Edge and Negativland Mondo 2000 Interview (2 parts)

Interview courtesy negativland.com.

On a break from the Zoo TV Tour, U2 management set up a long phone interview for Edge with Mondo 2000 magazine. Apparenly, Edge was a fan of the magazine, which included contributors such as William Gibson. Edge’s goal was to discuss the ideas behind Zoo TV and the Cyberpunk movement with the magazine and its audience.

What Edge did not know was that Mondo 2000 editor R. U. Sirius invited his friends from the band Negativland (Don Joyce and Mark Hosler) to take part in the interview. At the time, Island records were suing Negativland regarding their single “U2” which mixed samples of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” with a profane Casey Kasem rant from his show American Top 40.

Most likely, it was the cover of the Negativland single that worried Island Records. The cover was designed in such a way as to suggest that it was a U2 release. Though Island Records may have had a legitimate gripe regarding the cover, their legal actions seemed heavy handed at best, and eventually cost Negativland a lot of money and their recording contract with SST Records.

The interview started out as somewhat of an “ambush”, but, The Edge seemed mostly relaxed about the whole thing as time went on. Additionally, Negativland took the opportunity to ask Edge some interesting questions, and make some good points regarding sampling, copyright, and the dawning digital age. Near the end, they even ask Edge for a loan!

It is believed that this interview has never been released before in audio form, though the print version is available at the Negativland website. The U2 Interview Archive would like to thank Don Joyce for dubbing and sending us a copy of the original audio cassette. Recorded June 25th, 1992 for Mondo 2000 magazine.

PS: If you’ve never heard the U2/Negativland single, may we suggest the 2001 Negativland album “These Guys Are From England and Who Gives A Shit” which contains great versions. Also available via Amazon.com.

10 thoughts on “Edge and Negativland Mondo 2000 Interview (2 parts)

  1. Negativeland is so full of themselves. Why should U2 take an interest in their cause, when they didn’t even bother to notify U2 before their single came out? They seem to think U2 be the responsible party for communication, when Negativeland were the people starting the issue.

  2. A fair point.

    I think Negativland might reply that what they were doing was fairly harmless, and if U2 were as big and powerful as they say they were, they should have convinced Island Records to back off.

  3. Thanks Kevin.

    The thanks go to Don Joyce of Negativland, who was kind enough to copy this for a U2 fan. A kind gesture indeed 🙂

  4. Negativland has a good point where creativity does play a huge role in using other people’s music or samples, but they also seem naive to the idea that in using people’s music for themselves and their financial gain is harmless, they should, at least out of respect, be asking for permission. But this is just my opinion. Edge doesn’t seem to care much because he knows their cause won’t get anywhere.

  5. Sure, they should have asked permission. My guess is that they might not have gotten it, and we wouldn’t have their song. Regarding financial gain, Negativland printed/sold tens of thousands of their song “U2”, whereas the real U2 printed hundreds of thousands if not millions of their singles. So I think there was no real financial impact on U2.

  6. They say they wanted Edge’s view, but they never let him finish a sentence. They interrupted him every time. I guess they were just excited to have him on the other end.

    Anyway, he was great to them. I wonder if he gave them the loan.

  7. History will remember Negativland as having ridden on U2s coat-tails. ‘U2’ is marginal interest musically and whereas the issues raised by Negativland were valid, their ‘music’ was devoid of any value. Childish nonsense. Wasn’t Casey Kasem the voice of Shaggy on Scooby Doo? The KLF, now there was a band that did it properly!

  8. I don’t think Negativland ever claimed to be musicians. Clearly U2 are the better musicians. But Negativland are artists of the highest degree. Their work goes much further than the U2 incident, which happened to gain attention.

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