I was completely paralyzed. We did not have the slightest idea that he would come to the concert. When he later sat on the balcony, I had the impression that I would not be present. I felt too scared to open my mouth and sing. It was a blow to pure and unprecedented stage fright. One of the worst cases I've experienced in my life.
Singer and guitarist in Manic Street Preachers, James Dean Bradfield, is in a D'Angleterre Suite on March 5, 2001, referring to the band's unexpected encounter with Fidel Castro, 30 minutes before the concert start, February 17 in Karl Marx- the theater in Havana. The day when Manic Street Preachers, as the first major western band ever appeared on the socialist eastern state.
The conversation with James Dean Bradfield completes a longer course where GAFFA has been lying in the heels of Manic Street Preachers, around the world. Seancen starts five weeks earlier in another suite, a few streets from "the English".
January 30th - James Dean Bradfield, Hotel Phoenix, Copenhagen
James Dean Bradfield is a fantastic guitarist, a high-grade songwriter and a distinctive vocalist with a huge record. His group is bigger than Oasis and Blur home in Britain, and he probably has full of Brit Awards, platinum records and other honors. Nevertheless, he is so kind, humble and accommodating that it almost tends to be self-extinguishing. He earnestly asks for permission to smoke, he smiles and fists, listener to GAFFA's questions and, among other things, criticizes his own skills as a singer and the quality of the band's previous album. Nevertheless, he is convinced of the new album Know Your Enemy 's qualities and says that the more rocky style makes him feel: "More ready to fight, more ready for war!"
A suitable image on MSP. Vulnerable, honest and sincere, but at the same time self-confident, struggling and possessing an indomitable willpower. Before going to Cuba, Bradfield starts with the music: "There are many different musical references to Know Your Enemy , but as I see it, there are the tougher songs such as Dead Martyrs, Found That Soul, Freedom Of Speech Will not Feed My Children, My Guernica, and Intravenous Agnostic, That's It red thread on the album. It's great to publish a hard album. We were all hit by criticism, especially from the British press, that we had become too commercial that our last album was too soft and that we just went for the money. But when we recorded Masses Against The Classes (hard-pumped single, which went No. 1 in England, edited.) And played at the town hall square in Cardiff New Year's Eve 99, we got the sparkle back. We decided to record this record without practicing first, but go straight and hard, just like in the old days. It has been liberating.
"Despite international trade sanctions, generated by the United States, Cuba has achieved amazing results in health and education. There are problems with freedom of expression, but the country is under extreme pressure. It is dangerous when a culture becomes dominant in the world. Cuba stands as one of the few places in the world against the increasing globalization of Americans, and instead maintains its own politics and culture, which is impressive. And who knows what the country could achieve if sanctions were abolished.
How do you expect the concert in Cuba to run?
"I'm about to slip in my pants at the thought. I expect a lot of Cubans will point to us and say "the guys have no rhythm". I'm both frightened and excited."
Manic Street Preachers have always been following the extremes.
Now Cuba, what's next?
"I do not know. I've talked a lot about Nick about it. The Clash made six albums, maybe this is also the stop for us, it seems like a magic number. No matter how it goes, we are facing the decision whether or not to stop Manic Street Preachers. We are definitely closer to the end than the beginning."
February 8th - Nicky Wire, The Langham Hilton Hotel, London
Where James Bradfield chains, "speed-talking" drums nervously on the tabletop and hung up for the wet goods, Manic Street Preachers' second protagonist, bassist and copywriter Nicky Wire is calm and balanced. He is the courageous sports fanatics who like wearing dress and makeup, sharing medieval verbal ears to the right and left and formulating the group's personal and political "weltschmerz" texts. Despite national superstar and opinion-winning status, Wire makes a virtue of not participating in celebrity parties, nor is he in London's Notting Hill neighborhood, but has maintained his native residence in Wattsville, Wales. And like James Dean Bradfield, he is the friendship himself.
What is your Enemy about?
"In part, it is our attempt to restore our youth, and it is about the dissatisfaction that dominates the Western world. Capitalism won, but not without kindness. Nobody wants to rebel, but many people are nevertheless unhappy. Know Your Enemy is more angry and more cash than our last record, which was more introverted. This album is more direct and the message is that you can make a difference if you are aware of what's going on."
What can be done as a political rock band?
"Providing references is very important to us. I learned to know Allen Ginsberg through The Clash. Music is about all kinds of politics and culture. And the more insight you have, the better. I hope we can leave tracks that others can follow. The only reference you hear in England is John "fucking" Lennon, but what made him unique was that he absorbed and further developed all kinds of art forms: the Chinese Revolution, blues, anything. How many people who cultivate John Lennon start and end like him."
How do you see future prospects for Manic Street Preachers?
"I think we can make a record really, really fast again. We have found the very right method. I think we can have a new record ready within a year, even if we tour. I think that's a realistic goal."
