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"When The Political Centre Empties, It Becomes Dangerous" - Týdeník Respek, 8th July 2019

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ARTICLES:2019



Title: "When The Political Centre Empties, It Becomes Dangerous"
Publication: Týdeník Respek
Date: Monday 8th July 2019
Writer: Pavel Turek


Welsh rock stars take care of the finale of the Rock for People festival.

"We are Manic Street Preachers and we are from Nineties," he joked from the stage on Saturday at the Rock for People festival several times singer James Dean Bradfield. The motives of looking back into the past are typical of the Welsh trio in recent years. Not only did they gradually go on tour to their three major plates from the ninth decade, their last year's very well-maintained album Resistance Is futile takes an ageing within the roll almost as a central motive.

The main stars of the final evening of the Hradec Králové Festival, however, showed that ageing may not be a problem when sincerity blends with grace and elegance. The feeling with which the band has been combining serious topics with the principles of showbiz for over thirty years, when quotes of philosophers, writers and political commentary brings in refrains with stadiums, does not lose anything on their attractiveness and also subvertiveness within popular music . And so, in just a few minutes, a remake of the classic Love hit Sweet Child o ' Mine by Guns N ' Roses could be replaced, and the moral Apel in the form of a catchy pop-song If you Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next from the Manics themselves. In the same range, the interview with the frontman James Dean Bradfield, who talks about the disappearance of the political center in Britain with the same passion as he is interested in Andrei Babiš, or explains why he does not desire to be a relaxed grandfather who wants to To the young.

Your tour of Twenty Years of This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours culminated just a week ago with a performance at Cardiff Castle, which is not the usual place for concerts, but you are happy to come back.
Domestic concerts are stressful. Sometimes the expectations are so high that they can't be met, but here it was a happy coincidence. It was a wonderful summer evening, the Welsh flag fluttering over the castle on my right, the wind blowing in the right direction, which is crucial for outdoor concerts. It couldn't have been better.

I would like to stop for This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours for a while, in my view it communicates in many ways with what is happening in the world now. Even its name, which in its time sounded like an invitation to dialogue, takes on completely different meanings at a time that is post-truthful and post-factual. There are verses about refugees rolling around the world who are like us, just as you are singing out that if the fascist tendencies are tolerated, our children will take it away.
Everything you say is in place. This is the least political and ideological plate we have filmed. Hit something that could be described as a perfect storm of events. It was shortly after Tony Blair introduced the New Labour programme and came to power--and we were slow to think that this was not actually a change in which we had hoped. Of course, we weren't as naïve as one could think of us. My mother taught me that a man should have his ideals, but he must be prepared to make compromises-elections are not played by the right or the left, but by those who can reach the center. That's the main fight. So after Tony Blair's initial enthusiasm, we slowly began to experience the fact that we live in a post-ideological world. Under New Labour, the central Bank of England received monetary independence, and further action was followed towards a free market. The neo-liberal measure was given during the reign of the left. We perceived this, but then we also had songs like If you Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next, which was inspired by fighters in the Spanish Civil War, Orwell and a very personal question of what we could sacrifice for our beliefs. Finally, there is a song like S.Y.M.M., which returns to the tragedy of the Hillsborough football stadium in Sheffield in 1989, where 96 fans died - the responsibility has long been put on their side, but fatally failed the city and wanted to throw it at them. All in all, it's an album full of heavy topics.

However, neither how nor has it been commercially successful does it offer any answers or solutions.
But it is always with our band: we have never built for anyone, we never said Do it and it. When you read all our interviews, we never even said vote for it and that. I am well aware - and I know from many interviews with people from the former Eastern Europe and the Czech Republic - that our image and the former use of the Soviet era symbols irritated many people a lot. I understand that and it is understandable. However, our life experience and our childhood experiences, when we had a complete collapse of industrial and working-class Wales in the 1980s, were indelibly written to us. He taught us a certain worldview, in which it must be said that the right and the left must listen. They have to compromise because otherwise the center will be emptied - and it just becomes dangerous. That's probably the only answer we have.

Brexit just brought with it this emptying of the center.
Definitely. Even in the time after Tony Blair, it was quite clear what the right and the left were. Today, when we talk about the left and the right in Britain, we still need to emphasse that we do not think either the extreme left or the extreme right. The emptying of the centre takes many different forms across European countries and I perceive that you have experience with it in the Czech Republic. As a regular listener of BBC Radio 4, I follow protests against Andrei Babišovi and the conflicts of interest he has as a politician and businessman. You could talk better about this than I do...

