Author Topic: Is the band a bit dependent on producers?  (Read 1400 times)

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Offline Johnny Feathers

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Re: Is the band a bit dependent on producers?
« Reply #15 on: July 09, 2018, 02:26:19 PM »
Well, to each their own regarding recorded vs. live.  They're very different processes--one is the actual creation of a song--each and every part, all the sounds, the mix, etc.--and the other is how best to recreate that song in a live environment.  That recreation can be very faithful to the recording, or it can be an entirely different take on it.  In U2's case, it also involves the question of how much pre-recorded or additional material is needed.  There's not really any better/worse IMO, but I suppose someone could prefer one versus the other.  Having just seen Radiohead, I was a bit surprised at how faithfully they kept to the original recorded arrangements.  U2 tends to be a bit more spontaneous, which can be good or bad.

Offline Luzita

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Re: Is the band a bit dependent on producers?
« Reply #16 on: July 09, 2018, 03:13:22 PM »
It is definitely true their producers have contributed to U2's albums, and deserve credit for their roles.

However, as we all know, certain people are irrationally hostile to the band. One of the ways that hostility manifests is by exaggerating the role of their producers, particularly Eno and Lanois, thus robbing the band of credit for their music. I don't think that is the intention of most of the posters on this thread, but once those memes go out there on the web they tend to bounce around.

Also, the people involved -- that is, the band and Eno and Lanois -- have their own motivations. They are all basically decent people so there's never been any huge nastiness between them, but there was a period, after ATYCLB, when they fell out. They eventually made up, but I feel I have noticed a certain degree of subtle sniping during that period.

For example, on whether Lanois came up with the basic guitar riff for One -- I've found several different versions of events, even looking only at Lanois' own comments. 

In an interview from 2007, You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login Lanois said this:

“The song “One,” is one of my favorites. That had an interesting journey because we laid down a chord sequence for that before taking a break ... but it had not found its song yet – it was still in the bedrock state. Then, Eno and I ... laid down what I called ‘the mantra’ … it was a thematic surprise for the gang when they came in."

So here, he appears to be taking credit for the basic foundation of "One."

In an interview from 2016, You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login Lanois says this:

"We threw around a lot of chord sequences and in the end I took Edge's side and we worked out a way to use all the chord sequences, which gave us the opportunity to have more of a dynamic swing to the song. ... We had the track done in Berlin and then back in Dublin ... Bono ... said, "Dan why don't you play a little guitar part to try and juice me up," and so I overdubbed a part that made the finish line"

Hmmm. Sounds a bit different, no?

Then there's the version in From The Sky Down. The documentary includes archival footage from the Achtung Baby sessions and shows Edge bringing in suggested riffs for a song originally called "Sick Puppy," which Bono and Edge started before coming to Berlin. Some of it evolved into One, some evolved into Mysterious Ways.

As a producer, Lanois certainly had a hand in the development of the song, but to say he came up with the original riff on which One is based is almost surely an overstatement.



« Last Edit: July 09, 2018, 05:02:15 PM by Luzita »

Offline Tortuga

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Re: Is the band a bit dependent on producers?
« Reply #17 on: July 09, 2018, 03:46:15 PM »
None of us know definitively.  I doubt Lanois, U2, and the people who were in the room remember and if they ever read this stuff their fans write they are probably amused that people care about such things. 

What I will say is that the One riff is pure Lanois stylistically.  If you know his solo work you know he plays exclusively with his fingers and that riff sounds like the kind of stuff he plays.  Listen to San Juan from his Shine album.  Do I know for a fact it was his riff?  No, I don’t and my only interest in it is my curiosity about how musicians work together and how their influences combined to create that song.

As for the idea this is being said to take away from U2 that is just silly.  People who are musicians themselves are very interested in the song creation process.   I’m equally a fan of U2 and Lanois.  This idea that someone is trying to diminish U2’s creative credibility, which has been proven beyond doubt by their creative output, sounds like the silly arguments we used to have in high school.  Who cares?  Lanois and U2 are on the same team and its not a competition in the first place.

I guess this has become more of a “fan” forum instead of a meangingful music forum.


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Offline ShankAsu

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Re: Is the band a bit dependent on producers?
« Reply #18 on: July 09, 2018, 04:03:02 PM »
There's a few albums where U2 seems to rely on Lanois and Eno too much.

