“If we don’t come up with a very good reason to make a new album, we should just f*** off,” U2's Bono recently told the Irish Times, while discussing the 20th anniversary rerelease of 'Achtung Baby' and a new film about the band. “Why does anyone need a new U2 album?”
A new documentary called 'From the Sky Down' looks at how the huge success of U2 in the 1980s almost broke up the band as they struggled to stay true to their vision.
To mark the rerelease of 'Achtung Baby,' the 35-year-old band opened their archives to Oscar-winning director Davis Guggenheim.
“Watching 'From the Sky Down' the first time made for painful viewing. I hated it,” said Bono. “U2 never look back. It’s never been what this band is about. Edge will tell you that when we put together our best-of collections he forced me – actually had to physically force me – to listen to them before they went out. I’ve never been interested in what we have done. I’m interested only in what we’re about to do. But I think there comes a time when it actually becomes dysfunctional not to look into the past, and for the 'Achtung Baby' album we made an exception.
“The film is not about us per se. It’s about how bands function – or, in this case, don’t function. But when I saw it first I just saw these four people talking intensely about their music, and, really, does the world need that at this time? Davis didn’t tell us he was going into our past to put a context on what really happened to the band after the success of 'The Joshua Tree' and how bad things were in Berlin when we started to make 'Achtung Baby.'
"He didn’t tell us because we wouldn’t have agreed. Now that I’ve seen it a few times I realise it is actually about the creative process. Let’s face it, the era of rock music is going to end soon, and if you are interested in rock music and rock bands you’ll be interested in their internal dynamics: what makes a rock band tick, the tribal aspect, the idea of the clan. The irony for me now is that we made Achtung Baby to set fire to our earnestness and now here’s this very earnest film about the making of the album."
'Achtung Baby' was released in 1991 and was hailed as a "triumphant reinvention." The album sold more than 20 million copies and remains U2's most important album.
And as for the future?
“Being in U2 is like being in the priesthood. There’s only one way out. And that’s in a coffin," said Bono.