In the last five years, you have made three tours to celebrate the 20th anniversaries of your extraordinary albums from the 1990s - and you have played them all together. It was The Holy Bible, which is the darkest in your discography, the least listener-friendly and deals with the atrocities of the 20th century, then Everything Must Go, with which you were looking for a new direction and desire to continue as a band after the disappearance of Richey James guitarist and lyricist , and then mentioned, least aggressive and confrontational This Is My Truth... They are all very different recordings, it was hard to re-enter them and to meet their emotions?
Everything Must Go was the easiest for me because the anthem is in our DNA. The Holy Bible was a great challenge. But personally I was always a big fan of sports and Nicky (Wire, bassist and lyricist) - although she sometimes takes a skirt on stage, he enjoys an androgynous image and still talks about politics - he likes sports too. Richey loved boxing again. So when we went to the studio and started rehearsing songs from The Holy Bible, which we never played live before, I started to enjoy it because it was very physical (slapping my fist in my palm). It reminded me of the times when I was playing rugby. For Nicky, I think, but it was also very difficult, the weight of those topics and texts touched him. I liked the sports element that brought it with me. This Is My Truth was probably the hardest for me because there are a lot of details on this album, it's not very dynamic - and you can't hide behind fast pieces when it is played live. It must be very precise. In the studio I like to devote myself to details, but on stage I like to play loud. I have to consciously calm down while playing those songs, which was the hardest thing to do with This Is My Truth.

And where did the silence and emphasis on finer tunes take?
Each band goes through different cycles. Bands tend to do the same thing, and then suddenly opt for a style change - and that's when their albums stop selling (ironic laughter). Of course, that happened to us. Although the Holy Bible and Everything Must Go were very different, they still have a common urgency, physicality, speed. The new sound came in response to our success and overall euphoria in the air - Everything Must Go sold four million, the Labour government has been in the cabinet for the first time since our childhood. In our minds, we said: Watch out for all this. Let us be careful in what we desire. We were in a sort of self-reflection, and this was reflected in the mood of the music.

In recent months, you've done two big bands from the Eighties - Bon Jovi and Guns 'N' Roses, which have been a great inspiration for you in the early years.
But I would emphasize that only music--no more of their poses were interested in us. It will sound overwhelming, but fascinated us like Iggy and The Stooges or Public Enemy and N.W.A. by its nihilism.

You borrowed the stadiums riffs from them, but they got rid of the ubiquitous rock sexism.
Sure, but rock'n'roll has changed a lot since the 1980s. And this is true of Guns N ' Roses, when one has now looked around behind the scenes, there were many women in managerial positions. Everything worked positively. Even our last two tour managers are women. This whole environment is changing.

In the last few years, the creation of Manic Street Preachers - especially the albums of the 1990s - has attracted great attention from social and literary scientists. There have been several fantastic essays interpreting your work anchored in the history of the Welsh region or in its literary and artistic canon. It would be a good bookshelf. I would mention the texts of Rhian E. Jones or David Evans, who are dedicated to The Holy Bible. Mostly, they are a little younger than you yourself, which you inspired during adolescence. Are you reading them?
I'm not the biggest reader in our band - it would be a better question for Nicky, but yes, I read. And I even read various biographies about us that sometimes frighten me by how many things are wrong in them. Something is inaccurate, something is spoken of lies, but it is ok, it belongs to the thing - and we have said that we will not comment on it or put it right. But I really like the books and authors you mentioned because they try to interpret the subject in a wider context. I am a great admirer of Greil Marcus and his book Traces of Lipstick is unique. Marcus is a pioneer for me, and I think he also realizes and admits that he has more meanings in many of the songs he writes than the songwriter himself intended. His essays on Bob Dylan are a very good example. But this is exactly what I think exceptional writing about music should look like. If you understand its essence and meaning in music, you follow it - and that music gives you motivation and torment you, just as it has plagued your author, then I believe you can improve it with your writing. And I am very pleased that our band has become a similar inspiration for many authors; they have complete freedom to embark on it.

Your last album, Resistance Is Futile, brings many looking back. Reflection on the state of affairs, but also the state of Rock 'n' roll and popular music, which in the last decade completely ceased to be the central medium of youth culture. Unlike many of his peers and middle-aged bands who try to be an infinite teenager, you admit ageing and a loss of relevance within the genre.
I had to admit that I don't like the way music is being listened to today, even the way it is done. And I think that's exactly how I should feel at the age of fifty. I'd hate to be such a cool grandfather, what's cool for him, but I wouldn't like to swear about it and say that we didn't do it in our young years. I know we don't plan to make compromises to please the kids because it was awfully embarrassing, but you don't want to be backward. All we have to do is to see where things are going, and admit their confusion about age - that is what Resistance Is Futile is all about. We belong to the analog generation. Last month I went to Cardiff and a university student of about nineteen came running up to me for a while, as if he couldn't tell me, and then he says, "Man, you're from the nineties." And here I realized: "Oh, damn, I've become a bluesman."