Uncut FEBRUARY 2009 - by Andrew Mueller


No Line On The Horizon

The twelfth album from Dublin's stadium gods finds Bono and co going for "top-line melodies" and, er, "bottom riffs," according to co-producer Daniel Lanois...

DANIEL LANOIS: We started on it maybe a year-and-a-half ago. [Brian] Eno and I went in from the initial chapters of the process. We've done work in France, Morocco, New York and London, a bit in Dublin.

Changing locations always gives you a good two-week fresh sprint, and a lot comes out of that. It makes for a nice change of scenery. We tried to deliver in June to release in November, and we missed that because things weren't finished. We were tired, so we took a month off.

There have been sonically innovative pivotal points throughout U2's career. Achtung Baby was one. Not to draw a comparison to Achtung Baby, but I think the shift in sonics here is about as great. We have an appetite for innovation, and when you have Eno in the room you can't help but get new ideas thrown your way. So this project very early on had some quite dynamic sonic shifts that I'm proud of - there's something very different about this record, right up the spine.

We decided we wouldn't have acoustic drums early on, because we wanted Larry [Mullen] to be in our inner circle rather than in a booth. By having him play electronic drums, it allowed us to be physically close together while still having powerful, unusual drum sounds. They were only meant to be sketches, but some we fell in love with, so we decided not to replace them.

The beginning of this record was a free-for-all. We wanted to see what was happening in people's hearts and what would come out of jam sessions. So the first two, the French and Moroccan chapters, were very spontaneous. About a third of a way in, The Edge came in with some works he had started on his home studio, and some of those are part of this record.

[Lyrically] I think Bono is looking at the world through the eyes of a lot of travel, and compassion, and being the humanitarian that he is, and he's definitely embracing his own personal philosophies on this record. Edge has come up with some great riffs, but they're very different. He has a few great bottom riffs, as I call them. If we could use a historical reference for bottom riffs, then [Rick James'] Superfreak would be one of them.

They've always had a good ear for anything special, but they're more advanced musicians than they were. Bono's singing is better than ever. He's a great, barrel-chested Irish tenor. We're lucky to have him. Melody is important. If I can use one of Bono's current terms, the top-line melodies are celebrated. They're the ones you can hear across the street. I'm hearing things on this record I've never heard from them, or from anybody else. More power to them for still having the appetite to reinvent rock'n'roll. And the president of the company is singing like a bird.