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Manic Street Preachers' New Album Inspired By Special Gift From Singer's 105-Year-Old Neighbour - WalesOnline, 21st August 2021

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Manic Street Preachers' New Album Inspired By Special Gift From Singer's 105-Year-Old Neighbour
Publication: WalesOnline
Date: Saturday 21st August 2021
Writer: Nathan Bevan


She gave James Dean Bradfield's family her treasured piano before going to live in a home

Manic Street Preachers' James Dean Bradfield has revealed how his 105-year-old neighbour inspired the band's latest album.

The singer told of how his family were gifted with a piano from the elderly woman shortly before she moved into a care home prior to lockdown kicking in early last year.

The 52-year-old Blackwood rocker added that it was on that instrument that he'd end up composing the Manics' upcoming 14th studio record, The Ultra Vivid Lament.

"It seemed like fate, getting that piano when we did," said Bradfield.

"The lady's a friend of my wife's and gifted us with it shortly before moving away - it's a lovely upright piano from Leipzig (in Germany). Actually, I think it's around a hundred years old too.

"I ended up playing it all throughout lockdown, learning as I went.

"In fact, I probably drove my wife and kids mad practising Sweet Child O'Mine by Guns 'n' Roses over and over.

"But I finally got up to the standard of a pretty good saloon player. And, once I had enough chords under my belt to bang out a tune, I started writing my own songs on it."

He explained that tracks like the recent single Orwellian came about as a direct result of the OAP's donation, making the LP the first the band has ever initially conceived on piano rather than guitar.

Bradfield added that the Manics were looking forward to playing live again soon after 18 months of Covid restrictions.

"We did that Radio Two gig at Cardiff's St David's Hall recently which was great, but weird at the same time," he said, referring to the special socially distanced show on August 12 which saw only 150 lucky fans gain admission.

"Playing to that small a number in a place with a 2,000 capacity was an odd one, but it was great to be on stage and feel the beat coming up though my feet again.

"Not performing is frustrating, like being stuck on the subs bench with no chance of a game in sight. So I'm glad that finally seems so be changing."

And, on a more personal level, the pandemic has also proved difficult.

"I've got a five-year-old and a nine-year-old and seeing little cracks appear in them every now and again was hard.

"They didn't understand what was going on 100% of the time, and it was tough trying to explain lockdown and why we couldn't pop down to the park whenever we felt like.

"They're part of the modern digital generation that stays in rather than goes out, and when I was a kid I was also fairly introspective and shy.

"But at least I was able to go up the mountain with my dogs when the urge took me, which was a massive godsend.

"I really didn't want them to lose out on all that."

As a result, Bradfield turned his back garden into "a gladiator arena" and "let the kids kick the s*** out of me."

"We'd do football, rugby and basketball - I'd get properly beaten up, " he laughed.

"It seemed to make them feel better though."



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