing this. Why do I want to be in a band still? Why do I want to tour?</p> <p><strong>GW </strong>To meet girls, right?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> [<em>laughs</em>] Beyond the obvious reasons! Going back to what I said before, it’s about getting those early feelings back. I remember my first rock shows. I remember the feelings. I remember my listening to the first records that excited me. Those feelings are important, and I never want to lose them.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> I know what you’re saying, but is it always possible to keep that excitement? As you get older, your relationship with music changes.</p> <p><strong> THE EDGE</strong> Sure, but that’s why you have to change the music. On <em>Achtung Baby!</em> It was a matter of us defiling our sound. We wanted to rethink everything that U2 was, and we successfully did that. On this new record, it meant stripping it right back to that spare, skeletal sound of our early days. The music on “Vertigo” was, with the exception of one guitar overdub toward the end, recorded in one take—guitar, bass and drums. And it sounds like one take. Being able to make that kind of racket at my age is very exciting.</p> <p><strong> GW</strong> Are you still using Herdim picks, the ones with the dimpled tops?</p> <p><strong> THE EDGE</strong> Absolutely. They’re these really cool nylon picks. I just like the way they sound. They make a blue and a red one, but I like the way the blue ones sound. I hold ’em upside down, too. I never analyzed why, they just sound better.</p> <p><strong> GW</strong> Could it have something to do with your approach to delay?</p> <p><strong> THE EDGE</strong> Maybe. Anything I can do to get some extra texture. When you get right down to it, pure sound is pretty boring. This perception that a lot of studio people have about fidelity and purity, that it’s what everybody wants—it’s a load of rubbish. You want something to sound incredibly exciting. What I like about using the pick upside down and hitting the strings with the rough edge is how it sounds to be like the resin in a violin bow. I like that fight it gives me.</p> <p><strong> GW</strong> You’ve never endorsed any one particular guitar. Any reason?</p> <p><strong> THE EDGE</strong> I’d really, really have to believe in the thing. I don’t want to be that guy on the posters: “Buy this guitar” and all that crap. I’ve talked to a few companies over the years. Plus, I’ve had a lot of people do custom stuff for me—that’s different. Again, I don’t want to be a poster guy in music shops.</p> <p>The closest thing I’ve done to endorsing something is with the U2 iPod. To me, though, that’s a medium for selling music. As technologies go, it’s really important and useful. And the timing couldn’t have been better. If something didn’t come along to help bring music back into people’s lives, I could see music being in serious trouble very soon. It was almost upon us.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <p><strong>GW</strong> I have to imagine that, as a teenager, you liked going to the record store and flipping through the albums. What are your thoughts on how technology has changed that experience?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> There’s a lot of added convenience to getting your music from your computer or your iPod. When we were teenagers, as you remember, listening to a record was a formal thing. I remember there was one place in the house and that’s where we had the record player, so if I wanted to listen to a record I could only be in one place.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> Plus, the very nature of a record, it had side A and side B. You had to pick which side you wanted to listen to.</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE </strong>It demanded your attention. Plus, you had the artwork to add to the experience. You’d think with music being all pervasive nowadays, it’s available everywhere, that it’d be a good thing. I think, if anything, the commodification of music has stripped it of its sacred qualities. You want water from your tap, you turn it on. You want music, you turn on your computer. There’s a point of oversaturation, and I think we’re there. But I can’t run away from what’s happening. I can embrace technology and work with it, and work for quality over quantity.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> So what’s in your iPod?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> Good question. Everything from the Killers to Kings of Leon, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, R.E.M., Interpol… I listen mostly to new stuff; I’ve already heard the older stuff.</p> <p><strong>GW</strong> Your sound is so identifiable, which is something few guitarists achieve. But has it ever become an albatross? Have you ever gotten sick of being known as “the delay guy”?</p> <p><strong>THE EDGE</strong> No, never. It’s something I worked hard to achieve, so why would I disown it? Which is not to say we don’t want to evolve as a band. There’ve been times we wanted to sound anything like our previous record. I think in the past few years we’ve gotten more comfortable with referencing the past. Certainly on “Beautiful Day” we said, “We’re going to do the classic U2 sound here,” and it was fine; the song needed it. No, I don’t mind if that’s how people see me, but I always want to change. I always want to remember why I’m in a band.</p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-additional-content"><legend>Additional Content</legend><div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-related-artist"> <div class="field-label"><p><strong>Related Artist:</strong>&nbsp;<p></div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/u2">U2</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> The Edge U2 Interviews Mon, 10 Nov 2008 19:55:56 +0000 Joe Bosso 1749 at