U2’s long-rumored new album has at least a tentative release date. The rockers hope to release “something” from the follow-up to 2009’s No Line on the Horizon by September, drummer Larry Mullen Jr. told Irish broadcaster RTE.
“I’d say we will be finished by the summer — and hopefully we will have something released by September,” Mullen is quoted as saying on RTE’s The Dave Fanning Show. “Hopefully what we will be able to do is release September this year and shortly afterwards, release again. That’s what we want to do.”
What’s more, the Guardian has picked up a report in the usually dodgy Sun in which Bono reportedly says the new album is tentatively titled 10 Reasons to Exist. The band is “in fine fettle” and “really want to make a new record,” he’s quoted as saying. The Sun has been accused of fabrication by just about everyone, but when the Guardian picked up its report that Paul McCartney would be fronting a reunion of the surviving Nirvana members, that’s what actually happened.
U2’s publicist didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Talk of U2’s 13th studio album dates back to 2009, right around the release of No Line. Bono told Rolling Stone that he was planning “a sister release to No Line on the Horizon, a Zooropa to its Achtung Baby,” that was supposed to see light within a year of Horizon. The singer confirmed a title (Songs of Ascent) and a first single (“Every Breaking Wave,” which was dropped off No Line at the last minute), and said, “We’re making a kind of heartbreaker, a meditative, reflective piece of work, but not indulgent.”
As fansite @U2 points out, the Dublin foursome’s U.K. label, Mercury Records, confirmed through a tweet last July that a new U2 album was scheduled for 2013. A month before that announcement, Bono appeared on an Irish late-night talk show and gushed about the band’s recent recording time. “We’ve had the best three weeks in the studio since 1979,” he said, adding that the group knew they had to do something significant for lucky number 13. “I think they [the other band members] are very aware that U2 have to do something very special to have a reason to exist right now.”
That “something very special” might be a reference to U2’s collaboration with Carl Falk, the co-songwriter of “What Makes You Beautiful” and “One Thing,” by U.K. boy band One Direction. Falk told the Sun in April 2012, “There’s a long way to go but we are doing something with U2.”
Bono, the Edge, Mullen, and Adam Clayton have also been busy with a number of other album-length projects — so much so that in 2010 the Guardian reported that U2 had a trio of unreleased albums, ranging in styles from traditional rock’n’roll to dance to the “meditative psalms” originally planned as Songs of Ascent. Bono admitted that despite being adventurous enough to try a “club-sounding” record, U2 hasn’t really embraced digital culture. “We’re not as 21st century as we think we are,” he said. “We’d be putting out more new songs online, involving our audience in the choice, if we were really modern. [Instead] we’re just sitting here arguing about them, except no one else knows about them.”
Clayton, the band’s bassist, spoke to Rolling Stone in June 2011 about the upcoming release, saying, “when the record is finished, we’ll know what it is,” in response to a question about U2’s work with producer/Lady Gaga collaborator RedOne and the possibility of putting out Bono and the Edge’s songs for the Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark musical as an LP. Clayton continued, saying, “The work we did with RedOne was very, very exciting. But again, I’m not sure it was the essence of what U2 is good at, and U2 is very elastic, we can do many different things, but I think we have to get down to the essence of the band.” He added, “I think that’s what people like about us, and we have to do what we do best and we have to focus on that, and the work we did with Danger Mouse came closest to that. And we’re curious. We want to be in the clubs and make pop music as well as the thing U2 does, and we did that thing with RedOne, but in the end, it doesn’t feel like the right fit.” Clayton also said that the band made “great progress” with Danger Mouse back in January 2012. (The Guardian identified the Danger Mouse tracks as belonging to U2’s “rock album.”)
Bono mentioned the Danger Mouse sessions in a 2010 interview with the Age, confirming that they had 12 songs with the New York producer. He also said, “At the moment that looks like the album we will put out next because it’s just happening so easily.” The arena-friendly frontman went on to confirm that the clubby material also featured work from EDM superstar David Guetta and the Black Eyed Peas’ will.i.am.
As for the Songs of Ascent, Bono said in an interview posted on the band’s website in January 2012 (via @U2) that they haven’t abandoned that project completely. “We’re working on three albums at the moment and we haven’t decided what order we’re going to put them out but The Songs of Ascent have the kind of beautiful intimacy that we’re speaking of now.” That was a year ago, though.
All of this is to say that, at some point, there will be a new U2 album coming out and it might be titled 10 Reasons to Exist.