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U2 Interviews

Dazed and Confused (part IV: Larry Mullen Jr.)
May 1997

Dazed & Confused: Did you enjoy living in New York?

Larry Mullen Jr.: I loved it. Absolutely loved it. It's just a great city to be inspired in: there's so many things going on. It really challenged me, because I was hanging out with people who knew what they were doing. Musically, people who understood things that I didn't understand. I'm really pleased that I did but it took a while to get back into that sort of learning mode.

D&C: Did you learn to human beatbox while you were in New York?

LM: Yes.

D&C: Can you do it?

LM: I tried to learn and failed, I'm afraid. But I was exposed to it.

D&C: Did Howie make you listen to the space between the beats?

LM: All that stuff. We had a back room and I had a kit in the back room and I went in with a Walkman and I would record my beats, put them into a computer and then bring them back, output them through the PA and we'd play to that. We did a lot of that sort of thing.

D&C: How did it work with Flood?

LM: Flood is much more methodical. So between the two of them they complemented each other and then Steve Osborne got involved. So we had the best of three worlds.

D&C: Bono says you police the band. Is that how you see your role?

LM: I think that I have a way of detecting bullshit. I'm not very good at playing games and I'm not very good at dressing up and I tend to be quite fervent about anything I think is delving into art. You've got to be quite careful you don't push your audience anywhere into a place where they think you're jerking them off. But you've also got to be prepared to move on and experiment. I like the idea that when this stuff comes up I would take a cautious attitude and the reason for that is that I want someone to convince me that this is the right way to do it.

D&C: What's with the Jnr.?

LM: My father is Larry Mullen senior and one time I was on tour and my father received a tax bill for 50,000 and he didn't know what was going on until he went to the tax people and they told him 'Mr. Mullen you owe 50,000 since you've been on the road'. And he was trying to explain to them that he was my father, and so to make life easier I put jnr. on the end of my name and the problem disappeared.

D&C: That's a funny story. How come you've managed to slow down the aging process?

LM: That's a good question. I think it's the healthy living. I do all the right things. It's all the creams. I don't know maybe it's in my Levi's.

D&C: It's in the way that you wear your genes.

LM: It's in my genes.

D&C: What was it like sitting on Elvis Presley's Harley Davidson at Graceland?

LM: That was a buzz, I have to say, I enjoyed that, I enjoyed the whole trip. And a trip it was.

D&C: Have you got a bike?

LM: I do. I haven't done a whole lot of riding this year cos I've been working in the studio.

D&C: So what moment are you proudest of?

LM: I think finishing the record and going on the road and getting to the other end of that without having lost your mind totally. Because everywhere around you there is conflicting information. You go on the road and suddenly everyone's carrying your bags and doing all the stuff for you and you do become a piece of luggage. And that sort of hurt. To be able to get on stage and play shows and not become jaded and not take it for granted.

D&C: So is fame a bizarre thing that happened to you on the way to the barber's?

LM: I don't think about it so much.

D&C: Well you obviously do if you understand the kind of madness of it.

LM: No. I understand the madness of it. I tend to try to get through every day as it comes and take whatever challenge that that brings and try and escape the bullshit and just do what it is that I enjoy doing.

D&C: Escape the celebrity?

LM: I'd be lying if I said that I didn't enjoy certain perks, but it's not what drives me. It's not what makes me feel good necessarily. I like making records, I like playing, all the other stuff is just an added bonus. But they can disappear very easily, but I think I will always be involved in making music in some respect and at some level.

D&C: But it must get easier, after your 15,000th photo shoot it must get to the point when you think, 'I've learnt to get into this now'. Or does it always feel as superficial as the first day that you stood in front of the camera?

LM: For me it is. I don't particularly enjoy that side of it. That's just personal. Not because I'm trying to be awkward.

D&C: Maybe you're just too hyperactive to stand in one place?

LM: It's not even that. I wish I was.

Dazed and Confused part V

U2 Interviews overview