A Celebration: Questions on 22 Years
Original Story by U2Songs.com Staff (2017-04-07)
On April 7, 1995, we uploaded the first version of the website which would eventually become U2Wanderer.Org and later ended up here at U2Songs.Com. The site has been continuously published, and updated throughout that time. And we believe we are the oldest website dedicated to U2 on the internet. As part of our birthday we decided to let some friends ask us some questions, and give you an opportunity to get to know some of the people behind the site a bit more. Questions were submitted by Paul Lunn, Tassoula E. Kokkoris of atu2.com, Scott Pattison of the band December, Thomas McKernan the administrator of We Are ONE With U2 and moderator at U2 Friends, Tim C, Zbyszko Zalewski, Angelo D’Arezzo of U2ITNOL2UU2 and #U2NewsIT, and Xavier Balart the author of U2 en España. (Friends chosen at random, we’ll save the rest of you for the 23rd birthday!)
Answering the questions are Harry Kantas, Don Morgan, Brad Hood, Mike Long and Aaron J. Sams. We have other staff members, but they were unavailable in time to publish this article. Our staff biographies can be reached here. Later today we will publish a second article answering some site specific questions
Q: U2Songs.Com has been running for 22 years now, what has been the high point for each of you?
Harry: Site-wide high point for me has got to be the work put on the discography. U2Wanderer is what taught me that 2 sides of a record can have different matrices, and what a promo, a reissue, or a misprint is. The band’s solo work/side project pages is what made me trawl the internet in search of mp3s in its early days. The Silver and Gold section is what made me set goals of the items I NEED to have. Personal high point on the site is the Mount Temple Magazines article I did for #U240. It just made me happy to be able to say I’ve contributed something nice to a place I was always a fan of. Sort of an “Achievement Unlocked” kind of situation!
Don: getting “hired” as a writer/contributor!
Mike: High point — like Don. being asked to do lyrics which Carl had been doing very well already. (Better than his guitar playing and singing)
Brad: I honestly think that the high point for the site is probably the past year. The discography is as robust as ever, and the History Mix articles have added a whole new element of fandom and have gotten a lot of positive feedback on Twitter. The articles about the Boy cover and The Joshua Tree covers were real standouts to me. Being recognized twice (or more?) on the official site are also high points, of course.
Aaron: I think a personal high point for me was the day I got an email that opened with “Steve Averill here, you may know of me? The band are fans of your site.” More recently I think we’ve set a high water mark for the site with the content we’ve been working on lately. One of my favorite pieces was working with Sandy Porter, a photographer who worked on the North American cover of Boy, and telling the story of that cover. Carl has built a great new back end, Mike’s been nailing the most minute bits and pieces of the lyrics, the discography is still under construction but in better shape than ever, and I think we’ve found a happy spot with our bits and bobs of news and we are all getting a feel for what we want to do next. Its hard not to be happy with where we are right now. After 22 years it feels pretty good to look at it and still be happy with it.
Q: What has been the most significant impact you feel you’ve had on the U2 story or the fan community?
Harry: Impact on the U2 story? Perhaps a small one, but big enough to make us proud about what we do. Ask us more about that over pints. Cocktails also work. Impact on the U2 fan community? That’s probably for our readers to tell. I think that doing this for 22 years, and not having asked for a single cent is pretty amazing.
Aaron: I have to agree with Harry, the impact on the fan community is probably best left to the fan community to tell. But I do hope we’ve managed to provide an wealth of information for people to use and that we’ve helped a few of you out over the years. We do this out of love, so we do enjoy hearing back when you’ve found something you enjoy!
Q: What has been your/the site’s lowest point to date since existence?
Harry: The site’s lowest point has got to be bringing some Greek dude on board. Do we not screen candidates any more?
Don: Because I’m not super technical, I haven’t had to deal with any low points as I’m sure the tech guys behind the scenes have, like crashing servers and such.
Brad: The low point would probably be the couple of years leading up to the relaunch when we just weren’t updating the site very frequently.
Mike: Doing hundreds of lyrics while going through a ‘minor’ basel cancer op, the aftermath had turned ugly, and I really could barely follow what Carl’s and Aaron’s intentions were for the new site, but I plugged away putting up entries and basically kept myself sane (for a while). I didn’t believe Aaron was going to ever accomplish redoing everything. The transformation has really been pretty amazing.
Aaron: It is no wonder Mike thought we’d never get to the finish line, we started the move to U2Songs.Com in 2009 and spent five years working on it before anyone knew about it. And that was one of the low points for me. We knew we were working on some fun stuff, but it was stuff no one was seeing so there was zero feedback. Another low point had to be when we received the cease and desist order from Universal back in 2004 about printing lyrics. We had to dismantle that section of the site for six months while we worked out a provisional license with Universal to continue to have those on the site. I believe that we are only one of a handful of sites that was granted such a license, which was a kind of neat ending to it all.
Q: What are your first memories of the site? How did you get involved?
