From midday today, audiences can watch and listen to U2’s Bono and The Edge perform for Radio 2’s Piano Room on BBC iPlayer here and in an hourlong special, which includes an extended interview, on BBC Sounds
In the hourlong special, listeners hear about their musical influences and inspirations, memories of recording previous U2 sessions at Maida Vale, their love of radio as a medium, the recent anniversary of their album War, the improvisation behind their song recordings and more.
From the extended interview on BBC Sounds:
On radio as a medium
Bono: We’re believers in radio particularly at this time as an immersive medium. […] People get up, they get dressed, they have their breakfast, they move around. They’re not watching the telly when they do that or on the computer, YouTube, all of that stuff. Now, the time that people are most vulnerable to being moved, [it’s] not information, is in their ears. Earbuds, on the subway, on the Tube, listening to music and listening to the radio in their cars.
On their work with Steve Jobs
Bono: Would your listeners be interested in – it’s not even a dirty secret, but I have a few personalities... one of them is definitely travelling salesperson. I come from a long line of them on my mother’s side. And I sold, along with Edge, this song to Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple. We were invited to his house and we said, ‘We’d really like to give you a song for one of your Apple commercials.’ This is when Apple commercials were just the most vivid, most extraordinary, colourful silhouettes, if you remember them back then. He said, ‘Thanks! You’re giving me this song?!’ [And we said] ‘We don’t do commercials, but we’d give it to you.’ And he said, ‘Well that’s amazing. Thank you very much. Any catches?’ and I said, ‘Well, we want to be in the commercial.’ And he said, ‘What do you mean? We have silhouettes of fans.’ And I said, ‘yeah, but it’s time to also have artists in these commercials. We’ll be the silhouettes.’ He said, ‘What?!’. I said ‘Yeah, we’d like to be in your commercial with our new song. Thank you very much.’ And he went: ‘Okay’.
Edge: We didn’t get paid or anything, it was not like an endorsement where you get money. […] We thought this is a saviour, because music was being sent on the internet round for free. People were downloading. And [Steve Jobs] was going, ‘No, musicians should get paid.’ So we were supporting that.
On Bono’s book and their album
Gary: Which came first, the book or the album idea?
Bono: The book.
Edge: It was a bit of opportunism because we had this thought of [an acoustic album] for a while, but when Bono came out with the book and it had 40 chapters, we thought hold on, there’s an internal rhyme here we can use. So we loosely tied the two together - 40 chapters in the book and 40 songs on the record. But they don’t correspond exactly.
Bono: Edge and I had this phrase that we were throwing around, ‘Intimacy is the new punk rock’. And I know it sounds a bit pretentious now saying it at the BBC, but the most dangerous music for me at the moment is the most vulnerable. And we let artists that we love into our life in ways that we don’t let our closest friends or lovers sometimes.
Edge: We’re big fans of this Scandinavian band, appreciators of their work in a way that grew over years. We are fans of the Bee Gees which people wouldn’t have imagined. We’re fans of lots of great songwriters who aren’t necessarily seen as very hip, and I guess we’re just appreciators of their work.
Bono: I was saying to one of the cellists today that I didn’t have the courage to own up to this next band when I was 16 in the middle of punk rock, but I did get to the Bee Gees and I was ready to own up to Massachusetts and Tragedy, I mean these are just crazy good. John Lennon owned up to loving the Bee Gees. But there’s a bit of a macho, ‘I don’t want to own up to ABBA.’ But I’ll tell you what, they’re just better songs. You can’t be empirical about everything in art.
Bono: There is something about ABBA. I can remember ABBA as like the national anthem for young mothers. Certainly at closing time at our local pub, often young women would sing Thank You For The Music, and I would sing it and I was very thankful for the music! But I was like, what is this phenomenon? This is before their musicals and all that. What is going on with ABBA? And then Benny [Andersson] came to one of our shows, when we murdered Dancing Queen. And [they] played with us on stage. But this is not Dancing Queen.
Gary: Which one is it?
Bono: This is the great ABBA. And this is a marketing gimmick from U2 called SOS!
On celebrating the 40th anniversary of their album, War
Gary: Any special celebrations lined up for that?
Edge: A pint of Guinness probably down in Finnegan’s at the very least!