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Old 11-29-2008, 02:17 PM   #1
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Interview with Edge's mom

I'm not sure if this has been posted before...It's an interview with Gwenda Evans... worth reading

Gwenda more than just a famous mother


Wednesday November 26 2008

Gwenda Evans may be known to many as the mother of U2 guitarist, The Edge.But after almost 50 years in Malahide, the Welsh native has established herself as an artist in her own right, as Robin Kiely found out.

Tell me about yourself and how you came to live in Malahide?

My husband Garvin and I are both Welsh and he was working for the Plessey company in London. They asked him to come over to Swords when Plessey was there, to run their factory.

It was suggested that we live in Malahide, because there were a lot of a lot of other nationalities living there at the time, funnily enough. Scottish people from Aer Lingus and that.

These houses were being built at the time, 45 years ago. Garvin booked one, I came over, looked at it and said Œyes¹ and we¹ve been here ever since.

Plesseys didn¹t last, Garvin started his own firm then of consulting engineers and he¹s just about to retire, he keeps telling me. The two boys were born in England and when we came over, our daughter Gill was born here.

Was it a much different place back then?

It was a village then. It still keeps that sort of atmosphere. If you go down to the local shops here, you¹ve got to allow at least another hour to two, because you always meet somebody and have a chat.

It¹s a very nice neighbourhood and we were very fortunate, because we didn¹t have a clue about anywhere really.

When you first came here, would it have reminded you of Wales?

Not really, because where came from in Wales, Llanelli, was quite industrial and an old town, while Malahide was fairly new. They were building quite a lot of houses then. The people were very, very friendly and more like the Celts, the Welsh.

We just felt at home here, whereas we hadn¹t felt that in London. We felt it was more like coming home.

Before we go on to mention your famous son, what do you call him?

I call him Dave, but most of the time when I¹m talking about him, I call him Edge because people know him as that.

What was he like as a child and when did he first show an interest in music?

Both my husband and I are very musical, in that we both sing in the local choir, Enchiriadis. We¹ve got a concert coming up in The Helix on December 6th. We¹re doing the Messiah.

Music was always part of our lives. I used to sing to the children, so he had a good ear for music at a very young age. All three of them have. People say to me I must be very proud of Edge and I tell them I¹m proud of all of my children.

It¹s obviously a Welsh thing as well, with the strong history of singing?

Well in Wales they do sing, yes. All my family sang in choirs and the same with Garvin. The churches we went to, the whole congregation sang in harmony and a lot of hymns would be part of our service. I suppose it¹s grown into you.

Did Edge play many instruments when he was younger?

He played the piano and had piano lessons. He started playing guitar when he was about 14, I suppose, 15. Richard, his elder brother, taught him a few chords, which he had picked up from a chap down the road.

Once Edge got the guitar in his hands, he wouldn¹t put the blooming thing down. And we¹d be saying, Œwould you shush now a minute, we just want to hear the news¹. He obviously enjoyed it.

What did he want to be when he was younger?

I don¹t think it was very clear. As you know, he went to Mount Temple and then did his Leaving Cert, but by this time the band had started. He was about 15, 16. He got his Leaving Cert and was accepted into Kevin Street to do general science or something like that, but he asked could he have a year off school after his Leaving so that he could see whether the band was going to go somewhere or not. We said Œokay, if then at the end of that year and nothing¹s happened, then go to college¹. He did take a year off and did a lot of work with the band. And eventually, he hadn¹t got a recording contract, so he went to Kevin Street, for only about six weeks and then the record contract came through. He stopped and the rest is history.

Was that when you realised he could have a career in music?

We thought he could give it a go. We said, Œwhat happens if the band doesn¹t [make it]¹ and he said, don¹t worry he could earn enough to live on as a session musician. He really wanted to give it a go.

At first we felt the band was a great hobby and we really enjoyed the fact that he had something to occupy him really. We didn¹t expect the career it¹s turned out to be at the time. We were quite prepared to let him have a go and we encouraged him in fact.

Did you go to the early shows?

Oh yes. I was his first roadie! No, I¹m laughing. I had an old Beetle and we¹d be able to get the equipment in it. He wasn¹t driving at that stage, so we used to go and pick him up and usually drop him off and then listen for a few and then go off and do something and then come back. So, right from the start I enjoyed their music and what they were doing, right from the beginning. I still do.

Do you still listen to them?

Oh yes, I still go to the gigs. We usually try and pick somewhere exotic that we¹ve never been before in the world and then have a holiday as well.

What¹s your own personal favourite memory of the U2 success story?

I think the first time they ever came to Croke Park [in 1985]. They¹d been on tour and Edge¹s daughter, who¹s now 23, was quite a small baby. It was the crowd and the sheer sort of thrill of them being home, playing in front of their own people. I had a huge lump in my throat and the tears were pouring down my face.

I went backstage afterwards and I said Œthat was tremendous¹. All the crowd knew the songs and were singing, as they¹ve always done. It was wonderful. I can remember saying to Edge Œoh I feel such a fool, I was crying¹.

