What are U2 looking for in new album?

Band’s delayed record has led to speculationn they’re unhappy with the material

U2’s Larry Mullen Jr, The Edge, Bono and Adam Clayton  attend the Oscars earlier in the month

U2’s Larry Mullen Jr, The Edge, Bono and Adam Clayton attend the Oscars earlier in the month

Sat, Mar 15, 2014, 01:01

In June 2012 Bono was on The Late Late Show talking about U2’s new album. He enthused that the band “have just had the best three weeks in the studio since 1979” .

However, nearly two years on there is still no sign of this new album from the biggest rock band in the world. And with no album to put in the shops there can be no world tour. This is significant because the last U2 tour (called 360) set an entertainment history record by being the most financially successful live music tour of all time.

While all four members of the Dublin-based band have been making soothing noises during the last two years that “the album will be out very soon”, this week the respected music industry publication Billboard carried an exclusive story quoting “multiple sources” which claimed that the new U2 album (and tour) have been put back to 2015. If that is the case it would mark the longest ever break between U2 albums (six years) and would hint at some form of creative crisis at play.

Touring plans
The Billboard story drew an immediate response from an official U2 representative who told The Irish Times : “U2’s album is planned for this year [2014]. It’s still on track. Touring plans haven’t been confirmed yet.”

What is known is that the new album – which has the working title of 10 Reasons to Exist – has been removed from their record company’s spring release schedule.

Furthermore, the band have now gone back into a studio in New York with acclaimed US pop songwriter Ryan Tedder (he has penned massive hits for Adele and Beyoncé among others) and producer Paul Epworth, who has worked with Adele and Paul McCartney.

The confusion over whether the delayed album will be released this year or next has led to speculation that the band, who split with their long-time manager Paul McGuinness last November, aren’t happy with the material they currently have and have taken the unusual step (for them) of bringing in an outside songwriter at the last minute to help generate a few hit singles. The band have always prided themselves on writing all their own material.

Certainly, they were behaving as if the album was coming out this April. In January they did a number of interviews with key US publications, appeared on prominent US TV shows and have generally been in promotional mode for their new work.

One industry source said one-time U2 acolytes Coldplay also have a new album out this April, and perhaps U2 didn’t fancy a chart skirmish with their apprentices.

U2 are now managed by Los Angeles-based Guy Oseary and the giant live entertainment company Live Nation. The last time the band commented on the delay of the new album was last month when talking to the Hollywood Reporter magazine. Drummer Larry Mullen said taking time off last year to work on a song for the soundtrack of the Nelson Mandela biopic had put a dent in the work. “We were on a roll. It was hard to stop what we were doing. A decision was made to abandon ship to focus on the Mandela soundtrack song,” said Mullen.

Getting it right
The band are anxious about getting it right on this album. Bono has said: “We know we have to spend a couple of years taking these songs around the world so they’d better be good.”

Their last album, 2009’s No Line On The Horizon , had very disappointing sales (for them) of just five million. Previous U2 albums sold 15-20 million.

Talking to this reporter two years ago, Bono emphasised how crucial this new album is to the band’s career and status by saying : “It’s actually worse for us now than it was when we went to Berlin [to make the career-saving album Achtung, Baby ]. I think if we don’t come up with a very good reason to make a new album we should just f**k off.”