At the end of September, the long-awaited compilation of the greatest hits of Manic Street Preachers is released. A gift for fans or maybe closing a chapter from your history?
"I think that's it. We needed some time, looking back on everything we have achieved so far. It is also a form of thanks to the fans and informing some of them, especially in the UK, that the band existed before the great success of the album "Everything Must Go" and that Richey played in it (Edwards, the guitarist of the Ministry of State Treasury, which in 1995 disappeared without a trace - note.MR). It's also a small replay of history."
The title "Forever Delayed" suggests that the release of this album was not as easy as it seems.
"The title refers to one piece from our second album. Already at that time we thought that this might be the right title for the "best of" compilation. Many years have passed since then, we managed to release a lot of singles and we could not wait any longer - we could choose from 28 tracks. The time has come for her."
And did the tenth anniversary of the band's anniversary also have its meaning?
"Probably not. After the previous album "Know Your Enemy", the most diverse in terms of music, we have achieved extremes in our views and texts. We have reached the point where we needed a bit of a nostalgic look at what's behind us. History Manic Street Preachers is a romantic story, full of ups and downs. We wanted to remind her again. Many people think that we boast about our success. But on the record there are also traces of many failures that have happened to us."
So it should be treated as so-called concept album?
"Yes, music is a tool to tell the story of the band. That's why we chose songs from every stage of our career."
How, then, did the selection of these works proceed? Have you guided the positions they reached on the charts, did you pick them at your own discretion?
"The criterion was rather our private attitude to each piece. We really wanted to put on the album three singles "Motown Junk", "Suicide Is Painless" and "The Masses Against Classes", which had not hit any album before. We also wanted to record 2 or 3 completely new pieces. Choosing songs for the album turned out to be more difficult than we thought. I wanted, for example, "Stay Beautiful", James "Ocean Spray" and Sean "Life Becoming a Landslide". But that's how it works with democracy! (laugh)"
During the recording session during which the new song "There By The Grace Of God" was made, have you also recorded the pieces that will be on your next album?
"We recorded about 12-14 songs, of which four will go to be the B Side of the single "There By The Grace Of God." So there are about eight, but we still do not know what to do with them."
Is the release of the "best of" album associated with a sense of release - we can do what we want, start working on a new account, because we have settled the past?
"In some sense. Our next album will be something completely different, new. We've always been interested in recording an album such as "Nebraska" by Bruce Springsteen - something acoustic, clean. Summaries of the story have it that after all they solve your hands: they give you the opportunity to do what you want."
Then, crazy ideas also appear: you've probably heard lately that one of the brit-pop legends - the Blur band - records their new album with Fatboy Slim. What do you say?
"Damon's success (Albarn, vocalist Blur) from Gorillaz has caused it to open up to completely new musical genres. It is a pity, therefore, that the band leaves another co-creator - Graham Coxon. His twisted guitars and characteristic, slightly tearful vocals have always been an inseparable part of Blur. It's a bit of fun, but we started around the same time as they were, and today we're one of the few who survived."
What do you think, what caused you to survive the crisis that was undergoing Brit-pop and all rock music in general?
"We've always been friends. We grew up in the same village, we went to the same school, so we were close to each other not only as musicians, but also people. What's more, we were also regarded as "outsiders" - at the time when The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays ruled the Islands, we were considered to be representatives of glam or punk-rock. We joined Brit-pop only with the release of "The Holy Bible" - a very dark, confrontational album. But I think we've always been somewhere to the side, in spite of prevailing trends or trends. We were saved by the distance we have kept for years. Maybe it was thanks to him that we never lost ground under our feet."
The limited edition of the album will include remixes of your songs by such stars as The Chemical Brothers, Massive Attack or The Avalanches. How did you manage to encourage them to cooperate?
"With many of these musicians James (Dean Bradfield) manages to be friends personally. Back in 1993, our first independent Heavenly Records label included the Heavenly Social club, which is now an iconic place in London. Often the Chemical Brothers danced there, Paul Weller and the James group came in for beer. The fact that David Holmes, Massive Attack and the Avalanches have prepared remixes for us now shows that we have been there from the beginning. Although we certainly owe their cooperation to James, who revolves around the environment. He is more sociable than me. Only thanks to him this bonus CD is really something worth attention."
In that case, have your "known friends" never tried to encourage you to experiment with electronic music? They did not propose to produce a CD in this style?
"We attach too much importance to the words of songs. James states that it is them that determine the nature of the whole. That's why it seems to me that the lyrics on the new album will force us to record it in such a harsh, direct form as possible. But on the other hand ?? never say never! Now this album is just a one-off adventure, so far we prefer to control rather than being controlled. And so far it does not bring particularly bad results! "
You mentioned the importance of words in your compositions. Have you ever had the chance to see for yourself what they have changed in the lives of your fans?
