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Interview: Sean Moore - Rip It Up, December 2004

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Title: Interview: Sean Moore
Publication: Rip It Up
Date: December 2004
Writer: Helene Ravlich


They have a new album, they are on a new tour and everyone says they have taken another direction. Politics, music and the belief that they still have something to say - Helene Ravlich talks to the Preachers.

Often termed in their early days a 'political glam-rock quarter: Manic Street Preachers formed in Blackwood, Wales in the late eighties. James Dean Bradfield (vocals, guitar), Richey James (rhythm guitar), Nicky Wire (bass) and Sean Moore (drums) were the original line up, all terribly tortured and any in the way that dissatisfied Welsh youth seem to do so well. After releasing several raw-sounding EPs they became a favourite of the British music press, who faithfully covered their determined slogans ("every band should break up alter one album"), outrageous comments ("we hate Slowdive more than Hitler"), and shocking stunts (Richey James carved the words '4 Real' into his arm during an interview).

The group's major-label debut, 1992's Generation Terrorists, spawned several UK Top 40 hits, as did 1993's Gold Against the Soul. But in 1995, the year after the release of the band's third album, Holy Bible, Richey James, who was reportedly suffering from various personal problems, mysteriously disappeared. He is assumed dead, although the case remains unsolved and sightings are as frequent as those of Elvis are.

In spite of this tragedy, the Manics continued on as a trio, releasing 1996's Everything Must Go, a huge commercial and critical success that was followed by the equally hot This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours. Their sixth album, Know Your Enemy, was released in 2001 and after what seems a bloody long time, their newest offering, Lifeblood, is hitting the streets. Sean Moore, the Manics drummer, is typically dry, self-deprecating and particularly witty, much as we'd expect him to be on the eye of their new album's release.

Firstly, where are you Sean? We need to set a scene.
I'm at home, alone, sitting in the dark. That what you're meant to say as one of the Manic Street Preachers aren't you?

And you're preparing to tour how do you feel about that?
We're always a bit nervous when we first go out on tour again. Especially as now we're starting with a whole new album of songs that we're not sure if the audience are going to like or not. It' a bit harrowing really!

The new album, Lifeblood, has been heralded as yet another change in direction for the Manics, what do you reckon?
It's definitely a little more clean and fresh than some of our other work, but I like to think of it as a Holy Bible for thirty-somethings as the old Manics feel is still in there. It's full of optimism but still has that dark Welshness that is such a strong part of the Manics psyche. It harks back a little to our wild young days but I don't think we're in danger of having a mid-life crisis just yet... Talk to me in 10 years when we're slowly turning into U2 and I can definitely fill you in on that.

You've had a three year break between albums, has the process of writing and recording gotten harder rather than easier?
No.1 don't think that, we just look a while to get this one together...We have usually averaged about three years in between, so it's not too bad...And we've released this, a B-sides and a Greatest Hits in one go, so people should be happy with that.

To cash in on the Christmas buying frenzy perhaps?
Well Sony have to make their money back somehow!

As the elder statesmen of British rock, what do think of the current climate of young bands out them battling you for chart positions?
I see a lot of young bands out there making music for thirty-somethings and that's sad. What happened to danger and experimentation? There is no growth period for bands any mom they suddenly get a big push, get really big and they split up before their feet have even touched the ground. Rock bands these days seem to be spent in about 12 months.

So are there any young bands out there at the moment that you think have a hint of longevity about them?
Well Franz Ferdinand are the one people are really talking about in the industry, but how do we know they aren't just a highly stylised, art school one-hit wonder? Bands these days seem to stick to what they know and are on afraid to diversify, which is something we try and do to differing degrees on every album.

After ten years, you still seem to be enthusiastic about what you do. Are you finally bloody enjoying yourselves?
Unbelievably for us, we are really enjoying ourselves. We love writing together and being in the studio - we don't just sit in the corners feeling depressed and not communicating. We started to really make fun of each other too, which is a nice change.

So you're not sick of the sight of each other yet then?
Well we don't live in each other's pockets when were not recording because then it could get a bit much, but we do still enjoy each others company. I like to take my daughter round to Nick's to play with his daughter in their garden, we very domesticated like that.

Does being so domesticated make it hard when you have to tour for months on end?
It is hard being array from our families, but work is work and you've got to pay the bills somehow. When we are home we're very present as we're not rushing off to an office every day, so that sort of makes up for it.

You start a tour in less than a month, is the old enthusiasm still there?
One thing we hate is going back to the same places and playing the same venues, so we try and spice it up with new cities and new fans. Not to mention new hotels!

New Zealand is still virgin territory for you...
And one we'd like to conquer! Greg Havers (who produced Lifeblood) spends a lot of time in New Zealand and has a Kiwi girlfriend, so he's been trying to convince us to go for ages.

Your bass player Nicky Wire has said, 'I've never wanted to be anything else but just that bloke from the Manic Street Preachers', and you seem to have always been about 'The Band' rather than the individual. Is that still working for you?
The media have tried to turn us into individuals, but that's not what we're about and we work best as a group. None of us have any intention of going off and doing side-projects or solo albums because that would mean the end of how we work now.

But other musicians must have approached you?
We did do a collaboration with Kylie Minogue years ago, and in retrospect, I didn't enjoy it at the time at all. You live and learn, and we learnt not to work with pop divas ever again. We know that when it becomes a struggle, then that's the time to bow out, but for the moment we're really happy,