BONO, BOB AND VAN
Bono talking vith Bob Dylan and Van Morrison.
Bono U2, 10 Aug 1984
Bono: When you're working with a producer, do you give him that lee-way to challenge you?
Bob: Yeah, if he feels like it. But usually we just go into the studio, and sing a song, and play the music, and have, you know ...
Bono: Have you had somebody in the last five years who said "that's crap Bob".
Bob: Oh, they say that all the time!
Bono: Mark Knopfler, did he say that?
Bob: I don't know ... they spend time getting their various songs right, but with me. I just take a song into the studio and try to rehearse it, and then record it, and then do it. It's a little harder now though to make a good record - even if you've got a good song and a good band. Even if you go in and record it live, it's not gonna sound like it used to sound, because the studios now are so modern, and overly developed, that you take anything good and you can press it and squeeze it and squash it, and constipate it and suffocate it. You do a great performance in the studio and you listen back to it, it even sounds good when you listen back to it because the speakers are all so good, but, ah, no!
Bono: All technology does is -you go into a dead room with dead instruments and you use technology to give it life that it doesn't have, and then it comes out on the speakers and you believe it. What I've been trying to do is find a room that has life in itself.
Bono: A living room.
Bob: The machines though, can even take the life out of that room, I've found. You can record it in St. Peters Cathedral, you know, and they still make it sound like, eh
Bono: Somebody's back yard. Bob: Yeah.
Bono: That's a good idea, I'd love to record in a cathedral.
Bob: You know the studios in the old days were all much better, and the equipment so much better, there's no question about it in my mind. You just walked into a studio - they were just big rooms. You just sang, you know, you just made records - and they sounded like the way they sounded there. That stopped happening in the late sixties, for me anyway, I noticed the big change. You go into a studio now, and they got rugs on the floors, settees, and pinball machines and videos and sandwiches coming every ten minutes - it's a big expensive party and you're lucky if you come out with anything that sounds decent.
Bono: Yeah, records haven't got better, have they?
Bob: No. you go in now, and you got your producer, you got your engineer, you got your assistant engineer, usually your assistant producer, you got a guy carrying the tapes around. I mean, you know, there's a million people go into recording just an acoustic song on your guitar. The boys turn the machines on and it's a great undertaking.
Bono: There's a system called Effanel which Mick Fleetwood from Fleetwood Mac brought to Africa. It was built for him because he wanted to get some real African drumming, for "Tusk". We've used that system. It comes in a light suitcase, very small, no bullshit studio, and it just arrives, you can literally bring it to your living room.
Van: I think all the same they'll go back to 2-track eventually.
Bono: There's a guy called Conny Plank, who produced Makem and Clancy and some Irish traditional bands, also orchestral and funnily enough a lot of the new electronic groups, DAF, Ultravox, and so on. He used to record orchestras by just finding a position in the room where they were already balanced and he applies this in his thinking, in recording modern music: he finds a place in the room where it's already mixed.
Van: I don't know, when I started we didn't think about that! You didn't even think about recording (laughter).
Bono: You didn't even think?
Van: You didn't even know what was on the cards. One day you were in the room, they turned the tape on. After about eight hours or so, they'd say "OK tea break, it's over .
Bob: Yeah, next song, next song!
Van. And then that was that - it was an album.
Bob: Yeah, you'd make an album in three days or four days and it was all over - if that many! It's that long now, it takes four days to get a drum sound!
Bono: Do you know the Monty Python team, they're comedians. British comedians, "Monty Python And The Holy Grail". They have a sketch that reminds me of you guys - sitting back talking of days gone by: " you tell that to the young people of today and they'd never believe you". But you can't go backwards, you must go forward. You try to bring the values that were back there, you know, the strength, and if you see something that was lost, you've got to find a new way to capture that same strength. Have you any ideas on how to do that? I think you've done it by the way ... I think "Shot Of Love" that opening track has got that.
Bob: I think so too. (drawls). You're one of the few people to say that to me about that record, to mention that record to me.
Bono: That has that feeling.
Bob: it's a great record, it suits just about everybody.
Bono: The sound from that record ("Shot Of Love") makes me feel like I'm in the same room as the other musicians - I don't feel that they're over there. Some of our records, I feel like they're over there because we got into this cinema-type sound, not bland like FM sound, but we got into this very broad sound. Now we're trying to focus more of a punch, and that's what we are after, this intimacy ... I've never interviewed anybody before, by the way. I hate being interviewed myself.
Van: You're doing a good job!
Bono: Is this OK? God!
Bono talking vith Bob Dylan and Van Morrison.
Hot Press, Vol 8 No. 16 August 24th, 1984.
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