Introspect : New Year’s Day *

December 31, 2003


By Debbie Kreuser
2003 / 2004

With its soaring vocals and nearly perfect rhythm lines, "New Year’s Day" emerged in the early 1980s as a U2 favorite. Composed of simple words, it stirred a timeless hope and belief in the souls of all those who heard it, the aspiration for freedom and unity for people around the world, a theme that would continue in U2′s songwriting in the years to come with songs like "Pride," "Please," "Walk On," and the recent "American Prayer." And with its message of peace and goodwill for all humanity, it is the perfect U2 song to reflect on as we start the year 2004.

All is quiet on New Year’s Day
A world in white gets underway
I want to be with you
Be with you night and day
Nothing changes on New Year’s Day
On New Year’s Day

I will be with you again
I will be with you again

According to Niall Stokes in "Into the Heart: The Stories Behind Every U2 Song," "New Year’s Day" probably began as a love song from Bono to Ali but quickly became something more. In 1980, the Solidarity movement in Poland, under the leadership of future Nobel Peace Prize winner and president Lech Walesa, openly challenged the oppressive rule of the then Polish government. In December 1981, the Solidarity movement was outlawed and Walesa, and its other leaders, were arrested and put in jail. As Bono once recalled: "Subconsciously I must have been thinking about Lech Walesa being interned and his wife not being allowed to see him. Then, when we’d recorded the song, they announced that martial law would be lifted in Poland on New Year’s Day. Incredible."

As the song continues, it further documents the growing movement of people clamoring for freedom and justice throughout Eastern Europe in the early 1980s.

Under a blood red sky
A crowd has gathered in black and white
Arms entwined, the chosen few
The newspapers say it’s true
It’s true
And we can break through
Though torn in two
We can be one

But while the song no doubt holds now-historic significance, what is the significance of this song for us in 2004? It resides in the power of four words–"I will begin again." The willingness to start over, to "begin again," may be the most important idea that we can gleam from U2′s music and is a very appropriate concept to consider at the start of a new year.

U2′s music, and Bono’s lyrics, have always providing a sense of empowerment, the knowledge that deep within us we have the ability to change ourselves–and our world. We can recreate ourselves, become better human beings, bring hope and love to our world. And if U2′s music hasn’t motivated us to "begin again," the personal trials, tribulations and ultimate triumphs of Bono’s life should.

Bono’s life and career has been an evolving tale of one man’s decision to choose good over bad, hope over despair, action over apathy, grace over karma. And in the process, he has given us a brilliant life which we can affirm and emulate.

So, as we start the year 2004, let us remember this magnificent song by U2 and on New Year’s Day let our resolution simply be–I will begin again!

Interview : Hamish Hamilton, Director

December 22, 2003

By Devlin Smith
2003.12

On the BBC show "Faking It" an emergency dispatcher is learning the ropes of being a television director. She takes the reins directing a musical performance, her mentor dancing in the background, telling her to smile, relax, enjoy herself just like he so clearly does.

Anyone who’s seen Hamish Hamilton, the novice director’s guide, in action knows that he does enjoy what he does–capturing live music performances for television and video. That passion, and talent, has gotten him the attention of many of the world’s top acts, an amazing client roster that includes Madonna, Robbie Williams, Jennifer Lopez and U2.

Hamilton first worked with U2 as director of the Brit Awards in 2001 when the band was recognized for Outstanding Contribution to Music. That led to Hamilton directing both the "Elevation: Live from Boston" and "U2 Go Home: Live from Slane Castle" DVDs.

Interference.com recently interviewed Hamilton about his career, his work with U2 and found out why his job is maybe the best job in the world.

You’ve built a reputation directing live music events. Was it a love of music that got you interested in directing or a passion for directing that brought you to music?
I love live gigs, don’t go to enough anymore. Music and directing are both passions so I guess it was always going to happen.

How did your directing career begin?
I began directing at the BBC in Scotland. The corporation gave me a little training and a lot of chances–I will always be grateful. I am a trained accountant and did a basic multi-camera course in directing at the BBC. I have done my share of quizzes, daytime television and news in my past! Oh, and I have done loads of cooking shows–I’m sure it’s all useful for live music.

