Interviews with Bono in Brazil, 1998 - U2 Feedback

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Old 05-05-2003, 10:26 PM   #1
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Interviews with Bono in Brazil, 1998

Hi yaīll...I havenīt posted here lately, but Iīm still around.

I thought some of you could be interested in reading my versions of Bono interviews from 1998, when he was in Brazil with Popmart. They were published in portuguese and I decided to translate them because a) itīs a good exercise for an english student like me and b) I donīt think anybody here has ever read this material. Of course some things might sound odd for native english speakers, but I tried really hard to do a good job. Feel free to give me feedback and to ask for clarifications. Anyways I think youīll get it.

The first one is an exclusive interview to brazilian weekly magazine Isto É. Bono was interviewed while they were still in Mexico City, before coming to Brazil. Here it goes:

Isto É: Is Popmart an attempt to translate pop art humour into music?

Bono: Yes. Itīs important to say that our work in Popmart consists in collaboration. Weīre working with several artists with different skills, architects, engineers and electronica wizards. Our inspiration is quite obvious. Thatīs the way Warhol worked. There were this group of people surrounding him, he dismantled with the idea of an individual working alone. He sort of deconstructed the concept of authenticity. And that happens in rockīnīroll as well. We have learnt that artists used to live in poverty, a fake porverty in general. Many of the greatest names of this century were originated in the middle class. After grunge, people started wearing torn tshirts and jeans as if they wanted to say "I am who I am, I exist". I consider myself a genuine rocker because I donīt care about that. With ZOO TV and even more with Popmart we have tried to get rid of that idea, because that isnīt the essence of rockīnīroll. The essence of rockīroll is Elvis wearing lots of makeup and a bright green suit, and doing that with attitude. Thatīs full colour. It had nothing to do with being miserable or wearing grey. For me todayīs music seems to be all brown.

Isto É: Before starting the tour you said that you had a wish that Popmart could involve the audience the same way the World Cup finals can do. Do you consider that rock concerts must be equivalent collective experiences?

Bono: Itīs really hard to make 60 thousand people to agree on something. In football you have the two sides. In the concerts weīre all in the same side and our job is to make music to reach people, in the level of their souls, of the sound, of the vision. When we were building the Popmart stage we thought we had the chance to create something new, something original. In every concert, there were always two towers built with the speakers. We wanted to get rid of that and, on doing so, we would have double room, like a theatre, a complete scene, with no interruptions. So we invented the arch with the mono PA. Would anybody imagine that we could feel proud of having a mono sound system instead of a stereo? To be true, mono does make much more sense than stereo, when it comes to big places.

Isto É: One of the greatest qualities of Popmart is the fact that technology in no way reduce the passion for your music...

Bono: Well, but it happened sometimes. In the first show in Mexico City I felt that, that we were not big enough. Production was bigger than us. But then in the second night is was the opposite. And thatīs the way things must be.

Isto É: But you donīt seem to have any problems with technology...

Bono: No. We enjoy all that stuff. But you must be better than technology. You have to be the heart, the spirit of the machine. If you donīt reach that level, everything will be nothing more than show business. Then you better go to Las Vegas. The big thing here is to transform a huge Las Vegas cassino into a cathedral.

Isto É: When Pop was released everybody said that U2 was flirting with electronica. Do you agree?

Bono: You know, those people, they are great, thanks! Do you know what that means? They have these words nowadays, eletrocnica, techno, that have been used sort of loosely. Since Unforgettable Fire when we started working with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, we have been involved with sonic experiences, through manipulations and various sound treatments. The album, Pop, it is not techno. There is this song that has a Detroit beat in it, but it wasnīt due to any drum machine. That was Larry playing. I think there is something german in him. Maybe heīs "Muller" instead of "Mullen". Did you see that TV series Six Million Dollar Man in Brazil? Thatīs Larry!

Isto É: In your opinion, what rockīnīroll is all about?

Bono: Every music comes from two things. First is technology. Tenors learnt how to sing in that style because that was the sound that could make the auditorium ressonates. When the microphone was invented, vocal styles changed in order to adapt to the new technology. Same way with the electric guitar, that modified music as well. Then it comes dance music and drum machines. We are four musicians, or three musicians and a singer, because people in general donīt consider me a musician. We enjoy playing together. I donīt think that is out of fashion.

Isto É: So, what would be the second thing that moves music?

