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[W]e're all members of the Frisbeetarian Order. . . . We believe that when you die your soul goes up on a roof and you can't get it down. -- Bono

She is Regine...

Propaganda, Issue 7
She is Regine...Regine Moylett in fact, "U2 Tour Publicist" or "Glorified Usherette," depending on whether you take the official or her version of her job description. She is also 29, and her name is pronounced "Ray-Jean" (nearly), which confuses hotel receptionists and raises a smile when Bono sings the end of "Running to Stand Still."

Rob Partridge, Regine's boss in the press office at Island Records' London headquarters, spent many a day in the last nine months of 1987 trying to remember what it was like when she used to be his assistant. He sacrificed her to the Joshua Tree tour back in May and didn't see her again. Instead, she joined 180 others on the Joshua Tree tour party with "special responsibilities for press liaison."

Born and raised in Dublin, Regine left school to work in the foreign exchange department of a bank, but soon abandoned it to open No Romance, which she proudly claims was "Ireland's only punk shop" in 1978.

Like everyone else back in those days, she formed a band -- the New Versions. They played about 250 gigs in a mad, yearlong, but ultimately unsuccessful bid for fame and wealth. The fame, of course, is bestowed with this feature. The wealth is still to be. "The New Versions and U2 were around at the same time," she recalls. "We used to play in the same car park, but we never played on the same bill."

In fact, it was the New Versions who originally organised Saturday and Sunday afternoon gigs in this car park at the back of Dublin's Dandelion Market, which was also the location of No Romance.

"We used to charge 25 pence a head and I often saw U2 there. Originally there were only about 15 or 20 people coming along, but once people realised what was happening then whoever was hanging around in, for example, Advance Records, would go along. U2 built up a following pretty quickly." In fact, such a small town was Dublin in those days, that although Regine wasn't involved with the fledgling U2, she did know some of the members. Bono, for example, was unwittingly styled by this future publicist.

"I knew Bono because he came in to buy some clothes. We used to give a 25% discount to people who were in bands and I remember him coming in with a clipping from a Limerick newspaper with a photograph of U2 in it as proof that he was in a band.

"I think he bought those checked trousers that you see in very early photos of the band, in fact I'm sure of it.

"He also used to buy black shirts and sleeveless jackets which he was very fond of."

And it was No Romance that heralded the birth of the very first U2 merchandising, a series of four badges with different legends: "U2 could," "Happen," "To," "Anyone."

Regine never struck up real friendship with the members of U2, but she does recall the inevitable meetings with Adam in local clubs and with the others in McGonagles where "you'd always end up having an ideological argument with them about the meaning of punk late into the night."

In 1982, after three years at the shop, Regine left Dublin to work solely on the New Versions, but after six months went off to London to "do something in music."

She ended up writing live reviews for the NME -- her prize anecdote being that she once reviewed Millie Small ("My Boy Lollipop") without realising that it was an impersonator, and it was left to the News of the World to expose her embarrassing mistake.

Before too long she ran into Rob Partridge, head of press at Island Records, and before much longer still she was signed up and "working on a new band that nobody in the press office was keen to work on" -- Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

Then came Robert Palmer, Grace Jones ("Very small, you know, even though she looks 6'2" on telly."), Steve Winwood and after taking a journalist to see U2 in Chicago for a British magazine in March last year, the band persuaded Island to let her come back and look after "tour publicity," meaning coordinating the army of press and photographers who descend on each show.

It is Regine who administrates the press interviews and the increasingly inevitable press conferences. On the band's reasonably short European tour last summer, they did eight different press conferences and 40 other radio/TV press interviews. (Even Larry has been "doing press": "I've definitely seen Larry talk. Yes, definitely. He's done some TV work recently.")

"A lot of people ring up and say, 'I want to interview the band,' " Regine explains. "But quite often we can supply them with sufficient information for them not to need to. Occasionally we'll do an interview if the band feel they've got something specific to say. Each case is considered on its own merits. If you think a journalist or magazine will get along particularly well with the artist then you recommend that they sit down together and the interview takes place."

Surprisingly, Regine says it is still possible to get an interview with U2.

"If you want to interview the band then you get in touch with the record company in that country and they'll see if there's some time when the band will be in the country. Eventually it gets passed to me and it isn't only major circulation magazines that the band talk to.

"If something is particularly appealing, then I'll recommend it to them. But of course all of this has to be worked around everything else that they have to do. There are lots and lots of people that I know they would love to speak to, people involved with fanzines or in special projects. They often would really like to get involved in these things but they may only be in town for one day and time runs out."

The night Regine spoke to Propaganda was "just another night on the road." After our interview in one of the crew tour buses, she had to collect the massed ranks of photographers and TV camera crews, organise the right passes and get them to the stage in time. The numbers indicate the enormous interest in U2.

"Tonight we've got 16 photographers and five film crews; we usually only have ten photographers and three film crews, and that's nothing to do with the film that the band are making themselves."

And the music of U2 even reaches the emotions of this hardened, cynical, seen-it-all media pack.

"Sometimes the photographers actually forget where they are and start dancing around in the photo pit. A few shows back, a photographer took off her hat and cast it on the microphone stand. She just got a bit carried away.

"Another nice man in Pittsburgh traveled all the way from Kentucky to take photographs. I brought him into the pit about ten minutes before the band were due to come on stage and he stood there and took out a pair of binoculars...he was only about six feet away from the band. He didn't have his camera with him. He'd left it in Kentucky and seemed very confused about it. I think he thought he was being brought to some kind of review box or something but...he was very nice. He said he'd buy me a cup of tea the next time he was in London."

© Propaganda, 1987. All rights reserved.