What is so appealing to you about capturing live events?
Capturing the buzz and the energy. I live for adrenaline moments or hair-on-the-back-of-the-neck moments. The first time I filmed U2 was at the Brit Awards in the UK, they were getting the lifetime achievement award. I was so overcome with doing the Brits and U2 that I actually cried; I genuinely could not believe it. I’ll never lose that perspective, I am blessed, I know I am good but I also know I am very lucky.

What do you feel your responsibilities to yourself, the fans and the client are when you’re at the helm for these events?
Jeez, the pressure is enormous. The band and the fans are in the front of my mind. I want them to love it, especially U2, they are gods, I love the band’s music. Imagine the best band in the world entrust their live show to you, I actually shake with fear, but it’s that fear which drives you–I love it. I want to be as good as U2, and that is a very tall order.

The band and the fans deserve the best director in the world and if they choose me then I have to perform out of my skin, but you know it makes me buzz and surf on fear and adrenaline. I am at best a documentary maker and when you get brilliance to work with then you step up to the plate. I think I did. The tracking shot on "Streets" makes me rush, not as a director but as a fan. "Elevation Boston" is possibly the finest live music DVD ever made and I am unbelievably proud of it.

You’ve directed for-broadcast performances (like The Corrs and Madonna) and awards shows, how does that experience differ from creating something specifically for video/DVD?
Live-to-air is always a compromise, you have to be so careful, one bad shot and you can seriously blow it. Performance is not an exact science so if an artist hits his/her mark and the light catches [them] badly and/or your camera is too low, for instance, you can make someone look terrible. If that goes to line you can ruin any atmosphere the live show is wanting to create. With taping and editing you can be very brave. On "Elevation" we lit from one side and shot from the dark side, we also shot a lot below the eye line, not great for a live-to-air look, though "Streets" went live on US [television].

You were recruited by U2 to film their Boston Elevation shows in June 2001 and then also recorded the Sept. 1 Slane show. When did you first talk to U2 about directing Slane?
In February of that year they were at the Brit Awards collecting an award. They performed and I directed the show. One minute after the show finished I got a call, I thought it was my mum saying "Well done," it was Bono. He heaped praise on my and I started to stutter, it was definitely a moment.

Was the Slane experience any easier since you’d already worked with the band a few months previous?
It was harder. They had seen Boston and expected!

How did your approach to capturing Slane differ from the Boston shows since it was outdoors, to a much larger crowd, in U2′s hometown and so on?
I really wanted to capture the significance of the occasion, the passion and scale of the crowd.

Do you have a preference of capturing indoor or outdoor shows?
It’s all about the music, some bands work better indoors and vice versa. I actually don’t care what the venue is so long as the music kicks and the crowd responds. Capturing live music is all about the chemistry and energy, if you can do that in an artful form then you have a great programme.

Your shows have been nominated for and won awards in the US and UK. What does it mean to you to be recognized like that?
I guess I could lie and say they mean nothing but I was recently nominated for a Grammy [for "Robbie Williams: Live at The Albert" in 2003]–it rocked. It feeds my fragile ego. I work very, very hard at what I do and it’s nice to be recognized by my peers. I do get a bigger buzz watching DVDs that I have made at full volume on a big screen. It’s very difficult to explain but I feel proud and happy.

In the "Making of Elevation Live" documentary, there was mention about you having a lucky shirt. Do you still have that lucky shirt? Have you worn it during the making of any recent films?
Actually that was a significant moment. I still have the original Brazil Away but it hasn’t been used recently. I have a number of new ones. For Slane I wore the second shirt.

Why do you feel fans and performers are so interested in having concert films?
That’s tricky. To be honest some bands shouldn’t do a live DVD, they don’t have the charisma. Let’s be honest, not everyone is U2. I actually think the DVD market will change over the years, not all bands will choose a concert film, they may choose to do something else, which is very exciting.

What do you think makes a great concert film?
Great live band performing music, great crowd, energy, passion and a director and a vision. Bono said to me, "I want to recreate ‘Raging Bull’ as a concert move." He needed to say no more.

