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James Dean Bradfield - My Life With Castro - Dzika Banda, 25th March 2013

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Title: James Dean Bradfield - My Life With Castro
Publication: Dzika Banda
Date: Monday 25th March 2013
Writer: Robert Ziębiński

Manic Street Preachers is still one of the most popular rock band in the UK. US group leader James Dean Bradfield told us about selling rock outfits with Fidel Castro and the fall of Great Britain.

I hope you will not be offended if the name lied to you?
James Dean Bradfield: You have it, what have I done?

It reminded me of the album "Postcards from a Young Man" you told in interviews that it will be an absolutely pop album and what? And it turned out to be a classic rock album.
(laughs) That probably depends on your definition of pop.

Or yours - so I'm listening to what the leader of a popular rock band understands by the word pop?
The pop popping up in the interviews came from the fact that we wanted to definitely cut off from the 2009 Journey for Plague Lovers. That record was strong, uncompromising and contained texts written by our missing friend Richey Edwards, who was declared dead in November 2008. "Journey ..." was a rock album, very guitar, kept in the style of early noisy recordings Manic from the early 90s, and above all it was our farewell with Richey. Entering the studio a year later, we wanted to record a completely different album, much more cheerful. Hence our pop comparisons. And what is pop for me? This question is difficult to answer. Pop is, above all, music much more accessible and easier to listen to than dirty guitar riffs, but it does not mean that it is crude. Early recordings from the Motown label are for me pop, Queen from the 1970s is pop, the final career period of The Beatles is pop. Everyone listened to it, everyone liked what made songs such as "Let It Be" absolutely pop hits.

Manic Street Preachers has been a highly-defined group in their texts for years. You attacked the British government, you defended Cubans, but for a long time politics are slowly disappearing from your texts.
There are no clear declarations and a simple political message, which does not mean that we have given up political observation. I do not agree with you, on our last album "Postcards ..." a politician appears, but not in an obvious way, as it did on the album "Know Your Enemy". We are bored with obvious messages, we prefer now to watch what is happening in our country from the side. And it is not going well. The British government probably sold everything you could sell. We no longer have a car industry, because after the bankruptcy, both Jaguar and Rover were sold. The same applies to heavy industry, for example steel factories and mining. In this way, the United Kingdom, unlike France, Norway and Germany, no longer produces any value that could feed the state budget. What the United Kingdom produces today and what is absolutely English is a "fish and chips". Even rock has been sold here.

You're exaggerating. However, British rock music is still the most characteristic sound in the world. And no one will pick up icons like The Beatles, Rolling Stones or The Kinks.
It's not just about the icon but the simple fact that the government has in no way protected the legendary British record labels from selling them to even Japan. No one in the government thought that if there are great record companies that are part of the national heritage, it should be protected. Introduce a law that will make it impossible to sell off the rights to even Beatles music beyond the borders of Great Britain. This is our treasure, a cultural legacy for our children, grandchildren, but no one thinks about it in such terms. Like no one thought about rescuing steel factories or cars. Workers - who the fuck is! Work out the workers! Musicians? Dick with you. But when the crisis reached banks, suddenly the government woke up and it was possible to establish special laws to protect bankers. And this is how it is in our country, we are still socially divided into privileged groups, which the government will protect and do, which he has always ignored. Going back for a moment to what you said about the sound of British music. Well, for years, yes, it was very characteristic and recognisable, but for God, turn on MTV 2 now and try to distinguish one new band from another! Papka, fine mush that sounds the same, that's what has been the characteristic sound of British music.

And do not you have the impression that this phenomenon of musical muck concerns not only British rock but all music? How many new charismatic rock group leaders are you able to name?
It is the absolute merit of the internet and the fact that we live in a global village. Sure, it's nice when in Poland you can learn everything about what's happening in the UK with the help of the network. You can communicate with friends from around the world, read political information, live in elections to the US parliament, but the cosmopolitanity that the Internet gives makes many people stop thinking individually and starts en masse. This is best seen in music. Today, on the candle charts, look for people who would present a certain style, play their music. They are dominated by those who absorbed everything the internet gave them and create global music, devoid of local character and style. Completely bland, because if something is directed to everyone, recorded professionally,

To the same people as those who record it - raised in a global village of recipients of mass culture in which individuality is an undesirable feature.
Exactly. Before we started recording our previous album with the boys, we did something weird, something we've never done before. Because the whole Manic Street Preachers is a team of buddies who know each other almost from birth, we dug up forgotten old baskets with souvenirs and suddenly remembered that a long, long time ago when there was no internet and cell phones we sent a lot of postcards to each other . At the beginning of the 1980s Nicky (Wire - bassist of the band) and Richey went to school, and I sat in the province with Sean (Moor - drummer), we wrote a lot of pages to each other. We had no way to talk, so these cards were our form of dialogue. Very emotional and extremely personal. Writing a letter or card is not the same as sending an email today. You had to buy such a card, write and then go to the post office and send. Today's kids may seem weird but for us it was a very intimate experience, proof of how close we were to each other when we needed each other. And with this nostalgia for the good old days, when it was necessary to show commitment to take care of friendship, we entered the studio.

That's why you put a photo of young Tim Roth on the cover?
It's one of those cards! Before I became a guitarist and vocalist, my biggest dream was to become an actor, and Tim Roth was my god. In 1984, Roth starred in the BBC mini series "The King of the Ghetto," which is a shocking picture of life in London's East End. Roth was then the favorite of all young Englishmen. The card comes from this period.

Do you know what else I need to ask?
Since you're from Poland, I guess (laughs). Of course, about Fidel Castro, our performances in Cuba and whether we really are communists.

After Richey's disappearance in 1995, the team found themselves in a very difficult situation. We even considered Manic's solution and the beginning of a solo career. Then Richey's family blessed us and basically ordered us to continue what we started with the four. So we threw ourselves into the whirlwind of the work resulting in the creation of two albums "Everything Must Go" and "This Is My Truth Tell me Yours". CDs that were gigantic bestsellers, selling millions of copies worldwide. And then we felt tired. We never expected such a spectacular success, and when it came down we had enough. So we came up with the idea that before we make a new record, we have to do something completely different, go somewhere to some weird exotic place where hardly anyone knows us and we can rest. We planned a route around China, but they did not want to let us in. In Pakistan and India, no one showed interest in our music. And so it finally hit Cuba. And here is a surprise. We received an official invitation, everyone was happy that the well-known rock band from the capitalist country wants to play in a small communist. We were the first band allowed to do so. So the choice of Cuba did not result from our communist sympathies, we were just looking for something else. Of course, as more or less familiar with world politics, I knew what to expect there. That you do not hear normal broadcasts on the radio, that there is poverty everywhere, and that the army has real power. However, no information that we get through the media has been able to prepare us for what we saw there. Weapons and army? Man, you can not go on a step there, not to run into carabinieri, or not to see weapons on the wall. It's terrifying. Just like listening to their radio or watching TV. No one will understand indoctrination and absolute power unless he sees it with his own eyes. And then the day of the concert came. And then it happened. Fidel Castro, the performance just came to us. Nobody told us about it, nobody warned. He just came and went on stage. As soon as the photos on which we squeezed hands with him went to the news agencies hell broke loose. Everyone informed us that we are communists, that we cooperate with the government of Castro. And what were we to do? Being a guest in a foreign country, rub the head of the state? After these pictures, everyone recognised us as political activists that we are not really. Yes, we were and we are interested in politics, but we have never been activists. Bono is an activist, we are only musicians.