Why Co-Founding U2 Drummer Won’t Tour in 2023 if Band Hits the Road
If U2 were to return to the road in 2023, it doesn't sound as though drummer Larry Mullen Jr. would be taking part. During a profile focusing on the band's longevity with the Washington Post, Mullen alluded to taking some time off from the group.
During the chat with journalist Geoff Edgers, Mullen commented, "You only do this if you're having the best time, and not everyone is going to make it because the price is so high. So I think the challenge is for more generosity. More openness to the process. I am autonomous and I value my autonomy. I don't sing from the same hymn sheet. I don't pray to the same version of God. So everyone has their limits."
Later elaborating on his reasoning for wanting some time off, the drummer commented, "I have lots of bits falling off, elbows, knees, necks, and so during COVID, when we weren't playing, I got a chance to have a look at some of these things. So I'd like to take some time, which I will do to get myself healed."
That said, Mullen shared his reverence and continued creative spark in being a member of U2, commenting, "I really enjoy playing and I enjoy the process of playing and being in the company of creative people. I enjoy that. I don't care if that's big or small. ... I really miss the audiences. I miss that interaction even though I'm sitting behind a drum kit. ... My body is not what it used to be physically. Like next year, I won't be performing live next year. I don't know what the band’s plan is. There's talk of all kinds of things."
Shortly after the feature appeared in advance of the band's acceptance of the Kennedy Center honors this past weekend, Edgers revealed that he'd been told by some in the U2 fan community that Mullens' comments yielded some unrest, so Edgers elaborated more about their conversation via a Twitter thread.
"I did not ask about [Mullen’s] physical issues," said the journalist. "He volunteered them. He said that he had been told, in the past, to rest or get work done and take time off. Instead, he pushed himself to perform. He does not want to now. He wants to fix his issues. Because he wants to drum again. ... He never said he was leaving U2 or retiring."
Edgers added, "Larry has issues with his neck and elbows. We talked about how sad it was to watch Phil Collins so frail and damaged performing on the last Genesis tour. Larry is not, as he put it, 'Happy clappy.' He likes a bit of tension. He never said he was leaving U2 or retiring."
The journalist concluded, "So there you have it. Larry is dealing with the physical issues many drummers deal with. He’s hoping to get better and play again. And he clearly chose to speak, making it clear to me he last did an interview in seven years." You can check out that Twitter thread below.
Meanwhile, the profile was done to promote the band receiving the Kennedy Center Honor which took place Sunday night (Dec. 4). The night's fellow honorees included musicians Amy Grant, Gladys Knight, actor George Clooney and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and conductor Tania Leon.
Mullen Jr. was in attendance with his bandmates as a wealth of tributes were made to the band by Beyonce, Harry Styles, Billie Eilish and Finneas in a video presentation. Then Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder took the stage to salute the band with performances of "Elevation" and "One." After a brief speech by Sacha Baron Cohen in character as Borat, Brandi Carlile then continued the tribute, performing with Hozier on a rendition of "Walk On." Footage of Vedder's performance has surfaced online and can be seen below.
The full ceremony can be seen in a special airing on CBS on Dec. 28.
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