What are some of your favorite concert films?
"Stop Making Sense" [Talking Heads]
Elevation Boston
The new Zeppelin DVD
Robbie Williams at Knebworth [directed by Hamilton]
Peter Gabriel ["Growing Up Live" directed by Hamilton]
REM Road Movie
Muse’s last DVD

You’ve worked with an amazing list of artists, who are some artists you’d absolutely love to work with that you haven’t yet?
I want to work with Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. Both offer amazing live shows but have been poorly served by their DVDs or TV shows covering their shows. She’s an icon and hugely underrated. He is the complete star. I think they are both perfectionists and I hope that’s true, cuz I am.

What is your connection to Done and Dusted (www.doneanddusted.com)? How did you become involved with it?
Done and Dusted is me and a few others. We have a very different production ethic which is why our shows look so different. I really work with the best people in each field, they drive me forward, it sounds so cheesy but it’s true. I am the ringmaster who has a circus of great talent around him.

Done and Dusted’s site mentions productions on nearly every continent, with Antarctica coming soon. What type of production do you envision for Antarctica?
It

Introspect : A U2 Holiday Wish List *

December 21, 2003


By Debbie Kreuser

2003.12

At this time of year when our hearts are open and loving, and our spirits long for Peace and Goodwill in our world, I would like to extend a few wishes for the new year and words of gratitude to Bono, Larry, Adam and the Edge – you have always given us music thatuplifts us and words that inspire us.(not to mention antics that delight us) We rejoice at this special time of year for your continued presence in our lives.

PROSPERITY
Incredible success with the new CD and tour! All U2 fans/followers have been waiting patiently for awhile now, eagerly anticipating the arrival of what promises to be a CD full of great music(we’re all waiting to hear the new sounds from the Edge’s guitar) not to mention a concert tour which we already know will be memorable.

GRATITUDE
Fans/followers who will appreciate not only the sensational music that you create, but who will also take to their hearts the message INSIDE your songs – Love, Peace, Compassion, Grace(Forgiveness) and Unity. May we show these traits to each other and to everyone we meet in respect and gratitude to all that U2 has given us.

ACCOMPLISHMENT
Fulfillment of your individual personal goals and desires, whatever they may be. U2 has given us the encouragement and direction to fulfill so many of our hopes and dreams over the years that it is TRULY our pleasure to wish you the same!

LOVE
Family and friends who will be supportive of your personal and professional endeavors while you are away from them and eager to see you when you return to them.The loving bonds that you all have with your families and friends are important to you – they are the foundation on which your lives are centered and find meaning. As your fans/followers, we respect and honor those bonds and only hope that they grow stronger with time.

UNITY
A world more full of Love, Peace, Understanding and Justice for ALL, and, especially, a world more committed to the eradication of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the true freedom of the Burmese people at the end of 2004 than we are at its beginning.

May ALL these wishes (and many more) come true for Bono, Larry, Adam and the Edge in the new year and Happy Holidays to everyone at Interference!

U2 Comics : Bono the activist *

December 17, 2003


By Gabriela (Jack In The Box) Zendejas

2003.12

[TOON]

Interview : James Henke, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

December 14, 2003


By Devlin Smith

Next February, the last fans will circle the top floor of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum to gaze upon Bono’s American flag jacket, Edge’s Pop Mart cowboy boots, Larry’s biker vest and Adam’s Zooropa uniform. After several extensions, and thousands of visits, "In the Name of Love: Two Decades of U2" will be replaced as the museum’s featured exhibit.

Interference.com interviewed James Henke, vice president of exhibitions and curatorial affairs for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, about "In the Name of Love." Henke has known U2 for more than 20 years, being the first Rolling Stone reporter to interview the band and also, as music editor, helped champion the famous RS cover story that declared, "U2: Our Choice–Band of the ’80s."

First, can you sum up for our readers what your job as curator at the Rock Hall entails?
Essentially I am in charge of all of the content that is in the Museum. I help come up with ideas for exhibits, then my staff and I set about gathering the necessary materials–could be artifacts, films, interactive displays, etc. My staff also oversees the design of the exhibits, and takes care of the artifacts that we have in our collection. Finally, we also do ongoing collecting from musicians that is not directly related to a specific exhibit.

