U2 drummer Larry Mullen Jr. says band may perform without him in 2023
The founding member of U2 says he needs surgery in order to still play drums live.
Bono has been in the news lately due to his best-selling autobiography Surrender and its intimate world tour, but U2 are back in the spotlight once more as some concerning new information about drummer Larry Mullen Jr. emerges.
In fairness, they're rarely out of it, having long established themselves as one of the most successful Irish exports in history.
It's been five years since the last U2 studio album, too, with Songs of Experience landing at the start of December 2017. What does the future hold for U2, then?
For one member in particular, it's complicated. Larry Mullen Jr., the man who posted the fateful 'musicians wanted' missive on his school notice board in Mount Temple all the way back in 1976, has spoken of his physical issues in a new profile on the band in the Washington Post.
A standout paragraph in the piece, written by journalist Geoff Edgers, says the following of Mullen:
"He is largely self-trained as a drummer, a powerhouse who now struggles with the physical toll of a lifetime of pounding. He’s the least public of the group’s four members, by far. The interview he gave for this story was, he said, his first in seven years.
"He’s blunt — he says if the band plays live in 2023 it will probably be without him, as he needs surgery to continue playing — and admits the dynamics in the band are not the same as they were decades ago."
Naturally enough, this revelation provoked unease amongst U2 fans, at least one of whom contacted Edgers online, asking him to elaborate on the state of the 61-year-old Mullen's health.
On Twitter, Edgers posted details that didn't make the final edit of the interview.
"I interviewed Larry on Zoom earlier this month," said Edgers. "He was gracious and thoughtful. When I asked a question, he typically paused to think in silence before responding. I got the sense he appreciated the chance to speak in a story about the band he essentially founded.
"I did not ask about his physical issues. He volunteered them. He said that he had been told, in the past, to rest or get work done and take time off. Instead, he pushed himself to perform. He does not want to now. He wants to fix his issues. Because he wants to drum again."
Speaking further on the matter, Edgers shared the following quotes from Mullen:
"I really miss the audiences. I miss that interaction even though I'm sitting behind a drum kit ... My body is not what it used to be physically. Like next year, I won't be performing live next year. I don't know what the band's plan is. There's talk of all kinds of things.
“I have lots of bits falling off, elbows, knees, necks, and so during Covid, when we weren't playing, I got a chance to have a look at some of these things. So there's some damage along the way.
"So I'd like to take some time, which I will do to get myself healed. And I really enjoy playing and I enjoy the process of playing and being in the company of creative people. I enjoy that. I don't care if that's big or small. It's a bit like the sprout looking for water."
You can read the full Washington Post piece on the band – it's very good – here.
I’ve been told (okay, by Chris, the fan) that there is unrest in the U2 community about what Larry said in our profile. As a fan of many, I understand. It seems fair to share a few more details. https://t.co/qT2Fs0dfC0
— Geoff Edgers (@geoffedgers) November 29, 2022