In his first-ever online chat, U2’s Bono joined fans at www.dropthedebt.msn.com to support Jubilee 2000’s Drop the Debt campaign, which aims to eliminate the third world debt by the year 2000.| Bono has spearheaded the entertainment industry’s involvement in an effort to convince the eight biggest European nations to write off the third world debt when they meet in Cologne, Germany, on June 19. While Bono will attend the conference, the band will not play. In between the talking about the weighty issue, Bono switched gears and discussed the forthcoming U2 — an album he and the band began during the last days of the Popmart tour in March 1998. “We’re kind running after it at the moment,” he said. “Which is a good sign. It’s usually the sound of four people playing in a room — four people who have spent most of their life together, but feeling like it’s the first time. It feels really fresh to me.” It may feel fresh, but it doesn’t feel finished, since the singer added, “Don’t know when it will be finished, though.” The album is being produced by Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, the duo who helped midwife 1987’s groundbreaking Joshua Tree. The knob-twiddlers have decided to strip away the electronic beats and disco ball, and plan to return the band to their musical roots.
Bono skirted the issue of whether the band would mount another massive tour like the year-long Pop Mart stint. “Aah, the big tour! We took our giant arch and mirrorball lemon everywhere,” he joked. “NASA wants the lemon for their museum: ‘How popstars traveled in 1998.’ McDonalds took the yellow arch back … though they accepted that they couldn’t patent the parabolic curve and refrained from suing us … So I guess that leaves a drum kit, one Vox amp [and] a couple of Adam’s sub-lows … to throw in the back of our humble jumbo.” As a subtle subject changer, the singer took the opportunity to take a break from the laptop and told the audience, estimated to be in the millions, “I’m going for a piss.” During the course of the hour-long chat, he also revealed he drinks vodka and tonic and advised an Israeli fan to bring “4th of July” from Unforgettable Fire to class for a school assignment. In what could be the latest in a string of online non-triumphs, Bono sang “Van Diemen’s Land” live into his computer. The song was promptly rendered in text form.