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"We Used To See People Having Fun In The Sun And Go, 'Ugh'" - Sunday Mail, 24th August 2008

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ARTICLES:2008



Title: "We Used To See People Having Fun In The Sun And Go, 'Ugh'"
Publication: Sunday Mail
Date: Sunday 24th August 2008
Writer: Mickey McMonagle


Manics enjoy festivals for first time.

Manic Street Preachers fans headed for Connect next weekend are in for a treat - as frontman James Dean Bradfield reckons it will be the first Scottish festival the band will actually enjoy.

The Welsh outfit - James, bassist Nicky Wire and drummer Sean Moore - have been trekking around the festival circuit for almost 25 years but this is the first time they have figured out how to have fun while doing so.

James, 39, said: "We used to hate festivals - this summer is the first time we have really enjoyed them at all.

"It's been our best summer ever. We have just warmed to the idea of playing music in the sunshine...or rain. We were slow developers in coming round to them.

"We used to turn up and find everyone happy, sun-drenched and having fun and our natural tendency was to go, 'Ugh'.

"Now we can't wait to get onstage - we're not Manic Street automatons any more.

"Connect sounds good but you can never tell with a festival until you get there. I don't want to curse myself but I have never had a bad gig in Scotland - T in the Park has been amazing for us.

"We have learned to embrace turning up knowing you can't control anything. You have to just get on with it."

James reckons the band's new lease of life has come from playing new festivals all over the world. He said: "Connect is our last one and when we do that we'll have done 16. They have been amazing and all over - Russia, Croatia, Latvia, Poland, Romania and now Inveraray.

"We made a conscious decision to do lots of gigs we had never played before and it has made a huge difference.

"Playing to a virgin audience is different, there's no cynicism. They just think, 'Right, we've never seen this lot before'.

"There is unabashed curiosity from the audience and from us. Instead of heading off after a show I might think, 'Perhaps I'll go and see Showaddywaddy in the other field, I've never seen them before.'"

The band have also spent the summer working on their ninth studio album, although fans hoping for a sneak preview at Connect will be disappointed.

James said: "We won't play new stuff there.

As usual we will play so many songs from our past that there isn't time.

"Plus the new album is not really festivalfriendly.

It's more than a wee bit dark. It's not the happy, touchy-feely, clappy stuff people want when they are soaked to the bone.

"I'm not saying it's gothic or anything but there is something at work which would not fit that mood.

"We're aiming for the album to come out early next year and we have 11 songs written.

"There is a definite concept there. I know that's a dirty word but there is something people will get when they hear it. They will know why we have been precious about it. I won't say anything about the concept now, I want people to hear it fresh.

"It's not a natural successor to Send In The Tigers - that was a very Manics, shiny, punk, rock'n'roll anthemic album. This new one does not follow on from that at all.

"We have done that sort of thing in the past - we sidestepped ourselves to death and have been very bloody minded.

"From 2001 to 2005 we were more obtuse than we needed to be. We switched off our instincts and did things for the hell of it.

"Now we've started listening to our instincts again. We have come out of our self-imposed search to find a different version of ourselves."

The new record is the last for their nine album deal with Sony, so will the band explore new ways of releasing their music? No chance, reckons James. They are perfectly happy with their old-fashioned record deal and have no interest in the current trend for DIY releases.

He said: "When we signed with Sony we had an issue with our band being seen as a staunchly socialist band from the Valleys and how that would sit on a major label.

"Then we realised Public Enemy were on Sony and The Clash were on CBS, which is now Sony, so it was good enough for us. If they worked within those restrictions so could we.

"Since we got over that hurdle we have been comfortable. We're institutionalised - we would rather stay on a label and get on with life.

"Once you go down the road of trying to do it yourself it will be harder than you think. You need to become more business-minded. Suddenly the band is not about songs, it's a business."

When the Manics started out, they famously promised to sell more albums than Guns 'n' Roses' Appetite For Destruction - which shifted 28 million copies - then quit. James claims he never really went along with the plan but fellow founders Nick and Richey Edwards - who mysteriously vanished in 1995 - intended to follow it through.

James said: "We did say we would sell squillions of records then burn out but the only two members who really believed that were Nick and Richey - that's how mental they were.

"It was cool though - part of what made us who we were in those days was that belief.

"But I was thinking I wanted to be in the band for a while. They were the nihilists, they had to be the fiery phoenixes burning bright and dying.

"I can't look ahead though - I don't know where we will be in five, 10, 15 years. But if you were to tell me I'd spend the next five years working on Manics records I'd be happy."