James Dean Bradfield of the Rock Band Manic Street Preachers about success and emotions
The Manic Street Preachers are the band of the hour: they fill concert halls and let critics cheer. The guitarist and saeger James Dean Bradfield is talking about the trio, which after a human pitch has set to a musical high-flying flight.
'How do you feel as a star?
"The whole starge is swindling! The star does not exist. It is a pure invention of the media world, an illusion, a marketing gag."
"Admittedly, it is wonderful to have success, and also the popularity has to some extent determined their appeal. But that is why I do not have to perform like an ornamental plant and constantly show my uniqueness. That's why we're not freaking out anymore when we look at a title page. After all the years of music business, much has become a habit. The past has taught us how quickly things can get out of control. We are grateful if it is good. But we also know at the same time: where there is much light, there is also a lot of shadows."
Such a shadow was the mysterious disappearance of your band member Richey James in early February 1995.
"That's what I said before: it always happens differently than you think. We were very anxious and thought of losing. We could hardly sing anymore with pain. And what happened in this time? We went there and produced our best album with "Everything Must Go".
Is it not paradoxical? Because you lose the creative backbone of the band and produce the most successful album?
"Actually, that's perverse! But that seems to be life. There are always surprising surprises. Obviously there is no choice but to adapt to the new situation."
What is the prevailing feeling today: the pride of having brought it to glory and honor as a trio, or the pain of losing a valuable man?
"That changes constantly. The emotions oscillate between rage, despair, and euphoria. There are moments when I step out of the stage after a good concert and, as if I wanted to provoke him to return to us, inside, Richey pleaded with a sense of pain: 'Come on, see what you're missing, you idiot.' In those moments, I can not accept that this guy just disappeared.
And in the quieter moments?
"There are nights when I'm awake and I can not sleep because I see Richey's face constantly in front of me. Then I lie for hours in my dark hotel room, crying or conducting self-talk."
What has changed since the Manic Street Preachers have shrunk to the trio?
"In the production departments a little. Me and Sean get the lyrics and then build the music around. It's different for Nicky. At Richey's time, he was just a co-writer. Now he has to write all the lyrics himself. That is why the quality of the lyrics today is different than on our two previous albums 'Generation Terrorists' and 'Holy Bible'."
"A song like "If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next" could never have come from Richey. He was much too nihilistic. Nicky, on the other hand, is more constructive. The biggest difference to earlier is, therefore, that our songs are less cynical."
And in the purely instrumental?
"We are not so much the guitarist Richey, but the sensitive man Richey. Especially in the studio, where we spent so much time together. Where we have suffered, we have quarreled and celebrated, we are always taken up by the past. You can see these pictures as Richey used to sit there and write poems or stick his crazy collages into his notebook."
Although your current album "This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours" is breaking records in Europe, you had problems getting a record deal in America. What was the issue?
"I feared that our political statements, as well as our socialist ideas, did not fit in with some types of the American music industry. The US market is set on show. Probably bands such as Rage Against The Machine can make wild and direct attention to Misstaende. Just: It just has to stay nice, so Big Brother does not lose the overview. For such a theater, we are just too serious and our songs too subtle and ironic."
At the beginning of the nineties, you were always on the stage with plateaux and makeup. Today, however, you wear T-shirts and sneakers, although the glam rock celebrates a big revival.
"Just because in films such as "Velvet Goldmine" or with bands like Placebo or Marilyn Manson the Glamrock is a revival celebrates, we do not have to go there right away. This is pure commerce! The intellectual and political content, which the Glamrock originally possessed, no longer play any role. We have not condemned the Glamrock. We just had to see that with the loss of Richey our band lost a certain visual force: Richey and Nicky were like twins. They were a kind of visual symmetry. It has now been destroyed since February 1995."
However, the visual appearance still plays a role for you. Many of your songs are accompanied by projections of video clips or poems. Do not you have confidence in the power of the songs?
"Yes, but. Our songs have an independent statement. We also respect this when we design our stage show. Because we are convinced that they always exist on their own. But we are also fascinated by the magic of film, photography and poetry."
A mixture of forms as an artistic program?
"Yes, because we are convinced that every art direction has to fulfill a task: it is supposed to convey a conscious perception and an intuitive understanding of the world."
The Manic Street Preachers appear on March 16 at the X-tra Limmathaus in Zurich.