U2 leader bono reflects on his band’s clumsy adaptation to the late ’70s punk scene in a recent interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Asked about some of his early influences as a frontman, Bono named the singer-songwriter Patti Smith and actor Marc Rylancewho he said were adept at challenging conventional barriers between performer and audience.
The idea of an artist being “above everyone else” was rejected early on by Bono, along with the rest of the punk scene at the time. But no matter what the band’s values are, the sound of U2 has never lived up to the other important character of punk rock: aggression. And other punks were happy to talk about it, whether on stage or in the pit.
‘Somebody shouted at any first show, ‘[There’s] More punk in Themonkeys‘”, recalls the singer.
After briefly explaining the reference to the famous American sitcom band turned real band, Bono continued, “It was just a ruckus. And so we weren’t really convincing as a punk band because we were kids. But those values were and still are at the core of who we are.”
Also driven by “punk rock values,” Bono offered a window into his career in philanthropy and political action.
“I think I understand that you came out of the public, that you were there with them, for them. I would also say that we had in punk this idea that music can change the world, and that we can have fun. It was a kind of feeling in punk rock music. That the world is more malleable than you think; you can bend it and shape it. It’s not fixed. This idea: three chords, you speak your truth , speak your truth, spit it out.”
Watch the full encounter with Colbert via the player above.
Bono’s Memoirs, Surrender: 40 songs, one story, is available now. Go here for more details.