Offline Johnny Feathers

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Re: Is the band a bit dependent on producers?
« Reply #19 on: July 09, 2018, 04:19:59 PM »
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There's a few albums where U2 seems to rely on Lanois and Eno too much.

I’m curious which ones you’re referring to. I’d say TUF has the biggest Eno/Lanois thumbprint on it, but I might also say that as a positive, since on some days it’s my favorite. JT also certainly shares that influence, but I think it’s maybe a little subtler. AB doesn’t really reflect Lanois at all to me—it seems it might have succeeded despite him, rather than because of him. The later albums again share some hints of their influence, but I actually find them kind of bland sounding.


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Offline Luzita

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Is the band a bit dependent on producers?
« Reply #20 on: July 09, 2018, 04:28:17 PM »
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None of us know definitively.  I doubt Lanois, U2, and the people who were in the room remember and if they ever read this stuff their fans write they are probably amused that people care about such things. 

What I will say is that the One riff is pure Lanois stylistically.  If you know his solo work you know he plays exclusively with his fingers and that riff sounds like the kind of stuff he plays.  Listen to San Juan from his Shine album.  Do I know for a fact it was his riff?  No, I don’t and my only interest in it is my curiosity about how musicians work together and how their influences combined to create that song.

As for the idea this is being said to take away from U2 that is just silly.  People who are musicians themselves are very interested in the song creation process.   I’m equally a fan of U2 and Lanois.  This idea that someone is trying to diminish U2’s creative credibility, which has been proven beyond doubt by their creative output, sounds like the silly arguments we used to have in high school.  Who cares?  Lanois and U2 are on the same team and its not a competition in the first place.

I guess this has become more of a “fan” forum instead of a meangingful music forum.


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Saying such things to take away from U2 is indeed silly, but I believe some people do it. I am a writer, so I notice the subtext in online comments. Some who go on about U2's producers are motivated by malice towards the band, rather than being legitimately interested in the creative process. And the memes they start can take on a life of their own. Again, I don't think that is the intention of most of the posters in this thread.

I'm not familiar with Lanois' solo work and I am not a musician. I'm sure you know much more about guitar styles than I do, and can bring much more to the discussion when it comes to technical knowledge of music. This is definitely a fan forum, but that doesn't mean it can't include serious music discussions. I appreciate learning from those who know more than I do.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2018, 07:19:14 PM by Luzita »

Offline Tortuga

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Re: Is the band a bit dependent on producers?
« Reply #21 on: July 09, 2018, 04:36:36 PM »
If you like U2, especially tracks like 4th of July, Exit, UF and JT b-sides, Fez, Cedars of Lebanon, then check out Lanois’ solo work.  ‘Shine’ and ‘This is What is’ would be good places to start.  You will probably like it.


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Offline miryclay

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Re: Is the band a bit dependent on producers?
« Reply #22 on: July 09, 2018, 05:02:01 PM »
Imho, Eno & Lanois' contribution to the music has been understated but who would disturb a cash cow?

Offline Luzita

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Re: Is the band a bit dependent on producers?
« Reply #23 on: July 09, 2018, 05:04:53 PM »
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If you like U2, especially tracks like 4th of July, Exit, UF and JT b-sides, Fez, Cedars of Lebanon, then check out Lanois’ solo work.  ‘Shine’ and ‘This is What is’ would be good places to start.  You will probably like it.


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OK, I'll check it out.

Offline wons

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Re: Is the band a bit dependent on producers?
« Reply #24 on: July 09, 2018, 08:54:30 PM »
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Well, to each their own regarding recorded vs. live.  They're very different processes--one is the actual creation of a song--each and every part, all the sounds, the mix, etc.--and the other is how best to recreate that song in a live environment.  That recreation can be very faithful to the recording, or it can be an entirely different take on it.  In U2's case, it also involves the question of how much pre-recorded or additional material is needed.  There's not really any better/worse IMO, but I suppose someone could prefer one versus the other.  Having just seen Radiohead, I was a bit surprised at how faithfully they kept to the original recorded arrangements.  U2 tends to be a bit more spontaneous, which can be good or bad.

Oh there is definitely better and worse when speaking of recorded and live. That's why Steve Lillywhite wished the band would tour with the songs for 6 months before they recorded them.

