Every month we put a U2 fan in the spotlights, the fan of the month October of 2020 is user salty72. Read along for the interview we had with this U2 fan.
"To me U2 has evolved in the subject of their songs. They seemed reluctant to write and perform songs that were very personal. Songs that were autobiographical. I saw that slowly starting to happen with Achtung Baby. The last two albums, SOI and SOE really showcased that personal, life telling story about themselves."
Tell us something about yourself, who are you and what do you do for a living?
First off I'm quite humbled that you reached out to me for this. Very unexpected and I thank you for the opportunity to introduce myself to the rest of the U2Start community.
My name is John Forst. I'm an application support engineer II with a financial company. I reside in Omaha, Nebraska with my wife of 21 years and my two daughters. One a senior in high school and the other a sophomore at the University of Nebraska. And also Gracey, our 11 year old bichon frise.
How did you become a fan of U2, tell us how it happened?
I remember the videos for Gloria and New Year's Day being played on regular rotation on MTV. Funny thing is, at that time, I didn't care for either of those songs. It wasn't until MTV started airing Sunday Bloody Sunday from Red Rocks did I take notice of U2. Two Hearts Beat As One video was released and it was then I decided I was going to give U2 a chance. I was officially hooked on U2 with the release of Pride(In The Name Of Love) and The Unforgettable Fire album. Pride mentions my birthday, April 4, though I know it's in reference to MLK's death. A local Omaha radio station played War in it's entirety one night and my sister recorded it. I gave War a listen and it was then U2 was going to be my band.
The first time you saw U2 was on the Zoo TV tour, what was that experience like?
Man what an experience. I missed out on the '87 The Joshua Tree Tour. I was a sophomore in high school when TJTT took place. It was so hard to get tickets and there was no way my parents would pay $100 per ticket from scalpers. 5 years later Zoo Tv Outside Broadcast was coming to Ames, IA. The closet U2 had been to Omaha at that time. There was no way I was missing this. I bought the tickets from a ticket outlet in a mall and I couldn't believe I was finally going to see U2 live. I darn near cried. The show was amazing. I recall pulling my car into the parking lot of Cyclone Stadium and seeing the giant TV towers and video screens. I was awestruck. I attended the show with 3 others, one of them was one of my best buddies Brian. Dispsoable Heroes of Hiphoprisy and Primus played their sets and then the stadium lights went out, the screens lit up with George Bush chanting "We will rock you", and the sound of Edge's guitar ripping that opening riff of Zoo Station. I'm getting goosebumps typing this. Most of the show is a blur now, but I recall how good the band sounded that night and how good the Achtung Baby songs translated live. The Trabants hanging from cables above the stage. And the two Trabants on a crane that hovered over Bono and Edge during the climax of UTEOTW. Stand outs for me was Until The End Of The World into New Year's Day. The surprise of Sunday Bloody Sunday in the set. The Joshua Tree trio of Bullet>Running>Streets. Ah yes, the blinding lights that lit up the entire stadium at the begining of Streets. Bono's Mirrorball Man for Desire also was a highlight for me. The only letdown for me for that night was no Ultra Violet(finally saw it on 2017TJTT).
I got back home in Omaha around 5am and couldn't sleep as I was replaying the show in my mind. That show will always hold a special place in my heart for me. I do wish a soundboard or proshot recording would surface. I do have a proshot dvd of the first two songs from that night.
Does anyone in your family or one of your friends like U2? If so, did they introduce you to U2, or did you "convert" them?
My sister and her son are fans. No one in my family, although my younger daughter does like Beautiful Day and With or Without You and are on one of her playlists. Most of my friends are also fans, however, I'm the fanatic of the group. LOL. They were already fans of U2 when I meant them.
What does your U2 collection look like? What kind of stuff do you have and how is it organised?
My collection consists of all the albums and DVDs. And majority of the singles from U2-3 to The Joshua Tree singles. There's 12" singles from the War and The Unforgettalbe Fire albums. Also have countless live recordings, thanks to this site and other torrent sharing sites online. I still have a few vinyl bootlegs I purchased from record shows.
