Being in a band for almost thirty years is something to be proud of. Now, being in one of United Kingdom’s most influential rock bands for almost thirty years (while maintaining infectious songwriting and ever-growing popularity) is a whole other level of accolades. That’s exactly what Manic Street Preachers have accomplished. Celebrating the twenty year anniversary of their third record The Holy Bible, these Welsh alternative-rockers are currently on their The Holy Bible Tour and will play Toronto’s The Danforth Music Hall tonight. Ahead of their performance, A Music Blog, Yea? chatted over the phone with the band’s Sean Moore to discuss coming back to North America, their loyal fanbase, favourite new bands, and advice for young artists. Enjoy our interview below:
Hi Sean! How are you doing?
I’m pretty good.
Thank you for speaking with us today. My staff and I have been fans for years, so your time is much appreciated.
It’s no problem at all.
So back in January, you released the 20th anniversary edition of The Holy Bible. You’ve been in this band since day one. Does it feel like twenty years have gone by since dropping that third Manics album?
To be honest with you, no. We surprised ourselves with the fact that we’ve done twelve albums and we thought we’d only be doing one. The fact that we’re still playing things that inspire us as a group, to push ourselves and our songwriting… Ultimately, for us, it’s always been about songwriting.
In support of the anniversary, you just started to play your first North American concert dates in six years. Why did now feel like the right time to come back to North America?
Obviously twenty years is a bit of a landmark. The fact that North America was denied a Holy Bible tour, we just felt like we should finish that chapter. We had a great time in the UK with it. It sort of reignited something within ourselves. I don’t think it was to recapture youthful feelings; obviously with our history there are some sad feelings, but I think despite some of the content of that particular album, we still feel like it’s really important to our history. It’s a way of moving forward and come to terms with a lot of things that happened then. For us, it’s a way forward and to finally give people that show that they wanted. It’s a way of re-energizing ourselves.
In addition to performing The Holy Bible on this tour, you’ll also play classic tracks and rarities from your broad back catalogue. Which songs do you look forward to playing the most?
There’s always an enjoyment with all of the songs that we play. Songs like A Design For Life, Tolerate, Motorcycle… despite some of them being more than twenty years old. It’s different and people enjoy certain songs as well. That’s what songs are – they need to be played and they need to be heard.
It’s obvious that The Manics have an extremely loyal fanbase, as your UK Tour sold out within nine minutes. What’s been one of your favourite touring moments you’ve shared with your fans from over the years?
It’s obviously our millennium concert that we played in Cardiff in a stadium to sixty thousand people. That was just… for me that was the peak. We had just come off of having our triple platinum selling album in the UK, we won two lots of Britain awards for both Everything Must Go and This Is My Truth, and to be able to finish the end of the century with a huge New Years Eve concert like that… [laughs] I don’t think we could ever imagine or better it. That was a real highlight. The last ten years have been a real highlight because we’ve discovered a lot more that we’ve had musically. We’ve grown and got better and our enjoyment of touring and being in the studio has grown as well.
You mentioned some highlights of the“peak” there. You recently asked fans to start sending in #ManicsUSA photographs which has everything from old concert photos to memorabilia. There have been thousands of these and it’s clear to see how much the band means to people. When you look back at these memories and photographs that people are sending in, what are some that really stand out for you?
For me, it’s always going to be our little trip to LA more than anything – all of those pictures of ours of that time and our obsession with West Coast rock music. We enjoyed the magnificence of New York and the big cities in North America. We didn’t get off to a good start there, so with us, we appreciate the good times and the challenges that we came across. There are a lot of highlights and photographs, but I think that the LA show is the biggest for me.
You also shared a UK artist inspired playlist which included artists like Joy Division, The Cure, Bowie, and Gang of Four. When it comes to newer acts or bands, who have you been enjoying as of late?
I’ve sort of been listening to War on Drugs who seem to be a bit of a mainstay at the moment in the UK. I really like The Horrors from the UK because they’ve got that blend of seventies tunes and punk-rock with a bit of electronica in there. There hasn’t been a lot that’s really come through and been stand-out. I think this year, particularly, has been a pretty poor year for new bands.
Speaking of new music, there are some great musicians that follow our website who are in smaller up and coming bands. So to wrap things up, if you could give fans of yours some advice on the music industry, what would you tell them?
It’s always good to have a good manager, a good agent, a good accountant, and a good lawyer. Those are pretty much the things that you need to get through it all. Basically, stay good friends within the band and build those relationships. Be open. Be open in the studio and not let your egos get too big; you’ve got to be open to fresh ideas. Hence the word “band”, it is a group of people. It’s about being open and being honest and letting your creativity flow.
Absolutely. Well, thank you once again, Sean. It was a pleasure speaking with you.
And thank you. I always like coming to Toronto. Maybe I’ll be able to get up the CN Tower and walk across that glass floor. I’m afraid of heights so I’m hoping that this time I can get over my fear.
[laughs] I hope you get to. Best of luck with this tour and thanks for everything.