- 09 May 20
"Sixty for a musician, as indeed the Rolling Stones have showed, you're actually only half way through your career," Adam says of Bono's big birthday tomorrow
Adam Clayton Zoomed in to talk to Ryan Tubridy last night on the Late Late, just twelve hours or so after Tubs had been joined on his Radio 1 programme by the soon to be 60 Bono.
Sporting an impressive lockdown beard, Adam was appearing in support of Pieta House, the suicide prevention and bereavement organisation who've been forced to lay off many of their frontline counsellors due to the COVID-19 related postponement of their key Darkness Into Light fundraiser, which would have taken place this weekend.
First, though, he talked about what Ryan called his "rather roundy birthday."
"Well, he laughed, "it was 60. I feel very lucky to be here at 60. From the way I lived my life it might not have happened! At the time I was planning to have lunch with a few friends but it was the beginning of March and we started to hear all the information coming in from Italy and we just thought time to start isolating so we cancelled it and hopefully at some point in the future we can celebrate."
Asked about deciding to self-isolate in Ireland, Adam said: "I feel very, very safe here. I think the restrictions came in at exactly the right time. Our neighbours maybe didn't do it quite so well. I'm very glad we have a health care professional running our country. So I think we've done all the right stuff and everyone's working really hard and that's why we're very happy to be part of the community."
Moving on to the ten million U2 have donated to medical workers, Adam reflected: "First and foremost, if I can take you back to eight weeks ago when all this was happening first, everyone was trying to get a handle on it and understand what was going on and there was tremendous competition for PPE out there. We, and Bono in particular through his contacts at RED and One and his circle of philanthropic people, were able to get us to the top of the list and make sure we were getting access to quality PPE. And then for us to be able to make that donation and use our money it was an absolute honour, anyone would do that."
Moving on to Pieta House, Adam reflected: "It's hugely stressful for people to be inside in small spaces maybe with children, maybe having to work from home if people still have their jobs. Maybe having access to a computer maybe not. That sort of stress and anxiety about what's happening to your job, the fact you have no personal space to even make a phone call on your own, this causes anxiety and for anyone who's under that sort of pressure - and Pieta's what we're all here for - there is help out there. It's hugely difficult to manage and in an isolated state when you're just stuck with your own head and the thoughts going on inside it, that is extremely stressful."
Returning to his own milestone of hitting 60, and the battles it took to get there, Adam resumed: "I guess it was honesty and admitting that I needed to be part of a community, I needed some sort of fellowship. Some sort of relationship with other human beings to talk about what was going on for me. Also, for me as somebody doing very well in my career, when I looked around at my contemporaries it was hard for to face that I was so unhappy within myself because everything around me was telling me that I should be on top of the world, that this was the greatest thing that could happen to me. But there was a sense of emptiness. That's what addiction brings; where you start to have a desire to get away from feelings. You have a very low sense of self-worth. I was lucky. I was able to take the time and I could afford to go into rehab and I really learned how to think and be a human being in that situation. It gave me my life back. I have an amazing life. I can enjoy having a wife and a child and my bandmates and I can also accept that I need a community to keep me well. I can stay in touch with people on the phone, I'm able to use Zoom now even though we're in this lockdown situation. I got my life back, that was twenty odd years ago now."
Asked whether U2 might have ended if he hadn't overcome his demons, Adam replied: "To be fair to everyone including myself, I don't think any of us understood what was going on back then. We'd all grown up on the mythology of rock 'n' roll and as a young man you feel invincible. I got to the point where my alcoholism, which it was primarily, was taking me away from the one thing that had given me a good life, the one opportunity I had in life was music. I was tired of not being able to reach my full potential and I suppose eventually I had matured enough to realise that alcohol was holding me back."
Put to him that there's an upside to being able to take his foot off the pedal for a couple of months, Adam agreed that: "I have to say that I'm very much enjoying it. As a jobbing musician you spend all your time on the bus, you're travelling all the time and even if we're not touring I might be going somewhere. So to be in the same place for eight weeks and to be in Dublin this time of year is a real blessing. I'm up in the wilds of Rathfarnham, I'd love to say we're growing our own vegetables and I was chopping wood and doing other manly things, truth is I'm watching too much television!"
Ryan ended by asking if he'd be Zooming Bono on Sunday to wish him a happy 60th.
"Absolutely, I'll be celebrating. The thing about these 60th birthdays is that it's very important to the person going through it, and also an opportunity to look back and assess where things have gone and I would have to say for us it's been pretty good to us, we're in pretty good shape. Sixty for a musician, as indeed the Rolling Stones have showed, you're actually only half way through your career.
"I'm very happy. I got to it late in life. I got out of my own ways, they say. I got married late in life and had children late in life and I'm really enjoying having a three-year-old who can say the word 'magnolia' which is very impressive!"
Please donate at https://www.darknessintolight.ie/sunrise-appeal or Lo-Call 0818 767300 (Ireland Only)