U2 POPS INTO TOWN: 'Crime' pays for a New York Band

Mike Ross, Edmonton Sun, June 11, 1997

'If we sucked, we wouldn't be touring with U2'

So, I'm talkin' with my bro' Huey, from the band Fun Lovin' Criminals. He's on the phone from his home in "New Yawk," and he puts me on hold to take another call.

"Sorry, man, I gotta tell these people to stop calling me at my house."

After a long pause, he's back" "That was Bono," he says nonchalantly. "Yeah, he's my boy. It's weird. You give the guy your number and he calls you."

Bono? From U2?

That's what he says. It turns out that Huey and Bono caught the Radiohead show in New York on Monday, along with Madonna, Trent Reznor, Mailyn Manson, R.E.M. and anyone who even thinks they're anybody, by the sounds of it.

Bono just phoned to "chat" Huey says. It's par for the course when you've been inducted into the casual stratosphere of the U2 entourage. But who the hell are Fun Lovin' Criminals, you ask? Almost 100,000 people are about to find out when the trio opens for the Irish supergroup at Commonwealth Stadium Saturday and Sunday.

"I think we're their favorite band," Huey says. "I think it worked out where they were looking for an opening band and our name came up and they were all like, 'yeah, get these guys!' So we were real easy to get. If U2 calls, we show up, you know?"

Fun Lovin' Criminals sounds like the kind of group Bono and his crew would like. Formed in New York (the group is so distinctly New York that you can almost smell it), the band combines urban, techno, rap, funk and blues in a pungent melange of all-out rock 'n' roll.

In a Rolling Stone interview last year, Huey describes the Criminals' debut album, Come Find Yourself, as "pizza pie wid (sic) everything on it." But unlike, say, the Chemical Brothers, whose "show" consists of two guys turning knobs for half an hour, Fun Lovin' Criminals can deliver it live.

"Oh, man, we rip s*** up, bro'," Huey says. "It's like a rock band out there rockin'. I hate to brag, but if we sucked, we wouldn't be touring with U2. And It's good to know that we don't suck."

Humor is also a key ingredient in the Criminals' music, Huey says.

"If you live in New York, s*** gets really weird, really heavy, overwhelming sometimes. And if you can laugh at all that stuff, it kind of helps you out. They say laughing is the best medicine. And we definitely think that way. I guess it translate ovet to how we do our music. We don't really take too much seriously, but at the same time, we're dealing with serious issurs. So it's kind of like a tightrope you walk to keep yourself sane."

It's a snap compared to his last gig.

"I was in the marine corps, man, and I was doing some s*** over there. There ain't nobody shootin' at me now. So doing this rock 'n' roll business is not that bad."

(Huey says he's "legally obligated" not to talk about whether he was in the Gulf War; so if he's a spy, being in a New York hip-hop trio would make perfect cover.)

"It's especially "not bad" when you're opening for the biggest tour of the year, for musicians and a road crew who have gone out of their way to be perfect gentlemen throughout the entire tour, Huey says.

"They're really nice people. They let us do our thing. They know it's hard to upstage U2.

"If I come out there with a flag and start talking about revolution, maybe they'll have a problem, but other than that..."

And if U2 wasn't Huey's favorite band before, "they are now."