"We didn't have a hit," Bono says. " 'Get On Your Boots' is going over better and better live, but that spongy funky sound didn't connect with rock radio. If your first single doesn't go off, it can knock the momentum. We believe in the songs and we want people to have them in their hearts and their iPods.
"Missing 2008's fourth quarter hurt sales, which in an era of rampant piracy no longer reflect the music's reach.
"You don't know how far the music travels," says bassist Adam Clayton. "The new songs get a great reaction live. Nobody's yawning or groaning. Releasing it outside that last quarter made it more uphill. Other factors skew the numbers. The record business is collapsing, and radio and the media.
"What's beyond Horizon? A trio of albums, starting with the ambient Songs of Ascent, containing surplus material from Horizon sessions. It may include the buzzed-about "Every Breaking Wave."
"It's a very intimate affair," Bono says. "They are beautiful love songs, where the object of love is not always obvious."
The band also wants to finish its shelved rock album with producer Rick Rubin, and Bono and Edge are wrapping up songs for the Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark musical."
That's a monster album, a wild ride with very big songs," says Bono, who hopes the pair's project will evolve into a U2 album with special guests. "Edge and I knew it had to be dramatic, melodic and character-based. We'd just dream up the maddest stuff. Spider-Man may be the funnest project I've ever been involved with. Never a dull day, never a dark day until a few weeks ago when we woke up to the news that the production company had run out of cash."
Bono asked Canadian promoter Michael Cohl to help get the project on track. Spidey may be delayed but won't be derailed, he says.
Release dates are indefinite.
"The Spider-Man collection is the most developed but the least appropriate to the band," Edge says. "We've got so much material at different stages of completion, it's going to be a nice problem when we've got a few weeks to look at it."