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Little Drummer Boy, South Wales Echo, 17th March 2001

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Title: Little Drummer Boy
Publication: South Wales Echo
Date: Saturday 17th March 2001
Writer: Jo Manning

South Wales Echo 170301-page-001.jpg

The Manic Street Preachers are on the brink of a very busy year, but the heartbeat of the band, drummer Sean Moore, took time out to talk to Jo Manning.

Sean Moore doesn't normally talk much. He's the Manics' VERY private drummer - happy to be in the background of a group that likes to talk and make a show of things.

He's been known to walk out of press conferences where he's barely uttered a word and say with tongue firmly in his cheek - "another fine performance from Sean Moore."

He looks om with amusement and cynicism at the music industry going on (and on) around him, and according to the people who know him best he despises the promotional treadmill which is currently consuming the Manics as they release their sixth album - Know Your Enemy - on Monday.

In the past, hacks have been cut to size by Sean's intelligent sarcasm, perhaps lulled into thinking he would be easy pickings because he looks exactly the opposite to the kind who would pick a fight, either verbally or physically. It is said he prefers to play computer games, go shopping for gadgets and engage in DIY projects at home with his wife in Bristol.

So it is with some trepidation, but bag loads of curiosity, that I went to meet Sean Moore in the Marriott Hotel in Cardiff on the day of their triumphant Coal Exchange gig.

And what I found (unless I was duped by Sean's relaxed manner) was a refreshingly normal bloke, free from any kind of ego or pretension, speaking intelligently about politic, pop culture, and his former band mate Richey. He greeted team Echo with a firm handshake and a little wink, and was very polite, confident, articulate and easy to talk with.

We began with the (at the time) fast approaching Cardiff gig where 600 people witnessed a very special Manics performance - full of energy, anger, soul and celebration.

Sean didn't look it but admitted he was nervous about the gig, especially because the band hadn't rehearsed for three weeks because of various promotional commitments. "It'll be a real seat of our pants job," and he was right. The Manics weren't just going through the motions last Thursday night, they had the kind raw edge that comes with scant practice.

He continued: "Things might go wrong but we prefer it that way, otherwise if things are too regimented you go into autopilot mode."

According to Sean, this theme of counter complacency was also the driving force behind Know Your Enemy. "In the same way as when we wrote - If You Tolerate This and the first album Generation Terrorists, we wanted to attack youth culture and what we had become."

"It seems there is such a quick turnover of media events these days that the onus becomes superfluous and meaningless and nothing is everlasting anymore. Young people become too blase and too comfortable seeing pain and suffering in the media, so that when Eastenders comes on they ignore real life."

"That was one of the reasons we wrote Baby Elian, to highlight once again and tell the story in a way that you can always go back to."

The song and in particular its lyrics were inevitably well-received (where they were translated) in the band's recent history making trip to Cuba, although the Manics have been criticised in this country for their pro-Fidel stance.

But did Sean feel Castro was using them as a propaganda tool?

"No, not at all. Everything was very informal and to be honest with you it seemed like nothing was used."

"The day after, the local papers didn't make too big a deal of it - just saying thanks and congratulations. But on CNN they played a little bit more on it. They even got the name of the band wrong anyway. I think they called us anti-American left-wing Maniac Street Preachers. It was like - why don't you paint red horns on our heads and call us the sons of the devils?"

Sean however was more impressed by the man himself - Fidel Castro.

"Fidel was very intriguing and wanted to know more about us as people rather the group. He just wanted to find out what we were really like. It was very enlightening, refreshing and very informal. It was almost like meeting a friend. He's been portrayed as this evil Communist dictator, but that's what America has been telling us."

Sean talked more about his and his band's hatred of all things American, whilst sitting on the hotel's garish sofa bed with his feet curled beneath his legs looking about as hard as a baby with a lollypop. It's been said before, but with his floppy black hair and big brown eyes, Mooro - as his bandmates call him, looks completely untainted by age or experience. How can this guy possibly be in one of the biggest bands in Europe? But even though he looks like someone you would love to mother, the person speaking in front of me is anything but a pushover, especially as he embarks on the subject of Welsh politics.

Sean thinks Wales should be getting more money from the EU and said it would help the country to pull away from the ever present arm of England. He also expressed his frustration with other people's attitudes towards the Welsh language and said Anne Robinson's anti-Welsh comments on Room 101 typified what the media in England think of Wales as a nation.

Even though Sean lives on the other side of the Severn himself - more for convenience sake than for anything else because his wife obtained her English degree masters and nursing qualifications there, he said he missed Blackwood.

But he's got no regrets - not even concerning Richey.

Sean added: "There has always been a lot of sadness about the band with Richey's disappearance. The saddest thing is he never contacted his parents nor left anything for them so that they could come to terms with it, I don't feel any anger towards Richey, But it's disappointment that his parents will spend their whole lives with this unresolved problem.

Unfortunately that was where we had to end our little chat as the next inquisitor was marched in to meet the Manic's drummer, trumpeter, co-music writer and limelight-hater.

The reality is that Sean is just a normal bloke who looks with disdain at the rock and roll world around him - the sycophants, the hangers on, the short-lived hype. He takes the band, although perhaps not the music industry, seriously, and the music the Manics make together is clearly more important to him than everything else which comes along for the ride.