Don: I was enamored with the colorful artwork on the Achtung Baby CD singles (the actual disc art specifically) and was looking for good images online. I came across U2Wanderer and ended up spending the next couple of days just exploring all the great content. I also found the forum incredibly helpful.
Mike: It’s right there on the forum from 2004. being a newb and being accepted. I can’t remember how I first found the forum, but I do remember seeing Carl on the Boston Elevation DVD which I probably watched a thousand times on the big screen at our store where I worked. Those were the days.
Harry: My brother got me The Joshua Tree LP for my birthday. Then I bought Boy with my allowance, October and War. Under A Blood Red Sky and The Unforgettable Fire on cassette. Now I needed a way to archive them. I wrote my first database in Basic on my Commodore 64, to store my U2 discography. It was pretty cool, it was password protected, and if you put the wrong password, it would reset the entire system! Then came the internet. There was no Google back then, I was using a piece of software called “WebFerret” to look for sites. U2Wanderer started coming up very frequently when searching for U2 stuff. It quickly became a bookmark, along with U2Log. After a while, there was an opening for something, that guy Aaron that ran the site was missing some scans for an LP that I had (cannot remember which one). So I got in touch, and sent them in. And it got me on the website: “scans by HK”. A very proud moment for young Harry!
Brad: My first clear memory of the site, and also how I first got involved, was emailing Aaron with a scoop on the “Walk On” singles being released in Canada. After that, I started posting any release news I could find in the forums, and I think that Aaron and Carl finally got fed up enough with me that they offered me a spot on staff. I was very happy to get to post release news on the front page, as well as to provide the occasional scan here and there for the discography. The comprehensive discography is absolutely invaluable. I certainly can’t take much credit for it, but I am proud to have contributed where I could. I’m also proud to have contributed an article or two, and I only wish I had more time and ideas to do things like that.
Aaron: My first memory of the site was sitting in CS2772, a computer science elective course I took at Mount Alison University from Professor Art Miller. Miller assigned us a project to build our own website. His word of advice? “Pick something you love”. I was living in residence with a couple of other big fans of the band, and we were submersing ourselves in U2 all the time, so there really wasn’t any choice in my mind. At the end of the course we had to pass in our website on a disc. I had figured out how to get some free webspace at Ohio State University, and instead of passing in a disc I passed in a yellow sticky note with a web address on it. Miller gave me high marks for that one.
Q: Are there any “holy grails” of the U2 discography or other U2 collectibles that you’re still trying to track down?
Mike: Holy Grail—I’m not a collector but at one time I was going to try for that Red Rocks Vinyl which was sent to radio stations. I saw one on Ebay many years ago. At this point in my life my U2 stuff is not that important anymore. Most expensive buy was the Achtung Baby super deluxe for 200 bucks which I justified since I was going thru 2 ops at the time. I also bought 2 of those Edun Rilke scarves. I have a nice framed U23D theatrical poster my wife got me for a Xmas prez back when. It’s as big as my Lord Of The Rings framed posters. Ha!
Harry: Of course, always. Many come to mind, but since I have a weakness for promo items, I’ll say the FLY promo swatter!
Don: War target CD with reverse color scheme (purple on teal)
Brad: Of course, the holy grail is a numbered copy of “U2-Three,” but I doubt I will ever own a copy. I’m personally more obsessed with owning every mix of every song than every pressing of every release. “Excerpts from Rattle & Hum“ was on my holy grail Mount Rushmore for the longest time, but I found a copy several years back.
Some of my favorite items in my collection are my “Pride” 7-inch and “In God’s Country” 12-inch, only because they are some of the first I owned. (My old cassette albums and cassingles are long destroyed or lost, though possibly still in my parents’ attic.) I also have a promo copy of the They Call It An Accident soundtrack (just the soundtrack album with a gold foil promo stamp on the cover) which I found in a cluttered used record shop in Biloxi. Probably of no value, but a favorite of mine just because it was so random.
Aaron: Like Brad I’m not an owner of the original numbered copy of “U2-Three.” Maybe some day. My holy grail for years was a full set of 8-tracks produced by the band. They did four, Wide Awake in America, Rattle and Hum, The Joshua Tree, and The Unforgettable Fire, but I’m happy to say I have a full set now.
Q: What’s the most you’ve ever paid for a U2 item?
Harry: Let’s just say I lived on soup for a while as a student. And a few times after that…
Brad: I think the most I have paid for an item is probably around $300. At one point I was creating my own singles collection, and I really needed a lossless copy of the Phunk Phorce Edit of MOFO to finish it off. (I mean, the Phunk Force Mix is just too long for a singles collection.) I think I paid just under $300 for that promo CD. Checking eBay, I see one going for $425, so it seems to have retained its value. I got into a bidding war and paid around the same price for a Winter For Your Consideration CD-R, which has also turned out to be pretty scarce. In fact, checking Discogs, there has never been a copy sold there.
Aaron: Next question!! Hehe.
Q: If there is one U2 show you’d like to see officially released on a physical format, what would it be?