Bono: Probably drugs and alcohol. Although I donīt take drugs, I like to drink a lot. If you think about the blues, people used to drink a lot and therefore they were more sentimental. Thatīs the way the blues was created. Country comes from beer and much of rockīnīroll might have come from speed. At the end of World War II, there were lots of speed use going on among air force pilots and some music came from those bases. The Beatles, when they were in Hamburg, they used a lot of speed. That took out the sentimentalism of pop music, that began to be more heavier. Later it came heroin, that obviously influenced the jazz people. There were also those that used LSD. All those things worked more like a short cut for people to find themselves, their inner beings, for those opened enough. Unfortunetaly, musicians tend to take the easiest path and many ended up dead, like some of my friends.

Isto É: Popmart presents also an anthology of U2 classic songs and itīs really moving when you play songs like Sunday Bloody Sunday, New Yearīs Day and With or Without You. Do you think that brazilian audiences will react with the same emotion?

Bono: I hope so, really. In the end we feel more affinity with latin cultures. I think that Irish are like awkward latins that cannot dance. Itīs true! I said they cannot dance. Thatīs why we have this passion. But we also share a desire for making the world a better place because our countries went to hell under colonialism. So, for us, itīs natural to enjoy political songs, as well as things that come from the heart, the sould, the spirit, religious things. In the 80s, when I was on my 20s , we were throwing stones at anything that could represent injustice. In the 90s we are throwing stones at ourselves. Thatīs my wish. What people cannot understand is how come U2 can play in this sort of supermarket? Well, we are natural people, we are not linear.

Isto É: Is there any special influence over what your write or create?

Bono: One of the biggest influences in my life in the past 5 years - and I have thought and written about that - is the concept of Carnival. The idea of Carnival is something still ahead of our time. In this celebration of the flesh youīre supposed to be taken to the ground. But when everything ends, you experiment a period of reflexion and maybe a bit of denial. First I found hard to accept that, but now I think itīs a good thing. Then it comes Easter and the experience of transcendence. Thatīs one of the most inspiring notions of religious life. In Ireland, with all that catholicism, we all have lived, until recently, in denial of the flesh. I think itsīsad that we cannot understand it in Northern Europe, that a people can show sensuality and still believe in God. That they can be happy and still want political changes. That is our goal as a group, to try to sew and unite those three things. Some artists got it. I would cite Marvin Gaye and Bob Marley as examples.

Isto É: Once you said that a rock star cannot leave the audience feeling bored. Must the artist be provocative?

Bono: You know, in the 80s when people wanted to bash us they described us, and especially me, as megalomaniac. Then I thought, well, if that is what they want, theyīll have it. And we created characters like MacPhisto and The Fly, that werenīt exactly parodies. Unfortunately there was a bit of me in both because you enter a band for the wrong reasons. It is probably because youīre insecure or because youīre seeking for something that is missing in your life, something you try to find in the crowd. Another reason is to try to feel alive. When youīre a boy it is normal to hold the tennis racket in front of a mirror and pretend youīre playing guitar. I thought we should play with this situation. So we created this awful popstar that wears Lou Reedīs sunglasses, Jim Morrisonīs trousers and walks like Gene Vincent. A sort of post modern rock star, in the line of build-yourself-your-own-rock-star.

Isto É: What do you expect from the three brazilian concerts?

Bono: I donīt know why I keep on talking about those times when I was a kid, I usually donīt do that. My friend Guggi and I, when we were 8 years-old, for some reason that I cannot explain, we wanted to go to Brazil some day. He doesnīt know yet, but Iīll take him to the shows there. Going to Brazil is a bit frightening because I donīt want to get disappointed. I have all this imagery built in my mind and when that happens everything gets more difficult. I hope, Iīm sure, I wonīt get disappointed.

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Old 05-06-2003, 07:24 AM   #2
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Okay, here is the second one, published in the Feb 1998 edition of brazilian music magazine ShowBizz. Now he was already in Brazil. The interviewer is a DJ from MTV Brazil and the questions are more close or directed to brazilian audiences. I have this interview on tape as well and it is quite funny. Here it goes:

ShowBizz: What do you think of this farewell concert in front of thousands of witnesses through MTV Brazil?

