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Know Your Limits, Planet Sound, 8th March 2001

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Title: Know Your Limits
Publication: Planet Sound
Date: Thursday 8th March 2001
Writer: John Earls

Eloquent as James Dean Bradfield and Nicky Wire are, any Manic Street Preachers fan already knows their view. Drummer Sean Moore, though? Accepted MSP lore says he doesn't speak to the press. Even Nicky says: "I don't know what he's thinking half the time". Well, here's what Sean has to say. Read on for his views on Know Your Enemy, the failure of This Is My Truth, their ambitions, Cuba - and plans for "the grand farewell" album...

How easy was Know Your Enemy to finish?

Sean: "Our easiest yet. So Why So Sad was the only one to cause any grief, as it isn't like anything we've done before. Releasing it as a single was a deliberately perverse move to see how the hardcore fans reacted. We had 27 songs done very quickly. One reason we did two singles on the same day is that we initially wanted to put out two albums on the same day - like Sad and Soul, they would have been extremely different in style."

James has been talking of a split...

Sean: "We're ever more conscious of the end of the band. It gets harder and harder to find things for us to say. At the moment, we're thinking of doing a Greatest Hits and then doing an album we'd want to be our grand farewell. One of the things keeping us going is that there still aren't any bands we feel are worthy of taking over from us. People assume we're about sloganeering, but we're more personal. I'd hate to end with those assumptions in place."

What ambitions do the band have left?

Sean: "Fewer and fewer, because we keep on achieving them. None in terms of sales figures. I think to clarify ourselves more in the songs. I'm sure we have at least one classic album left in us yet. And there's a lot of atrocious music that even now continues to fuel our aggression to fight against. I admire SFA and JJ72, but the UK's suddenly become overrun like a virus with terrible American metal bands."

With James writing lyrics and Nicky singing, are you planning solo careers?

Sean: "No! When the Manics finish, I don't think we'll do very much at all. Wattsville is Nicky's most personal lyric: James felt he couldn't do the song justice. Ocean Spray was the first time James felt he had something to say lyrically. Me? I'm awful at lyrics."

Will the rapid recording pace carry on?

Sean: "'Impossible to say. The recording of our albums has never gone to plan yet, so it probably never will now."

You've been criticising This Is My Truth. Why wait until now?

Sean: "We weren't ready to admit defeat until now. Once we'd recorded Tolerate, the whole album became immensely difficult to get made. Having had to work harder than ever before to finish Truth, we were praying that it was worth the effort. It's not a rotten album, but it is our most compromised. It wasn't until we got the vigour back making Know Your Enemy, that we realised how flawed Truth was."

What are your feelings of Cuba now?

Sean: "As expected, there are good and bad aspects. I didn't go expecting to see Utopia and there is poverty there. But Cuba has a 96% literacy rate. That's better than the USA and most of Europe, Britain included. I'm not saying Fidel Castro's perfect. But, considering the amount of effort the US puts into damaging Cuba, the country is surviving remarkably well. True, we wanted to make history by playing Cuba. But we wanted to show support, too."

Why is the British tour only six dates?

Sean: "It's not intended to be a full scale tour. That will come in November and we'll be playing at least one of the festivals this year too. These gigs are simply to get back on the road."

What do you think the old Manics fans think of Know Your Enemy?

Sean: "Who knows? Since the disappearance of Richey, the Press have tried to have an Old v New fight going on I'd hope they see that we've always tried to stay as sincere as we were before."