"All this time we find out about it wandering around the websites created by fans, reading fanzines sent by them. An example is "If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next", talking about the problems of the Civil War in Spain - thanks to us, many people really got interested in this issue, some did not even know about the existence of such a conflict. In other compositions of ours, we also serve many references to contemporary history or culture. The same, I remember, fascinated me in the pieces of Sex Pistols or The Clash. Their texts have opened a whole new point of view for me. I hope that the same can be said about us too. We probably have not changed the world, but we have certainly changed people. Morissey, for example, was a great influence on me. It was thanks to him that I fell in love with Oscar Wilde's work."
The cover of the album presents all four original members of the band. Has it ever crossed your mind that Richey's place in the group was taken by someone else. It disappeared at a very difficult moment - literally on the eve of the start of the great Manic Street Preachers tour.
"It was very difficult. In terms of personality or talent, no one can ever replace him, but when it comes to live performances, James, who also plays the guitar, can not play two parties at the same time, sing and jump on the stage. Getting someone new would be a big deal, but it did not seem right to us. And you have to follow certain rules. Many bands would not even think about it, just look at Oasis or Suede - they take in new guitarists and after the matter. However, we could not do that. Were we too close?"
When you listen to the guitars from the new song "There By The Grace Of God", immediately there is only one association - The Cure. Has this team ever been one of your inspirations?
"Yes, like other post-punk bands - Joy Division or Siouxsie & The Banschees, The Cure was what we listened to in our youth. Then they were joined by Echo And the Bunnymen. They all created in a bit of a gothic mood, so after years there is really something to appeal to. "There By The Grace..." is a bit cool for us, a very European piece. We did not want to come back with another pathetic number in the style of "great Manic", we needed something less challenging. Other than normal. Hypnotic..."
It will be a bit philosophical now. Do you think that for 10 years of your activity, the name "Manic Street Preachers" changed some of its meaning in some way? Is "preaching"
"The word "manic" used to refer mainly to the energy that we released on stage. "Street - street" testified about our workers' origins. We grew up in humble, difficult conditions. "Preachers" was almost a religious indication that we want to convert people, we want them to see a different side of life, they started to listen to other music. With time and with the gradual development of the band, people began to call us simply "The Manics", because they could not cope with the burden that was associated with the rest of the name. Though maybe this only applies to Great Britain...
And if you had to choose the three most important moments of your career, what would it be?
"Certainly recording our first single Motown Junk. We belonged then to a small independent label whose profile made us feel that we were doing something right. Previously, we could only dream about recording, now dreams have become reality. We witnessed the formation of an amazing rock piece - it gave us wings. Later, it was definitely recording "Scream to a Sigh", when for the first time we felt a global band creating songs that anyone and everywhere can relate to. Besides, this is a beautiful number with truly magical guitars in the background. Then "A Design For Life" - exit from the shadows. After the whole incident with Richey, we have written something so beautiful and pure that we were surprised ourselves."
And the most memorable performance?
"No doubt a concert in Cuba. We've never played anything like it. People did not even know how to react to our music: some danced, some began to accompany us on their guitars (!), The most normal part of the world fell asleep somewhere in the corner. Just being in this place was something weird, even shocking. And what about playing there... Something fantastic."
When you are preparing a new song, I understand that her words first appear?
"Yes of course."
In that case, have you ever dared to use any text, because it just seemed too controversial to you?
"I would be lying if I said something like that never happened. Sometimes you also get into topics that you personally move, but that would not interest anyone else. I would not call it censorship, it's just editing what you want to say. In particular, Richey's lyrics were quite dramatic in his pronunciation. He was a fascinating personality with a very - I would say - rich inner life. For comparison, my texts are perhaps more expressive, and they more often deal with political issues."
In that case, I have to ask you about the latest scandal connected with the political pronunciation of George Michael's piece" Shoot The Dog. What do you think about mixing politics with music in this particular case?
"This song is just proof that you need to have a catchy chorus or use a cool sample to make people really interested in what you have to say. Then you can go down even on political topics and it does not bother anyone. People picked up the subject included in "If You Tolerate This..." only thanks to the great melody in it. The song must be good both from the musical and lyric side. One can not be replaced by the other, which, in my opinion, is being tried recently by Michael Michael. Maybe because it's too important for him? It is rare to combine social poetry with good music. But if it succeeds, such gems as "Street Fighting Man" Rolling Stones, "White Riot" The Clash or the best example, "God Save The Queen" Sex Pistols."
So you are moving on a fairly risky area. If you were singing about love, no one would even pay attention to the words...
"Yes. There is quite a lot of decent music around, but from the text page no one has dropped me on my knees long ago. There are no more personalities that would stimulate my mind like Johnny Rotten, Joe Strummer or Morissey."
But are there no more bands that would be inspiring to you?
"Maybe The Vines. I appreciate them for their approach to music and the chaos that they skillfully produce in it."
"I do not mind them. If I was a teenager now, I would like to play in such a band. However, I am looking for something deeper, something that exists not only in the musical layer."
And finally: you are just going on a route around Europe. Can we expect to see songs that are not on the album "Forever Delayed - Greatest Hits"?
"Yes. The basis for every show will be the tracklist of this album, but because we are planning to play really long concerts, such as Bruce Springsteen, you will hear a lot of our songs on them. In this also those that you have long ago forgotten about."