The U2 juggernaut has been full steam ahead in recent months, signs that new material and touring was imminent. There was the high profile Golden Globe win for “Ordinary Love,” the Oscar-nominated song composed for the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, and the band was literally on top of the world and on top of their game when they played the rooftop on Rockefeller Center for the premiere broadcast of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
Now comes word that the band has pushed back the release of their album until sometime in 2015 – or have they? One leading magazine, Billboard, reported last week that this was the case, but a number of media outlets on Monday quoted a band rep as saying new U2 material would indeed be released at some point this year.
U2 has been working with producer Danger Mouse, and that was the focus on new music speculation. Billboard supposedly confirmed with multiple sources, however, that the U2 album has been pushed back until 2015, with the band recently scheduling additional sessions with producers Ryan Tedder and Paul Epworth.
“It seems to be taking longer for them to finish an album as they get older, but the great thing about U2 is that the whole of a record is always better than the sum of its parts,” a source close to U2 told Billboard for its exclusive report.
“That magic that the band always seems to capture ... they have yet to capture it.”
But the Guardian newspaper in London on Monday told a different story. “U2’s album is planned for this year, is still on track and touring plans haven’t been confirmed yet,” a spokesperson for the band said.
Hmmmm – intriguing. Billboard also reported that the band had planned a new tour set to start in September of this year, but those plans have been delayed until the summer of 2015.
If Billboard’s report is true, this won’t be the first time U2 has put off a big album and tour. You’d have to think the band is a bit scarred from 1997’s Popmart debacle, when they scheduled a tour before the album Pop was finished. Both ventures had that half-baked feeling as a result.
Guitarist the Edge spoke with Rolling Stone earlier this year and said the group had 30 or so songs in various states of completion that the guys were excited about. Six or seven of those tracks, he said, were “mixed and ready to go.”
Musically, he said the record was inspired by U2’s original mid- and late-seventies influences. “That’s a rich period, one we’ve visited many times in the past,” Edge said. “But it’s a very Dublin-centric record lyrically.”
Bono, 53, might be his own worst enemy here. He has said in the past that he feared the band was “really close to the edge of relevance,” noting “there’s a giant chasm between the very good and the great, and U2 right now has a danger of surrendering to the very good.”
Every time he says something like that, he raises the stakes around new releases. Me, I’ll settle for “very good U2!”
The band might need time to absorb some internal management changes as well. Madonna’s manager Guy Oseary took the day-to-day reins of U2’s management last year from the band’s longtime manager Paul McGuinness. Time will tell, but hopefully the wait for new U2 songs will be shorter as opposed to longer!