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Psalms and hymns were my first taste of inspirational music. -- Bono

Even Better Than the Real Thing?

An interview with 'Vorchsprung durch Technik - The U2 Tribute Band'
[Note: this is the first in a series of interviews with U2 fans in tribute bands around the world. Stay tuned for the next interview coming soon to @U2!]

"Vorchsprung durch Technik -- The U2 Tribute Band" were formed in 1997 in Southern Germany when guitarist Marius Schmidtke placed an ad in a city magazine. Although "VDT" have not been running long their fan base has continued to grow and grow. They have recreated shows such as PopMart and Zooropa very successfully. Not only do they look, sound and act like U2 but all their concerts include a whole fake road crew and bodyguards! "VDT" enjoy what they do and it shows!

Vorsprung durch Technik is:

Bono: Michael Effenberger

Edge: Marius "the Phaser" Schmidtke

Adam: Harry Guckert

Larry: Michael Lutz

What made you all decide to become a U2 tribute group?

Bono: "Having fun, playing cool music and changing the world!"

Edge: "When I saw the Red Rocks performance the first time I thought: 'I want to be as same cool as Edge!'...so I bought my first Stratocaster guitar. I was already 16! I tried to play U2 songs and I haven't stopped until today!"

Do you have a favourite U2 era/period?

Bono: "I like the Lovetown Tour and the Zoo TV era the most."

Adam: "The Achtung Baby era, that's it!"

Edge: "My favourite U2 era is the Achtung Baby period. I like the sound and production quality of this album very much. Of course I love the other eras nearly as same, too, but the Achtung Baby and the following Zoo TV tour was musically really the best they've ever done."

Larry: "Although never having seen a Zoo TV concert live, I liked this era best, too. The shows were such enormous and the Achtung Baby songs fitted perfectly to the atmosphere of these concerts."

How do you choose which songs to play?

Bono: "Killing each other! It's always an endless discussion before concerts."

Edge: "Normally someone of us arrives in the rehearsal room telling the others, that he listened to a song which he really would love to play. Then we discuss it and think about if they are worth a try. Of course, we keep in mind that we are not the real U2 and that the most of our audience might be bored if we play, for example, "Twilight." U2 can do that because the whole stadium can't leave the stadium so quick! But on our gigs two or three insider songs might bore the audience so that some of them quickly leave! So the setlist is always a long discussion!"

Larry: "It's a mixture of best of songs, personal favorite songs and songs we are able to play very original and therefore have them in the setlist. We decide by majority which songs we play."

Is it hard to reproduce certain sounds and effects? How do you combat these difficulties?

Bono: "Sorry, I have no sound problems. Ask the Edge for it!! Edge?"

Edge: "Sometimes it is, sometimes not I would say! We spend a lot of time in creating backing tapes with synthezisers and similar things. Of course I'm personally spending a lot of money for my guitar equipment -- I've already been named the idiot of the band because of this fact, because I have to spend the most money for equipment. And I'm still mostly never satisfied with the sounds even if everyone says that it sounds great. If I need a specific unit for getting only one unique sound I buy it if I can afford it! For example the real Edge uses lots of equipment in his guitar rack only for seconds during a two hour performance. I do it in a same way. I try to get the original equipment to get the sounds 100%. But mostly the huge problem for us as the 'copy' is that the local technicians at the venue are not qualified enough to get the maximum out of their PA rig. So mostly 100% percent of our possible sound quality is never reached!"

Adam: "You need a lot of time for listening to the new sounds if they are new. Not every new song needs a new sound! I'm not the person who looks very exactly to the specific sounds. I'm more the guy who looks on the correct play."

How frequently do you perform and what type of venue do you normally play at?

Bono: "As often as there is need of the best U2 Tribute Band. We come whenever they call. The venues are very various: club to hall -- without stadium."

Edge: "Yeah... because it's a hobby for us, we do play only between 10 or 20 shows a year of course. But these shows are played from small clubs which fill 500 people to larger festivals which have an audience up to 5,000 people."

Which U2 songs do you enjoy playing live?

Bono: "All the good ones, which make the crowd getting noisy."

Edge: "Mostly the cooler songs are our most favourites. We all love 'Elevation' and 'Mofo' because both sound so dirty and cool! But we also felt in love with the classic U2 songs like 'With or Without You' or 'Where the Streets Have No Name!'"

Adam: "It's 'Ultraviolet,' 'With or Without You,' 'Mofo'..."

Larry: "There are a few songs which you don't enjoy playing on stage."

Did you ever have any doubts about having a career as a tribute band?

Bono: "Never!"

Edge (laughs): "Well, of course we would love to, but therefore you need professional support and also you need a lot of contacts and...much money and a lot of luck!"

Is the tribute band scene quite competitive?

Bono: "Well, sometimes it seems so, but most of the time we're a big family having the same parents."

Edge: "I think it is! There are many U2 tribute bands, but only a few a really good! Some have a good Bono, some have a good Larry. Other ones are musically quite impressive, but they don't behave professional! Then there are some who are professional but they are musically not their money worth. We think we should be good in all divisions to give our audience the best atmosphere they can get!"

What do you enjoy most about being in a U2 tribute group?

Bono: "The drinks you get after a good show...and the girls who pay for."

Edge: "The best is playing my most favourite songs in front of a really large audience!"

Adam (interrupts Edge): "When the audience is crying and screaming. In fact, that's one of the things what you're dreaming about when you start playing music, don't you?"

Larry: "You don't have to do the exhausting step of convincing the people of your songs. You just have to play the songs well and they will like it, because they wouldn't have come to see us play if they wouldn't like U2."

Do you normally get a good response from U2 fanatics?

Bono: "If they have ever seen us live, they'll love us."

Edge: "Yes! I agree...usually the people tesumms after the concerts that they even had moment during our performance where they thought they would be on a real U2 concert! This is the best compliment we can get -- we've done a good job then!"

Adam: "Yeah, we do! After one of our concert on a big U2 convention one of the guys from the audience said: "Hey Adam, you're smoking cigarettes at the same songs like the real Adam does! You are cool!" What shall I say to this?

Have you had any response from U2 themselves? If so, what did they say?

Bono: "They know about us. Some people of the management told us that we rock."

Edge: "Unfortunately we have never received an official comment from the guys! But we know for sure that they've listened to our songs. We are in contact with several guys from U2's crew. For example I met Joe O'Herlihy in London during the Astoria performance and he told me that our work is 'hilarious,' which is diverted to Hillary Clinton's perfectionism. He was very impressed about our work! Dallas Schoo, who is Edge's guitar technician was also very impressed about what big efforts we take to do the perfect U2 copy. And finally we have been told that Edge and Adam once told when they have been asked about us, that we are 'really close to the real thing!'"

What are your plans for the future?

Bono (laughs): "I want to learn playing guitar...no, sorry! Performing one song with U2 live on stage would be cool!!"

Edge: "Currently we plan to do our first U.K. tour including a performance in Dublin! We want to play as much as we can to enjoy the band as much as you can as a musician!"

Adam (interrupts): "Becoming better and better! And I want to meet the real Adam to drink a beer with him after a show! Also I want to play as long as I can in this band!"

Larry: "Extending the project as far as possible and performing also in foreign countries. Moreover I'd like to make own music again, as well."

A big thank you to "VDT" for answering my questions! - Jo Whitby

@U2/Whitby, 2001.