Offline hotty375

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Re: Is the band a bit dependent on producers?
« Reply #25 on: July 11, 2018, 06:42:09 AM »
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I'm not sure why you think I (or others) am "throwing crap" at U2 by acknowledging the role of the producers. 

If you read up on how albums like Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby were made, you would acknowledge the amazing creative synergy between band and producers.  It's not a knock on the band.  After all, it was they who sought out Eno when they needed a fresh start.  You could also listen to demos from Achtung sessions, for instance.  Few of the songs began in anything like the form we know them now. 

No artists work alone.  Writers have editors, musicians have producers, etc.  It doesn't diminish the art or the artists at all (when the partnerships are productive).

Look at the thread title. Lots of people write and work alone including U2. The producers do their job, but to say that U2 would not have their songs or albums without them is just grossly false.

After all, most of the bands best work is not in the studio, its live. Most of what U2 does live is better than what they do on record. No better evidence than that, to show that what the producers do for U2 is rather minor.

Beware of the fan that sits down at concerts and never buys the artist music!


Beware of the fan who knows nothing about how the band who he/she is a fan of make their music! What producers do for U2 is 'rather minor'??!! You can't possibly believe that, for to paraphrase you, that is at best 'grossly false' or impolitely total BS. And this isn't U2-bashing at all. As other posters have said, making albums is almost always about synergy between the band members, producers, mixers, engineers etc, but especially producers. U2's optimal scenario is Eno/Lanois producers, Lillywhite mixing, and Flood as engineer IMHO. And the creative process for every band is extremely subjective. Go and trawl the internet for Steve Lillywhite, Eno, Lanois interviews etc. about working with U2. Watch the Classic Albums JT-- indeed, watch the whole series and you will get a better understanding of how albums are made. Some songs are already written. Some haven't even been dreamed up. Some need a lot of work etc. The Blondie Parallel Lines one is good-- Mike Chapman explains how Heart of Glass formed from that great keyboard loop etc. And surely you must have listened to the Achtung Baby demos/sessions? I think there is a lot of stuff in 'U2 by U2' book that gives insight into some of the songs and how they ended up with the finished versions.

Here is a quote from a Steve Lillywhite interview:

Musically, the band still struggles, but they’re overachievers - if they can’t do something, they’ll hammer away at it until they can. They want to do their best work, even today. Complacency never took root in U2. They want to make great albums, and they want to have hits. More than anything, they want their music to mean something to people. I can’t say enough good things about them.

Lillywhite isn't a musician, Eno and Lanois especially are. On JT, Lanois's guitar is RTSS, Eno's 'keyboard' riff IS MOTD etc. And they will have similar contributions to everything else they have worked on with U2.

I absolutely agree that U2 have a real aptitude for recreating already-recorded ( and already-produced) songs for live performance-- and that has made them what they are. And in the Boy/October/ War era, their live performances from this time were far superior to the recorded material, but of course, it was just guitar/bass/drums/vox then. But what they have done since the UF-era onwards recreating the albums songs for live performance has been outstanding.

Every band has 'their' producer--Radiohead/Nigel Godrich, Oasis/The Verve- Owen Morris, Beatles/ Martin, etc etc and they wouldn't be where they are today without them, and they wouldn't have their songs/albums as we know them without their producers at the helm of the recording process.

However, to answer the question-- every band is dependent on producers! U2's problem has been forgetting what they are good at and not playing to their strengths. There is never going to be cohesion on an album when there are 6/7 producers involved, especially that effin' One Republic dude. Candy floss production gets candy floss sounds and melodies. Too many cooks etc. And probably why you get Volcano on one album , and American Soul on another ( Glastonbury was the best of the bunch lyrically IMO). And SFS/ 13 etc-- can never get agreement on the finished article. And if it was an attempt to get a modern sound to keep them 'relevant' to a younger audience, it's not worked. They haven't had a big single since HTDAAB. And i think The Edge in particular needs a Lanois to push him guitar-wise. Everything has gotten a bit lazy. The last truly great U2 album was ATYCLB, and even that is 2 songs too long ( a symptom of the 'CD' age--the best albums almost always fitted on one side of a C90 cassette  :))

