U2 Back In The Studio – For The Last Time?

As you may have heard in the last week, U2 are confirmed back in the studio to work on their next album. There was a rather generic comment in the Irish Independent that didn’t really say much or raise any eyebrows. You can read it here: http://www.independent.ie/lifestyle/independent-woman/celebrity-news-gossip/get-on-your-boots-adam-steps-into-limelight-for-charity-3056299.html

As well, and more pointed, was Dallas Schoo (Edge’s guitar tech) making the following comments on to Sadowsky Guitars posted on their Facebook page:
“Just received this report from Dublin, where U2 is in the studio…
Just a heads up on how wonderful your 4 basses are….beautiful instruments and so much “weight” and deep tone with a very light weight bass……amazing. The Will Lee is killer and the PJs so balanced. Adam has been tracking away and not having to break the momentum dialing in his sound…..Just a very good marriage of effortless tone that seems inherent with the overall design. The entire band and the production team could not be happier.
Nice one, Dallas Schoo/U2″

So that I take as true. Once again back in studio. But what will that all mean to us devoted and endlessly optimistic fans. What are we going to get and when?

Will we get one of the three supposed albums? If so, we could be looking at later this year or early 2013. I would list this as possible if unlikely. Could they have scrapped everything and come back fresh with nothing? I’d say this is possible but more unlikely. Of course with U2, all options are possible. If they are starting fresh it could be late 2013 or even 2014 before we see anything. My money is on sooner. I have been endlessly wrong as we all have at predictions where U2 are concerned.

I think we are at a tipping point in time for the band. Despite the biggest grossing tour in history, No Line was not a massive commercial success. Will they be looking for a commercial monster while incorporating some of the interesting sounds and techniques they’ve learned? Will they take more risks and try to come out with a new sound?

For myself I really hope they go the risk route. They’ve done their time, paid their dues and made a fortune at it. Why not put it out there? Why not try to blow the world away? Again.

And all of this begs the question: Will this be U2’s last album?

I know this speculation has been going on for a long while. They are older. As much as the last tour was a monster, how driven are they to continue? If the next album is a minor success, will they walk away? Even more intriguing is this thought: If the album is a creative and commercial killer, would they leave on top? There’s nothing left to prove. Right now it comes down to want. How bad do they want it and are they still capable of delivering it?

U2 has a creativity problem. There is always that side of them that is too concerned with the commercial success. I get bored with the middle of the road songs that seem more designed for radio than their own personal creative wants. I want to be surprised. No Line provided some of that. But will the fact that it didn’t get the sales they may have wanted, nor provided much in the way of radio play, impact what’s next?

I am not going to predict the end. I’m just saying that it is coming and the possibility is there. I just want them to push the envelope rather than playing it safe. And if that makes it time to go so be it. I do not want them hanging on trying to hang on. Blow us away one last time and call it a day. You deserve it. And so do we. I know there are those who think they cannot live without knowing they are coming around again. Sorry folks, grow up. I do not want U2 to be the geriatric Rolling Stones. Never knowing when to walk away. Or walker away in their case.

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25 Responses to U2 Back In The Studio – For The Last Time?

  1. John Ryan says:

    I have some 30 photo`s from MSG after he fell Bono looks great any one want the book i made let me know

  2. The_Explorer_2012 says:

    I’ve been a fan since 1981 and the 360 tour was without a doubt, another great live tour. NLOTH is and never will be, my favorite album, it lacks the heartbreaking emotion and the grinding of Achtung Baby. AB is a true masterpiece, as are more albums. The time has come to stop and not end up like The Stones. One last masterpiece, no massive tour. One final mindblowing album and perhaps small venue performances to back it up. They have served 35 years or so and it’s time to end it. Not meaning they should stop making music period, (solo or as a group) but stop as U2. They cannot go on like this and yet another 2 year tour like 360 is just not the way to end U2. Although, U2 will never end. The amazing albums, the amazing liveshows, dvd’s, re-releases….enough for a lifetime. It would truly make me happy to see the next album as their last. Go live your lives now, the pressure has been tremendous and listen to yourselves and your fans. All fans will have peace with a new masterpiece goodbye album! Cheers 2 U2 !

    • larrylootsteen says:

      Right there with you though I have a hard time seeing this effort coming as a masterpiece. I can hope but won’t be holding my breath. I don’t know if they can make a masterpiece without being angry. I hope I’m wrong but not expecting to be. Expecting a highly commercial release. We shall see.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Much appreciated!

  3. Pingback: New U2 Confirmed for 2013 | Larry Lootsteen's Blog

  4. Lisa says:

    ive never had the impression that commercial success is their concern…. at least in recent years… quality, perfection and innovation are what always sticks out to me. if they dont have that, they know they have nothing. one thing that can be said, is that they dont settle for mediocrity.

    • larrylootsteen says:

      I don’t know. It wasn’t so long ago that Bono wanted to reclaim the ‘best band in the world’ branding. Quality yes, but also requires commercial success. I think it matters a great deal to them that they connect constantly with a newer audience. To do that requires that commercial success. Relevent is a word Bono uses often. I would say after Pop, they sacrificed some of that innovation for commercial success/connection. I think No Line was a serious attempt to combine innovation and connection. What comes next will define if they retire sooner or step into 2 or 3 more albums. My 2 cents anyway. I am really glad you chose to share your thoughts!

      • Lisa says:

        i guess they (he) is a little tad bit pompous, haha! And I agree with you wholeheartedly on albums after Pop. Im very excited about the new stuff… the work with Danger Mouse on the new album, I expect will probably be an awesome thing!

