Geldof Booms Into Town // He’d Rather Play His Music Than Discuss It

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
April 28, 1993

Bob Geldof is a hard sell.  He is 40 and says he feels it, though he doesn’t look much different from when he was a young punk in the ’70s band the Boomtown Rats.  Tall and gangly, he is charismatic on stage – defiant in conversation.  He is quick to laugh, but the Irishman makes it clear he doesn’t suffer fools.

This day, stuck doing his eighth interview of the day, he is bored beyond belief.

“Why wouldn’t I be bored,” he asks.  “I’m stuck doing (obscenity) interviews.”


This is the man the world once referred to as Saint Bob? The musician whose efforts to feed the starving Ethiopians almost had him knighted by Queen Elizabeth?  The same man who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his work with Band Aid and Live Aid?

Sure is.

But that was eight years ago, and the garrulous rock star didn’t mind yammering with the press if it meant he could generate more donations. He worked endlessly for a cause he believed in, whether that meant handing out food rations to starving children in Africa, playing benefits or working the phones.  His biggest coup was coordinating the spectacular Live Aid concert on July 13, 1985 – a live telecast that was seen by more than 2 billion viewers.

But now his record company is making him talk about his music, and he isn’t particularly interested.  Never has been.  Probably never will be.

“My record (`The Happy Club’) is out and I don’t really think there’s much I can say to make people buy it or not buy it,” said Geldof, who will perform Saturday at Avalon.  “It’s important to me that I do relatively well, because that enables me to record my songs.  But not selling a million records or whatever isn’t a major catastrophe.  How can it be when you consider everything else that is going on in the world?”

Recorded in 10 days, with Geldof composing most of the songs at the mike, “The Happy Club” is an ironic title for a collection of songs that lyrically are serious and thoughtful.  If you don’t hear the words, you can be fooled by the content.  The melody on “Room 19,” for instance, is impossibly catchy and incorporates a snippet of  the Monkees’ “I’m a Believer.” His record company, Polygram, says the song is a tribute to that  made-for-television band.

Geldof loudly begs to differ.

“I just thought it was funny to stick (that riff) in a song about melting brains,” he said.  “The idea was completely odious and ridiculous at the same time.  It’s just a private musical joke to myself.  This thing about, `Is it a homage to the Monkees?’  I don’t give a (obscenity) about them.”

So there’s no chance of Davy Jones jumping on stage and shaking a tambourine during one of your sets, huh?

“No, they’re too old to hang out, aren’t they?” he said, laughing. “Although I shouldn’t talk.  I’m quite ancient myself.”

For this album, his first since 1990’s “The Vegetarians of Love,” he recruited some musical pals, including Karl Wallinger from World Party and former Boomtown Rats bandmate Pete Briquette.

“I loved being with the Rats, but the band had just come to the natural end of its life,” Geldof said.  “I really enjoy the freedom of being a solo artist.  I don’t have to consult with anyone before making a decision and pretend that the band has a false democracy.”


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