Larry Mullen Jr. says he may not drum with U2 if the band tours in 2023

U2 drummer Larry Mullen Jr. has revealed that he may not join the band if they intend to tour in 2023.

Mullen spoke of his potential absence in an interview with The Washington Post last month. The drummer – who has remained active in the band since its inception in 1976 – was paraphrased by interviewer Geoff Edgers, who wrote that “if the band plays live in 2023 it will probably be without him, as he needs surgery to continue playing”.

In his own words, Mullen went on to speak vaguely on being independent from U2, saying that he is “autonomous and … value[s his] autonomy”. The drummer continued: “I don’t sing from the same hymn sheet. I don’t pray to the same version of God. So everyone has their limits, and you only do this if it is a great time you’re having.”

Addressing fan concerns that Mullen’s comments signalled an exit from U2, Edgers shared a series of follow up quotes by the drummer to Twitter, adding further context around his injuries and touring intentions. Mullen cited damage to his “elbows, knees [and] necks”, which he “got a chance to have a look at” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to these drumming-related injuries, which he called “damage along the way”, Mullen said he’d “like to take some time… to get myself healed”. He continued: “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.” Edgers confirmed in the thread that Mullen never said he was exiting or retiring from U2.

Elsewhere, Mullen spoke on the importance of healing in order to return to live shows, since he “really miss[es] the audiences.” The drummer also elaborated on his continued activity in U2, saying: “I really enjoy playing and I enjoy the process of playing and being in the company of creative people. I enjoy that… It’s a bit like the sprout looking for water.”

Meanwhile, in his interview for the Post piece, fellow U2 member Bono said the band “come close to breaking up much more often than you’d think.” The frontman continued: “Usually after the really good albums, because they cost you in personal relationships because you’re pushing each other and get really at your elastic limit.”

Mullen’s touring admission comes after Bono hinted last month that U2 would perform in Las Vegas in 2023, as the first act to grace the city’s new MSG Sphere. Bono refused to deny that the band would perform at the venue upon its opening next year.

Elsewhere, U2 received a lifetime achievement award at the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC last week, joining fellow honourees George Clooney, Amy Grant, Gladys Knight and composer and conductor Tania León.

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