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"There Was Nothing Good" - Ilta-Sanomat, 10th August 2014

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Writer: Mika Seppänen
Photos: Jenna Lehtonen

Jenna Lehtonen - Ilta-Sanomat 100814.jpg

We've made a lot of mistakes, "says Manic Street Preachers singer James Dean Bradfield tells Ilta-Sanom.

On Saturday, the Manic Street Preachers singer James Dean Bradfield, who has appeared at the Helsinki Flow Festival, admits that the British band's 28-year career has been able to accommodate not only a number of international superhits, but plenty of mistakes.

"Sometimes we have been offensive, sometimes we are confused, sometimes we have failed and sometimes we have succeeded greatly. And often this work has been very inspirational. We have done a lot of mistakes, but we have also made many good decisions. At least we have always followed our brains, although in practice we have always been out of fashion," Bradfield sums up Manics's career.

"The fact that we have always been more or less outside the fashion phenomena has scared me in time, but now I find it really quite inspirational."

The three biggest mistakes

When Bradfield asks what he means with the band's mistakes, he starts a 45-year-old Welsh singer with a lunar monologue.

He initially mentions Manics's visit to Cuba in 2001, where he performed in Havana, among other things, President Cuba's Fidel Castro. The visit to Cuba, however, posed a great deal on the international stage when Manic Street Preachers were blended with the most peculiar political tones and perspectives.

"The appearance in Cuba was a big mistake. There is a huge difference between being a politician and a politically interested person. And because our music is political, we had to speak in Cuba as politicians, although it was by no means our intention. We did not realize then that if we were to get a picture of some politician in the country, there was an idea right there that we would support that politician. And because of that, we got into trouble, because conclusions were drawn from the pictures that did not hold true," Bradfield says.

Two other bugs mentioned by Bradfield relate to the 2004 Lifeblood album - and in particular to the song 'Love of Richard Nixon', which told the former US president Richard Nixon.

"Making Love of Richard Nixon was a mistake. If I had known what would follow, I would never have done that song. It was so misunderstood," Bradfield started.

"The lyrics say the differences between Nixon and John F. Kennedy. The fact that Nixon's reputation was very poor compared to Kennedy and we tried to point out Nixon on the other side of the track. We tried to tell you that no one is single-handed. Although Nixon was a very pragmatic, narcissistic and self-interested person, he was also a warmer part of him. For example, one of his greatest goals was to find a cure for cancer - and that thing is always overlooked with Nixon. But no one understood the song, as we would have liked."

"The Lifeblood album was a big mistake on us at all. There was nothing good about it," Bradfield says to IS.

The songs of Manic Street Preachers, established in Blackwood in 1986, have kept a lot of political views over the years. Bradfield finds a natural cause for the band's political image.

"We all lived in the political era of our youth, and in the region where there was a lot of political tensions. If we had not started making music, we would all be criminals.

He also reveals Manics's influences on his music from Finnish musician Hanoi Rocks.

"We got a lot of influence on glam rock, punk and political music at the beginning. We loved Hanoi Rocks, Guns 'n' Roses and Public Enemya as young people, and it was a wonderful combination that we started to create our own style."

Manic Street Preachers released three albums (Generation Terrorists, Gold Against the Soul and The Holy Bible) in 1991-95 before making a big breakthrough in 1996 with their Everything Must Go album.

How important were the first three albums you thought about Manic Street Preachers?

"That's important to me because it reflects how much the music industry has changed since the early 1990s to this day. Our record company was at that time gracious to us because they gave us time to work and complete the record. The first three albums were not the best selling titles - especially The Holy Bible, although it received a lot of praise from critics. But just for the fourth album we were ready to make a perfect album."

"The music industry has changed so much so that no record company will give the band much time. If we had started our career now, we would never have been able to publish Everything Must Go - at least on the same record company."

"Everything in the music industry has changed - how to buy music, how to enjoy it, and how to do it. We also have to keep up with the development."

Do you still enjoy singing and traveling with bassist Nicky Wire and drummer Sean Moore when the band has been playing for nearly 30 years together?

"Absolutely! I've known Nicky and Sean from the time I was born. Sean is practically for me as a brother - we are still a cousin. We've been together for a long time - this band has been longer than many of my friends' Marriages. So it is clear that we must give each other space and peace. But we still enjoy each other's company, we understand each other and love to play the music together. We have a very strong side," Bradfield says.

Manics's greatest hits are from the 1990s to the early 2000s. Although the songs have been a lot of time, the band has still been attracted by young fans.

"After the release of the 2007 and Send Away the Tigers album, we started to play a lot of new, young people with our gigs. We wondered the matter first, until we realized that our kids with our gigs are there with their parents, who in turn are our old fans. It was very strange to know. But on the other hand, it was also great."

"If the band stops getting new fans, then the band dies very quickly," Bradfield says.

Nicky Wire, a bassist, recently hinted in an interview with the NME music magazine that Manics is likely to release only one album after which the band's career ends.

Is Wire talking about James Dean Bradfield?

"Nicky is the one who tries to anticipate and plan for the future, while I and Sean are always trying to live in the present. But frankly, I do not think that's the way it is. On the other hand, you never know. When the band has made over ten albums, it is clear that the band's career is closer to the end than the beginning. I am now 45 years old, published in the spring of Futurology was our 12th album, so one day this will definitely run out. But I do not think we would end soon enough."