Recently, they were guests of the Eska Music Awards, and in a moment they will come again to play during the Malta Malta festival. Manic Street Preachers is one of the most important bands of the British rock scene, playing continuously for 25 years. Vocalist and guitarist James Dean Bradfield answered the questions of our inquisitive journalist.
How does divine genius feel today? ( Manic Street Preachers in February were awarded the title "God Like Geniuses" by the magazine New Musical Express - note Red)
James Dean Bradfield: I woke up in the morning, I looked in the mirror, I decided I had to shave and go to the hairdresser. I would also like a visit to the gym. I did not feel like a divine genius (laughs)
Do such rewards mean anything to you?
The best part of this award is that it was granted to us by NME. From the beginning of the band's operation, we had a rather complicated relationship with this magazine. We received extraordinary compliments from them, but also one of the worst critical remarks that happened to us to read. And I think it's really good. Balance has been maintained, because if we got the praises themselves, or the whips themselves, it means that something is wrong with us and with them. To get such an award from NME, who can do well, means a lot to us. Besides, when we were young, NME was a real rock'n'roll bible for us. The weekly described the music we wanted to listen to before we even heard it. Their descriptions of albums and reviews were sometimes more interesting and better than the music itself. That was what the NME meant - the words themselves meant more than the thing they described. In the end, it was the NME that put on the cover of the infamous photo on which Ritchey Edwards cut 4 Real in his hand during the interview.
You come to Poland twice this year. First you gave the awards for the Eska Music Awards and then for the festival. Are you singing your Rihanna "Umbrella" cover?
We will probably sing it during the performance at the festival. Where did the cover come from? Usually at the end of each year, Nicky and me choose our favorite songs. Nick chose "Umbrella" and I chose Cherry Ghost "People Have the People". Nick was always fascinated by kitsch and plastic pop. Besides, "Umbrella" is a very shapely composition and it's easy to play the guitar because it has only six chords.
You have always been identified with political involvement when it comes to music. Your last album "Send away the tigers" can be considered in the context of history with the Olympic Games in China.
We decided to write songs for this album about 2.5 years ago. The title of the song was to be a reference to the fact that one decision can weigh on you throughout your life, and tells specifically about the case of Tony Blair. It is also about good decisions, like sending our troops to Kosovo, and not just about participating in the war against Iraq. However, whatever you do, you will be remembered thanks to your bad decisions. Their ghost will scare you to the end of your life. As for China and the whole action with protests against their politics, I was doing as a young man before and maybe I was looking for connections that were not really there. But this is the magic and the advantage of music, that sometimes you see connections between things that are not present at all and create them for yourself. It is really difficult to find a place in politics worldwide free of hypocrisy. I would not like to decide whether to participate or boycott the Olympics. I do not like this combination of sport and politics very much. I prefer when this connection is politics and culture. It is easier for us to discuss with politicians. Besides, I do not believe that every politician has been in this profession because of his ego and vanity. There are politicians whom I highly value and respect. They make decisions that haunt them for the rest of their lives. Most of them could be well-paid lawyers and earn a lot more than sitting in the parliament. The sometimes they can not get what they want to achieve, that's why they also sometimes accept the politicians' side in what they do. There are more good politicians than bad ones, which unfortunately can not be said about music: there are more bad bands than good ones.
Have you ever thought about a politician or music-politician career like Bono?
No never. I think that what Bono does is unique, whether we agree with him or not. There is only one person in the world who can do such things and this is him. I would fail at once. Besides, I like politics like Nick, who sees her as a form of entertainment. I like reading about politics, watching debates on TV. Becoming a politician is not in my taste, it would destroy my life.
You have created a self-sufficient trio and rarely cooperate with other musicians or singers, but the last CD in the song "Your Love Alone is Not Enough" was sung by Nina Persson from The Cardigans. How was your cooperation going?