Bono: Hey, is there someone intending to shoot me right there behind me? I heard a bang, didnīt I? If I had to die I wouldnīt like to die in front of the TV...Thinking better, I wouldnīt mind to die in front of the TV...I cannot tell you easily how I have felt this past week here. This last week was incredible, we will never forget it.

ShowBizz: Before coming to Brazil, you told me that you thought you had a connection with the country, but that you didnīt know why. Did you find out now?

Bono: I donīt know, I think I might bug you with this story...I have so many theories and deep thoughts that could explain what is going on with me...In my music I have been looking for some kind of balance between my fave three subjects. Three things that youīre not supposed to talk about back in Ireland: sex, religion and politics. In Ireland we have religion, we have lots of politics, but there is no sex, right? In Brazil you have this combination of people full of faith, sexy women that are not stupid – they have this other side...– and, politically, I think your country has tried to overcome its past, the same way that Ireland has. You have escaped from colonial system earlier than us. But there is still the heritage, lots of poor people, lots of homeless people...but guess what? Iīve seen no self-pity in those people. This is amazing to me. You go to England or US and itīs all about complaining...Here, even homeless people have this vibration...I think politicians should work harder and better in order to take care of them. Iīm proud because people that couldnīt afford the tickets at least could see the show for free, on TV, at home or in bars.

ShowBizz: Are you really going to root for Brazil in the next World Cup?

Bono: We were thinking about that, what team we would root for..To tell the truth, Irish will never admit that, but they root for England, because of the connection between the two countries. Many Irish players actually play in English teams...We, in the band, we donīt admit that. First we thought about Jamaica, but after having stayed with Romário, after we came here...Brazil can count on us. Do you already have a theme for Brazil in the next World Cup? Because if you need help just let me know and Iīll send it to Larry. He wrote the theme for Ireland in 1990 World Cup.

ShowBizz: Larry and Adam told me that seeing you and Edge playing football was one of the highest points in whole U2īs career...(laughs)

Bono: Yeah, we played to celebrate Romárioīs birthday. He was very kind, he even let us score some goals...(laughs)

ShowBizz: Talking about solo projects, Larry and Adam told me that they canīt see themselves out of U2...

Bono: We always think of each record we make as if it were our last. I donīt wanna be in a sort of shite group, those ones that seems to work through an auto-pilot. Our band has always had to believe that the next song will be the best. This next record is very important to me. Itīs a sort of confirmation, itīs when Iīll have to ask myself why am I still in the band. What I really donīt know is if weīll keep on making concerts like these. Everything in U2 is too big. The numbers are extremely high. Sometimes I feel like Francis Ford Coppola in the middle of the jungle shooting Apocalipse Now. Yes, that gives us lots of money, but it wasnīt the reason why we started the band. Living in this crazy turmoil is insane...Man, itīs ridiculous...I just want do make my music, to simplify my life, to simplify U2īs life...Iīm very proud of Popmart – honestly, I can change my mind in three years -, but I think that this is it. This is the end of millenium show...I want to go back to make music and stay with my friends, my family...We have to dream about what we should do and the answer is, a great record.

ShowBizz: Can we expect to see U2 around here again?

Bono: I would like to start the tour here next year. But next time we go to Rio, we will play Maracanã. I want to thank those people that were caught in the traffic jam and those who had problems to see us and even ended up loosing the show. I also want them to know that the band tried really hard to make things work all right.

PS.: Brazil ended up loosing the 1998 World Cup finals in a shameful episode,, yeah, I donīt think they brought us any luck

Thatīs all for now.


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Old 05-06-2003, 10:03 AM   #3
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Good to hear from you again follower, and thanks for posting the interviews.
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Old 05-06-2003, 02:08 PM   #4
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Thanks for posting that! I think you did a very good job translating.
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Old 05-06-2003, 05:35 PM   #5
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Thanks girls, youīre very kind.

I could say Iīm used to translate interviews with Bono into portuguese, for brazilian fans to read. Itīs much easier because I know the way he would say this or that in my language, you know, the right slang to least Iīm supposed to know, LOL

Now, the opposite is another thing...Iīm just an english student, and I have never travelled or lived abroad, so Iīm not that familiar with english slang...or the correspondent slang he would use. I was afraid of making him sound too old, LOL

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Old 05-06-2003, 08:28 PM   #6
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That was a great read, and don't apologize, You translated that article with excellent ease. anyway slang is the South's (USA) middle name. Understanding Bono is no problem..

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