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Adam talks about drug addiction on 'Tommy Tiernan Show'

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Adam Tommy Tiernan

As a guest Saturday night on RTE One’s The Tommy Tiernan Show, Adam Clayton talked openly about his past alcohol addition. So what didn't get said? Bono's name! At one point Tiernan jokingly told Adam, "It's wonderful to hear you speak ... because you don't often." Adam responded, laughing, "It's great to be here on my own."

The premise of The Tommy Tiernan Show is that neither Tiernan nor the audience knows who the guests will be, so the interview is supposed to be a little more spontaneous than what's on other talk programs. You can watch the full interview here. Some excerpts:

On U2's pride (not the song):

"One of the things we're most proud of as a band is the kind of music generation initiatives that the Irish government and ourselves have been able to achieve in Ireland. There are those things where you can just occasionally make a difference." 

On U2’s early success:

"Really, we were making records by the time we were 20, by the time we were 25 and 26 we could pay our rent no problem, we owned cars, we could travel, and by the time The Joshua Tree hit we could buy houses. Anyone I’ve met who’s experienced success and fame in that way in those years it takes them a long time to recover from it, and that sounds like a complaint but that’s just what happens…

“I was kind of very unhappy so I drank and I drugged and got myself in tabloid newspapers, and embarrassed kind of everyone I knew, and myself, but you know you come through it. You learn from it and maybe that’s what young men do anyway.”

On his problematic thinking:

"Even though drink was the thing that brought me down, I still have to really work quite hard at keeping my sanity on and off the road. And my thinking can take me to bad places. My thinking is not always reliable. And it’s great having three other guys who can kind of check you sometimes, and we check each other."

On why performing is important to him:

"The two hours on stage when we’re performing is great because I know exactly what I’m doing. I know why I’m there and I don’t question it; I don’t try to think about it. It’s that old cliche of being totally in the moment. I can only be doing what I’m doing at that moment.

"Also, you’re doing it with these three men that you’ve known for a long time and they know you. … That is the most amazing thrill, and that is the most amazing reward, to be able to perform concerts."

On not remembering part of the Zoo TV tour after taking a drink:

“I know about three days later I woke up and I had not turned up for a gig, in a stadium, that was being filmed, a lot of money resting on it, a lot of jeopardy. I had let the guys down, the three guys who had stood by me since the age of 16 or 17. ... I let down the audience, I let down the road crew. It was not a great place to be and if ever there was a moment of realization, where you wake up and you go, ‘I have a problem and it’s bigger than me and I need some help,' that was it.”

On commercial success:

"I don't know what the next cycle is going to be. And maybe being successful, commercial in that sense is going to be less important to us. ... You know, art and commerce, there's always a little bit of a rub, and I think we've come through it pretty well actually."

On what the band means to fans:

"Nowadays I feel like U2 are just the reason why people gather. Once people gather, something else happens. There’s an event, there’s a party, and we’re just the warmup for that."