U2 may be celebrating the 30th anniversary of Achtung Baby this month, but their focus is on the future as they continue to work on a follow-up to 2017’s Songs of Experience. Just minutes before the Edge hopped on Zoom with Rolling Stone last week to talk about some of the band’s lesser-known Achtung Baby–era tracks, he was working with bassist Adam Clayton on a new song idea.
“We are firmly locked in the tower of song and working away on a bunch of new things,” the guitarist says, noting that they’re still in the very early stages of the process. “I’m just having so much fun writing and not necessarily having to think about where it’s going to go. It’s more more about enjoying the experience of writing and having no expectations or limitations on the process.”
At this stage, the band has yet to settle on any producers. “I so enjoyed working with [Dutch DJ] Martin Garrix [on the UEFA Euro 2020 song ‘We Are the People’] and I hope to work with him in the future. But we haven’t made any firm decisions on what the next thing will be in terms of personnel. I just don’t know.”
The only new song U2 have shared with the public in the past three years is “Your Song Saved My Life” from the soundtrack to the animated film Sing 2 where Bono provides the voice of lion rock star Clay Calloway. “That’s not a thing that U2 normally does,” Edge says, “but it’s in the of spirit of mixing it up, keeping people guessing, and trying different things. It felt like a worthy thing. And also, it’s a movie about great songs and we we felt very comfortable in the company that we were keeping there.”
They’ve been off the road since the encore leg of their Joshua Tree 30th-anniversary tour wrapped up in December 2019. They aren’t ready to announce any plans for their next tour, but they’ve spoken in the past about the possibility of bringing Zoo TV back on the road for its 30th anniversary. The Edge is tight-lipped on their exact plans, but he says he remains very open to that idea.
“I would love that and I couldn’t rule it out,” he says. “I think [Zoo TV] is such a current thought. Back then we were we’re dealing with the overload and kind of the whiplash of 24/7 news cycles, which hadn’t been known before. It was the overload of cable TV and hundreds and hundreds of channels. And little did we know that that was just the beginning of this avalanche of channels to kind of draw your attention.
“And so, yeah, I think Zoo TV could absolutely come back and be just as relevant,” he continues. “But we haven’t actually got to the point of doing anything more than this kind of talk, but I wouldn’t rule it out again. The [production] team [from that tour] are still with us. That’s what’s fun about it.”
For now, the Edge is just enjoying his downtime and the process of creating new songs. “I think everybody felt they needed some time at the end of the last tour,” he says. “It really had been five years of being away. If we weren’t in the studio, we were on the road. And as much as momentum is your friend, there’s a moment where you stop getting fed by momentum and it starts to drain you. That’s because you need those moments of inactivity just to listen to music. We’re all enjoying that right now.”