Did you specifically request a gig in the Middle East?
Well we always try to play somewhere new when we’re on tour. We’ve wanted to come to the Middle East for a while as we’ve never been before. We’ve also never been to Africa or India either so there are quite a few places we are looking to go some day.
There was a rumour doing the rounds that you’d record the Abu Dhabi gig to give to fans who attended. True?
No [Laughs]. We are trying to do a live album but it’s not ready yet. It’s made up of different stuff from the last few years.
No [more laughter]. We ended up doing much more touring than we originally planned so there’s no time to do proper justice to a new project. And anyway people may need a bit of a break from us!
What’s it like sharing producer Brian Eno with U2?
He also does so many other things that it’s hard to get five minutes with him. I think his influence was felt partially on our sounds - he played some keyboards and guitars on the record. But really it was his guidance on the song writing and arranging process that expanded our horizons and influences.
Did he give you a sneak preview of the new U2 album?
We tried not to as it’s more exciting to go out and buy the finished thing. I have heard it now and I think it’s great.
You’re often compared to them. Is that fair?
Well they want to be a great band and so do we - it’s as simple as that. There are a lot of similarities between us but they aren’t our only influence.
Who’s the next biggest band in the world?
I think the Kings of Leon are really huge in a lot of places - they could keep going forever. The Rolling Stones are still amazing, and The Beatles, if they ever reformed, would be the biggest band ever.
That’s not really likely though is it?
[Laughs] I guess not.
Do other big acts ever intimidate you?
Of course. When we first supported U2 in Ireland, we were just completely blown away by how good they were. It’s intimidating and inspiring at the same time.
What was the last thing that really impressed you?
There was this band called Naturally 7 - these seven guys who do everything by vocals alone. They came into our studio and started singing and it was incredible. The song was called ‘I built this wall’ or something like that. You should check it out on Youtube – it’s just brilliant.
Is social commentary really important for rock bands?
I think it’s important as a human; it’s not solely confined to musicians. Dentists and builders care just as much as we do. We just get asked about it more often than they do.
Do you all feel strongly about speaking out?
Yes we do. Chris has done a lot more, but then he talks a lot more than the rest of us! But yes we are all equally committed.
Speaking of Chris, do you like the fact that he gets all the tabloid attention while you get left alone?
Yeah, I don’t even think about it. I’m very happy with the way things are. There are definitely worse jobs.
Any surprises planned for the gig?
We like to move around a lot – especially out into the audience. These are big gigs and people can be quite far away from the stage so we like to pop up in unexpected places.
On a high wire over the crowd like true rock gods?
Perhaps not to that extent – we’re not The Darkness!
We are not the AC/DC explosion type band to be honest - though we do have these amazing balls [Laughs] - light balls - and there’s a lot of energy on stage.
What happens after the tour?
We’re taking a little break and let’s see where we get after that. We’ve got a lot of ideas but we want to find a new way to go and that may take some time.
Tell us about the 19th century military uniform style you’re rocking at the moment?
Guy [Berryman – Coldplay’s bass player] came up with the direction. Then we all got together in our studio to work on the outfits. We got this guy who helped us make the jackets and trousers.
You really made them yourselves?
Absolutely! We really wanted this whole album to be homemade again, we wanted to take it back and have it all come from us.
Have you apologised to Paul McCartney for twisting the St Pepper look?
We saw him at the Grammy’s, and Will said ‘Thanks for the idea’.
What’s it like hanging out with a Beatle?
Well you know we’re not quite equals, but he is a very genuine and lovely person. It’s great when you meet somebody like that and they turn out to be really nice.