U2 has been a little polarizing for a while now. On the one hand, they’re one of the biggest rock bands of all time, with timeless albums like Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby and All That You Can’t Leave Behind that have left an indelible imprint on culture writ large. On the other, they can be a little insufferable sometimes, with stuff like the forced album download on your iPod a few years back. All that to say. Some people love them. Some people hate them. One surprise member of the latter camp? Bono.
In a recent interview with Scott Feinberg’s Awards Chatter podcast, Bono got surprisingly hard on the band that he has spent the entirety of his adult life with, knocking their band name, their songs and even their …lead vocalist?
First up, the band name, which he does he does not like.
I still don’t. I really don’t. But I was late into some kind of dyslexia. I didn’t realize that The Beatles was a bad pun either. In our head it was like the spy plane, U-boat, it was futuristic — as it turned out to imply this kind of acquiescence, no I don’t like that name. I still don’t really like the name. Paul McGuinness, our first manager, did say, “Look, it’s a great name, it’s going to look good on a T-shirt, a letter and a number.
Bono heaped praise on his bandmates, but also said he has not been a fan of his vocals for most of his career. He said his voice is “Irish macho” (apparently a bad thing?) and he only recently took enough vocal training to feel comfortable with how he sings. “The one that I can listen to the most is ‘Miss Sarajevo’ with Luciano Pavarotti,” he said. “Genuine, most of the other ones make me cringe a little bit. Although ‘Vertigo’ probably is the one I’m proudest of. It’s the way it connects with the crowd.”
Well, to be fair, you probably wouldn’t be a huge fan of a band name you came up with when you were teenager either, although you might be more forgiving if that band had the most Grammys of any band ever. Nevertheless, Bono says he’s mostly embarrassed by his older stuff now. “I’ve been in the car when one of our songs has come on the radio and I’ve been the color of, as we say in Dublin, scarlet. I’m just so embarrassed.” On the other hand: “I do think U2 pushes out the boat on embarrassment quite a lot and maybe that’s the place to be as an artist, you know right at the edge of your level of embarrassment.”
The full conversation is below.