"Current Pop Is Depressing" - La Verdad, 18th October 2002
In a time when the industry -to rehabilitate- recapitulates the catalogue of their sacred cows, the band Primal Scream with passes for the more aware of the British rock could not escape the inertia of looking back. They have done so with Forever delayed (Epic), a model anthology with a score of cuts between which Manic Street Preachers include unavoidable subjects of its race, three singles never appeared in disc (Motown Junk, Suicide is painless and Masses against the classes) And two austere new pieces of reflective tone, titled There by the grace of god and Door to the river.
A necessary retrospective illustrates the progression of a band born in a small mining town of Wales (Blackwood), which was projected to the world with unprecedented provocation cravings since the days of punk. Heirs of the political rock of his idolized The Clash, MSP have managed to put no less than 26 singles in the British Top 40, joining six songs of socialising lyricism, haughtiness, melodrama and political criticism with aggressive, epic or delicate rock.
Nor have the catalog of ghosts that preoccupied any artist aware: the side effects of popularity, the distance from the real world or the contradictions derived from the exercise of revolutionaries from the bowels of a multinational.
For a time it seemed that the self-destructive activities of guitarist and second lyricist, Richey James, overshadowed his music and political activism. Alcoholic, anorexic, insomniac and depressive, she used to scour the stage long before Marylin Manson. Seven years ago he disappeared near Severn Bridge, the favourite bridge of the Welsh suicides.
The group not only overcame the tragedy. A string of hits - James Nick Wire (bass), Dean Bradfield (lead singer and guitar) and drummer and cousin Sean Moore - their success shot up to become a commercial event the three albums they published since: Everything Go (96), This is my truth, tell me yours (98) and Know your enemy (01).
Their new album will include an additional CD with remixes of their songs by David Holmes, Chemical Brothers, Cornelius, Massive Attack, Stereolab, Ian Brown, Mogwai and Avalanches. From this album and from the thirteen years of Manic Street Preachers, we hear from London about his main lyricist and recent dad, Nicky Wire.
The album opens with 'Design for life', the first song you wrote after the disappearance of Richey James. Any special reason? It is a very special song for us, but not so much for personal reasons, but because it is our most popular song in places as different as Japan, Spain or Cuba. It also helped us a lot to look forward and not to fall into self-pity. And musically it is very relevant for the group: in a way, it contains everything we have always tried to do. It was the first time we used strings and made evident influences like the Motown sound, which we had never shown. In addition, it is a paradoxical song: it has a critical message, socialist and existential, but, at that time (1996), we presented ourselves as a band more glamorous than political.
Last year there was talk of the alleged appearance of the remains of James. Are you still uncomfortable talking about him? The good thing about looking back is to be able to remember how many good times we share together. Richey has always been portrayed as a sickly, darkly or mentally disturbed person, but he was not. He was very sentimental, he spent jokes, had a sense of humor, went to college and was interested in many things in life. 90% of the time we had a very good friendship. We prefer to remember all that rather than associate it with the most dramatic part.
Passion and energy
Contrary to usual disks successes have not included your first single, "Suicide Alley '. We consider that the band really began its trajectory with the second single, Motown Junk, that closes this disc. For us it was incredible to be able to record it under conditions in London, in the same studio where the Clash recorded some of their best pieces. I still feel all the passion and energy we put into it when we recorded it. We were trying to get away from everything, from Wales, from the baggy scene, to build something new by recovering the subversive sense of pop. If we do not play it on every tour, we feel like we're scamming people. We have put it at the end as saying: "This is where everything came from."
You have always used music as an instrument of political and social awareness Do you miss that attitude in today's rock? Yes, I believe that in the times that run anybody would demand more commitment at all levels. To the current pop I see it more empty than ever, especially those metal bands that seem to make music for alienated children. It seems that only Primal Scream has a way of understanding rock similar to ours. At least they look really angry. And that is appreciated at a time when it is embarrassing to see Europe in tow from United States. They are difficult times to be different, dominates the unique thinking, and at this juncture, the industry is interested in manufactured artists that are more manageable than the committed groups. There are exceptions like Asian Dub Foundation, Rage Agaist The Machine or At The Drive In, but the pressure was too much for them.
I mean, nothing to do with a couple of decades ago. Nothing to do with the eighties, when there was a whole scene politicised with people like Billy Bragg, Redskins, Communards, Style Council ... Today I do not find bands with social relevance, but depressing groups like Radiohead.
The two new songs, 'There by the grace' and 'Door to the river', have a certain spiritual and religious tone. Looking at old photographs we were invaded by a feeling of humanity and spirituality, I do not know why. Maybe the loss of Richey or our manager, Phillip. Or perhaps in the sense that suffering and overcoming adversity can be healing and we have been blessed with a gift. An idea that contrasts with the contempt of religion. Today, the gods in which people believe are footballers, pop stars or the same science. We intrude characters that are garbage.
Do these songs say anything about the band's future musical? I do not think so. We want to experience the next album and do something very different, more conceptual in the lyrical and musical.
What remains of that punk band that wanted to be the Clash? We have lost friends and things along the way, but other issues remain unchanged. We maintain our social sense, we try to have fun and have fun and we are open to new influences. I like the idea of being a band that nobody knows what they are doing. And we have been able to grow without betraying ourselves: we still recognize ourselves in our old songs.
The first edition of the album includes an additional CD of remixes. Is not that too much abused? We are very interested in the possibility of being subjected to totally different musical interpretations than the original ones. More than the remixes, which are limited to repeating the central verses of a theme about an electronic rhythm, we are attracted to mixtures that, while preserving the lyrics, propose something different. I'm not a fan of dance music, but I really like what people like Mogwai, Massive Attack or Avalanches have done with our songs.
What would be the most special moment in the history of Manic Street Preachers? Millennium concert in Cardiff, playing in Cuba before Fidel Castro ... In terms of feelings and personal satisfaction, I guess Cardiff concert, but also keep a great memory of the performances in Wales to twenty people. We thoroughly enjoyed being hated by everyone. The situation in Cuba was different: interesting, but very suffocating because we were continually asked about issues of integrity and politics. We know that Castro used us, but no more than Tony Blair when he invites Downing Street to Oasis or any other famous musician.
Are you going on tour with this record? Yes, our families will hate us. Next year we will tour around Europe and pass through Spain. One of the best moments of our recent history was to see 3,000 people in Barcelona singing with us. This is my truth, tell me yours.