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You hold onto religion, you know, rules, regulations, traditions. I think what God is interested in is people's hearts, and that's hard enough. -- Bono, 2002

Column: off the record ..., vol. 16-741


off the record, from @U2

Have you noticed we’re a week from today until U2’s 40th anniversary? Wow, that’s so exciting! We started the discussions for a #U240 special series a long time ago and it seemed the date was so distant, but now it’s almost there. Unfortunately, I’m in Brazil and can’t go to any of the @U2 celebrations, but it’s really thrilling to see my fellow staffers making plans. I’m sure all fans attending Cleveland and Dublin parties will enjoy them a lot.

Putting my jealousy aside, this is going to be a great week anyway. U2 will headline the iHeartRadio Festival on Sept. 23. Many fans can’t wait for that show because they’re expecting some kind of news. The band will also play the Dreamforce concert on Oct. 5. So, two shows with the same old setlist? We don’t know yet.  I believe it’d be great if they could use those opportunities to promote new material.

Obviously, U2’s management has outlined a marketing strategy for the release of the next single and album. These things take time and demand a huge amount of work. It’s not only about the songs being done. Last week, Guy Oseary posted a photo of Maverick’s managers meeting. They represent many artists and, for sure, were planning the future of those artists for next year. U2 is one of the biggest bands in the world; they sell millions and their tours are on the list of highest-grossing of all time. Thus, it’s not simple to put them back in the spotlight. But for me it’s clear that the two upcoming shows could get wide coverage by the press if they perform something new.

Despite the latest information from Rolling Stone magazine that Songs Of Experience is not coming this year, some fans still hope U2 can surprise us. This feeling got stronger after producer Steve Lillywhite said he was mixing a new U2 single. However, we still don’t have details about the album’s production process. Last month, Bono told some fans that the work was not finished yet.

There’s been a lot of talk lately that is bothering me a little bit. The truth is, all of us should understand that “U2 time” is not always “fan time.” We know the band members are perfectionists, and it’s good to keep in mind a quote from The Edge: “Every album is difficult. If it was easy, we’d make one a month.” I’m aware that fans are usually impatient, but honestly, I prefer to wait a little bit longer for an amazing album and see U2 happy, satisfied and proud of their job.

The band is probably under pressure right now to meet deadlines. It’s always like that before the release of an album. At the same time, they’re not beginners. At this point in their career they know what they want, what they like and what they want to do. Being a successful band for so long, they must be pushing themselves to achieve the best. Of course, numbers and finances are especially important to the record company, but U2 have experience at their side. I don’t think it would be nice if U2 played songs they imagined could be better, or if they said the album looks unfinished. It’s already happened in the past and I don’t want to see it again.

I consider Songs Of Experience a very important album because it is connected to Songs Of Innocence. They showed us how everything started for those young boys from the North Side of Dublin, and now it’s time to show the full-grown men they became in this worldwide famous band. I don’t like to think about this, but it could also be U2’s last album. I hope not, but we don’t know. It’s time to present a different mature sound that is the kind of music they have faith in.

You all must remember when Bono talked about being irrelevant. This subject provided a big buzz for a while. Somehow it’s related to what Edge said about U2 not being a heritage act. That’s what they don’t want to be. And that’s why they feel the need to keep doing a sound full of energy. I found an interesting interview last week with Larry Gogan, an Irish RTE broadcaster who did high-profile interviews with Larry Mullen Jr. in 2009 and in 2015. In the current interview, he mentioned U2, saying that “U2 are very relevant all of the time... they always come up with something fresh.” That is it, very wisely. I trust in the band and I know everything happens in the right time.

I’ll continue supporting U2 whenever the next single and album come out. Let’s wait and see what happens this week. I’m looking forward to watch the boys back on the stage and celebrating their 40th anniversary in high style. Sending much love and positive vibes to Bono, Edge, Adam and Larry!

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