For Welsh rockers Manic Street Preachers, recording their latest album, "Journal for Plague Lovers," was bittersweet as all the lyrics in the collection were written by lead singer Richey Edwards, who went missing in early 1995. It was the first time since 1994's "The Holy Bible" that Manic Street Preachers recorded an album using entirely Edwards' lyrics.
"Before he left, he gave us a folder, a file, full of lyrics to use for a forthcoming album," drummer Sean Moore said via telephone from Wales. "There were a lot of lyrics there that we felt were inappropriate at the time. Sort of time passed and a lot of people were asking questions about the content of the lyrics and why we didn't use the lyrics. After the success of (2007's) 'Send Away the Tigers,' we felt comfortable enough that we could use these lyrics without people pointing fingers that we were doing it for commercial sort of means. Quite frankly, we weren't."
Manic Street Preachers, which also includes vocalist/guitarist James Dean Bradfield and bassist Nicky Wire, will perform the songs live while on its first U.S. tour in more than 10 years. The last time it hit the States was when it opened for Oasis in 1997. Moore said the band didn't have a choice but to tour the United States.
"I think we've come to that point where we had to," Moore said. "If we didn't, then I think we would never have gotten back to the U.S. It was a choice of should we go back just for all the fans we've got out there? We're not getting any younger. It would be a great shame if we have never gone back."
For the tour, band members are jumping in a tour bus and hitting 12 cities including Detroit. Moore calls the trip a challenge.
"We haven't toured on a bus in a very, very long time," he said with a laugh. "In the U.K., we have hotels and stops every single night and in Europe. But in the U.S., we're doing it the good old-fashioned way of going venue to venue. Hopefully, we'll try to keep as clean as possible."
British bands have traditionally had a hard time cracking the U.S. market. Look at multi-million-selling artist Robbie Williams, for example. Moore believes it's the influx of talent in the United States that hinders overseas bands' ability to break in the country.
"Obviously America is a very welcoming country," Moore said. "For some reason when it comes to music and bands, possibly it's because they have a wealth of talent there already. They don't need international artists as such. Also, it just costs so much money. There's such a gulf between theaters and arenas in America, and you're always trying to keep the ticket prices competitive as possible. Then it just becomes very, very expensive."
But for Edwards' sake, it was important to return to the States, no matter how challenging. Edwards disappeared from the Embassy Hotel in London after checking out at 7 a.m. His car was found abandoned two weeks later at a spot known for its suicides. He was declared dead by his family in November 2008.
"It is bittersweet, but I think enough time has passed that you come to terms with certain things," Moore said. "It would be a great shame if we hadn't used them (the lyrics) or toured. The fact that we have is a great testament to the subject matter and hopefully we've done it justice."