Harry: My first ever U2 show was POPmart in Thessaloniki, Greece. I still remember every second of that show. I skipped school that day and drove with my cousin for 600km, unsure whether the gig was going to happen, as customs officers were on strike, and the trucks with the stage couldn’t get through. I would love to see a video of that show surface one day. I still have the first 3 songs pro-shot by the local media on VHS!
Don: Concert I’d most like to see on official release: Royal Dublin Society Showgrounds, 28 August 93. Excellent soundboard bootlegs of this exist but the show is so incredibly amazing that I’d like to see it recognized officially. Are you listening fan club? Also anything from the War Tour or earlier.
Brad: Sarajevo – September 23, 1997
Mike: Release—please an actual full unedited video release of the DC Zoo TV Outside Broadcast, 8-16-92. I had a VHS boot and it has a version of New Year’s Day when the band crews up and it’s wonderful stuff.
Aaron: I think it’s a common thread to want your first show released. And while I’d love to see more of the PopMart Edmonton shows released, I think I’d really love for them to go back and release something from the earliest days when they were still performing some of the songs that never made it to albums. We got “Cartoon World” on the recent Boy remaster, and I’d love to hear more from that show, or others from that era released.
Q: If you could time travel back to any concert which one would you choose?
Brad: Would have to be one of the early shows at Dandelion Market.
Mike: Red Rocks.
Don: Same as the concert I’d like to see officially released… Dublin 93.
Aaron: Larry’s kitchen. September 1976. I don’t know if they played anything but how cool would it have been to be there? Of course I would have been lobbying for them to adopt a discographer right from the very beginning.
Harry: Larry’s kitchen.
Q: What’s your favorite album by U2?
Mike: Achtung Baby, although I rarely listen to albums.
Brad: Favorite album – I go back and forth, but The Joshua Tree is such a masterpiece, I have to go with that.
Aaron: Currently it’s No Line on the Horizon. That album crawled under my skin and hasn’t let go. Zooropa and The Unforgettable Fire would be next on my list, and Original Soundtracks 1 would finish high as well. So perhaps I gravitate towards a different aspect than many.
Don: Favorite album: The Joshua Tree, followed closely by Achtung Baby and yes, No Line on the Horizon
Harry: The first album, that got me into this mess, was The Joshua Tree. My favourite U2 record though is Boy.
Q: If you could have anyone from U2’s associates write an article for U2Songs.Com which one would you want to get involved?
Harry: Gavin, Guggi or Simon!
Brad: I would go with Steve Lillywhite for an article. He has some great stories.
Aaron: Didn’t even have to think about this one. It’s Gavin Friday for me. We’ve seen so little of his tales from this U2 circus, and you know there’s got to be some amazing stories in there.
Mike: Brian Eno.
Don: Brian Eno. Or maybe Michael Brook talking about the Infinite Guitar.
Q: What’s the most ‘questionable’ thing you bought or listened to over the years due to your work with U2Songs.Com?
Don: We Will Follow: A Tribute to U2, especially the song with Frontline Assembly and Tiffany. LOLOL
Brad: I listened to “Cool American” by Cut To The Chase waaaaay too many times trying to find some evidence that was REALLY Bono playing drums. [Editors note: Bono does not play drums on this release, and it lead to our “Not U2 Content“ page!]
Harry: Going after some of the band’s side projects has led me to hearing some stuff that cannot be unheard!
Mike: I Am The Blues by Johnny Hallyday. Or Sascha Baron Cohen…man what shite…I just saw a pic with Bono on his new yacht with Sasha..gaaaa! [Editor’s Note: Mike refers to the song “Dove of Peace” from the movie Bruno.
Q: what part of the site do you take the most pride in?
Harry: the discography, of course! How else would I know that I need about 70 pressings of Boy on vinyl?
Don: What part of the site do you take the most pride in? I had the opportunity to edit and revise all of the single entries a few years ago and it was a very rewarding experience. I also had a blast writing the “10 Mixes“ article and the “5 Albums“ series.
Mike: Most proud—I think I got about 750 songs done. All 100% perfect (slight sarcasm). Most impressive—Brad’s transcription of that TV tribute U2 did with the Dubliners for Ronnie Drew. brag-a-brag-ding-dong! Ok—also History Mix articles are ridiculously informative for serious fans.
Aaron: I am proud of what we have accomplished since moving to U2Songs.Com and picking a section would be like picking a favorite child. Some of my favorites are yet to be seen. Behind the hood there is a lot more to this site than anyone can see currently. We have been working on this for five years and have just scratched the surface of what we have researched and worked on. The initial goal was to get the same content available that was available on U2Wanderer.Org. The first new section was our news area, and then the commercial videos section. I’m very happy to announce there will be a new section revealed soon that I think a lot of people will be interested in. Looking forward to what comes next.
Later today we hope to have some additional questions up that deal more with the site, the history of the site, and so on. We would like to thank everyone who contributed questions for us to answer, and for all of those who take time to read through our replies.