U2 Return to ‘Spiritual Home’ Island Records for Next LP, Expected in April

Spin Magazine by Jem Aswad (2013-12-30)

U2 are returning to their “spiritual home” of Island Records for their next album, the Guardian reported over the weekend.

The band signed with the label — founded by Chris Blackwell in 1959 and longtime home to Bob Marley, Tom Waits, Traffic and many others — in the late 1970s and became one of its flagship acts. U2 remained with the label through two ownership changes, but moved to Mercury in the U.K. and Interscope in the U.S. several years after Island’s sale to Universal Music Group in 1998.

According to the report, the band became unhappy with Island after chief Jason Iley moved to Mercury in the mid-2000s, and eventually followed him there. However, Universal recently shut down Mercury and moved many of its acts to the new imprint Virgin/EMI. Rather than do that, the group decided to return to Island, which is under new management.

“They are going back to their spiritual home,” the source told the Guardian. The group also works closely with Interscope chief Jimmy Iovine, who produced its 1988 LP Rattle and Hum; a rep for Interscope told SPIN today that the new Island deal is for the U.K. only.

The band is expected to announce details of the new album, its first since 2009’s No Line on the Horizon, in a commercial during the Super Bowl on February 2; an April release date is expected, and around a year ago Bono suggested the title might be 10 Reasons to Exist. The band worked with producer Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley, Beck) at Electric Lady Studios in New York and planned to complete the album by last month.

“We’re trying to get these 12 songs absolutely right and get them finished by the end of November, and then we can kind of enjoy Christmas,” bassist Adam Clayton told Ireland’s 98FM in October of the album. “It’s a bit of a return to U2 of old, but with the maturity, if you like, of the U2 of the last 10 years. It’s a combination of those two things and it’s a really interesting hybrid.”

“We always try to bring out something different, every time we’re in the studio,” guitarist the Edge told 98FM. “But it’s the fans who decide that, really.”

The band members did not comment on whether Coldplay’s Chris Martin, who was spotted in the studio with the group, will contribute to the new LP.

Last month the group released its first new song in three years, a song for the Nelson Mandela biopic Long Walk to Freedom entitled “Ordinary Love.”

U2 itself is under new management: Paul McGuinness, who guided the band’s career since its earliest days, has moved to a chairman role at his Principle Management while the group’s day-to-day affairs have been taken over by longtime Madonna manager Guy Oseary in a reported $30 million deal that saw both of their companies acquired by Live Nation.

U2’s “360” tour, which concluded in 2011, was the biggest in history, grossing more than $736 million over two years.

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