U2’s Bono Says Band’s Hard-Rocking Next Album Will Feature Songs Written with “Petrol and Matches”

In October 2022, U2 frontman Bono announced that the band was planning to release a “noisy, uncompromising, unreasonable guitar album” as its next project, despite having almost completed another, apparently less-rocking record—the long-in-the-works Songs of Ascent. Now Bono and bassist Adam Clayton have shared an update on the hard-rocking album in a new interview with Mojo magazine.

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The singer told Mojo that after he made those comments to The New York Times, guitarist The Edge called and asked him “how unreasonable” he envisioned the new album being, to which Bono responded, “As unreasonable as you’re ready to take it.”

Bono also noted that he wants the album to be particularly inspired, since he doesn’t think there’s a lot of anticipation from fans for a new record.

“I think we have to give them a reason to be interested in it,” he maintained. “I just want to write great tunes, because that’s where U2 started—with big choruses, clear ideas. And let’s go back there, but do it with some petrol and some matches.”

Completing the album may take a while, however, since the band’s drummer Larry Mullen Jr. is continuing to recover from surgery that has put him on the sidelines for U2’s current residency at the new Las Vegas venue the Sphere.

“Starting work on new songs is somewhat tied to Larry’s situation,” Clayton told Mojo. “Could he commit to an album project? I don’t know.”

Filling in for Mullen has been Bram Van den Berg, who’s a member of a Dutch rock group called Krezip. Bono said while Van den Berg has been doing an excellent job behind the kit, it’s been “beyond the beyond of ‘tough’” playing shows without Mullen.

“It was the late ’70s, the last time we played without Larry,” Bono told Mojo. “I think a motorcycle fell on his foot, and he couldn’t play, and we had a drummer called Eric [Briggs]. That wasn’t a great feeling, but Eric was very good-looking and Larry hurried back—he hopped behind the kit! But it’s not just that, you know, it’s a psychic force that Larry brings.”

Mullen did play on U2’s latest song, “Atomic City,” which was released this past September in conjunction with the launch of the Vegas residency.

“We recorded it [at the Los Angeles studio] Sound City at Edge’s suggestion,” said Bono of the track. “Larry was so excited to play there and wanted to see if he could do it. And he played for far longer than he’d planned over the next few days.”

Mullen also took part in the shoot for the song’s music video, which features footage of U2 performing the tune live on a stage in downtown Las Vegas.

“I think if you look at the video, you can see his back is in pain,” Bono noted.

U2 will continue its U2:UV Achtung Baby Live at Sphere residency on December 1. The band has seven shows scheduled that month, and an 11-date engagement running from January 26 to February 18, 2024. Van den Berg is expected to be playing drums with U2 for all of the scheduled concerts. Check out the band’s full schedule at U2.com.

(Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

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