U2's The Edge Discusses Gear and 'The Joshua Tree' in 1987 Guitar World Interview
The quiet U2 guitarist opens up about the evolution of his gear, his recent discovery of American blues and U2's latest (and some say greatest) album, The Joshua Tree.
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.
"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.
"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.
"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."
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.
"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!
"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.
"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.
"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."
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