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Very few rock bands have had as many successful changes as U2 has: image-wise and musically. Only the Beatles come to mind. With an audibly refreshed energy, the quartet is back in cracking mid-'80s form. How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb is the name of the new album that carries U2 into its 25th year and likely into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The eleventh effort from the Irish band - is unmistakably a fresh yet the old U2 that keeps going strong: intelligent lyrics, skilled musicianship, smooth vocals, and engaging tempos that hit you right inside the head.
Only one publication in India managed to get the exclusive courtesy Universal Music. Front man of U2, prophet to millions, Bono tells us about the state of the band, their intriguing new studio album and what the future of music could possibly look like…

The Record (TR): So what's the new U2 record all about?
Bono: (Laughs) We feel like we've just made our first album, we don't like looking back… It's a great feeling to be in this band at the moment. How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb is about my father, Bob, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bob. He died a couple of years ago, and his demise set me off on a journey, a rampage, a desperate hunt to find out who I was... and that resulted in a lot of these songs…

TR: It's a more personal record then?
Bono: I am a little bit surprised that it's so personal. I was expecting it to be a little more political, but it hasn't gone that way. (Laughs) If the record disappears down the toilet, never registers on the charts and people say U2 have had their time… they can f**k off now. We still know we've made a great record and we're feeling very good about each other.

TR: How difficult was it to nail this album down? The last record picked up seven Grammy Awards…
Bono: (Laughs) It's never about competing with other bands. We compete with ourselves, with the idea of not becoming crap like everyone else does. The album was quite easy because Edge kick-started the thing… so I thought, wow, that's great… I don't have to kick him. (Laughs again) It was the middle I think, where things got a bit messy. We'd invested a lot of time and energy, and we weren't getting to magic. We were getting close to it, right up next to it, you could almost smell it, you could just about kiss it, but you couldn't put your lips to it…

TR: But things turned out all right in the end, didn't they? How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb is being hailed as possibly the best U2 album since The Joshua Tree….
Bono: …The Joshua Tree had some songs that weren't quite as good, but the overall feeling of that album was that it takes you over, same on Achtung Baby. Don't think we quite got there on All That You Can't Leave Behind…although I think there are better songs. I hope on this album we have both… but only time will tell…

TR: What's it like to be Bono - the lead singer of the biggest rock and roll band in the world today?
Bono: I am Bono and I'm sick of him….I really am. But there are a lot of Bonos. Some annoy me more than others. Like Van Morrison said, I'll be great when I'm finished. I do hate whingeing rock stars. The life that people have given us is amazing. We don't have the same worries other people do, like how to pay the bills. In return we only have to do one thing. The deal is, don't be crap….that's all anyone's asked of us.

TR: And you've stayed true to that?
Bono: Sure. We're living it large, we've got great places, houses, and we don't have the worries a lot of people have. The one part of the deal we can't blow is being crap, and I think we've kept our end of the deal.

TR: Getting back to the music…so what's the secret behind the great sound of How Dismantle An Atomic Bomb?
Bono: We had a fantastic producer, Chris Thomas, who was working with us: brilliant guy, worked with The Beatles, Roxy Music, Sex Pistols, and we were getting great guitar sounds, great things, but I think finally we must have driven him crazy. We wore ourselves out, if not him. We needed a new lease of life, so we brought in Steve Lillywhite, who came in and did his usual, do your job, songs only four minutes long, what's the problem, the English common sense. (Laughs) That was a joyful noise we made unto the Lord…

TR: You're practically the poet laureate of modern rock music. U2's songs are full of sorrow, compassion, and hope at the same time. Where do the lyrics come from?
Bono: I write feelings, not thoughts. Feelings are much stronger than thoughts. We are all led by instinct, and our intellect catches up later. There are a lot of things that need to be addressed in the world. But those other things just came pouring out of me. I think there are certain colors we absolutely own, certain sounds, certain emotions. We can write songs about God and have them right next to songs about girls. I think we weave God, sex, and politics together in a way that's very unusual to music. This album proves that point…

You can read the rest of our cover story on U2 in the December 2004 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

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