  5. John says:

    Only if U2 are able 2 lure young audiences they will remain significant if not their next album will be the last one

  6. Jeff Y says:

    I think much of the debate over “commercial success” versus “artistic creativity” is meaningless. A good song is a good song. NLOTH was not a success b/c the music was simply not great artistically. They don’t need to seek commercialism; they need to make quality music. Yes, creativity is a real challenge for an artist. I think U2 have so many cultures, voices, narratives tugging at them that they don’t have the passionate, singular direction that they had in the 80’s (coming out of Irish angst & war) that they still carried to some degree through the early 2000’s. Beautiful Day was a commercial hit – but it is also a great song. So, too, is One, Mysterious Ways, Even Better …, Zoo Station, etc. People love those songs not b/c U2 tried to be “commercial” but b/c they made quality music. Their artistry took a hit in the last album, plain and simple. To compare to other bands, Arcade Fire had the album of the year (Suburbs) in 2010 and it was a great album – not b/c they were seeking to be a commercial hit or put out “dance music” (please!). But, b/c they made a great work of art. The album was tight; it was powerful culturally; and the music was great. That’s what U2 should seek to do.

    • larrylootsteen says:

      I absolutely agree with you that the focus should always be on making great songs. I often wonder how many of those we never got to hear because they didnt ‘fit’ in their eyes. The business that is U2 sometimes seems to distract from the purity of the voice of the band. Any band that does it and only it for the love of it gets my vote. I don’t believe in commercial success as meaning anymore. That is why I listen to indie music 99% of the time. I’d rather find a bunch of great songs then the drivel that is on the radio in the corporate and controlled world of crap.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate you taking the time.

  7. B Wood says:

    I’ve been massive fan for years. What erks me is the hatred that seems to be directed towards bono now. It seems like a fad to hate him. It prompted me to write an article about it and take a poll of if “people” thought bono was a fake:
    http://academicviews.hubpages.com/hub/Why-do-people-hate-Bono
    even amoung my friends this seems to be a passionate debate.

    • larrylootsteen says:

      The hate has been going on for decdes. I don’t even try and convince people unless they ask or throw it in my face. In response most recently I go with ‘So the highest grossing tour of all time goes to the worst band in the world’? I have found reasonable rguments don’t work. They’ve decided and good for them. May not be fair but it is how they feel. In the grand scheme of things, this falls into the ‘whatever’ category for me. Hate away. They are just missing out. Thanks for sharing this!!

  8. Kevin Botting says:

    Did they not sign 12 year deal in 2008 with Live nation, so they have a few years left in them yet !

    • larrylootsteen says:

      Just looked it up. 12 years deal for touring, merchandise and web site. Not albums. See quote here:
      “It’s a 12-year deal with Live Nation Artists that includes worldwide touring, merchandising, and the band’s U2.com Web site. The deal, however, is not a true 360-degree pact, as there is no publishing component and the band retains its relationship with Universal Music to release music.”

      • And thereby retaining all publishing and masters’ rights that they own – as was given to them by Chris Blackwell back during the Joshua Tree days (the master recordings) when U2 bailed Island out of near bankruptcy.

        Got to give them this – savvy, savvy businessmen… 😀

  9. Kevin Botting says:

    Did they not sign a 12 year deal with Live nation in 2008 ?

    • larrylootsteen says:

      I believe (though this is not confirmed) that they have to deliver two albums before the end of 2016. I work on the basis of 1 new album in 2013, two years to tour it. And a final greatest hits – only if this is the end of course!

      • yeah – in theory they could just go the greatest hits route on both accounts, but they’ve always been so freakishly ambitious, that I’d rather doubt it. Of course, many of us hope that as long as the drive is there to produce new sounds they they’ll keep at it. But I think they’re smart enough to know when to let it go and walk off into the sunset.

  10. smirkdirk says:

    The whole concept of a “smash” hit album, like Joshua Tree or Achtung, is not dependent upon them so much these days, mainly because the market for music is nothing like what it was in the 80’s or 90’s. People borrow music off the internet without paying for it, people buy music piecemeal, song by song, and more so, “rock n’ roll” just doesn’t command the pop cultural presence it once did. What group of white boys have it in their power to dominate the charts in these days of Gaga and Kanye? None. That being said, the charts themselves aren’t near the dominant force they were back in U2’s selling-like-hotcakes hey day.

    • larrylootsteen says:

      You make an excellent point. But do you think that the band has moved past the ‘commercial success’ label in their minds? And if so, do you think that means they are more likely to just continue putting music out there? What’s the end game for the band in your mind?

      • I’ve always been of the mind that Larry was the one to start this band and he’ll be the one to stand up and say stop, too. He has always been the logical subconscious of this group and the first one to put on the breaks when things get too off kilter. What I like hearing is that Adam seems to be the one really in his groove right now – a trend that seemed to begin with NLOTH. And as the feet and “musical conscious” of U2, I think he’ll be the first one to say stop when musically there is nowhere left to go.

        I certainly do think at some point they will walk away, but I don’t think that will happen until they’re satisfied that there is, in fact, nothing else musically to add to the story.

      • larrylootsteen says:

        Excellent thoughts!! I do believe they will know when it is time. I’m a little curious on what they would all do. Of anyone I could see Edge do some solo work. I think it would be an experience for them to work in something other than U2. But it would also be very strange! I wonder if anyne of them would actually and fully retire. They could certainly afford to!

    • I think Adam will disappear onto some secluded private beach somewhere warm and sunny. Larry will become a movie producer and/or manage the U2 kids’ band (since they’ve more than enough to start one!). Edge will develop a safe and economical way to time-travel. And Bono? He’s just going to save the planet one country at a time. 😀

  11. INCA says:

    Well when they do call it a day, mrnorth will become my new #1 until they too pass the baton

  12. 4 ever in studio. For another and another album

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