On U2 and Working With Your Heroes
Oh, this was the most intimidating. Going in with them was the last wall that I needed to climb to allow me to be fearless. I’ve been working with so many artists for so long that I don’t really get intimidated, but U2 were a different level. I was brought in at the 11th hour on that album, at the very end, to finish some things. The first role that I played was sitting down and listening to everything and critiquing the hell out of it. It was literally like calling a music critic in when you’re not even done with an album and saying, “What’s wrong with it?!” So I sat there with all of them in the room just staring at me. Literally, they had met me five minutes earlier, and they’re going song by song and would hit stop and go, “Ryan, Ryan, what do you think?” I had to sit there and tear their songs apart and give my honest opinion. That was their trial. “If this guy sits here and tells us everything is great, we’re going to kick him out.” I didn’t. I had to quickly identify the songs worth chasing because we had a limited amount of time.
That was a trial by fire. Now, after working with U2, I am no longer this weirdo kid that was just a fan. As for their new album, Songs of Experience, I’ve already been working with them for a year. We’re roping in some really good remixes that are going to kick an entirely new door wide open for U2 fans. The world right now is listening to such different music that you can’t expect a 20-year-old to gravitate to a U2 record if it’s not put in the context of what they listen to today.