Already when we were writing the song, we had such a concept that Nina would sing it in a duet with me. Of course, we did not wonder what would happen if she refused. We thought she would not associate us. And she agreed immediately, she said she liked the song very much and would be happy to take part in her recording. It was a huge shock for us and then we were just scared (laughs). It was great to have someone else on stage but us and when everyone's eyes were on her and she felt like a fish in the water. It was a relief for me, I felt again a guitarist who sings a few verses, and not like the lead singer. A guitarist who is a little behind, a bit ahead and she is on the front all the time. It looked like I was in a completely different band for a short time. Not that I would like to be in a different band, but from time to time it would be nice.
Maybe you should think about a full-time vocalist?
Maybe it is, but there is some danger that soon Nick and she would argue about what clothes and make-up on the stage (laughs) .
Nicky and You have solo albums. Do you think about the next one?
Not very. I mainly focus on publishing next Manic Street Preachers. Our solo albums were released when we realized that we had to take a two-minute break from the music scene, because we were too busy at full speed for too long. These two solo albums arose from boredom and from addiction to music. They were a very important experience. When Nick and Sean find that we should take a break again, who knows who might do another solo album.
What will be the new MSP album? Can you betray something?
In the past, Nick, Sean and I were stupid enough to cheat on our previous albums before finishing work on them. We said: "It will be amazing" and "I will tell you what we intend to do", so this time I will not say anything.
Wikipedia has written that you've recorded six tracks in four days and are working on a new album with Dave Eringa
Mhm. We've been working in the studio for a while and I can tell you we have four demos, and Dave Eringa will not be working with this album. Wikipedia also wrote that I am a half alcoholic - what does it mean that I drink only half a bottle of alcohol? It's some nonsense.
On the other hand, critics have written that your latest album "Send Away the Tigers" is the best album since 1996 and a perfect farewell to the music scene. Can you imagine life without a band?
Being brutally honest I have to say that I do not. I used to say it before, but if someone told me that from tomorrow I can not play in Manice, I would have to spend most of my life on a psychologist's couch. The prospect that I could not make music with Nick and Sean, with whom I have a great relationship and shares a piece of life with me, literally frightens me. Losing the band would also mean losing a pack of best friends. It's too scared. I will ask the next question (laughter) .
You come from Wales. Have you ever felt like an outsider among the purely English bands?
Yes of course. When Ritchey was still with us, alternative music was really an alternative. If your slim band released a CD, then probably 2000 people bought it around the country. At that time, record labels did not look for bands in southern Wales, Scotland or Ireland. At the time, there were no successful Welsh bands outside The Alarm. Now there are plenty of them. And this is one of the best in the world. Then being from Wales and being in a band was seen as a handicap because there is no rock'n'roll tradition in Welsh culture at all. A lot of snobbery from the British music press and insulting us that we are miners who suddenly changed their pickaxes to guitars. Then we felt like outsiders who came from the country of Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey. We do not feel this anymore. We feel differentness, but not alienation. I am different than the British, Scots, Irish, you have your own identity, which is recognizable. We have never thought about recording something in Welsh, because the part of Wales in which we grew up is spoken in English. If ne you can communicate with yourself, you can never communicate with others.
Are you listening to young bands from the English alternative scene?
Yes, of course, I keep up to date. I liked last year's albums of Future of the Left, produced by Steve Albini and The Afternoons.
A few years ago you produced the album of the band Northern Uproar. Do you see yourself as a mentor or producer of another young band?
I'm not sure about the role of a mentor, but I could easily become a producer and promoter of a record from a band that I like music. This is hard work and that is why I have an oozy level of respect for good music producers who really care about what they do, not just the commercial aspect. I can imagine myself doing it again, but such offers do not come that often.
And with which of the producers would you be willing to cooperate?
We always had fascinations with Steve Albini. When it comes to producers, his approach to music is really extraordinary. And every time I read an interview with him, it seems to me that he is probably one of the most honest people in the music business, which would be terrifying if it turned out to be true. He likes things that are not loaded with details, light, he prefers to have one payment and that's it, he does not want to have any shares from the sale of records and credit. He does not like to be called a producer, but a sound engineer. He has this specific way of recording music in his own studio, introducing a military knack in it. And most likely it makes the musicians feel like the worst musicians in the world in his company.