ŒDon¹t worry Mum,¹ he said. ŒThere wasn¹t a dry eye backstage either¹, with the crew. They still have most of the original crew still working for them.

It¹s like an extended family.

You¹re quite a creative person yourself. Tell me about your projects.

My job was teaching, a primary school teacher. But because, I had no Irish, I couldn¹t teach in Ireland.

When I was in college in London, I did art as a special subject. When the children were small, I couldn¹t do it at all. I paint with oils and it¹s messy.

I didn¹t do anything for years. Funnily enough what started me back was Gill, my daughter, who was 21, she said: Œdo you know what I¹d love Mum? I¹d love if you painted me a picture.¹ I got out the old oil paints and I did her a small, little African violet - when I look back now I cringe because it was really awful. But she loved it and that got me interested again.

I went to various classes and tried other mediums, but I came back to oils and I¹ve been painting ever since. That was about 20-odd years ago.

I¹m a member of Portmarnock Art Group and we have an exhibition every year in the Links Hotel. I sell my paintings from the house as well and I sell enough to give me encouragement.

It¹s a lucrative hobby and I enjoy it very much. Portmarnock Art Group is a great group to be in. We¹re all artists who paint separately, we don¹t paint together. We have lectures during the winter months and we go into town to the National Gallery as a group, so it¹s very good.

Do you have a preference for what types of paintings you do?

My favourite paintings are the French impressionists and I like realism. I¹m not very good at understanding modern art, so I would tend to go for local scenes.

I love the sea and I do paint the sea quite often and its various moods.

Although people love painting out of doors, it¹s very difficult because of the weather. But I have painted in the south of France.

I have taken a lot of photographs of the scenes. I like to see where I¹m painting and I have an idea in my head of what it¹s really like. It¹s mostly landscapes.

Do you think Malahide and Fingal are quite creative places?

It¹s amazing how many art groups there are. In Malahide there are three. We have lots of artists living here. Richard Hearns has qualified as an artist and he does wonderful work. He¹s very good and I encouraged him right from the start, because I could see his talents as a child.

Have any of your children taken up painting?

No, not my own, but my grandchildren have. Two of them are doing art funnily enough. One of them is in university in Kingston, doing product design. It¹s amazing the way art goes. Our eldest granddaughter was very artistic and they all have got that little artistic streak.

It seems these days you can throw paint on a canvas and call it art.

I can¹t understand it. Apparently the intention is to give you a feeling. My own feeling about art is I want to portray God¹s wonderful world and the beauty in it. I know there are dark sides as well.

I like my paintings to be very colourful usually. I love colour and light and shade. I feel it¹s nice to portray the beauty of the world.

My granddaughter was explaining to me about urban art. It¹s a posh word for graffiti. Some of the artists who¹ve done this sort of work are getting huge amounts for their canvasses.

Fair enough, it¹s a trend and it¹s like Picasso, but personally I would prefer Monet. If I hadn¹t had gone and done art as a special project in teacher training college, I would probably never have painted. So it¹s strange.

Do you go back to Wales?

Not so much now. We do now and again go back to Wales.

You obviously feel very Welsh?

Oh yes. Especially when Wales are playing at Lansdowne Road.

Would part of you feel Irish?

Yes, we do. We¹re very fond of Ireland and we feel very protective if people are criticising it. But we are Welsh and feel Welsh still.

The children feel more Irish. I once asked Richard if he felt Irish or Welsh. He said he felt European. If anything, they would feel more Irish.

Are you a rugby fan?

I like watching it. Since all the new rules came in, I think it got too physical. I worry sometimes with the rucks and that. The boys both played in school and Garvin used to play in college as well.

Do you have any idea when the new U2 album is coming out?

They hope in about February. They¹re still working on it, would you believe, and they decided to go back and polish up some of the stuff. And as we speak, they¹re working on finishing off the album.

They hope to have it finished in December and then of course it takes ages for it to get off the ground. They¹re talking about the end of February, but your guess is as good as mine.

They¹ve been working on it now for I don¹t know how long, two years I think.

Are you looking forward to it as much as everyone else?

Yes. It¹ll be interesting to see, because they went off on a tangent a while ago, but the last album was back to their Œoriginal¹ as I call it and what I enjoy.

Do you ever give them advice?

They wouldn¹t take it. When they were little I used to say, Œturn that blooming noise down¹. But no, they¹re pretty good. One of the things I¹m proud of them about too, is that they use their fame for good.

Bono especially is such a marvellous talker. He doesn¹t mind who he talks to to get the point over about Africa and the terrible stuff that¹s happened because of AIDS and so on.

He uses his name to open doors for him and he¹s very good at that. And he¹s their frontman, they all feel the same, but Bono¹s able to put their point of view very well to people and he¹s prepared to spend the time. And it is time and effort and energy. Edge is involved in Music Rising, a charity to get new instruments and schools in New Orleans. All the musicians lost their instruments and their homes and everything. I¹m pleased they don¹t just sit on their bottoms.

Gwenda more than just a famous mother - Lifestyle, frontpage - Fingal-Independent.ie
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Old 11-29-2008, 02:45 PM   #2
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Interview with Edge's mum -album in late Feb??
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