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U2 Magazine - No. 3

The first of the summer one-offs that Edge mentions to be confirmed is at the Glastonbury Festival in Somerset over the weekend on June 18-20. Other dates are still being finalised.


When the last U2 tour of the States reached San Antonio, Bono took a few moments to explain, amongst other things, his feelings on U.S. radio and getting airplay.

"We're not a kind of art-rock band in the sense that we have no power. I think the Edge is a guitar player in a style that should impress in any guitar-oriented way - at the same time there is much more to music than that, obviously. We'll break through because there is that aggression there - it becomes a cartoon in heavy metal music but if it is real aggression instead of acted out aggression - I don't mean aggression as in bad vibes, I mean honest aggression, just being excited, exuberant, that sort of thing."

"We feel radio is about to change here (the States), and we'd like to be a part in changing it. I feel that people should get on the phone and ring, 'cause it's only people that can change radio - by making their presence known.'

"With America it's not so much the country as what's in the country that I like. At home we have people coming round and the say 'what is America?'. It's as if it's one unit. I've said this before but I've learnt it's not so much a country as a continent. So, it's people - I'm not writing off or writing on nations - it's just people that I found on our travels."

"The reason we're here in the U.S. is not because any record company has told us to come here - it's because we want to be here. If that sounds trite, I'm sorry, but it's actually the truth. People here seem to react to what we are doing and that is an indication that we should play. After the tour we'll go home and do a bit of living - because if there's no living there'll be no life in your music and we've been working too hard."

"I think our music goes beyond a given boundary. Ireland has greatly affected it so that it will come out in the future. 'October' is a more progressive record than 'Boy' in that it demands more time. It demands your attention before you can sink in to what's going on there's a lot of emotions around there that aren't usual in rock and roll. So a lot of people listen to it and say "hey, I want 'I Will Follow Part II. And we're not about to give 'I Will Follow Part II', just as we're not about to give anything part II."

"The difference between the two albums would be the difference in the people - as the people within the band change so the music changes. We were uprooted from where we lived and just thrown across half the world - three continents. You suddenly start realising, Where am I?, Where did I come one from and where am I going?"

Bono comments on his autobiographical approach to writing: "If I had a nervous breakdown tomorrow - which I don't intend - that would appear on our next record. I'm only interested in artists that I learn from by what's happening in their experiences and their life. I don't like, for instance, topical music. I don't like singers that write songs about things. You know, like 'let's write a song about Northern Ireland simply because...' They don't feel anything about Northern Ireland. I don't like music that leaves out that emotion, that truth that makes music great for me. I'm interested in people. Music should communicate what's going on in a person's life - you're enriched by what's going on. Great music is like meeting somebody - you learn from them and if you don't, if they put up a veneer, a gloss, I don't want to hear that."

Bono points to 'Is That All?' on October as outlining his approach. "That's the point I'm trying to make - is that all? I can sing you a song to make you happy, I can sing you a song to make you angry - but is that all? I think music can be more than that, it can be more than the sum of its parts."

U2 had written and performed two or three sets worth of material prior to 'Boy'. Bono: "We kept shedding material, not because of lack of worth but just because we keep writing all the time. 'Out Of Control' was written on my 18th birthday, but 'I Will Follow' was written three weeks before we went into the studio."

"Live, the songs evolve; they're still evolving. In Dublin there's a record with an early version of 'Twilight' on the B-side - it's a demo version we cut in five minutes, literally - and the lyrics are totally different. If you put the two together they fit; one is the start and one is the finish. I switch lyrics, the band changes things - we go for a rawer, bigger sound."

"When we started out I was the guitar player, along with the Edge - except I couldn't play guitar. I still can't. I was such a lousy guitar player that one day they broke it to me that maybe I should sing instead. I had tried before but I had no voice at all. I remember the day I found I could sing. I said, 'Oh, that's how you do it.'"

"We may well be the future of rock 'n roll, but so what? When I back to Dublin to my girlfriend it's more of a distraction that I'm in a band than any big deal and my old man still shouts at me for not doing the dishes before I go to bed."

by Tom Nolan

There aren't too many players who can be said to have developed their own style on an instrument as cliché-ridden as the electric guitar, but undoubtedly one such musician is The Edge. In the five years since the band's inception, he has steadily evolved a unique approach that owes absolutely nothing to anyone, and indeed I can't think of anybody who sounds remotely like him.

So how did he manage to come up with his own sound in the first place? Obviously there were several factors, mainly connected with the way the band got together, as The Edge explains.

