'Absolutely Unsnobbish'

1 Mar 2009
'They don't think that any forum is unworthy of their attention.' Brian Eno on the secret of U2's success.

Revealing interview in the UK's Telegraph newspaper with Brian Eno where he describes the special chemistry of U2, the snobbery of some critics, the 'right' of Bono to get involved in politics and why the English 'distrust dilettantism'. Here's a couple of choice extracts, follow the link to read the whole piece.

'U2's chemistry relies on their empathy and respect for each other, but also on something intrinsic to Irish society - the attempt to keep everyone included. They just don't let things fall apart. So if somebody starts to feel they're not part of the process they are quickly brought back in. U2 have that tribal attitude: if you get ill it's not just your problem, it's the problem of the entire tribe. They do it not simply out of generosity but because that's how you get a good working community.'

'It is fascinating to make records with them because they look at such a range of targets for their work. They are absolutely unsnobbish: they don't think that any forum is unworthy of their attention. So we think of our own interests as artists - what's the best we can do? how can we make this amazing? - but also, how can we get this on Radio 1?'

'There's a tendency for people who are in the business of art - critics, writers, people who consider themselves insiders - to distrust anything that is easy to like. There's an assumption underlying this that people are quite stupid, and if a lot of them like something then it too must be quite stupid.
Also with Bono people say, what right does he think he has to do the moral and political stuff? It happens to any non-politician in England who does something that fringes over into politics. But what right does any politician have? They're rarely any more expert than you or me. Yet if you look at the questions that Bono is interested in, debt and aid, he is very informed. He got some of the best economists in the world and said, teach me about this, I don't want to be caught out. And so he made himself an expert.

'One thing that drives his philanthropy is the idea that someone ought to do something useful with creativity, in particular with the social power and wealth it brings. It seems ridiculous to say: I'm just an artist, I don't know what's going on in the world and it's of no interest to me. But I think in England we really distrust dilettantism. You can't have two jobs!'

Read the whole interview here.


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