Manic Street Preachers make their Luxembourg debut at den Atelier on Thursday night. Drummer and occasional trumpet player Sean Moore talks with Delano.
Manic Street Preachers arrive in Luxembourg on the back of the band’s eleventh album, Rewind The Film. Critically acclaimed, the album, like all but two of the band’s previous efforts, entered the Top Ten in the UK.
Andy Gill in The Independent says the album “reveals a broader musical and emotional palettee than they've exposed before.”
How does Sean Moore, co-founder of the band, feel about reviews? “To be honest, reviews are the only yardstick by which we can measure ourselves,” he tells Delano. “They are the first impression of how an album has turned out, and if they are good then hopefully it will cascade.”
The album does have its quieter moments, and is described by the band as its most subtle and gentle recording yet. “We knew this album was going to be a challenge, but we are glad people embraced it.”
Moore even plays French horn on one track, the beautiful ‘Builder of Routines’. “The French horn was one of the first instruments I ever picked up. It was lying at the back of a cupboard because it wasn’t used by the local brass band,” he explains.
When Moore and and James Dean Bradfield received the lyrics for the song from Nicky Wire and started creating the track, Moore says he “heard this ‘God Only Knows’ Beach Boys sound in the song and new immediately that a French horn would fit.” There wasn’t an instrument available in the studio they were in, so he first created the sound with a synthesizer. “But I knew it required a real French horn, so when we got around to recording back at our studio I managed to find one.”
The videos for the two first singles off the album take as their period the late 1970s and early 80s--the band dressed in period costumes playing a Welsh village workingmen’s club in the joyful ‘Show Me The Wonder’ while archive news footage of the wives of striking miners intersperse the uplifting human story of ‘Anthem For A Lost Cause’.
Whether the album is deliberately nostalgic is another matter. “I think we are quote nostalgic as people,” he says. “We have always been inspired by historical events. And as you get older you have less influences.”
Guest artists also appear on the album, with female singers Lucy Rose and Cate le Bon each having a share of vocal duties on opener ‘This Sullen Welsh Heart’ and ‘4 Lonely Roads’ respectively. But top billing probably goes to Richard Hawley on the album’s title track. As Moore explains, the band was trying to figure out who to get to sing the low register on the song, which Nicky Wire had originally recorded. “Richard Hawley said yes straight away, it was very simple.”
As for making their debut in the Grand Duchy, Moore says that Luxembourg, “always passed by” but the band never stopped to play here because there was not an obvious venue available. “Now it is an opportunity to see something fresh and new.”
But asked whether he will enjoy the relative intimacy of a 1,000 capacity venue, Moore says it doesn’t really matter to the band if they are playing the O2 arena or Millennium stadium or a small venue like den Atelier. “You might get more direct energy from the audience in a small place, but we can’t deliver the visual experience and can’t have the full production values. And we don’t want to feel that we are cheating people.”
Moore says that he doesn’t feel the band can be considered national treasures (the band’s singles compilation album was ironically named National Treasures) or indeed, part of any establishment. They have been interviewed on BBC Breakfast television though, which would have been unthinkable when they started out as generation terrorists in the early 1990s.
Yet the band remains fiercely political and angry. “Maybe coming from the Welsh valleys we had vitriol ingrained in us,” says Moore. But even if their sound has mellowed and they are comfortable appearing on mainstream television shows, as Moore points out: “We haven’t reached Tom Jones status quite yet.”