In late 1986 guitar technician Dallas Schoo was faced with a difficult decision: stay on the road with hair metal band
Mr. Mister or sign on with U2 for their forthcoming Joshua Tree tour.
The decision wasn't as easy then as it sounds now: Mr. Mister had two massive radio hits and a successful tour going,
and an intensive sit-down interview with all four members of U2 hadn't endeared him to the new group. Bono had pressed him
hard about his religious views and Larry Mullen Jr. pushed him harder about his drug habits. Unable to decide, Shoo turned
to legendary concert promoter Bill Graham for advice. "He said 'Listen dude, drop everything you're doing,' " Schoo
" 'These kids are going to be mega.'" It was the best advice Schoo has ever gotten.
Over the past twenty years, he has been by The Edge's side at every single concert and recording session, making sure
his fleet of fifty-plus rare guitars
are in perfect working order. During U2 downtime he's gone on tour with Bruce Springsteen
and Pearl Jam — though last year Edge decided he needed him 365 days a year and made him a full-time employee.
U2 are currently recording their long-awaited new album in Dublin with producers Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, and Schoo
is one of a small handful of people in the studio for every single take. "Bono will often say, 'Here's the lyric to the track
we want to work on tomorrow,' " Schoo explains. "He'll say, 'Have a guitar sound for
Edge that might reflect this attitude.'
When U2 are on tour, Schoo's role is even more vital. "I lose about two pounds per performance," he says. "If something
goes wrong with Edge's guitar there's only one person in that 80,000 seat stadium that's going to get him going again —
and that's me. If Edge goes out, the whole thing stops." To avoid any such mishaps, Schoo tests all the guitars onstage before
U2's performance each night. It's a lengthy ritual that has made him a cult figure amongst hardcore U2 fans who chant his
name as he checks the gear (they've even created an online fan community devoted to him). Though the constant touring leaves
him time for little else, Schoo says he's willing to make the sacrifice. "There's a hundred dudes and a hundred chicks right
behind me ready to do this," he says. "When you sign on for this it takes your life."
- Andy Greene