"Maybe it's just the latitude and longitude of the places we're playing, but there has been an extraordinary amount of undergarments onstage."
-- Bono, 2001
Column: off the record ..., vol. 16-718
April 10, 2016
Coldplay’s new A Head Full Of Dreams tour is passing through Brazil this week. I’m not a huge fan of the band — I prefer Coldplay’s first albums, and due to inflation, tickets are very expensive, so in Brazil we have to be very selective about what concerts to go to. Nevertheless, about a month ago, I received an email from Global Citizen inviting me to volunteer for the show. I wasn’t aware they did this kind of work, just like the ONE Campaign does during U2 tours. I later learned that it was the first time they were coming to Brazil.
I like activism, so I decided to apply. I filled out a form and answered some questions, mainly about gender equality. I didn’t have many expectations. During the economic crisis here everyone is desperately looking for a paid job – a matter of survival – so, I didn’t focus so much on that. I’m not sure if it was because of the opportunity to watch a live show for free, but more than 300 people in São Paulo alone were trying to volunteer for Global Citizen at the Coldplay show. I was gladly surprised to be among the 15 pre-selected for an interview. I had a conversation with a staffer via Skype, and although I was not one of the few people chosen, it was a very nice experience to know they really liked my responses and the way I think.
Like I said before, many people could have used this chance to watch the show for free, but I also want to believe that a big number of people wanted only to help, like me. That’s why I wasn’t so sad for not being selected. We’re living in a mad world, full of intolerance and greed. Even in the “fan world” it’s easy to find people competing: Who has more drumsticks or picks? Who has more photos with band members or has been on the stage? Bulls**: It doesn’t make you a greater fan. And in times like these, it was very pleasant to know Bono was visiting refugee camps in the last two weeks. His attitudes inspire people worldwide to spread a message of love and respect.
“This is a band of activists,” said Pharrell Williams when he presented the iHeartRadio Innovator Award to U2 last Sunday. “When they see a problem, they don’t just sing about it, they do their best to fix it." I love that! It’s one of the main reasons the band is so important to me. When I saw the images of Bono in Jordan posted on Instagram, I wrote on Twitter that politicians should be doing the same thing. I know some U.S. senators support the ONE Campaign and visited camps in Turkey alongside Bono, but this is a big world problem. Many more leaders should follow him, and we don’t want only promises; we want — and need — actions.
I believe education is the key. Millions of people have been living in camps for years, and many of the children were born there, so they don’t know another kind of life. If we don’t provide education for them, they’ll be a lost generation. And it’ll cause major problems in the future. Thinking about it reminds me of the famous phrase by Nobel Peace Prize winner and activist Malala Yousafzai: “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” I totally agree, and that’s why I think education is the only way to give hope to these people.
I’m very proud of what Bono did in Kenya, Jordan, Turkey and Egypt. One of the most beautiful things was to watch Bono singing with Syrian refugee children. I’ve felt blessed to have picked the right idols.
Also this week, Adam took part in the Walk In My Shoes campaign, which is providing a free ebook with information about mental health awareness. He gave a sincere interview to RTE 2fm’s Eoghan McDermott Show about his alcohol addiction. Adam described modern life as “a very complicated world where we get it wrong sometimes.” And it is true, indeed. I had depression when I was 18, so it’s very important what he’s doing now. He’s a model to young people; they can see it’s an issue that can affect anyone: rich or poor, famous or anonymous. (You can listen to the full interview here, including a mention of the @U2 party birthday, where he refers to playing with a tribute band.)
We don’t live alone. We can’t ignore who’s next to us. It might be hard to give a hand to another person, but we have to keep in mind that it can make a big difference. That applies to both refugees and people suffering from mental disorders. The world needs more affection. We get to carry each other.
I did editing and public relations for a drummer from a Brazilian rock band for five years. I didn’t plan to work for a drummer; it just happened by chance. But since I was little, I've had a thing that attracts me to them. When I was kid, my uncle lent me a VHS of the Beatles film Help, and I loved Ringo. I guess it’s because he was the funniest guy. Years later, I found out we share the same birthday. I also have to confess I had a crush on Phil Collins. I can’t explain, but for me he was like a God, a genius who could sing and play drums at the same time.
Last week Rolling Stone magazine published a list of the 100 Greatest Drummers of All Time. Larry Mullen Jr. was No. 96. In my view, this kind of list is very questionable. Can Dave Grohl be eligible? He was a drummer in the past, but now he’s mostly a singer. What about Phil Collins? He could be on two different lists. The criteria are complicated to understand. Honestly, I can imagine Larry saying: “I don’t care for it!”
I don’t play drums and don’t know much about the technical part, but I think Larry deserved a better position in this ranking. The military march of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” is one of my favorites of all times. Above all, I think it’s rare to find a drummer with such an important role in a band. Larry founded U2, and can say “I’m the boss.” After the last two photos he posted on Instagram (here and here), I’m sure fellow @U2 staffer Tassoula and many other women and girls will agree with me. Scientists should investigate Artane’s water because the fountain of youth is probably there! LOL.
Any opinions expressed in this column are those of the individual author and do not necessarily represent the views of @U2 as a whole.
(c) @U2/Bottini, 2016