Easily one of the most popular rock bands of all time by any measure, U2 plays an arena-ready anthemic sound built on Bono’s larger-than-life vocals and the Edge’s textured, processed guitar. Bands like Coldplay, Snow Patrol, The Fray and Arcade Fire owe a lot of their earnest, atmospheric sound to U2.
After four decades in the music business, these rock superstars have lessons to teach us that can apply to both music and life:
1. Start early.
U2’s members met when they were still in high school. Fourteen-year-old Larry Mullen, Jr. put up a note on the school bulletin board asking if anyone wanted to start a band, and Paul Hewson (better known as Bono), Adam Clayton, David Evans (aka the Edge), and David’s older brother Dik Evans (who later left to start his own band) showed up in his kitchen.
2. Stick with it.
U2 (or Feedback, as they were known then), wasn’t an overnight sensation. In fact, they failed an early audition with CBS Records, and took another few years to really get traction outside of Ireland. It took grit and perseverance to tough out those early years and keep going.
Like any band that’s survived this long, U2 has experimented with various musical influences and reinvented itself for different eras. After starting out in the 1980s as an incredibly-earnest post-punk “world’s loudest folk band” (R&R Hall of Fame) and exploring American roots music on Joshua Tree, in the 1990s U2 incorporated electronic dance music into their sound. In recent years they’ve returned to a “more stripped-down sound.” (Wikipedia)
4. Use your voice.
U2 is famous for something we’re pretty big on here at Bird: Using music and fame to help others. Never afraid to take a stand on politics and religion, the band was an early and vocal proponent of causes from famine relief to AIDS awareness, supporting organizations like Greenpeace, Product Red and Amnesty International. (Wikipedia)
Ready to get started? Check out some of the songs on the right for inspiration!