"I suppose the first link in the chain was a visit to the local jumble sale where I purchased a guitar for a pound. That was my first instrument. It was an acoustic guitar and me and my elder brother Dick both played it, plonking away, all very rudimentary stuff, open chords and all that. The next stage was a note on the school board to the effect that 'Larry had wasted a lot of money on drums and was interested in finding other people to waste money on guitars' and stuff like that, so we all in his kitchen one day. I think between us there was one kit of drums, one bass without amp ('I had a purple Marshall amp with a tatty little speaker that used to blow up every time I wound it up', protested Adam), one borrowed electric guitar and a borrowed amplifier. It was like first day in the army. everyone was knocked into shape and telling everyone else what to do. It was Larry's kitchen so he was sort of in charge, but he was only really interested in playing drums, so eventually it winnowed down from four lead guitar players to three, then to two, then Bono started to concentrate fully on vocals, so It developed from there.

We never got into it because we wanted to make a living. It certainly didn't enter my head at that stage. I may have been naive but I'm not that stupid. I think maybe a year later it suddenly dawned m us that actually there wasn't such a gulf of musical ability or talent between the stage we were at and the stage that most bands on television and with recording deals were at, so we decided then that we would go for it.'

Gigs followed and the band began to get a following in Dublin. Eventually Bono packed his bag and took a trip to London with his girlfriend, calling round to music papers and talking to people about U2.

'We got a bit of interest going', recalled The Edge, and during that six month stage we were talking to yourself.'

This was a reference to the period in September '79 when I, as an EMI A&R man, went to Dublin to see them and decided there and then that this was the best new band around and must be signed immediately. Sadly I was alone in this opinion, and to my and the band's intense disappointment the deal was unceremoniously booted out.

'That was a devastating period of our lives, as you can well imagine, but we rebounded quite well, and eventually we came and did a small London tour, and off the back of that and the subsequent Irish tour, we signed to Island Records about seven months later.'

'Much earlier on we tried to do cover versions of things, but to be honest we were so bad at working out stuff that we just had to give it up and write our own songs, so by the time we came to realise there were other bands doing new things it was too late, because we already had our own style of writing. We just played together and things came out. We always try to do things differently, we never accept the normal, so it was mainly trial and error. I like a nice ringing sound on guitar, and most of my chords I find two strings and make them ring the same note, so it's almost like a 12-string sound. So for E I might play a B, E, E and B and make it ring. It works very well with the Gibson Explorer. It's funny because the bass end of the Explorer was so awful that I used to stay away from the low strings, and a lot of the chords 1 played were very trebly, on the first four, or even three strings. I discovered that through using this one area of the fretboard I was developing a stylised way of doing something that someone else would play in a normal way.'

Mention of the Explorer led us naturally to the subject of The Edge's equipment, which is typically unusual. His set up is basically solid guitar into a small case of effects and from there to two Vox AC-30's. He uses three guitars on stage these days, but when I first saw him he was using the Explorer only. I wondered why he had chosen this particular guitar at the time.

"I think it's the most distinctive of my guitars. It seems that the body shape affects the sound somehow. It's a very vibrant guitar with lots of treble. I had a Strat that I wasn't that pleased with in those days, and when I was in New York with my parents, I went to some stores to look around. I picked up this second-hand Explorer and played around on it for a while. It was just so naturally good, and it felt right, so I bought it. It was quite cheap as well, about 450 dollars. A lot of people look at it and think it's one of the originals (under 100 of these were made in 1958, and they are very rare) but it's one of the '76 limited edition re-issue models.

"I used it for the first album, and up until the recording of the 'October' album, but I seem to use another Strat that I bought more and more, so 1 think I'll probably end up using the Strat for half the show and the Explorer for the rest."

"I don't have any vintage guitars, apart from the newest addition to the collection, a lap steel, circa 1940, by Epiphone. It's art deco, really weird. If anyone knows what a lap steel is like, it's just like a square thing, not like a guitar at all. It's black, with inlays in some other sort of wood, also black. I got it in the States, in Nashville. I'm going to be messing about with it a lot."

"I'm very interested in this lap steel because it's something that hasn't been done before in this context. What we want to do is break new ground musically all the time, whether through guitars or whatever. Like you'll notice the piano is being used a lot now. I like the textures of the piano, and I learnt to play it for the album. I think probably the same thing will happen with the lap steel."

"I don't think a lot of people realise the musical benefit harmonics can give to a song. I just developed that a bit and brought the harmonics more to the foreground. Some of our songs use harmonics as the main guitar part."


Shut it, shut it

I gotta go

I believe in a celebration
I believe in setting me free
I believe you can lose these chains
I believe you can dance with me
Shake, shake
Shake, shake

I believe in the third world war
I believe in the atomic bomb
I believe in the powers that be
But they won't overpower me
And, and you can go there too
And, and you can go, go, go, go
Shake, shake
Shake, shake

And we don't have the time
And everything goes round and round
And we don't have the time
To watch the world go tumbling down

Gotta go
I believe in the bells of Christ Church
Ringing for this land
I believe in the cells of Mount Joy
Doesn't understand
And you, and you can go there too
And you, and you can go, go, go, go
I believe in the walls of Jericho
I believe they're coming down
I believe in this city's children
I believe the trumpet's sound
And you can go there too
And you can go, go, go, go

Copyright 1982 Blue Mountain Music Ltd

Reproduced by permission


Julie says John I'm getting nowhere,
I wrote this letter hope to get some place soon.
I want to get up. when I wake up, but when I get up,
I fall down.

