What could be as monumental for podcasting as the president visiting Marc Maron’s cat ranch? How about, the biggest band in the world guesting on a podcast dedicated to thoroughly analyzing said band’s work.
In what is also one of podcasting’s most meta moments, all four members of U2–Bonobos (Bono), Thedge (The Edge), Larry Mullen Sr.’s Son (Larry Mullen, Jr.), and Adam Clay 2000 Pounds (Adam Clayton)–invited superfan Adam Scott Aukerman (a/k/a Adam Scott and Scott Aukerman) to interview the band and record their U Talkin’ U2 to Me podcast at New York City’s Electric Ladyland Studios. That this is the full band’s first long-form podcast interview demonstrates their savvy understanding of both the medium’s particular reach, and the value of a fun, loose, and intimate conversation that isn’t predigested and distilled before being delivered to the audience.
That episode, released on August 6, shows the musicians embracing the Scotts’ (as they’re known) distinct humor straight away. The band starts off the proceedings by presenting the hosts with a personalized gift drawn and signed by “Bonobos”, which in turn, sparks a very straight-faced riff from Adam Clayton about being a wrapping paper collector and “wrap artist.”
(In fact, in their post-interview commentary that interjects throughout the episode, Adam and Scott admit that even they weren’t entirely certain if Clayton was serious or putting them on.)
Entertainment Weekly’s Will Robinson observed, “The Irish rockers were well prepared for the podcast, equipped with references that only someone who’s check out a handful of episodes would gather.”
But the interview is not all fun and games, as Adam and Scott demonstrate their deep U2 knowledge with questions on topics like the origin of The Edge’s signature guitar style and the episodic structure of the band’s albums. They also touch on the progress of Bono’s recovery from a bicycle accident last year and the challenges of putting on concerts filled with spectacle.
As Clint Davis, writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk, noted, “U2 is getting in on the podcast revolution.”
Fans of U2–as well as comedy, music, and podcast fans–get the advantage of hearing the band outside the strictures of the typical press junket, as they engage in authentic conversation not just about their music, but also about their passions and the artists and work they, themselves, admire. For the members of U2 it’s an opportunity to connect intimately with the hosts and listeners without the relentless focus on promotion or having to suffer through the same tired questions. Moreover, Audible, Meundies, and Squarespace–the episode’s advertisers–benefit from a rapidly growing audience’s rapt attention, plus Scott’s and Adam’s expertly entertaining ad reads.
Journalists and cultural critics did not miss the import of this rock ’n podcast milestone.
Jay Cridlin of the Tampa Bay Times wrote, “This might be the greatest triumph of fandom in the podcast age.” Consequence of Sound’s Michael Roffman concluded, “this is a big win for the podcast and a special, special episode that should change everything going forward.”
And Vulture’s Jesse David Fox tweeted his blog post with this simple declaration:
This is my Obama on WTF. https://t.co/OoybXJbRaL
— Jesse David Fox (@JesseDavidFox) August 6, 2015
Do not miss this milestone episode.