I also have all the fan club releases except for Melon. You'll find numerous books related to the band and old posters that hung in my room when I was a teenager. Currently my posters and all my vinyl records are stored safely in a tub in the basement and having to be continuously rescued from being part of the downsizing my wife is always talking about when our girls are out of the house. A couple of the items that are prized for me are the A Celebration single and a cassette tape of the Red Rocks show with I Fall Down that I bought for $5 at a record show. I saw the video for A Celebration for the first time when I was 16 and fell in love with that song. I just had to have that record. I looked high and low. Constantly checked local record stores and went to record shows hoping to find my "holy grail". The hunt took about 4 years when I finally scored the single at record show, along with 11 O'Clock Tick Tock. I was obsessed with having the A Celebration single in my possession and finally, after 4 years of non-stop hunting, it was mine. Score!
You have seen U2 over a long period of time, how have they evolved the most in your opinion?
That's a great question. U2 went big with Zoo TV and Popmart, then went more stripped down with Elevation and Vertigo. Then went big with 360. And back to stripped down production with I+E and E+I. I feel 2017 TJTT was a mix of both. They have always managed to keep the songs as the focal point of their shows no matter how big or simple the production. To me U2 has evolved in the subject of their songs. They seemed reluctant to write and perform songs that were very personal. Songs that were autobiographical. I saw that slowly starting to happen with Achtung Baby. The last two albums, SOI and SOE really showcased that personal, life telling story about themselves. I love how U2's sound has evolved as well. From the bare bones guitar, bass, drums sound to being able to make those 3 components sound like more than just the 4 of them playing. It's amazing what The Edge can do with the guitar. The sounds he creates. I thought Lemon was played on synthesizer. Only to find out that was a new creation from The Edge's guitar.
When you're forced to leave to a deserted island and you can take only one U2 album with you, which would it be?
Achtung Baby. I also declared to my friends at one time I want be buried with that album when my life has run it's course. When the title of that album was revealed I was anxious about what this album was going to sound like compared to their previous efforts. I was blown away when i saw The Fly on MTV when it was premiered. I impatiently anticipated more from the album but had to wait another whole month before it was released. I was immediately hooked after the first listen and darn near wore out my cassette from constantly listening to it. The new sonic sound and dark tone of Achtung Baby was nothing U2 had done before. I remembering making the bold statement to my buddy Brian that Achtung Baby was better than The Joshua Tree. I'll die on that hill today.
If you could give U2 a message to take into account in recording their next album, what would it say?
More aggressive Edge!!!!
How different is U2 compared to other artists that you like?
A couple of my buddies and I had this very conversation about U2 after we saw the E+I show here in Omaha a couple of years ago. U2 can release a new album at this point in their career and make it the centerpiece of their shows. And it's what us hardcore U2 fans love. Instead of going full blown greatest hits, they don't shy away from creating a set that's showcases their latest creation. It keeps each tour fresh. They're also a band can play the deep cuts and the fans will eat them up the same way they do with the well known hits. I mean, look how Acrobat was celebrated when it finally made it's tour debut. When I saw 2017TJTT I was looking forward to hearing/seeing side 2 of the album more than hearing/seeing side A. The deep cuts, Exit, One Tree Hill, Trip Through Your Wires .... just gold. Pearl Jam is my second favorite band and they're also in that same realm as U2. They're a band who can play anything from their entire catalog and their audience will eat it up.
What are your hobbies and interests away from U2, musical or otherwise?
I enjoy swimming and other forms of exercise. I'm a huge fan of Nebraska and Minnesota Vikings football and Kansas City Royals baseball. My daughters love going to see those teams play when we have the opportunity to. I like to spend my spare time drawing. Pencil drawing. I even have a couple of U2 drawings I did several years ago. In fact composing a new U2 drawing is on my to-do list. I also like making cartoon carictures of my friends and family. I like spending time with my friends. Friendships that originated in junior high school. That's a rare thing. My wife and I like to sit outside on our back patio with our dog and take in the beautiful weather when it presents itself. I'll usually cozy up with a cocktail. I'm pretty much a simple man.
Thanks for this interview salty72!
Note: Our crew members randomly pick fans of the month, you can't sign up for it.