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"I Feel Sorry For Bands Starting Out Now" - Wales On Sunday, 15th April 2018

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Title: "I Feel Sorry For Bands Starting Out Now"
Publication: Wales On Sunday
Date: Sunday 15th April 2018
Writer: David Owens
Photos: Rob Browne, Alex Lake


Manic Street preachers' Nicky Wire that he fears for the future of bands starting out and said glad the Manics emerged When they did.

As the Welsh rock heroes release their 13th Studio album, called Resistance Is Futile, Wire said he has sympathy for young musician starting out in their bedroom.

"We've seen the good times. We know they' never coming back again. But We are lucky enough to know what those good times meant."

"I feel so sorry for younger bands trying to seek out a living. I am so grateful we were around when we were around."

"I can't express how bad I feel for anyone in their bedroom thinking I want to start a band and conquer the world."

He added: "When we signed to Sony not only did we get an advance but they said 'we'll pay you to go out on tour. You can go to Germany, Switzerland and Austria for two weeks and you don't have to lose any money.' Oh, that sounds all right.

"I remember we got signed and we did a gig in Coventry at a venue called The Stoker in 199, and there were 16 people there and we had £50,000 in our back pocket off Columbia."

"The whole thing (music industry) is fractured."

"You look on YouTube and you've had 10 million views and get a cheque for €26 or something like that. This is not me being blasé, as it's important for younger bands, but we almost write it off."

Despite his current antipathy to the state of the music industry, the bass player hasn't lost his love of the habit of buying records.

"I still go record shopping yeah," he said. "I went into Diverse Records (in Newport) to get the Sunflower Bean album and, disappointingly, they didn't have it."

"I gave them grief over it and then they gave me grief about not being able to order the white vinyl of Resistance Is Futile," he laughs. "It's great that they're still around, and Spillers and Kellys in Cardiff."

Although the bass player admits that since moving studios - from Faster Studio in Cardiff to the Door To The River Studio in the countryside outside Newport - he doesn't go to the Welsh capital any more.

"When we were at Faster I would nip into Cardiff all the time. Then all of a sudden when you realise your work doesn't need you there, it feels like an effort."

"It makes me realise how lucky we were to have Faster. The idea of literally being able to nip into Cardiff, especially while James was playing a solo for hours on end, I could waste three hours wandering around Cardiff. I can't escape now."

"It was probably the right time to move, though. It was getting a little bit on top of us at Faster and for Sean the commute was horrendous."

"It's easy to romanticise the move to the country. It was much less of a wrench for me than it Was for James, who loved the sound and the smell of Faster."

"Moving here has given us a new widescreen perspective. Like I say, it can sound overly romantic going from quite a gritty urban area to somewhere where you can overlook Newport and see the Transporter Bridge and the world spread out in front of you."

The musician said he was still nervous as the new album is released and confessed that chart placings are still important to him.

"They are for me, deep down," he said. "However, we do have in front of us the immovable object that is The Greatest Showman (soundtrack - that has been 12 weeks at number one in the UK album Chart)."

He reckoned the promo the band have undertaken is ramped up with each release, and this time the publicity had been relentless.

"It gets harder" said Wire.

"I find we're doing at least 20 times as much stuff as we used to, half of which I have no idea What they are.

"I'm directed to do them, like 'Oh yeah, just send Wire in,' I've never heard of these things, but I am reassured they're worth doing."

The once outspoken musician, never afraid in the past to give both verbal barrels to anyone in his sights, said that he should probably be more active on social media, but can't bring himself to do it.

"If I was still drinking I would probably be on there more.

"I'm not actually equipped in that at all. I like using it from time to time but I just can't be that succinct and I certainly don't feel like having an argument on there.

"I wish I could be more engaged but the precious nature of things is so trivialised.

"Like when someone passes away, I think I should say something and then I get twisted up. By the time I make a decision it's too late and everyone would think I didn't mean it anyway.

"I've always enjoyed talking to journalists. I'm old school like that.

"You ask anyone under 30 in a band now and that doesn't even seem like an option that's in their head.

"They (the record company) are lucky with us in that I love marketing. I've always been obsessed with that side of things.

"I don't mind maximising the potential of the record. Although nobody knows if it's all going to add up."

Some of the journalists interviewing the bass player would be half his age and he agreed that he did feel a disconnect between interviewer and interviewee.

"Yes, a lot of the time they don't even seem to know what I'm talking about at all. It's not even in a nasty way. When you think about it, this person I'm talking to was two years of age when Everything Must Go came out.

"That generation gap has been accelerating.

"When I was young I could listen to my parents' records. I wanted to know about The Beatles, The Stones and Neil Diamond.

"That seeks to have widened to the point where I can't even pronounce half the names or even pretend to know what the records are that are in the chart nowadays."

The musician has two children, a daughter aged 15 and a son, 11, who he is pleased to report, do plunder his record collection.

"I come home from being away and I do notice big sections of my CDs missing - like where's my Sonic Youth section gone? And then I go in my daughter's room and it's been placed there.

"I do pretend I'm not thrilled, but deep down I am."

If Wire has his suspicions about social media and coming across as a technological curmudgeon, he is positively incredulous at the Twitter cult that is Sean Moore.

"From a man who has barely ever talked to anyone," he laughed.

"It's unbelievable the way he converses with fans. Sometimes me and James say to him 'you haven't spoken to us for three days and you're having all these conversations with people that you've never met before!'

"His humour comes across so well on Twitter."

Wire said someone who also plays the social media game so well is Liam Gallagher, but as he 50, he can't bring himself to be the outspoken firebrand of yore.

"It terrifies (reaching 50) me because I thought that by this point I literally wouldn't care at all.

"I would eat what I want, and drink what I want and when I liked and not care about what would I say. But I've actually gone the opposite way.

"I certainly say a lot less than I used to, because you know it'll blow up into something - and any sense of humour, or irony that we all grew up with will be just blown up.

"Liam (Gallagher) has shown there is a definitely an old school romantic notion of rock 'n' roll. His gigs are full of kids, My daughter loves him. To her he's a star.

"But is there a band out there who still think along those lines?

"They're not allowed are they? The pressure's on from the start. Get your numbers up, do this, do that,

"You've got to have that real care-free, fearless attitude like Liam has, whereas I'm not like that anymore."

Wire says he is certain the record company would like him to emulate the sorts of viral videos that have contributed to the Success of brand Liam.

"They would like me to do more, definitely, almost as a self-contained entity, being Mr Nasty, slagging everything off. They looked at my history and probably though 'why doesn't he do that anymore?'"

He confessed he just doesn't feel comfortable in that skin.

"No, I don't. It would keep me up at night, everything I say, I can't let go like I used to. You look back at the interviews of me and Richey, I don't think we would be quite so tolerated today," he laughs. "It would be very interesting, though."