U2 drummer Larry Mullen Jr. does not plan to tour in 2023, seemingly regardless of his band's intensions.
"I am autonomous and I value my autonomy. I don't sing from the same hymn sheet," Mullen said in a recent Washington Post interview, surrounding U2's upcoming Kennedy Center Honors. "I don't pray to the same version of God. So everyone has their limits."
Elsewhere in the profile, members of U2 consider the perseverance of their band over the past 46 years. But keeping the band together that long hasn't been easy.
"We come close to breaking up much more often than you'd think," Bono adds in one paragraph. "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."
As fans began speculating whether Mullen's quote signaled a coming split with U2, author Geoff Edgers released more quotes via Twitter from his interview with the drummer, suggesting Mullen just wants to take more time to get healthy.
"I really miss the audiences. I miss that interaction even thought I'm sitting behind a drum kit ... My body is not what it used to be physically," Mullen said. "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."
Mullen volunteered that he has for several years been dealing with ailments that often plague aging drummers. Edgers added that Mullen has "pushed himself to perform" despite those injuries in the past, but "does not want to now. He wants to fix his issues. Because he wants to drum again."
"I have lots of bits falling off, elbows, knees, necks, and so during Covid, when we weren't playing, I got a chance to have a look at some of these things," Mullen added. "So there's some damage along the way.
"So I'd like to take some time, which I will do to get myself healed. And I really enjoy playing and I enjoy the process of playing and being in the company of creative people. I enjoy that. I don't care if that's big or small. It's a bit like the sprout looking for water."
In stark contrast to Mullen's comments, Bono himself has done several new interviews this fall promoting his memoir, Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story, and has more than once alluded to a forthcoming U2 album. This has undoubtedly played into fans' concern.
Edgers added a final thought for "panicked U2 fans," noting that the band has "hit pause" several times in recent years for members to address personal issues, including in 2006 when Edge's daughter was diagnosed with leukemia and in 2015 after Bono was injured in a severe bike accident.
"What's to say they won't wait for Larry?" Edgers wondered.