Do you have a special connection to Cologne?
James Dean Bradfield: Oh, we have played in town several times already. It used to be harder to communicate with the audience. Generally, it was a love affair with Germany, which has developed slowly. Meanwhile, Germany is one of our favorite places to play. At least I have no bad memories of Cologne.
What can the fans be happy about?
Bradfield: We present songs that have not been heard live in Europe for 15 years. It's a reference to a Christmas gig in the UK where we played all of our 38 singles. In April there will be a cut-down version with 25 tracks. It will be exciting to see what people associate with songs from their youth.
The new album is called "End of an Era with National Treasures" - a collection of their greatest hits of the past 20 years. How is the title to be understood?
Bradfield: That's meant ironically. At first we were the band that everybody hated. Now we have survived many bands. The picture on the cover shows a mine - a subtle joke about our origins in Wales and where we are now.
At first, your lyrics were very socially critical. How have they changed over time?
Bradfield: At a young age, we were nihilistic. We were more interested in destroying this world than in creating a new one. As you get older, you write more positively. By now, half of our texts are socioeconomic. The other half is personal. We are still very interested in politics and culture. Unlike in the past, we are now more constructive.
They have not been touring Europe for years. Why not?
Bradfield: We have occasionally performed at festivals like Rock am Ring. Until 2005, we still toured through the continent. After that we needed a long break. In general, touring Europe is very expensive. It is therefore becoming increasingly difficult to earn money with it.
An important factor was certainly the disappearance of your lyricist Richey Edwards in 1995. What do you know about it now?
Bradfield: His fate has been widely studied, but not fully understood. We know that his disappearance was planned and happened out of free will. His car was parked in a parking lot on the border between England and Wales. There the car was last seen. Sometimes this is still very present. However, we have learned to live with it. The exact circumstances will probably remain an eternal puzzle.
How did you handle the loss as a band?
Bradfield: It was very strange. We've known each other since we were kids, grew up in the same place and went to school together. We feel more familiar than other bands. His disappearance was a heavy blow for us but is part of our shared history. We talked a lot and were able to rely on each other during the crisis. We already lost a friend. We did not want to lose the others, either.
Is it true that you are already working on a new album?
Bradfield: Yes, we're in the process of making a demo. We will do it more experimental this time. This has something to do with the fact that the music scene in the UK has changed a lot. There dominate R'n'B, pop and rap. Guitar-heavy music has a hard time. To land a single hit there is unlikely. The new album will not be released until the beginning of 2014.