February 17 - Manic Street Preachers, Karl Marx Theater, Cuba
From Our Correspondent In Havana:
GAFFA's Cuba correspondent, Rune Geertsen, saw Manics' historic concert in Havana, participated in the previous press conference and the following night party at Hotel National, where among others Nicky Wire's great idol, master boxer Felix Savón, salsa danced the night with little white women. Rune interviewed James Bradfield and subsequently met the band in the airport again. Here is his story from a city that is different from space and cigars.
"Physically, the three pale Manics boys are not much on stage at the giant Karl Marx Theater in Havana. But what Manics fills with the whole Soviet-inspired theater block can not be seen. It's dreamy they create, with their slightly unusual audience this evening.
In front of a giant Cuban flag on the backstage, they stand as little rock dolls in classical puzzles, bouling their wrath, rebel rock song songs in addition to the approximately 5,000 young cubans, and a single elder gentleman with full beard invited to the event. Because it's a bit of an event, to say the least. Not so much that Manics is giving concerts, but it's happening in Cuba. A western rock band on a Cuban scene occurs about as often as Fidel Castro is on stage in the White House.
And Manic Street Preachers also do that only, explains Nicky Wire at the press conference before the concert, as an expression of solidarity with the Cuban people and their culture. A people, or at least one board that has managed to resist the United States imperialist policy and maintain independence. And that has had to be hard for what he says.
But will the Cubans accept this solidarity handshake?
James Dean Bradfield had expressed his nervousness before GAFFA before the concert, but Manics was received with sincere enthusiasm. Fortunately, Cuba is the world's salsa center, and, of course, Cubans get the exotic rhythms with the mother's milk, but rock music is high on the island, where the only option for foreign tones is copied bands and CDs brought by tourists. Western music is like western lifestyle - where everything is good, where there is plenty of everything and where you do not have to eat rice and beans every day, but get sex, drugs & rock'n'roll for dinner. And that's what Manic Street Preachers are for the vast majority of this evening: the dream of getting away for something better. The band on stage could equally well be called Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam or something else. 99 percent of the audience has never heard as much as a chord from a Manics song - the last one percent is Western press - but it does not matter. They are from the outside and they play the music from there and create the dream by their mere presence. So when 72-year-old Fidel Castro, the full-man man suddenly appears on the balcony of the Karl Marx theater before the concert, and solemnly vows to the audience before he sits down and attends the whole concert, it is as though, besides scoring once good PR - will remind the young cubans where they belong to. In Cuba. Not in the west - not even in the dreams. " suddenly appears on the balcony of the Karl Marx theater before the concert, and solemnly vows to the audience before he settles down and attends the whole concert, it is as if, in addition to scoring a good PR, he reminds the young Cubans, where they belong In Cuba. Not in the west - not even in the dreams. " suddenly appears on the balcony of the Karl Marx theater before the concert, and solemnly vows to the audience before he settles down and attends the whole concert, it is as if, in addition to scoring a good PR, he reminds the young Cubans, where they belong In Cuba. Not in the west - not even in the dreams. "
4th March - Manic Street Preachers, Lille Vega, Copenhagen
GAFFA attends the band's second concert for 13 months. 9 strong from the hip. Perfect.
March 5th - James Dean Bradfield, Hotel D.Angelterre, Copenhagen
Our correspondent in Havana, Rune Geertsen, quotes Nicky Wire for the Cuba concert to be considered as a tribute to the Cuban people, but at the same time, that Castro's presence, to him, resembled a staged PR stunt that seemed more suppressive than releasing on the Cuban listeners.
Rune was bothered by it, and I understand that. When a politician turns to an official event, there is always an element of PR involved, it is inevitable.
When we looked out of the crowd, there were very different reactions to Castro's presence. The left side seemed embarrassed, with the right side almost smiling and waving to the balcony. I would say 70-30 pro Castro, so I experienced it. Due to the external pressure, I think it is understandable that Castro calls the Cubans so significantly to maintain their own culture. But of course there is resistance. In particular, the young people have a constant hunger after becoming part of the Western consumer culture, it is fully understandable. Having said that, my overall experience is that the Cubans are very proud, conscious and happy for their own culture; That's what they want to show off.
In the song Let Robeson Sing, referenced directly to Castro, did you sing that stupid...
"Of course. I can just imagine Oliver Stone directing the movie, where I sing "Went to Cuba to meet Castro" and wave against the balcony. But it was far from that. I looked out of the audience and tried to picture me that nothing was special about the situation, but inside I was dying of grin.
But you did not think Castro wanted to attend the concert?
"Do not delete. No one had given us as much as a whip about it. The Vice Cultural Minister told us 30 minutes before the concert: "If you want to meet someone, you must come with me right now." We followed him, and there sat Castro. When we went on stage later, I was simply dying of fear. But after six songs it drove. It was one of the best Saturday nights I have had for years."
When we met last, you said that Know Your Enemy might become Manic Street Preachers' swan song. The week after I spoke with Nicky Wire who expected you to have a new record ready within a year. Two different statements.
"Nicky and I agree most, but you have found the point that stands out for the time being. We have discussed it a lot over the last few weeks. I'm not sure I can make a new Manics album. Greatest Hits is the next step, it's stuck."