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Drink, Tribulation And A Few Triumphs - Stern, 15th October 1998

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ARTICLES:1998



Title: Drink, Tribulation And A Few Triumphs
Publication: Stern
Date: Thursday 15th October 1998


'The only people left to trust': With hymnic rock and spunky lyrics, the Manic Street Preachers even conquer raver hearts.

Had everything gone according to plan, the Manic Street Preachers would have dissolved years ago. Actually, they only wanted to record one single album and then say goodbye, as the last big rock band. Sometimes, says 29-year-old drummer Sean Moore, 'I still think everything went wrong'.

This fact is not difficult for Moore and his bandmates James Dean Bradfield, and Nicky Wire, also 29, because the Manic Street Preachers are currently swimming on a massive wave of success. Her latest album 'This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours' has been hailed by fans and critics alike and has been number one on Europe's bestseller list for weeks.

Anyone watching the preachers live will experience scenes reminiscent of the gathering of a religious community that no longer seemed possible in the seedy rock genre. When the three started their European tour in Cork, Ireland in late summer, frontman Bradfield was largely able to leave the singing to the thousand-part fan choir - although a large part of the songs from the then unpublished new album came from. A few days later, the glorious single 'If You Tolerate Your Children's Will Be Next' shot to the top of the British charts.

It sounds a bit flirtatious when Bradfield asserts that 'we just got lost there'. In fact, the story of Manic Street Preachers is a Hollywood-era drama that leads through deep fate valleys, at the end of which usually everything else waits for the hit parade. It started at the beginning of the nineties, when four self-indulgent school friends from Wales decided to bring 'some excitement' to the pop business: they stormed across the stage with make-up and featherboas, wearing T-shirts with slogans like 'Kill Yourself' or 'Anti-Love', denounced the Glastonbury Festival as a 'shithole' and wished Aids aide on celebrities.

'We wanted to make people aware of how rotting the world is and how mendacious is the rock business,' says Nicky Wire, who prefers to wear a T-shirt today with the inscription 'I love Hoovering' - 'I love vacuuming' - Walked through his Welsh Heimatkaff. 'That's why we wanted to make a single album, a bestseller whose revenues we would have destroyed - as a permanent statement, so to speak.' However, 'Generation Terrorists', as the record was called, did not become a bestseller, even though their punk songs, bristling with doomsday visions, were already breathtaking at the time.

Because she had not read the small print of her record deal, the band had to record two more albums, which were also laughed at only tiredly. At some point, the Manic Street Preachers became a hopeless case, a horde of provincial idiots who missed the train of time and had only one thing in common with esteemed compatriots like Dylan Thomas or Richard Burton - that they drank way too much.

When the then writer and head of the band Richey Edwards was asked in an interview with a music magazine, if that was all serious, he scratched the words '4 Real' with a razor blade - and had to blush with blue light to the emergency room.

Not much later, in February 1995, Edwards disappeared from the room of a London hotel and was never seen again. He found his passport and credit cards, and finally his car, which he had steered to Wales and parked near the Severn Bridge. There the tracks end up today; The police have recently officially declared Richey Edwards dead.

Not wanting to indulge in drunkenness and 'staring at the phone' for the rest of their lives, Bradfield and his friends decided to go back to the recording studio. And made the record of their lives, a collection of brilliant as well as courageous rock songs. It was called 'Everything Must Go', released in the spring of 1996 and sold millions of times. She has released four hit singles and won pretty much all the music trophies that are on this side of the Atlantic, including the prestigious Ivor Novello songwriter award for the song 'A Design For Life' - one of the finest and greatest pop Moments of the 90s and until today the anthem of Manic Street Preachers.

But because their songs are still about workers' struggle, lack of solidarity, and the scourge of junk culture, they consider their success a big misunderstanding. 'Songs with lyrics by guys with guitars are out of fashion in themselves,' Bradfield wonders. Which is of course too short. After all, the pop-listeners do not just go over to club music and hip-hop, because it's fashion, but because they find attitude, sophistry or simply a little bit of life in it. For all that they love the Manic Street Preachers.

So she took now even the English trend magazine 'The Face' on the cover - as 'Kings Of Rock'. And the 'New Musical Express' praises them as 'the only ones you can still trust'. Maybe the Manic Street Preachers are actually the last big rock band. Then they would have achieved what they always wanted.