Julie wake up Julie tell the story,
You wrote this letter said you were going to get there some day.
You were going to walk in the sun, and the wind and the rain, never walk back again.

Now you fall down, you're falling down, you fall down.

Julie say something Julie say you're sorry,
You're going to get better you better not leave me here anyway.

I want to get up, when you wake up, but when you wake up.
I fall down, I'm falling down, I fall down.

I fall down, when you fall down, when I fall down, is when you're falling down, when you fall down, I fall down.


Stranger, stranger in a strange land,
He looked at me like I was the one who should run.

We asked him to smile for a photograph. we waited around to see if we could make him laugh. The soldier asked for a cigarette. his smiling face I can't forget. He looked like me across the street, but that's a long wav here.

Oh, and I wish you were here.

Stranger, stranger in a strange land.
He looked at me like I was the one who should run.

I watched as he watched us get back on the bus, I watched the wav it was. The way it was when he war. with us. And I really don't mind sleeping on the floor, but 1 couldn't sleep after what I saw. I wrote this letter to tell you the way I feel. Oh, I wish you were here.


Oh, where do we go, where do we go from here, where to go.
To the side of a hill blood was spilt we were still looking at each other.
But we're going back there. Jerusalem.

Shout, shout, shout it out, with a shout.

I want to go, to the foot of Mount Zion. To the foot of He who made me see.
To the side of a hill blood was spilt, we were filled with a love.
And we're going to be there again. Jerusalem.

Shout, shout, with a shout, shout it out, shout.


U2 is one of the bands with which Steve Lillywhite has most enjoyed working. His full yet crisp, sound on the band's debut album 'Boy' was almost an instrument in its own right. Adam once conceded that Steve is a virtual fifth member of the band, 'I'm sure if he wasn't producing us held probably be a member of the band anyway."

"Everyone was in such a good frame of mind," Lillywhite remembers of the session for 'I Will Follow', "ideas would just flow. I had a bicycle turned upside down; Bono and I would spin the wheels and hit the spokes with a knife. There were also bottles smashing all over the place. We were having a great time - just like little kids."

Steve says most bands now have their arrangements sorted out before entering the studio, and he only offers suggestions from time to time.

"But there's the other way of doing it, which is to write something in the studio, be creative there. I always try to keep one or two songs on a record completely unwritten, and just work on them from scratch."

In that respect he got more than he bargained for while producing U2's second album "October". Bono had his notebook full of lyric jottings stolen while on tour; Lillywhite calls the compensatory efforts in the studio "not so much time-consuming as just, uh, quite a harrowing experience. It didn't really flow as well as the first album because they hadn't had that much time to write it. When we went into the studio there was only one song (I Fall Down) that was completely finished. The rest were snatches of ideas, not really many melodies or lyrics. Considering that, it turned out very well."

Another album that Steve has worked on fairly recently was Joan Armatrading's 'Walk Under ladders', and Steve had the following comment to make: "She let me choose the musicians. I really wanted 'the Edge' to do some guitar - that would have been incredible! - but then she put her foot down. Which is a pity, because he's my favourite guitar player. Finding the right guitar player was one problem on the album. We used four guys total, I think."


If you have any questions about U2 we can answer them here in this section. If you wish to write to The Edge, Bono, Larry or Adam personally we can pass your letters on to them or write direct to SISTER SISTER, 10 St Margarets Park. Malahide. Co. Dublin. Eire.

Dear Geoff,
What is the 'October' video you mentioned in the last issue? Is 'October' available on video and how can I get a copy?

Barry Stevens, Wigan, Lancs.

Dear Barry,
'Gloria' and now 'A Celebration' have been filmed as promotional videos only, not for general release. As neither have yet been screened in the U.K., perhaps the only chance to see them will be if U2 do eventually release these highlights but there are no definite plans yet!
Best wishes,

Dear Geoff,
How can I get the American issue of 'I Will Follow' with the live 'Out Of Control' from Boston on the B-side? Also please could you send me a copy of the words to 'Rejoice'.
Richard Nixon. Nantwich. Cheshire.

Dear Richard,
I expect it's quite difficult to get the U.S. single over here, but some copies did cross the Atlantic so I suggest you keep trying the specialist import shops. Some more lyrics are included this time, and 'Rejoice' will be in the next issue.
Best wishes,


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