We're Still Living The Dream - The Western Mail, 31st August 2013
Still striving, still searching and still evolving, the Manic Street Preachers are back with new album Rewind The Film. James Dean Bradfield tells Dave Owens how Wales has shaped their songs, the effects of middle age on the former firebrands and why this new collection is their most emotionally raw yet
A statuette of Aneurin Bevan sitting atop the mixing desk, surveying proceedings with poise and authority, is the first clue as to where you find yourself. It’s an exact replica of the imposing statue of the founder of the National Health Service – once voted the greatest-ever Welshman – that guides daytime shoppers and night time drunks through Cardiff’s main Queen Street thoroughfare.
On the other side of the glass that separates the control room from the studio sits another Welsh hero. James Dean Bradfield is at home in every sense, now living back in Wales after more than a decade in London. The Manic Street Preachers’ HQ, where we find him, acts as the band’s recording studio and rehearsal space with a spacious upstairs lounge – a place to unwind. Downstairs the picture is that of organised clutter as leads snake in and out of amps, mic stands stand tall and guitars take a moment’s respite in their racks. Bradfield is propped on a well-worn wooden chair, letting loose the rattle and thrum of a unique voice that has been a clarion call in the rock ‘n’ roll trenches for almost three decades. Acoustic guitar perched on his lap, he’s running through a stripped-back version of Show Me The Wonder, the lead single from the band’s latest long-player Rewind The Film.
Here the song, a hallelujah chorus of life-affirming horns on record, is laid bare of brass. This sparse version is far closer in feel to that of the rest of the album. On one wall there’s the set list from their climactic Christmas 2011 concert at the O2 Arena, where they performed all 38 hits from their singles compilation National Treasures during an epic three-hour set. Adorning another wall there are the 12 tracks that constitute Rewind The Film. The two lists make a subtle metaphor for the band’s past and the present.
What’s certain is that these two years away have brought closure to the most recent chapter of their remarkable story, while the new album and a harder-edged Krautrock-inspired release to come next year herald a fascinating new future. (more...)