The Time U2 Was Brilliantly Trolled By A Parody Band
Many rock bands often get entangled in controversies, such as Oasis, Aerosmith, and Guns N’ Roses. They are either perfect magnets for trouble or the trouble itself since their infamous stories are as popular as their music career. However, the fact that drama follows rock music doesn’t mean it’s always the musician’s fault.
In U2‘s case, they experienced one of the most clever trolling incidents in the history of rock music when a parody band tricked their fans into thinking the band released a record. As you can imagine, the band named Negativland faced a copyright lawsuit, and surprisingly, U2 was slammed for hypocrisy afterward. Let’s break down one of the most twisted stories in rock music together.
A Parody Band Convinced Fans That U2 Released A New Album
An experimental band named Negativland was known by their fans for releasing cover versions of other rock bands’ songs with a little twist. The band’s main aim was to mock those musicians by altering the lyrics, and their new target was no other than the successful band U2.
In 1991, U2 was preparing to release one of their most well-known records named ‘Achtung Baby.’ Since the album would drop on November 18, 1991, their fans were surprised to see an album with a different name in record stores before the release date.
The reality was that the parody band decided to release an EP named ‘U2’. The name was displayed in a huge font at the front of the packaging while Negativland was written with smaller letters, tricking fans into thinking the record was named Negativland. It featured parodies of the band’s famous song, ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ and another one called ‘The Letter U And The Numeral 2.’
Since the band’s fans thought U2 released their record early, the EP started selling very fast. U2’s label Island Records quickly sued Negativland, stating that placing the word ‘U2’ on the cover violated trademark law, as did the song itself. Many believed that this was done because Negativland’s record sales would extensively damage the success of the band’s upcoming album.
U2 Looked Like Hypocrites After Using Copyrighted Material
A year after the incident, U2 publicists contacted a publisher from the Mondo 2000 magazine named R.U. Sirius regarding the possibility of interviewing the lead guitarist Edge. The idea was to promote the band’s upcoming multimillion-dollar Zoo TV Tour, but things took a sharp turn.
After receiving the offer, Sirius came up with an idea to call his friends Joyce and Hosler of Negativland to conduct the interview since U2’s Zoo TV Tour featured sounds and live sampling from mass media outlets. While the guitarist was unaware that the hosts were Negativland members, they asked Edge about his ideas about using sampling in their new tour and the legality of using copyrighted material without permission.
The entire interview made the band look like they sued a less known band for copying them, but they have the freedom to do the exact same thing because they are U2. Midway through the interview, the Negativland members revealed their identities and embarrassed Edge after he realized what their team had done.
The U2 member stated that his band was bothered by Island Records’ aggressive legal approach to their lawsuit. Furthermore, he alleged that much of the legal process took place without the band’s direct knowledge as their lawyers took care of everything. Although Edge sounded ashamed of how their team handled the whole situation, U2 was still accused of hypocrisy.