U2 have given MOJO an update on their new album. Speaking during their residency at state-of-the art Las Vegas venue The Sphere, Bono and bassist Adam Clayton reported on the progress of the band’s next record, the “noisy, uncompromising, unreasonable” rock album Bono previously announced will replace the long-touted but now shelved Songs Of Ascent.
“I announced it, without discussion, as ‘an unreasonable guitar record’,” the singer tells Danny Eccleston in in the latest issue of MOJO. “And Edge called me up and goes, ‘How unreasonable?’ And I said, As unreasonable as you’re ready to take it.”
“I would love that to be the next U2 record!” Edge told MOJO earlier this year. “The lockdown was a very creative period for me, just in composing music. I don’t want to jinx ourselves… but there’s a lot of great material waiting. I think the guitar is coming back. I really feel it. And I would like to be part of that. I’d like to be the vanguard of this resurgence of guitars.”
“We are turning the amps on. I certainly think the rock that we all grew up with as 16- and 17-year-olds, that rawness of those Patti Smith, Iggy Pop records… that kind of power is something we would love to connect back into,” confirmed bassist Adam Clayton. “Songs Of Ascent is a much more meditative, spiritual record. This will be Songs For Fighting, I’d say!”
However, it seems the ongoing health issues of drummer Larry Mullen Jr, who is currently recovering from neck surgery, might have stalled the project.
“Starting work on new songs is somewhat tied to Larry’s situation,” Clayton now says. “Could he commit to an album project? I don’t know.”
Mullen’s absence has meant that for their four-month residency at the Sphere, a multi-billion-dollar spectacle featuring the biggest LED screen ever constructed, U2 have done the previously unthinkable and brought in a replacement, Dutch drummer Bram van den Berg.
The band report that Van den Berg has impressed U2 with his wit and precision, but admit that it’s been tough to look back and not see Mullen on the riser, driving them on.
“It’s beyond the beyond of ‘tough’,” says Bono. “It was the late ’70s, the last time we played without Larry. I think a motorcycle fell on his foot, and he couldn’t play, and we had a drummer called Eric [Briggs]. That wasn’t a great feeling, but Eric was very good-looking and Larry hurried back – he hopped behind the kit! But it’s not just that, you know, it’s a psychic force that Larry brings.”
Mullen played on the new U2 single, the Blondie-ish Atomic City, effectively the theme song to U2’s Sphere residency.
“We recorded it in Sound City [in LA] at Edge’s suggestion,” says Bono. “Larry was so excited to play there, and wanted to see if he could do it. And he played for far longer than he’d planned over the next few days. And I think if you look at the video, you can see his back is in pain.”
As MOJO’s full report details, U2’s current show is one of the most high-tech, and expensive concerts ever staged, and it seems, for the time being at least, that will be where the band’s focus will be.
“I don’t think the world is waiting on the next U2 album,” says Bono. “I think we have to give them a reason to be interested in it. I just want to write great tunes, because that’s where U2 started – with big choruses, clear ideas. And let’s go back there, but do it with some petrol and some matches.”
“U2 has always been transgressive in our choices…” read the full interview and MOJO review of U2’s show at The Sphere only in the latest issue of MOJO. More info and to order a copy HERE!