Bono says "things are getting a little rough in America," and that there is a different, more-polarized atmosphere since he and U2 performed at President Obama's inauguration in January.
"I didn't think it could come to this so quickly, after the joyous occasion of that election," Bono said in an interview with The Associated Press on board the band's plane. "I thought America was looking good. ... Things are getting a little rough now."
Bono also admits he and the band are struggling a bit themselves as sales of their album have been far lower than their previous CDs.
The band's latest CD, "No Line on the Horizon," sold a solid 1 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan. But the CD is the group's slowest-selling CD in more than a decade. The sales represents a steep drop-off from 2004's "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb," which sold 3.2 million copies, and 2000's 4.3 million seller, "All That You Can't Leave Behind."
"No Line"also hasn't had that one signature hit., Bono admits he is disappointed that the band didn't quite "pull off the pop songs" with the new work.
"But we weren't really in that mindset," he told AP, "and we felt that the album was a kind of an almost extinct species, and we should approach it in totality and create a mood and a feeling, and a beginning, middle and an end. And I suppose we've made a work that is
a bit challenging for people who have grown up on a diet of pop stars."
Band member Adam Clayton says music may have changed forever "Music exists in an environment where people are multitasking, and I think that's a very different environment," says Clayton.
However, manager Paul McGuinness believes U2 continues to buck that trend.
"In many ways, U2 has had such an enormous amount of success over the years we're almost proof against that," McGuinness, says, discussing the music industry's decline. "We're still selling a lot of recorded music, but it's a much smaller part of our business than playing live.
This tour, by the time it's finished, we would have played ... to roughly 6 million people."
Bono says the band is up to the challenge of the new era "I love to see an out sized band like U2 behaving like they're in the kindergarten and just doing what you do with your first album — taking it to the market, setting up your table, selling your wares, selling it out the
street corners, giving out fliers," s "I think selling out is when you stop believing enough in your music to put yourself out to explain it to people."
Band member Larry Mullen Jr. agrees.
"The biggest danger for a band like U2 is accepting that you've reached a certain age, and, therefore, you can just actually sit back," says Mullen.
"That's not what we signed up to do. We want to make relevant, great music, and Bono has said numerous times, 'One crap album and you're out,'" he says.
"We've avoided it so far."
No Irish Need Apply? Not anymore