Computer Games And The Music - Teraz Rock, 18th September, 2010
COMPUTER GAMES AND THE MUSIC
For the first time when I've heard Postcards from a Young Man thought that the plural form of the title - Postcards From Young Men - would fit much better because the album sounds very fresh, like you were 20 years younger.
It's true. Journal For Plague Lovers gave us a lot of energy and vitality. We have never felt old, maybe sometimes and a little bit, when we're are in the middle of a tour. Our last album gave us strenght to return with something that would reach a mass audience and would show them that we haven't run anywhere or hidden in the darkness of the recording studio or disbanded just to return in 10 years like some of the bands have. We're having great fun and our new studio makes our work much easier, especially that along with the changes in British government we have a lot of topics for our songs.
Is it like that after such a dark album as Journal For Plague Lovers you had to make something fulfilled with hits to keep the balance?
I think so. We always try to keep the balance. You can't still record the new Holy Bible or Journal For Plague Lovers. I mean, you can, but I'm sure that our audience would start to contract. We always try to balance between two shores. We felt well while making Journal For Plague Lovers and Postcards from a Young Man. Because of that in our band there are sometimes 3 or 4 people, we have so much inspiration, and the result is a variety of different songs.
James Dean Bradfield said that the new album is the "one last shot to the mass communication". Did you need the shot like this?
Yes, very much, when you record the albums like Journal For Plague Lovers. It was more the artistic venture. We knew we wouldn't reach the specific type of audience that we could reach recording a radio friendly record. As I mentioned before we felt good recording both types of albums. You have to think 1 album forward. Even if we don't ever record anything new, I think we need this one to reach to the listeners who otherwise might lose all their interest with the band. Not everyone would like to listen to Journal For Plague Lovers while driving a car in the countryside. The new album was as much needed as Journal was.
So if this shot is gonna be your last, then what's next?
We'll see. The future is now unexposed. In this moment I really don't know what's next. Maybe we'll create another Journal? Who knows? We don't.
On Postcards From A Young Man there are many great guests: Duff McKagan and Ian McCulloch. I know that Guns N' Roses were one of your major inspirations, but what about Echo & The Bunnymen?
Echo & the Bunnymen were one of the first bands that me, James and Richey saw live in Colston Hall in Bristol. We always loved their album covers because they were so different and of course they were created by Anton Corbijn. Their orchestral arrangements were just out of space and Ian's lyrics were very poetic. It's the inspiration from our early youth. On the album there's also John Cale from The Velvet Underground, our another great inspiration. We were suprised, when we found out, that our fellow, The Welshman, was in The Velvet Underground with Lou Reed and Andy Warhol. We just asked them to help us and they said yes and matched their schedule to our recording session and we're grateful for this very much.
On the new album there's a song called All We Make Is Entertainment. Is it the irony? Because all your songs have a clear message, and I can't imagine you make it all only for entertainment.
That song is about England and how you close many workplaces in the industry on which the country economy was mainly based on. The main action of the economy seems to be only computer games and music. Some things were developing successfully, but it doesn't happen anymore.
British Industry wasn't very well in the mid eighties when you started the band. Do you think that the current situation reminds that one?
To be honest, no. Then you were very lucky if you affforded car, holidays or your own car. I can't say that today is that bad as it was 25 years ago. In the 80's we were probably at that place where you were before joining the European Union. I don't think that today we're that close to the situation from that period.
While writing the lyrics Nicky Wire's main inspirations were poems by Anne Sexton and the plays by Sara Kane. It's a very depressing art but the music on Postcards From A Young Man sounds very optimistic.
We don't dive into those inspirations very much, but they sometimes give us a lot of energy. Sometimes you can go one way and sometimes the other way. I think that even on Journal For Plague Lovers music and lyrics weren't too negative. Even on The Holy Bible the lyrics showed the things like they really were. I wouldn't say that we're a depressive band, rather a reflective one.
Is it the true you started the works on the album during the last American tour?
Yes, and even a bit earlier. Some songs are with us quite long.
Was America a big inspiration for you?
Oh, of course it was! We even regret we didn't come there earlier. We won't leave the America for so long as we did the last time. I made also a private journey to the States with my friend, to understand that country better. It's a place of the great wealth and a great chance. On the other hand there exists a silent majority that doesn't have a right to say something. Let's hope that some things will change soon.
That gospel choir that appears on a couple of songs, was also one of the inspirations of your American tour?
Heavily, yes. The point is that all choir members are from Wales, so it isn't as authentic as you might think. But they did a great job. We wanted some songs to feel spiritual and it worked great.
Manic Street Preachers seem to be more and more bounded with Cardiff. Last time you opened a library and you have supported a campaign to save the oldest record shop in the world, Spillers Records in Cardiff. Is it your way to say thank you?
Yes, that's the only way to show how grateful we are. We used to go to Cardiff when we were younger, and we bought all our cds in Spillers. At many ways it was our window on the world. One of our very first performances took place there and then we had our New Year's Eve performance at Millenium Stadium...
But you have created a band to run away from Blackwood and Cardiff, haven't you?
We wanted to run away from Blackwood, but for us Cardiff was almost on the other side of the world. Everytime a trip to Cardiff was something big, we didn't go there everyday. It wasn't very close, just 'round the corner, but it was a closest place where we could taste the big world. Finally Cardiff appeared too small for us, so we travelled to London. It was our first milestone.
At the very beginning you claimed you want to sell 16 millions records and then disband. Have you changed your mind?
We still haven't sold those 16 millions. When it happens I'll set off the fireworks and open a bottle of champagne. We still haven't done this, but maybe one day our biggest dream will come true.
Manic Street Preachers is a band full of ideas, especially at the very beginning - on Generation Terrorists there are 18 songs, and some of them are today a classic stuff. What do you think of them, from hindsight? They are very naive, but it was the only way to speak for ourselves, we had to throw away all the ideas we had and show it to the world, because we kept them with ourselves too long. And it was the shortest way to do this. The youngsters want everything to be quicker and faster. Now when I think of it, we could make it much slowler, maybe firstly record something for Heavenly to find out how the records studio works, before we released the album in Sony. When I listen to the Generation Terrorists these days I just smile. We could do everything better, everything except Motorcycle Emptiness.
When you were recording The Holy Bible, were you aware you're making something special?
No. For us it was like saying Goodbye, the last album, because we didn't reach the success that we dreamt about. On the other hand we started having new inspirations such as Publuc Image Ltd, Siouxsie And Then Banshees, Magazine and many many more that joined the bands we used to listen earlier, like Guns N' Roses. The Holy Bible was a proof that we can write not only the rock songs but also art rock songs. We thought it was our final album so we had nothing to lose.