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"As Usual We're Just A Bunch Of Grumpy Old Men Who Find A Lot Of Things To Hate!" - worldpop, May 2001

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Title: "As Usual We're Just A Bunch Of Grumpy Old Men Who Find A Lot Of Things To Hate!"
Publication: worldpop
Date: May 2001
Writer: Emily Rayner

worldpop catches up with the Manic Street Preachers on the set for the promo of new single Ocean Spray. In our two-part interview James Dean Bradfield, who wrote the track about his late mother, tells us about scary fans, film directing debuts and life on a video shoot...

Video shoots and directing debuts

Are you still mates with Fidel Castro?
Since we've come back from Cuba we've had time to mull it over and reflect on the concert, which is a good thing to do. But no we haven't heard from Fidel, but maybe he'll drop us a postcard!

How are you going to top it?
Well, we played the Cuban gig and the Millennium Stadium in Wales on New Year's Eve and it's hard to beat those sort of gigs, but to just turn up at a venue and play is a relief. It's nice not having some sort of circus going on outside of the actual concert itself.

Tell us about the video clip for Ocean Spray?
Without getting too heavy, the actual video for Ocean Spray is trying to capture that feeling of being disconnected from life. Sometimes when bad things happen in life you become disconnected and it feels as though life slows down to a surreal pace.

Do you and Nick have any desire to get into directing?
I think Nick and I have a frustrated directors instinct inside us because we're such massive film fans. I don't know if that makes us potential directors.

Do you ever feel as if you're just going through the motions?
This must be coming up to being our 30th video or something and sometimes you can be on set for an hour and wish you were back at home straight away.

Fans, chart competition and collaborations

Have you had many scary fan experiences?
I think all bands get quite surreal experiences with fans, but the time when we had the strangest experiences was when Richey disappeared. We would get loads of fan mail written in blood, but that finished a while back. Usually fans with feather boas accost you. There's this huge flurry of feathers walking towards you like some sort of mirage. It's more cute these days than it is frightening.

What do you think about separate alternative charts and pop charts?
Having a pop chart and an alternative chart would make things easier for a band like us to get to No 1. But that would feel like a false result to me. I like trying to compete with the Hear'Say's of this world. Obviously we get trounced quite often. But I like the challenge of competing with pop bands; it feels like more of a victory when you win.

What do you think about the state of the charts at the moment?
A lot of people go on about pop bands being like headless chickens that are completely controlled by their record label, but I find bands like Limp Bizkit are just as disturbing. They're just a bunch of macho show boaters. But as usual we're just a bunch of grumpy old men who find a lot of things to hate!

Is there anyone you would like to collaborate with?
We would love Courtney Love to sing on a track, but you'd probably send her a message saying, 'Manic Street Preachers would love you to sing on one of their tracks' and she'd probably be like 'Manic who?' We're just too scared!

When deciding on the script for Ocean Spray, were you worried that the sentiment of the lyrics may be lost by the director's interpretation of the video?
Sometimes the lyrics have given the video a different slant so sometimes you feel disconnected from the song itself. But doing what I've done in this video it's kind of separated me from the sad and heavy lyrics themselves.

Are you happy with the final result of the video for Ocean Spray?
The song arose from quiet tragic circumstances. But when it comes to a video I don't mind if it wonders off the original subject. I like the idea that this video gives the impression that you do get disconnected from events that go on in your life.

What do you mean by a sense of disconnection?
You have some sort of sensory shut down and I think this video clip captures that feeling.

Do you ever get bored in between shoots?
This must be a 30th video shoot, or getting pretty close to that and sometimes you want to pack up and go home after the first hour, but today it seems to be going OK.

What do you do to occupy your time between shoots?
I go through about two packets of cigarettes and drink loads of cups of coffee. I also read a bit. At the moment I'm reading this book about conspiracy theories which is really interesting...and I also occupy my time with the odd round of table ice-hockey of course!