After receiving the award for ‘Best Group’ at the 2003 Meteor Awards in Dublin on Monday evening, the band appeared in the press room for a brief conference.
Transcript by Patrick Lynch, for U2log.com:
Facilitator: And we have U2 joining us in the press room–you’re very welcome!(Loud round of applause and cheers from all press assembled) Have a seat gentlemen and choose a mike, and we’ll start with Clare Murphy from the BBC.
BBC: Bono, congratulations on the group’s award and your own obviously. If I could cast your mind back to Northern Ireland and the intensive [peace] negotiations going on there today. Obviously, the image of yourself on stage with David Trimble and John Hume is a lasting one from the peace process. What would be your message to the participants for the talks tomorrow?
Bono: Eh…I’m wearing blue underwear…can you not ask a simple question straight off?! I’m not sure I’m the right person to answer that question. I feel a little bit out of touch with what’s happening here locally, and eh, I try to stay in touch with what’s going on, but I don’t think there is anyway that anyone is going back. I like the way we’re living now. You go up to Belfast and you’ve the best time and Derry and you’ve the best time and we’re not going back to the old days.
Jason O’Callaghan (showbiz journalist): Bono, could I just ask…I read in the tabloids last week another story about you in New York and a rumour that you bought another apartment over there. Is that true?
Bono: Jason, you’re the only person who reads the tabloids! Look I’m sick of Bono and I am Bono! I don’t want to read about how I live, what I spend. I’m a very lucky, spoilt rotten rock star and I’m having the best time of anyone’s life — but I’m not going into details of my life, and I’d appreciate if you didn’t.
Gerry (Backpacker magazine): To a lot of people in the world, the American flag is a symbol of peace, prosperity and democracy. To others, it is seen as an evil empire which might come down and crush them. How should your fans interpret you wearing the American flag emblazoned inside your jacket?
Bono: Well, on the first count, I’m a fan of America. I love America. I think it’s an extraordinary idea. I think for all fans, when you follow a band like I used to, you become a critic at times. That’s the way it is. People give out about America because people love America and when I wore that flag at the Superbowl after 9/11, I was very proud.
Catriona (Newstalk): What are your feelings on what’s going on in Iraq at the moment?
Bono: The only one I want to talk about really is the other war. The forgotten war. The war against AIDS. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of people might die in Iraq and that makes us all feel ill. But two and a half million Africans are going to die next year, and the year after that, because they can’t get hold of medicines that we take completely for granted. So why aren’t there a million people out on the streets against that? How much do we really value life when it happens to be an African’s life, when it happens to be a black person’s life? So that’s what I really want to talk about as much as I’m interested in anyone else.
Paul Martin (The Mirror): I’d like to ask all of you individually what is your biggest unfulfilled ambition after another night of triumph?
Edge: I suppose it playing centre forward for Mexico (Manchester?) United and winning the FA cup!
Larry: To be finally recognised as a drummer and musician as opposed to just ‘the other fella’!
(Loud round of applause)
Adam: I guess just to see how much further we can push this thing called U2 and see where it ends up.
Facilitator: Okay, the guys are being very generous, just two more questions.
Aishling: You’ve picked up the award again for the best Irish group. You mentioned Bono [on stage] that you were getting afraid. Who are you afraid of? Or do you think that U2 will hold the mantle for the foreseeable future?
Bono: Well, we don’t want to make it easy for anyone to come against us. There’s some extraordinary talent out there. I think they were nominated tonight and there were others that weren’t. But the real thing that makes a rock ‘n roll band is the relationship that goes on between the individuals, and when we walk onto a stage, we’re a band that formed before we could play, that had been through shit together and come out the other side. That’s a very powerful thing. And I don’t think there’s an age on rock ‘n roll. Rock ‘n roll is born of the blues. There’s a lot of old geezers stood up on stage who have a lot more fear and threat about them that some sort of skinny pups.
Cathy Fox: Where were you and how did you feel when you were nominated for the Nobel peace prize?
Bono: I can’t remember to be honest with you, but it’s an amazing thing to be on that list. I’m not sure if these great and honourable people are ready to give it to a rock singer. But just by putting me on the list they raise and elevate the causes that I represent. Drop The Debt campaign. Global AIDS. This is really important, because there is some kind of obscenity about the fact that we are all on the edge of our seat and obsessed by this thing that’s going on in the Middle East and meanwhile there is a continent bursting into flames and we’re standing around with watering cans. And I’d like to actually apologise, as I said earlier, that no one here reads tabloids. And I do read tabloids, there’s some great tabloids. The Sun has done some great coverage in relation to the AIDS emergency in Africa recently. The Mirror. The Sunday World. Ireland On Sunday. People are actually trying to cover this. When I referred to Jason there, I meant tabloid in the sense of intrusive gossip type writing, which is interesting IF that is part of your thing. This has never been part of U2’s thing, we never wanted it, it’s not part of our currency.
(Jason interjects: But people want to read it!)
Bono: I understand that people want to read it, but it’s not part of us. We never courted it, never looked after it. We’re a rock ‘n roll band and we’ll stay that way as long as we don’t become celebrity.
Facilitator: Bono, on behalf of everybody here, congratulations on your humanitarian award and we wish U2 the best of luck. Thank you very much!
(Band departs to loud applause and cheers.)