Music fans, dig in. HBO's Off the Record, which previews this Friday, Nov. 24, at 11 pm/ET, and debuts sometime next year, offers rock stars a forum to do something they rarely do on TV: talk. This week's sneak peek finds U2's Bono and The Edge sitting down with host (and Eurythmics guitarist) Dave Stewart to discuss their beginnings, their influences, and write a song for Sinatra. Stewart spoke with us about being rawk's version of James Lipton.
TV Guide: The series is very much like Inside the Actors Studio.
Dave Stewart: Ever since Inside the Actors Studio came out, there have been a lot of people going, "Hey, why don't they do that for musicians?" The reason why I was chosen to host it was I'm kind of in their world, if you know what I mean. I can talk to them musician to musician. And also having been around the block a few times, and seeing the ups and downs that artists go through, I can widen the conversation and then [bring it] back to music again.
TV Guide: I like when you held up albums that influenced U2.
Stewart: Every artist throughout history has been inspired or had their minds blown by an artist before them. Bono was raving about Patti Smith or the Ramones... and it's important for the audience to hear what inspired [him]. They might even investigate it themselves. Nowadays, I think kids are bombarded by a thousand commercials and their brains are assaulted by music in supermarkets. But if you're into a band like U2 and you hear them talk about albums and artists that blew their mind, it's kind of interesting for [kids] to [think], "Oh, wow, I'd like to hear that." That's why I wanted to hold up those album covers.
TV Guide: What's the appeal of Bono?
Stewart: He's lightning in a bottle. He's got all of the certain things that make a star. He's got such a strong belief in what the band U2 are saying and doing, and that kind of resonates with the audience. You just believe him immediately.
TV Guide: How'd you meet?
Stewart: I don't even know if he remembers this, but the first time I really met him [was when] he brought me on-stage in Phoenix Park in Ireland, about 1984 or '85.
TV Guide: Do you have a favorite Bono story?
Stewart: Bono can make anything happen, and I have a little bit of that trait, so the two of us together is like gunpowder. One time, we were trying to get everybody involved in this song we were writing for halftime at the Super Bowl. It was chaos. In the Hit Factory in New York, we had the Neptunes, Beyonce, Luther Vandross... just an army of talent. And then Oprah Winfrey arrived with a camera crew. And then the NFL arrived. Bono and I [saw] all this chaos and went into the elevator—and just rode up and down going "What shall we do?" [Laughs]
TV Guide: Who's your dream guest?
Stewart: I'd love to interview Prince. I've never really seen anybody get into his whole raison d'etre. And obviously Dylan.
TV Guide: Will you do an episode with your Eurythmics partner Annie Lennox?
Stewart: [Laughs] That'd be so weird. It'd be hard because I'd actually be posing a question to her about us.