Peter Rowen in the eye of U2France

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Peter Rowen is the child, now a man of 37 years, who’s featured on the cover albums Boy, War, the best of 1980-1990, and Three. He is also the younger brother of Guggi, a childhood friend of Bono, but above all he’s a photographer and a U2 fan who has answered our questions.

U2 in Montreal, 2011. ©Peter Rowen

Questions : Pauline

Translation : Florian

First of all thanks a lot for accepting the invitation, it’s such a real pleasure for us!

Have you ever considered being the boy on U2’s covers as an issue?

Peter Rowen No… It’s never been an issue. It’s something that I did as a kid that’s just kinda gone on and on… At the time it as an few days off school and a bit of fun! I look at it now I think that it’s pretty cool that my face is on the cover of U2‘s first album!

It’s pretty hard to narrow it down to one adjective when it comes to the look in your eyes on the War album cover. That’s a provocative yet fearful look, a determined look that challenges people to keep looking at you in the face. Do you remember what was your state of mind back then to offer such a particular look?

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Peter Rowen It’s really hard for me to remember much about any of the shoots I did with U2, infact most of the memories of my childhood are all but gone! ( I think bad memory runs in my family!! ) What I was thinking at the time… I really don’t know! As I kid I know that I did love performing in front of people ( I was a bit of a show off really ) so I’d say that posing came very naturally to me!

The Boy album cover got censored in the US because it was suspected to have a pedophile content. What’s your opinion about that?

Peter Rowen Personally I think that there’s way too much paranoia about all that stuff…

You have probably already stumbled upon a picture of you as a kid on a U2 album while wandering in a store. What do you feel under such circumstances?

Peter Rowen I have come across pictures of myself many many times in record stores over the years… Yea, it’s always nice…

What’s your favorite picture among all the ones that were taken of you as a boy for U2?

Peter Rowen I love some of the out takes that they never used… they appeared in a book a few years back. That was the first time I’d ever seen them and yea I like some of them a lot… I can see a strong similarity to my 12 yr old daughter in some of them.

You once said that choosing photography as a career had no link with being a model for U2 once. When did it feel into place that you would become a photographer for a living?

Peter Rowen My interest in photography came about through my interest in drawing as a kid….I realize looking back that I was never much of a reader but I always loved looking at pictures, looking at pictures and drawing ( Art was one of the few things I was at in school! ) Then at the age of about 17 a friend introduced me to photography and I instantly fell in love with it…within a year I was working as a full time assistant photographer.

You are a U2 fan yourself. What do you like in their music, do you have any favorite albums/songs?

Peter Rowen Yeah, I think U2 are great! Favorite album, probably Actung Baby. Favorite song would probably be ‘Stay‘.

You attended several U2 shows, among which Slane Castle in 2001, Barcelona in 2005 as well as Dublin, Paris, Rome and Montreal during the 360° Tour. Which of those U2 concerts left you an indelible memory, and why?

Peter Rowen Yeah probably the Slane show in 2001… It was the first time I got to shoot the band which was a great experience… It was also a time of major change in my life, it was a really difficult time for me.. I shot the first show for The Irish Times who I was working for at the time and the following weekend I went along as guest. Those two shows, for very different reasons are the most memorable for me.

What’s your feeling about the 360° Tour?

Peter Rowen I though the 360 tour was great… saw it about six or seven times and it never failed to impress.. They are a really great live band.

Most U2 fans consider ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ as the most powerful song in a concert. Something makes me think ‘Bad’ is even more intense to you…

Peter Rowen Yeah Bad was written for and about my brother Andy who has struggled with addiction for a lot of his life but thank God he’s doing well these days.

Rumor has it that Bono giving the finger at the beginning of the Paris show on September 18th 2010 was a message to you. Is that true?

Peter Rowen Ha! Possibly… You’d really have to ask Bono for the answer to that one!!

You made an appearance in the Two Hearts Beat As One video clip that was shot in Paris. What is your first feeling whenever you watch this video again?

Peter Rowen I just watched it now! My first feeling was ‘Wow…. that video is 30 year old!!!’ That means I’m getting old!! Yikes!!

What do you remember from that Parisian stay back in 1983?

Peter Rowen I actually remember ( yet again!! ) very little! One of my only memories is of Anton Corbijn playing Larry’s drums and when he was finished he jumped off the stool and cleared the whole drum kit!! ( probably an easy thing to do when you’re 7ft tall! )

I’ve been reading that you like Paris. What’s the most seducing thing in our dear capital according to you?

Peter Rowen Yeah Paris is great… the architecture, the food, the weather, all the cool looking people, the bikes! Lot’s of bikes!!

When was the last time you had contact with Bono or a band member?

Peter Rowen Ah I suppose sometime last year maybe…

What’s your favorite Anton Corbijn’s photo ?

Peter Rowen I like lots of Anton‘s pictures! I have a really nice print that he took of me and the band in about 1983 / 84…It was shot in a little forest on the road I grew up on… it hangs on the wall of my sitting room.. I like that shot!

It’s been 30 years since you posed for U2 albums covers, and now again one of your pictures was chosen to be the cover of another U2 album – U22. How do you feel about that?

Peter Rowen Yeah, that was cool…I was delighted they used one of my shots!

What kind of photo work would you like to do for U2?

Peter Rowen I’d like to shoot the cover for their next studio album… Now that’d be cool!

If we were sending you a heavy load of Mars bars (NB : U2 gave these chocolate bars to Peter so that he posed for their albums), would you be willing to write a concert review of U2’s next show just for us?

Peter Rowen : Sure! Why not!!

What can we hope for you in the future regarding your career?

Peter Rowen Well I’d love to get better and better at what I do… What comes of that I’m not sure…We’ll see!

I can’t seem to find a suitable picture to illustrate this interview. Could you please help me?

Peter Rowen I’ll send you one!

Thank you so much Peter 🙂

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