Adam Clayton Celebrates Two Years of U2 X-Radio

Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2022-07-02)

U2 X-Radio launched on July 1, 2020 and is a available to subscribers of SiriusXM, which is available to listeners in the US and Canada. They are celebrating their 2nd anniversary of the launch of the station this weekend. Because the station isn’t available outside of North America, we’ve shared a bit of a summary of Adam’s appearance yesterday on the station.

Two specials have been announced to celebrate the anniversary. The first, Adam Clayton made an appearance on the station yesterday, July 1, taking questions live on air from fans. The other special is tonight, and features a live recording of a full concert from Paris in 2015. (It remains to be seen if this will be the same concert used for the home video release that was done in 2016, or one of the other shows from Paris on that tour.) It will be just the third full length concert aired on the station, with the 2018 show from the Apollo and the 2001 show from Boston streamed earlier on the station.

Those calling into the station were asked to share their question with a call taker, who then would screen the question and determine if you went through to the next stage, or were asked for another question. The questions are later screened again. Questions were also taken via text messages in advance of the show. Adam is answering questions from his own home, and not in studio with host Dan Hegarty as was originally planned. The interview that is now airing on the station is a shortened version of the original interview. The original program ran for about 70 minutes and now it comes in at under an hour including the songs that were played. There were technical issues through the first 12 minutes of the show, resulting in echos and poor sound quality. This portion of the show is not part of the program on later airings, and it also cuts out the first two questions as well as Dan Hegarty’s opening question.

Asked by Hegarty about the station, Adam speaks about the wide range of programming on the station, and singles out Gavin Friday’s show as one of his favourites sharing that it is a “mixture of surrealism and humour, and actually does conjour up what Dublin was like” and sharing how much he’s seen Dublin change since that time. The first question taken in advance is from Justin in Texas. They ask for Adam’s favourite bassline to perform live and mentions that his own is “New Year’s Day”, and Adam answers in agreement, naming “New Year’s Day” as well. Another question taken in advance from Marcy in Colorado asked for advice for aspiring musicians starting out touring. Adam tells them to “Do it young” and that it is hard work. He also shares that musicians should try to get out and do something in each city that your are touring so it’s not just an endless stream of hotel rooms. These are missing from the replay on the station.

The first live call is from Heather in Florida. She’s setting up a non-profit school for music for kids in her community and asks for advice on how to make it successful. Adam speaks about how children learn new skills when they learn an instrument, and talks about Ireland where there are programs where private funding is matched by the Ireland fund and government, and suggests looking for outside sponsorship. The next live call is from Ross, in Minnesota. He speaks about the recording of No Line on the Horizon and asks where the most interesting recording location was. Adam agrees that Fez was one of the most unique locations, “so totally anti-rock and roll.” He said the band, along with Lanois and Eno had an experience akin to if “six time travelers had walked onto the set of Star Wars.” He shared the whole experience put the band in a unique space and called “Unknown Caller” a high point in those magical recording sessions.

Donna from Buffalo says that U2 songs are like a blank canvas and asks Adam to compare U2’s work to a work of art. Adam talks about the music they’ve created in the noughties, and says the material connects with a more futurist approach. He draws parallels to the work of Jordan Wolfson. Bob in Kansas City asks about promotional videos for singles, and now that those are going extinct did Adam enjoy those. Adam remembered taking over the city of Kansas City for a video shoot with William Borroughs, shutting down the city in 1997 to film “Last Night on Earth”. He shares that he’s not a big fan of the videos, and he’s happy the band don’t do as many these days, sharing that the expenses on those videos were crazy at times. Shawn in Massachusetts asks a very specific question. He saw the band at the Main Event in Providence in 1980, and wants to know if the band ever did a warm up gig in Providence because he remembers an Irish band that did one. Adam says he doesn’t remember a specific show. “We were 20 years old. We just wanted to play gigs and travel. We couldn’t believe how big America was. And how exciting America was. It was a great time for America. America was in good shape back then. I think things are a little different now a days.”

Jason in Denver talks about Adam’s own show on U2 X-Radio in which he shares a play list of music from a different genre of music each month. Jason asks if Adam has fallen back in love with any music doing the playlists. Adam shares he’s been enjoying playing DJ and that its “great fun” and has “allowed me to delve back into different eras.” He singles out two of his shows, the Funk show, where he was hearing many of the songs like he was 16 again, as he had missed out on many of the songs the first time around. And he talks about the Punk show, which helped him reconnect him with where he was from, “In 1976 the world was a very bleak place, particularily here in Europe” and talks about the fuel crisis, rampant inflation and high unemployment when he was finishing school. In the original broadcast Adam shares with Jason that he does have COVID, but he’s feeling great. That part of the conversation has been edited out of the repeat airings, as have other bits of chit chat, and a number of technical difficulties and dead air in places.

