U2 Explains Its New Sound

Pop, U2’s long-awaited next album–and the band’s first in almost four years–guarantees a new sound. Lead singer and songwriter Bono, his trademark long hair now closely shorn, reveals to the L.A. Times that the album is actually a melding of two distinct musical directions. “We liked the tendency in England toward pop songwriting in the [traditional] way of Lennon-McCartney and Lou Reed,” says Bono. “But we also liked the energy and adventurousness of the techno, hip-hop world. So, we decided to explore bringing those two disciplines together. That’s what this record is about.” “Discotheque,” the album’s first single, will be a radical departure for fans used to the harder-edged sound of Achtung Baby and Zooropa, but the band doesn’t want people to think that they’re changing their sound just for the sake of change.

“After Achtung Baby, there was all this talk about U2 reinventing itself, and I guess it’d be easy for someone to say we’ve reinvented ourselves again,” says The Edge, the group’s guitarist. “But the changes aren’t some strategy–they come out of being interested and inspired by what other people are doing.” Bono adds that, “We are still a rock ‘n’ roll band, but when we looked around last year, it was clear that hip-hop and dance artists are making the music that defines these closing years of the twentieth century, and we wanted to see what parts of that music would work for us.” “Discotheque” will be out next month, with Pop arriving in stores in March. To announce completion of the album, the band placed a picture on their Web site showing their empty studio with a large sign on the soundboard stating, “Elvis has hacked his way out of the building.” In the spring, the band will embark on yet another massive stadium tour.

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