8th December, 2002
'We'd Rather Split Up Now and Finish On a High Than Continue 'Til
U2 Larry's shock statement on band's future
By Eddie Fitzmaurice
Irish rockers U2 have secretly talked about SPLITTING UP. But don't
worry...it'll only be if they ever become unpopular. Drummer Larry
Mullen said the band was determined to avoid the fate of other big-
name acts who soldier on into old age for a dwindling army of fans.
"None of us wants to burn out," Mullen said.
"We don't want to get shot down for becoming old and boring. We'd
rather go into retirement finishing on a high and knowing we've left
a special legacy."
His comments come amid an unprecedented run of success for the band,
whose Elevation world tour helped catapult it to the top of rock's
rich list last year.
Although their new U2: Best of 1990-2000 album failed to secure the
expected No. 1 spot when it entered the American Billboard charts at
No. 3, the success story shows little sign of slowing down.
The band was the subject of a one-hour special on America's CBS
network last week, while frontman Bono was watched by an audience of
more than 75 million when he appeared on CNN's Larry King Show on
Bono later joined actress Ashley Judd and four-times Tour de France
champion Lance Armstrong on a seven-day tour of the American Midwest
aimed at raising awareness of the AIDS epidemic in Africa.
The band has also contributed a new song, "The Hands That Built
America," to the soundtrack of the much-awaited Irish mob movie, Gangs
of New York, and will attend its U.S. premiere just before Christmas.
U2 guitarist the Edge said it was essential the band maintained its
drive and commitment to ensure a third decade of success.
"A band is like a street gang," he said.
"It makes sense when you're 20 and gets harder as you get older.
"It means so much that we're still very close friends. There is a
huge amount of support and leeway. There's honest criticism, which
keeps pushing us forward. But there's very little need to watch your
This is not the first time that and members have cast doubt on the
band's long-term future. Speaking earlier this year, Larry admitted
Bono's political crusades had an unsettling effect on the band. He
told America's 60 Minutes programme that Bono's absence was felt
whenever he took a break to campaign on issues such as Third World
"It does interfere with the band," Larry said. "It's a four-legged
table, and with one leg missing, even for short periods of time, the
thing becomes a little unstable."
He said U2 strived to stay at the cutting edge of music and never
stopped looking over their shoulder for the challenge posed by new
One such star -- Britney Spears -- provided the inspiration for the hit
single "Beautiful Day" from U2's mega-selling All That You Can't Leave
Behind album, he claimed.
"We took the attitude that some of those new people were making very
good pop music. Do we fight it or compete with it? 'Beautiful Day' was
us competing with Britney Spears.
"OK, she won, but we don't see it as a threat. It's a challenge. We
don't want to be part of some rock elite."
A recent Time Magazine profile of Bono claimed U2 came close to
splitting in 1997 after the release of the Pop album -- the first flop
of the band's career. The Edge told the magazine they were forced to
sit down and ask if there was a compelling reason to continue being
in a band.
"We asked ourselves why are you still around," the Edge said.
"You know, you made some great records. But why are you still making
"Part of what we decided is that we had a sense or belief that we can
still make the album of the year."
U2 played to over two million people during last year's Elevation
world tour, raking in an estimated EUR400 million.
© 2002, MGN Ltd.