Nicky Wire has spoken about the Manic Street Preachers' meeting with Fidel Castro, describing the Cuban dictator as "just like the greatest pop star I've ever met".
Speaking exclusively to NME.COM, the Manics' bassist enthused about being invited for lunch with Castro the day after their historic show at the Teatro Karl Marx in Havana on February 17.
Wire said: "He was just like the greatest popstar I've ever met! There's only two people I've ever come across who really have that special aura. One was Muhammad Ali and the other was Fidel Castro. I never want to meet anybody I admire because they let you down. I'm sure I've let people down, but meeting him, he didn't let me down at all."
Castro fulfilled rumours that had circulated in Havana all day by attending the show, and infamously said to Wire "Will [the show] be as loud as war?" Of the following day's meeting, Wire said: "He actually talked about how he makes his speeches, still to this day. He just rants to somebody for an hour, they take it down and then he alters it and then he speaks again. That was really interesting - to show that his brain is still so active at his age I thought was great."
He continued: "I think the best thing was that he talked about 'Baby Elian', the track on the album, and he actually just said to me, 'You must know a lot about Cuba to write those words.' That made me feel really relieved, because you're always worried about using situations as a lyricist, and I did really try to research the situation. I'm fucking glad I did, because I wouldn't have liked to be in a bullshit situation there! With Fidel, as I call him now."
Wire also hinted that the next single from forthcoming album 'Know Your Enemy' will be 'Let Robeson Sing'. The first two singles 'So Why So Sad' and 'Found That Soul' disappointed those expecting entries at Numbers One and Two, by only reaching Eight and Nine respectively. This week, both dropped out of the Top 20, hitting 25 and 35 respectively. Wire was philosophical about the singles' performance. He said: "if we'd released one single it probably would have been Number Three, which would have been even more frustrating. There's just a natural drop-off. When you've had two huge albums, it's pretty impossible to sustain that level. It just feels good to have a bit of failure. 'The Holy Bible' was an utter commercial disaster, and it almost gave us strength."
In other news, 500 fans will have the opportunity to meet Manic Street Preachers at a signing session at Virgin Megastore in Manchester on March 28.
Wristbands will be available on a first-come first-served basis from the store next Monday (March 19) from 8am, the day 'Know Your Enemy' is released.
Fans will also have the chance to win a guitar signed by the band through a competition being run at the store.
Finally, the band's official website, www.manics.co.uk, currently has the album track 'Intravenous Agnostic' streamed in full.