'Streamlined and aerodynamic'

31 Dec 2005
Adam is on the cover of the new issue of Bass Player magazine and they like what he does: 'Streamlined and aerodynamic, Adam's phrases are what give U2 its lift and thrust. When Edge departs mid-song to explore new ethereal melodic worlds, it's Adam who takes the helm and steers the songs through their changes. And when there's space to fill between Bono's lilting lyrical phrases, Clayton's clever little countermelodies answer the call. Whatever the tune, Adam is there with the perfect line and the perfect tone.' Here's a couple of extracts from the interview.

* Onstage, are your ears drawn to the drums first?
Yes. The drums tell me everything. Everything else registers a millisecond later.

* What are you listening for in the drums?
I can't say. Miles Davis once said that he likes driving his yellow Ferrari when he gets it up over 70 mph and it starts to hum. It's something like that. There's a point - and we've only gotten to it from playing a lot - where the forces of Larry hitting the kit and me hitting the bass mesh, and the electronics of both signals blend. Over time we've learned how to reach that threshold.
I've never really worked with other drummers. But I have done the odd recording session with other players, and none of them seems to have the right foot Larry has. There's something about where he places the kick drum. There's an authority to his kick; everything else sits around it. With other drummers, the rhythmic emphasis changes depending on the balance of the kick against the rest of the kit. It doesn't seem to take Larry much effort. That's mind-boggling to me, because playing takes me a lot of effort.

* Do you get emotionally attached to the instruments you play?
Not really. I have a '73 Precision Bass that I've used since day one. I used to think, This is the old work horse--old faithful. I loved it. I still love it, and I play it all the time, but I try to branch out and play different instruments. I'm not so attached to any of the others. I'll play them for a bit and then move on. But there's an amazing difference with vintage basses compared to regular stock instruments. I love finding instruments that have had a life before you got them. They bring something to you.
I have an short-scale Gibson Les Paul Recording Bass from the '70s. I don't know what it is about this one--it's a very inspiring instrument. The strings very rarely get changed, and I haven't changed the way it's set up since I bought it. But I always have it sitting around the studio. When I put it on, I always go somewhere with it, playing little melodies. That's what I used to play the countermelody on "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own."

More on the musicianship of the bassman here


21 Jul, 2022

Chris Blackwell talks to Adam and Bono

1 Jul, 2022

Listen to Bono choosing his Desert Island Discs.

14 Jun, 2022

 Subscribers Special. 'This time we're gonna take a supermarket.' Propaganda 26, latest addition to our digital collection.

12 Jun, 2022

U2 and Amnesty Celebrate 15th Anniversary of 'Instant Karma: The Campaign to Save Darfur'.