Manic Street Preachers have included a song about Richey Edwards among the extra tracks on their new single, “Kevin Carter”, which is due for release by Epic on September 30.
The extra tracks also include an easy-listening instrumental - the fulfilment of an ambition for singer James Dean Bradfield.
Bassist Nicky Wire talked to The Maker this week about the single, the Manics’ support on Oasis’ ill-fated American tour, and their championing of rising Welsh bands such as Super Furry Animals and Catatonia.
"Kevin Carter", taken from the gold-selling album "Everything Must Go", is released in three formats, including two CDs.
The first CD features three new tracks: "Horses And Starlight", "Sepia" and "First Republic". All were written by Wire, Bradfield and drummer Sean Moore.
CD2 features three remixes of the title track, one by Jon Carter (Monkey Maﬁa) and two by Stealth Sonic Orchestra.
The extra cassette track is an acoustic, radio-session version of "Everything Must Go".
Wire said the West Coast-tinged "Sepia" is "quite sad lyrically - just about missing Richey".
Asked if things had become any easier for the Manics since the guitarist’s disappearance in February last year or if they continued to feel an enormous gap, Nicky said: “We kind of feel that gap. This is not like a dreadfully unhappy song - it just says 'Miss you' in a friendly kind of way. There's nothing complicated about it. It's not melodramatic, not trading on any situation. It’s a natural type of reaction, a delayed reaction. It’s a bit of a yearn."
"Horses And Starlight" is the easy-listening epic. According to Wire: "it's our tribute to Burt Bacharach. It's one of James’ passions and his baby. He enjoyed doing it. Sean's on his trumpet again. It's on "Kevin Carter" too, so there’s a theme. It was good for me - I didn't have to write any lyrics.
"When we were all together, the four of us with Richey, and my brother Pat used to go up Penafan Pond and we used to read the beat poets, like Kerouac, and there were all these wild horses opposite, and we used to do it in the dark. So we wanted a peaceful bit of music to go with that memory."
The third new track. the Stooges-inspired "First Republic", is the most recognisable as the Manics, with its raunchy guitars and hooks.
Said Nicky: "It's one of the most punky things we've done for a long time— our ode to republicanism."
We spoke just a few days after the band's return from America where their support tour with Oasis came to an end with Noel Gallagher suddenly walking out.
Wire has confirmed Oasis' claim that, contrary to press reports, the tour was going very well for them.
He said: "It was a pleasure to be able to watch them every night. One of the misconceptions was that they were struggling in America. They were playing to 15,000 people every night. The gigs were euphoric. I was there, I saw it. For a British band to be doing what they did I thought was spine-tingling.
"We went down OK, jumping around for half an hour. We’d finished by 8pm every night."
The Manics have already returned to the States for another two weeks on the West Coast. They're live in the UK in October
and December, and are also set for Europe before the year is out. "Touring,touring, touring. The joys of life- not,” said Wire. We're generally so busy at the moment, we don't get that much time to think too seriously about things, which is unusual for us and a bit of a relief. We're usually pondering endlessly, the angst corner. It's always there, but we're too tired to think too much at the moment."
The success of “Everything Must Go” and its attendant singles has undoubtedly added to the Manics' workload.
"It's surprising how many new fans we've got," said Wire.
"A lot of people think ‘Design For Life' is our first single. We'll probably get Best Newcomers in the Brits, after five years of endless touring and recording.
"We've always thought we could be this massive band, but when it finally came in the UK, it's been quite a surprise. We've always been the glorious losers."
The Manics are surrounding themselves with some of Wales’ finest for the rest of the year, with Super Furry Animals, Catatonia and Stereophonics all lined up as supports.
"I'm very impressed by these groups," said Nicky. "I loved the last Catatonia single. I love Super Furry Animals full stop. Theirs is the best album of the year.
"It's just nice. cos when we started there was a lot of ridicule just for being Welsh. Every headline either mentioned a daffodil or a Dai or a boyo. Everything was derogatory. There's always been a lot of creativity in Wales, but people thought that Welsh music was Bonnie Tyler or Tom Jones or Man. It’s good that that's changed. I think there'll be more and more."
The Manics intend to release one more single from "Everything Mu Go", hopefully in January. And they plan to record a batch of cover versions for the B-sides including "Velocity Girl", an early Primal Scream B-side.