A question from Jen in Loveland is taken from the advance questions by text message. The question is about what books Adam has been reading. “We finished our last tour in 2019. which was just before the lock down happened. It couldn’t have happened at a better time for us as a band because we had already planned to wind down and take the following year off.” Adam decided to go back and look at the year they came from, look back at where their generation came from and what they stood for. He went back to a bunch of biographies of various artists from the time. He mentions Bobby Gillespie’s book (from Primal Scream) (“reminded me of what we stood for”), Rickie Lee Jones’ book (“she’s an extraordinary artist”), a Phil Lynott book (“an important part of all of our lives back then”), the Chris Franz memoir (“Talking Heads were really generous to us as a young band.”), Debbie Harry’s book (“you realize how brave the women were in those early days of punk”), and a Viv Albertine book (from the Slits) (“absolutely challenged the male female role”)

The next live caller is Eva from Michigan who shares she’s been a fan for a long time, her entire life. She’s 13 and shares she likes rock music like The Beatles and The Eagles but U2 is definitely her favourite. Adam asks about her next show and shares about touring, “It’s been too long. We have to get back out there.” She asks Adam what his favourite album is. He shares, “I would say the one I really hold up as a real sort of pinnacle for us is Achtung Baby. it was incredibly difficult record to make at the time. We were making this musical transition from The Joshua Tree which was somewhat of a traditional rock album with simple instrumentation. While we been touring The Joshua Tree in the US this whole musical revolution had been happening in the UK with people like the Happy Mondays, New Order and the Stone Roses. And it was this looser type of music with a lot more technology supporting it and making it work. And that was something we went ‘this is exciting’ and it’s a new direction for us. So we fumbled about in the dark in Berlin for 4-5 months. WE got very little productive work done. We did get “One” out of that. And although “One” is quite a traditional song, it’s a song that for me every time i hear it still, it produces a huge emotional response. I have no idea why that is, its’ something about the DNA in that song.”

The next caller, Lynn from Texas shares a story with Adam about her mom becoming a fan of the band, and the joy that U2 had brought to her before her passing. Daphne from Belfast, Maine asks the next question, this time about technology and how Adam sees music changing, now that you have thousands of songs at your fingertips rather than having a few albums you would listen to over and over. Adam shares that early on albums were conceived as “objects that lasted for 40 minutes and took you on a journey.” It was expected you would sit down and listen to it in order, and that’s how those works were built. He admits that having access to all the music ever recorded is an amazing resource, but you can miss a lot in what artists did if you are no longer listening to the albums as a whole. He does speak up to say he has a concern with the quality of sound and the lack of interest in quality these days, and that fans are not getting “the full sonic effect.” (In the initial broadcast this is heard just once, but in the repeats it is airing twice.)

Keith from California asks Adam what his favourite song is to play. Adam answers, “The one that is kind of so memorizing and hypnotic for me is ‘Bullet the Blue sky’” and says that the song is all about the bass and he never tires of it and enjoys that the song “can be bent in many different ways”. He also shares, “The other one I kind of enjoy of late is a tune called ‘The Crystal Ballroom’” and comments on the groovy, disco-ish bassline he enjoys in the song. Keith also asks when the new album is coming, and Adam answers, “There are some recordings that we’ve done which will surface at some point between now and the new year, and then after that it’s our intention to get back in the studio with a new album. We’re ready to go.”

Gladys from Washington gets in the final question. She remembers back to an early show at Astor Park in Seattle and asks Adam about his memories of those early shows. Adam shares that the early visits to the USA blew his head, especially the size of the country. He talks about how playing to 20-30 people gave them an opportunity to learn their craft, and they also learned it didn’t matter how many people arrived at the show, you “deliver the concert of your life”. He does admit he doesn’t miss sharing rooms, having shared with The Edge on tour, “we got on pretty well.” He shared that he was glad he did their time in the Econoline van when they were in their early twenties and would not have wanted to do it later in life.

At the end of the show Adam thanks the team at U2 X-Radio, and once again talks about the wide variety of content on the station. He speaks highly of Gavin Friday’s “The Cedarwood Chronicles” saying “they just make me laugh”.

Although we’ve tried to give some insight into the interview for those who cannot listen to the station due to regional restrictions, the answers were far more detailed than listed above, and if you are a subscriber and have access to the channel we recommend taking a listen to the interview. Adam’s love of music comes through and he seems to truly enjoy the conversations with the fans throughout the hour. The interview is not yet showing up on demand, but will repeat several times throughout the week, including an airing at 5pm today, followed by the U2 Live in Paris broadcast at 7pm. (Times are Eastern time zone.)

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