Being in U2 means never having to say you’re sorry, and yet it has sometimes seemed like Bono has been on a kind of apology tour in recent years, whether the singer has been waxing humble about the universal iTunes album drop or about U2’s grandeur or about the sound of his own voice. But now it sounds as if he might want to take all that humility back and stand defiant in the face of the band’s detractors and nitpickers after all.
Bono’s current stands on penitence for U2’s perceived sins can be found in a clip from a video interview Zane Lowe conducted with Bono and the Edge for Apple Music. Watch the exclusive excerpt, above, or watch the entire conversation when it premieres today at 10 a.m. PT on Apple Music 1.
“Actually, I’ve got an apology. I wrote it,” Bono tells Lowe, in the middle of a chat about whether it’s appropriate for U2’s members to have a high opinion of the band. He pulls a written statement out of his suit pocket and begins to recite a short speech he’s written out:
“I apologize for having the unreasonableness of youth as I enter my 60s,” he says. “I apologize for being a singer who will get in your face whatever direction you’re looking. I apologize for not being shy or retiring and for loudly giving thanks for where I go to work. I apologize for stretching our band to its elastic limit. I apologize for wanting to make an unreasonable guitar record that rattles my cage and others. I apologize for repeating over and over, that rock ‘and’n’ roll is not dead, it’s just older and grumpier, and occasionally makes fireworks out of its mood changes.
“But most of all,” Bono concludes, “I apologize for apologizing.”
After the tongue-in-cheek buildup, the singer makes it clear with that last statement that U2 has gotten as humble as the band ever needs to, with some of the members’ other statements in recent years, and that it may be appropriate for the pendulum to swing back to being proud of letting their superegos, if not actual egos, run wild.
The clip comes from a conversation Bono and the Edge are having with Lowe to promote a new U2 album, “Songs of Surrender,” that includes remakes of 40 previous U2 songs. The singer and guitarist are also out this week with the Disney+ streaming special “Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming, with Dave Letterman.” While Letterman visits with the two band members in Dublin, Lowe had his talk with Bono and the Edge in and around an RV in the California desert.
Bono’s reference to “an unreasonable guitar record” refers to a new studio album, apart from “Surrender,” that U2 has been working on bit by bit for years, albeit one that is unlikely to come out this year. The singer has said in recent interviews that the group is unlikely to complete and release that album until they can tour behind it with Larry Mullen Jr., who is still dealing with issues related to surgery that will keep him off the road until 2024.
The exchange about U2’s humility, and/or lack of need for it, harks back to a minor controversy of 2022, when the two band frontmen were doing interviews to promote a song they had written and performed for the animated film “Sing 2.” At that time, some headlines were made when Bono told the Hollywood Reporter that he would sometimes “cringe” at the sound of his own voice — a sentiment that had non-fans of the band reacting along the lines of “at last, he gets it.”
In a subsequent interview with Variety, Bono assessed the overreaction to his comments in the public sphere and took it all back, more or less.
“I’d enjoy this moment while I’m feeling very raw and fucked up, because I’ll be right back” being cocky, Bono told Variety at the time. “I’ve tried humble. It doesn’t work! I think I’m getting back to being loud and proud. The humble pie, you can eat it, but you don’t want to be choking on it.”
Retorted Edge, “He’s not as nearly as humble as I am. I’m just saying, I am way more humble than him. Just going on the record.”
“I’ve tried it. I’m over it,” Bono responded, tongue only partly in cheek. As the new Apple clip indicates, sackcloth and ashes are still no longer his thing.
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