"I find someone like [James] Joyce quite rock 'n' roll, because he was bending and messing with words."
Bono and Edge Answer Questions at U2: An Experience of Songs in L.A.
November 28, 2017
“They’re good tunes, aren’t they?” Bono said proudly to a group of about 75 to 100 fans who had just listened to all the tracks from Songs Of Experience at a listening party in Los Angeles on Monday evening.
The response, of course, was a rousing round of applause from a naturally uncritical crowd: fans who had eagerly earned a chance to be there mainly through radio contests.
Dubbed “U2: An Experience of Songs,” the event took place at Voila! Creative Studio, a small, quirky sort of art studio/framing shop/event space on La Brea Avenue in L.A. Attendees, who didn’t know where the event would be until they arrived, met at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and took shuttles to the party.
During the first hour or so, hors d’oeuvres and drinks were served, and the entire album was played from start to finish. The space was decorated throughout with photos and magazine covers from throughout U2’s career, along with old literary ephemera.
Guy Oseary then spoke for a few minutes, talking about his own music fandom growing up, seguing into comments about how much U2 loves its fans. He then introduced Bono and Edge (no Larry or Adam), who sat on cushy chairs with a backdrop of the album cover image behind them. The duo bantered back and forth a bit before answering previously submitted questions read from an iPad. The questions covered a variety of topics, from SOE to philanthropy to concert set lists.
The first question was about the story U2 was trying to tell with Songs of Innocence and Songs Of Experience, and how that narrative has evolved in recent months.
Bono said writing SOI was much easier — focusing on the places and experiences that formed the band — than writing about the “abstraction of experience” and realizing that “you didn’t learn anything” and “had to unlearn a lot.” SOE, he said was “dealing with how we became more worldly, like it or not.”
Edge shared the kind of music he listens to in order to pick up his spirits: “The albums and artist I go to most is Bob Marley,” he said, describing Marley’s music as “real” and “insanely uplifting.” He and Bono then sang a bit of “Redemption Song.”
Edge also shared what he likes most about L.A. He loves the West Coast, he said, in because it’s “this area sitting on the ‘edge’ of the continent” and because it’s full of people who “use their imagination to earn a living.”
Bono described the biggest motivator to get people to open their hearts and wallets for philanthropy. “You have to really believe the money is spent well,” he said, “which sounds very unromantic.” He defended the ONE campaign against recent accusations in The New York Post that the organization doesn’t provide monetary aid by noting that ONE is an advocacy organization, kind of like “the NRA for the world’s poor.”
Edge and Bono both answered the question, “If you could be any other member of U2, who would it be?” Edge chose Larry. Bono said he’d like to be Adam, in part because he’d get to wear robes all the time.
Another fan asked what songs haven’t yet made it to U2’s live set. Edge said the band is “pretty brutal” and the songs have to “earn” their way to the stage. “We’re very tough on ourselves, very insecure.” Bono joked that the band’s feelings are hurt when too many people go to the bathroom or buy T-shirts during less familiar songs at concerts.
He then got serious and said, “We’re not playing the songs; we’re playing the night we’ve been given.” The band, he said, tries to create “catharsis” and “transcendence, for ourselves and our audience.”