When and how did the idea for a large-scale U2 exhibit come together?
I’ve known the members of U2 and their management since 1980. When we opened the Museum, we did a smaller exhibit that focused on their early years. They also donated the Trabants that hang in the Museum lobby. Then, when they played Cleveland on the Elevation tour, they visited the Museum for the first time and loved it. We had a big John Lennon exhibit at the time–in the same place where the U2 exhibit currently is–and they loved that. So we began talking about doing a large U2 exhibit. This was May 2001, I believe.

U2 is eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame in 2005, so why do the exhibit now? Why not wait until the band is actually in the Hall of Fame to have the exhibit?
The Museum covers both inductees and non-inductees. The opportunity to do the U2 exhibit came up and we took advantage of it. We also do a regular exhibit devoted to the new inductees, so they will be a part of that, as well.

"In the Name of Love" followed up after the very successful John Lennon exhibit. Why did the Rock Hall feel U2 was an appropriate choice to succeed Lennon?
We thought it would be good to do a slightly younger band, rather than another artist from the ’60s. Also, U2 has all of the elements that make for a strong exhibit–their story involves more than just music.

From reading your column (http://www.rockhall.com/exhibitions/curator.asp?id=2018) and visiting the "In the Name of Love" exhibit, it’s staggering to see how many people donated items. Who were some of the major contributors? Who was the most surprising contributor?
We approached many people who have worked with U2 over the years, in management, as producers, road crew, video makers, etc. Since they have had many of the same people around them for a long time, it didn’t really surprise me that people would cooperate with us.

Fans donated quite a few items to the exhibit and there is also an installation dedicated to fan magazines from over the years. What do you think it is about U2 that has inspired this level of devotion over the years?
I think there are many reasons for U2 fans’ devotion. One is simply that the band makes great music. Another is that they have been around for nearly 25 years now, with the same four members–something that is pretty much unprecedented in rock and roll. Another is that the group takes their fans seriously and sends out a serious message.

You and your staff worked closely with the band, Principle Management and their associates in putting this exhibit together. What was the most unbelievable item that was lent by U2? Is there anything you very much wanted but couldn’t get?
One of my favorite pieces is Bono’s lyric to "When Love Comes to Town," with his notes to BB King. The one thing I wish we could have found was Larry’s initial bulletin board notice seeking to form a band. I believe that has vanished.

What kind of reaction has this exhibit gotten from U2 fans and the general public?
People have been very favorable about the exhibit. When we did our special fans weekend during the summer, we had fans come in from all over the world. Many people have made specific journeys to see the exhibit.

Has anyone from the band, Principle Management or related parties have a chance to check out the exhibit?
Some associates of the band, such as Steve Averill and Ned O’Hanlon and Maurice Linnane have seen the exhibit. We’re hoping Paul McGuinness and some of the band members will manage to make it over now that it is going to be up for a couple more months.

After "In the Name of Love" closes in February, how many items from the exhibit are going to remain in the Rock Hall’s collection?
That’s not certain right now, but we will have some sort of scaled-down version of the exhibit remaining.

You pointed this out in your column on the Rock Hall’s Web site, Larry Mullen and many people within the U2 organization are U2 pack rats. Do you have any guess as to what will eventually become of all this stuff?
My hope, of course, is that they will donate it to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum so their fans will be able to see the items years from now.

What do you hope fans and general museum visitors have gotten from "In the Name of Love"?
I hope they will understand the longevity of the band and the high quality of their music. Their dedication to their music and their belief in music’s ability to impact people and the world. If they are not familiar with the group, I hope this exhibit offers them an introduction and will cause them to check the group out.

You’ve been a fan and supporter of U2 for more than 20 years. What has it personally meant for you to be able to bring this exhibit together and to see reactions from visitors?
It’s been extremely gratifying. I’m glad that we have been able to pay a nice tribute to such an influential band.

For more on this exhibit, or to get more information on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, visit www.rockhall.com.

For more of Interference.com’s coverage of "In the Name of Love: Two Decades of U2," check out http://forum.interference.com/showth…threadid=73346 and http://forum.interference.com/showth…hreadid=82063.

Many thanks to Mr. Henke and all at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum!

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