- 24 Nov 17
10 Hot Press writers share their favourite U2 moments as we get set for the release of Songs of Experience on December 1. On our fifth day, Olaf Tyaransen shares a story which reveals a side of Bono that the public rarely see.
Veteran U2 fans will recall that ‘Out of Control’ was one of the three songs featured on the band’s debut EP U2-3, released in September 1979. It would also be a fairly accurate way to describe my lifestyle in the year 2000. I was 29-years-bold, somewhat in the public eye, and my appetite for destruction knew little bounds. Between drink, drugs, bad romances and justified paranoia, I was a complete fucking mess.
How bad? Well, one night Shane MacGowan himself told me I should probably take it easy.
Writing for Hot Press was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that the constant deadlines kept me mentally sharp (relatively) and forced me to occasionally sober up. A curse in that there was serious temptation everywhere in the decadent rock ‘n’ roll circles I was moving in.
Still, I somehow kept it together. U2 were about to release their tenth album, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, and I was dispatched to the band’s studio in Hanover Quay to interview Bono and Larry. I knew the singer a bit better than the drummer, but we’d all met each other before and the conversation flowed easily.
When the interview ended, Larry had to leave. Bono asked me to hold on for a few minutes as there was something he wanted to talk to me about. It turned out that the something was me.
“Are you alright, Olaf?” he asked, concernedly.
“How do you mean?” I replied.
“Well, man, it’s just that I’ve been hearing some stories about you.”
Dublin is a small town, a village really, and people like to talk. Even so, I was taken aback by how much he knew about me. And even more surprised that he actually seemed to care.
“You need to start taking it easy, man. You don’t have to stop partying altogether, but, you know… sometimes it’s a good idea to take a little break.”
He was basically giving me a right bollocking in the nicest possible way. A tailored version of the legendary ‘Bono Talk’. I was genuinely touched, almost moved to tears, that one of the biggest rock stars on the planet actually gave a shit about me. There’s 11 years between us. For those few minutes, I felt like his badly behaved younger brother.
Nowadays I use a digital recorder, but back then I was using a Dictaphone. It was still running on the table throughout our conversation. Unfortunately, I no longer have the tape.
My Hot Press interview appeared the following week and caused something of a stir. I’d asked them a question in passing about the-then ailing Charlie Haughey and the tabloids had gone nuts (“U2 Say ‘Leave Charlie Alone!’” was one headline). The band was out of the country when word reached them that they were all over the front pages back home. Apparently they couldn’t remember making any comments about Haughey. I received an urgent call from Principle Management demanding a copy of the recording.
I knew that Bono and Larry had said what I’d published – I don’t invent quotes – but still felt compelled to listen back to make sure. No sooner had I checked the audio than a motorbike courier arrived at my front door in Ranelagh to pick up the tape. Anxious to get the matter sorted as quickly as possible, I handed it over without making a copy.
Things were resolved immediately once they had the recording. A couple of days later, the band invited me to a party they were throwing in Johnny Depp’s Man Ray restaurant in Paris. I had a great time, but I never got my tape back.
I’ve had many conversations with Bono since that day, but that one was particularly memorable (not that I took his advice, mind).
Many years later, on a U2 trip to Vancouver in 2014, I mentioned this encounter to Bono’s longtime bodyguard, Brian Murphy. He wasn’t the least bit surprised. “He’s always been like that,” he told me. “He genuinely cares about people. Just the other day, he noticed the girl doing the catering at the rehearsals was looking a bit unhappy. He asked me to find out what was wrong with her and see if there was anything he could do to help’.”
It’s for this reason that I tend to always defend the man when the Bono-bashers start beating their drum. Whatever anyone else might say about him, I know that he’s a very good person with a very big heart. So fuck the begrudgers.