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In The Studio - MOJO, March 2007

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Title: In The Studio
Publication: MOJO
Date: March 2007
Writer: Ian Harrison


Title: Send Away The Tigers
Due: May/June
Production: Chris lord-Alge
Songs: You Live Alone, That's Not Enough; Winter Lovers; I'm Just A Patsy; And Dogs

"It's what Tony Hancock used to say when he used to go back on the booze," says Manics bass player Nicky Wire. 'Oh, fuck me, send away the tigers.' That's transposed to the zoo in Baghdad when they liberated the animals...It's the decline of Tony Blair and the decline of Tony Hancock. It's the first post-Iraq rock 'n' roll album."

Neil Young's Living With War might actually have been first, but Young never tried to explore the parallels between an ill-fated comedian for whom things seemed to wrong too many times, and the late, lamented humorist Hancock. But 15 years after their first album, the Manics are returning to the grand gesture. While 2004's Lifeblood was seen by some as too polished and personal in its lyrics, Wire says the follow-up is "like Generation Terrorists meets Everything Must Go. Before now we've pushed it as far as we could on intellectualism, this is much more anthemic. It's loud."

The group began their eighth album in late 2005, and recording started in earnest in March 2006 at Stir Studios in Cardiff and Grouse Lodge in County Westmeath, Ireland, though solo albums from Wire and his frontman bandmate James Dean Bradfield were fitted in in the interim. The ongoing disaster in Iraq seeped into the new songs - Winter Lovers, for example, compares the Bolsheviks' murder of the Russian Imperial family in 1917 to the American-led invasion - but not all the tracks are so explicit. "I'm Just A Patsy is about Lee Harvey Oswald and me," explains Wire. "It's kind of the connection like, 'I'm always the fall guy, I'm always the one who takes the blame'. We've got another track called And Dogs, which is kind of a Marilyn Mansonesque celebration of failure and dogs." You Live Alone, That's Not Enough, meanwhile, sees Bradfield duetting with Nina Persson from The Cardigans. "That's just really obvious pop-rock," promises Wire. "But it's a gigantic pop moment."

With only the mixing left to complete - Bradfield has been commuting to New York and Los Angeles to work with Green Day producer Chris Lord-Alge - the bassist is in bullish mood. "We're not ashamed," he says. "I'm not worrying about it. But I'm not going to give it the huge spiel either - we've done that so many times."

The Buzz: "Just like Richey [Edwards, the Manics' guitarist and lyricist who vanished in 1995] disappearing has bizarrely liberated us, this album has bizarrely liberated us." - Nicky Wire