There's a review of SoE that ends with 'In the wake of the promising Songs Of Innocence and the triumphant Joshua Tree tour, Songs Of Experience might prove to be a stumble even they cannot recover from.'. I'm afraid that this may be true, sadly.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2018, 07:43:59 AM by hotty375 »

Offline Tortuga

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Re: Is the band a bit dependent on producers?
« Reply #26 on: July 11, 2018, 08:27:13 AM »
Its kind of mind-boggling to hear someone suggest that producers don’t play on U2 albums when there are videos all over the place SHOWING them playing in the studio.  There were NLOTH behind the scenes videos showing Eno and Lanois playing on parts that we all later heard in the songs on the release.  Even the Magnificent video showed them playing with the band.  Then the reference to their live performance is what really matters....did you not see the 360 tour when they put Lawless up on the screen playing under the stage.  Obviously U2 is not “embarrassed” by it.  To be defensive about it is so odd.  Its how modern music is made and there is nothing deceptive or “shameful” about it.


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Offline achtungx

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Re: Is the band a bit dependent on producers?
« Reply #27 on: July 11, 2018, 08:49:28 AM »
I go away to another site for awhile after the great stoppage of '17... drop in here to read a random interesting thread... only to find it's still the same cesspool that it was at the stoppage. Some people think that the band is too precious and that everything that doesn't explicitly praise the band member's abilities must be a dig on them. It's ridiculous. Of course producers "color" and album and steer it in a direction. To admit this doesn't lessen the amazingness of the band's catalog. Also, of course producers introduce ideas and parts to bands. That's how you stimulate creativity and new veins of thinking and seeing of things. It's not a damn insult to the band. They pay the producers and engineer to be on the same team. To help. If Edge was left to his own devices, they'd probably still be tweaking Native Son for it's 2020 release. 

I'm so glad that I came back. Maybe I'll stop back in another 8 months or so.


Offline Johnny Feathers

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Re: Is the band a bit dependent on producers?
« Reply #28 on: July 11, 2018, 09:29:00 AM »
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I go away to another site for awhile after the great stoppage of '17... drop in here to read a random interesting thread... only to find it's still the same cesspool that it was at the stoppage. Some people think that the band is too precious and that everything that doesn't explicitly praise the band member's abilities must be a dig on them. It's ridiculous. Of course producers "color" and album and steer it in a direction. To admit this doesn't lessen the amazingness of the band's catalog. Also, of course producers introduce ideas and parts to bands. That's how you stimulate creativity and new veins of thinking and seeing of things. It's not a damn insult to the band. They pay the producers and engineer to be on the same team. To help. If Edge was left to his own devices, they'd probably still be tweaking Native Son for it's 2020 release. 

I'm so glad that I came back. Maybe I'll stop back in another 8 months or so.



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Offline Luzita

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Re: Is the band a bit dependent on producers?
« Reply #29 on: July 11, 2018, 09:43:06 AM »
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However, to answer the question-- every band is dependent on producers! U2's problem has been forgetting what they are good at and not playing to their strengths. There is never going to be cohesion on an album when there are 6/7 producers involved, especially that effin' One Republic dude. Candy floss production gets candy floss sounds and melodies. Too many cooks etc. And probably why you get Volcano on one album , and American Soul on another ( Glastonbury was the best of the bunch lyrically IMO). And SFS/ 13 etc-- can never get agreement on the finished article. And if it was an attempt to get a modern sound to keep them 'relevant' to a younger audience, it's not worked. They haven't had a big single since HTDAAB. And i think The Edge in particular needs a Lanois to push him guitar-wise. Everything has gotten a bit lazy. The last truly great U2 album was ATYCLB, and even that is 2 songs too long ( a symptom of the 'CD' age--the best albums almost always fitted on one side of a C90 cassette  :))

There's a review of SoE that ends with 'In the wake of the promising Songs Of Innocence and the triumphant Joshua Tree tour, Songs Of Experience might prove to be a stumble even they cannot recover from.'. I'm afraid that this may be true, sadly.

I agree that SOE is not their most cohesive album, but it's a terrific album none the less. It's got some great songs, lots of good ones, a few that are just ok, and none that are bad.  On ATYCLB, about half the songs are filler.  Some reviewer might have opined that SOE "might prove to be a stumble" but many people, almost surely the majority of fans, don't agree at all. I'd say it's their best album since Achtung Baby.