The Welsh band heads tonight Music Festival Santiago Way. His lyricist and bassist Nicky Wire, speaking to Faro group, their interest in Galicia, told them what Fidel Castro, football and why they refused to play at the Olympics.
After the mysterious disappearance in 1995 of Richie Edwards , one of the "X - Files" rock and declared dead, Nicky Wire (bass) became the main lyricist Manic Street Preachers, who play today in the Music Way Santiago (Fairground Amio) hits contained in the compilation "National Treasures". Famed for his controversial statements, Nicky Wire is amiable and smiling on the phone.
It closes a stage in the career of the Manics with the compilation?
Definitely. They will be the last concerts since it was published, a year ago, and we feel we have to move forward. We are fond of our twenty-year career, but the next album will be somewhat different. We have to reinvent ourselves again. Whether we can do it or not, I'm not sure; but yes, it is the end of a stage.
Do you have any clue to that new address?
Travel is very important for us. It gives us inspiration for the album and it makes us see the fantastic world that is out there. We are privileged to play in places where we have never been before. We have just been in South Korea. Now we will play in Santiago de Compostela. Latvia, Croatia...There is a story everywhere, no matter how big or small. There is always something interesting.
Galicia is one of the "seven Celtic nations", like Wales. What does it mean for you to be Welsh?
I feel very comfortable with that. I am very happy with my origins, fortunate for the environment in which I grew up. He gave me a lot of desire to learn and experience. More than something patriotic, he gave me a good background to make my way in the world.
Would it bother you if someone, by mistake, called you "English" in Galicia?
Ummm...It would be irritating [laughs], but it would not matter much either. It does not happen often, you should have asked me twenty years ago, when I passed often. But there has been so much good music that has left Wales ... I am very intrigued with Galicia. I have done a little research and it seems a very independent place. We will arrive the day before [by yesterday], so we will have time to walk around the city and soak up everything.
Do you take advantage of the tours to know the cities where you play?
It's one of the great joys of our lives [laughs]. Have a coffee, visit a museum ... I take a lot of pictures with my Polaroid. If you see a high Welshman with a Polaroid in Santiago, you'll know it's me [laughs]. We just played in South Korea and I walked around Seoul, a city of 11 million people. On the way back I visited my parents in a place that must have three hundred inhabitants [laughs]. I'm looking forward to going to Galicia.
The Manics have always been described as a "working class band". Are you comfortable with that label?
Yes. This is how we are and how we grew up, in a very political period. During the 1980s, with Margaret Thatcher in power, there were many strikes, socialists against conservatives...I studied politics at university ... I would not say that all our songs are deeply political, but there is something there that speaks for you. Although we have succeeded and earned a lot of money, we are still a working class group.
Your most successful song, "If you tolerate this your children will be next", is inspired by the Spanish Civil War. Did you rely on your readings on the subject?
In my university studies [he graduated in Political History] there was much about the Spanish Civil War. I read Orwell's Homage to Catalonia. Also the song of the Clash, "Spanish bombs"...It has always interested me. It was such a sad and unexplainable situation...I'm proud of the lyrics. I do not think it's prejudiced, it's pure social history. I hope our generation does not go through something like that. Many Welsh fought in the International Brigades, in a disinterested act, only to believe in a cause. When the song came out we played it in Las Ramblas before five thousand people.
Our album "Journal for plague lovers" (2009) was your biggest critical success. Did the fact that it was written from letters left by your partner Richey Edwards, mysteriously disappeared in 1995, decisively influence?
Yes. The lyrics of Richey, as we saw with the album "The Holy Bible" (1994), make us sound like a different group. I wrote lyrics with Richey for "Generation terrorists" (1992) and "Gold against the soul" (1993). We are a more commercial band with my lyrics. Richey's were an intelligence summit. He was more a novelist than a lyricist. We are proud to have finished that album, we felt like the band we were ten years ago. It was a magical feeling.
Was any of your songs in the opening of the Olympic Games in London?
I'm a big fan of sports and the Games. I'm not particularly interested in the opening ceremonies [laughs]. They asked us to play at the closing, but we rejected the invitation because we never acted before royalty. I love sport. Those from Moscow were one of my favorite games, in Barcelona they were fantastic and London was at that level.
It's been eleven years since you played in Cuba. Do you regret it? Has it caused you problems in the United States?
I do not regret on a personal level, it was very inspiring. But it caused the group many problems, not only in the United States. Eastern countries thought that we were supporting communism, when totalitarian communism had ruined their lives. We did not go there for that, but because we thought that Cuba had been pressured by the US and that Cuba had very positive aspects, such as the health system and life expectancy, higher than in North America. It caused us problems with visas and other things, but you have to take risks.
What did Fidel Castro tell you then?
After the concert they took us to a room. We did not know what was happening. There was Castro. We shook hands and talked for about 25 minutes. He looked interested. He asked us about Wales and he told us that "batteries sound louder than wars", a great quote. We went to see his speech the next day in Santa Clara. We returned to say hello ... It was like being in a movie. Like Forrest Gump when he greets Kennedy [laughs]. Now I wonder if it really happened, because it was surreal. But when the group finishes I think we will remember it with pride.
The conversation turns to football. Nicky Wire could have been a professional player if it was not for back and knee problems. At age 14 he was captain of the Welsh school team and was offered a try at Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, the team of which he is a great supporter.
Liam Gallagher was recently kicked out of the Madrid stadium.
Yes, I've seen it [laughs].
Are you staunch of football in the group?
"As a child I fell in love with Glenn Hoddle's Tottenham, and I'm still a great follower of the Spurs. James [Dean Bradfield, voice and guitar] is from Nottingham Forest, and Sean [Moore, drums] is from Liverpool. We have no problem [laughs]. But I have not seen a better team than the Spanish team of the last four years, it is an extraordinary team to watch.
Can you name new groups that you like?
Future of the Left, I love them. And Cian Ciaran, from Super Furry Animals, has released a brilliant album. It's like the Plastic Ono Band and a little Dennis Wilson. There are many good albums right now, but I do not think there is a classic group that you can fall in love with. They will come.
Complete the sentence: "We will leave it when we realize that..."
When we realize that we are no longer relevant. When we stop arousing excitement in ourselves and in the public. When we played our last album, "Postcards from a young man" (2010), we see that it is very well received by the public. It would be easier to become a band-museum. Paul Weller always evolves and is an inspiration to us. I'm content to get to the middle of where he came from.