The following was originally posted at U2.com...
'We’ve hit a rich songwriting vein and we don’t want to stop.' Bono has been talking to U2.Com about how the songs are shaping up for the new record and plans for 2009 to be their year. ‘This is our chance for us to defy gravity once again, ‘ explains Bono, calling in from a break in recording sessions in the south of France. ‘We have what it takes, we have the songs, new rhythms and a guitar player who is not ready to re-enter earth's atmosphere until he's taken a slice of the moon!' It's been fun, it's been maddening... there have been injuries and recoveries, no babies born that I know of, but this one is nearly ready for the new year of 2009.'
The band have been writing and recording the follow-up to ‘How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb’ since last year, and the feeling is that they’ve hit a creative groove so there are no plans to stop. Everyone, he says, is excited about where the recording is taking them. ‘When we set out on this record it was Larry who came up with the plan not to have a plan. He put up this idea that wouldn’t it be great just to make music for its own sake, not for the purpose of a live show or on album but just to see what we’re capable of…’ It’s an idea that’s paid off. Following sessions in Morocco, in Dublin and through the summer in France, the band have written ‘fifty or sixty’ tracks. And counting. ‘We’ve hit a rich songwriting vein,’ he explains. ‘It gets a bit dark down here but looks like we've found diamonds not coal. I thought a while back we might have the album wrapped by now, but why come up above ground now if there's more priceless stuff to be found?'
For now, they’re keeping a promise they made to themselves when they started writing: ‘We said to each other that if we got to the great place then we wouldn’t stop…’ So the writing and recording continues and while they now know what shape most of the album will take, they're not leaving the studio just yet. ‘We know we have to emerge soon but we also know that people don’t want another U2 album unless it is our best ever album. It has to be our most innovative, our most challenging… or what’s the point ?' They have no doubts that it will be as important a release for U2 as any. ‘It’s a brand new chapter for us, and everyone we’ve played the tracks to has said that musically it feels like another departure. The last two records were very personal, with a kind of three piece at their heart, the primary colours of rock - bass, guitars and drum. But what we’re about now is of the same order as the transition that took us from The Joshua Tree to Achtung Baby.’
He also mentions that the recording in Morocco was the first time the band have worked in a studio open to the sky: ‘On that track you can hear the sound of a swallows nest close to the building - it’s beautiful.’
Longtime collaborators Danny Lanois and Brian Eno have joined the band at different times, and, more recently, Steve Lillywhite – usually a tell-tale sign that a record is nearly done. ‘Steve has that ear for a top line melody and a good hook.’ But while Bono is itching to get the music out he says it’s going to be early 2009 when we first get to hear the songs. ‘I’m always the one who underestimates how easy it is to simply 'put out the songs now', if it was just up to me they’d be out already! But early next year people will be able to start hearing what we’ve been doing. We want 2009 to be our year, so we’re going to start making an impression very early on …'