Manic Street Preachers bassist Nicky Wire is really tired, the kind of bone-weary you become when you find yourself in a different locale every day. While still accommodating, the weariness in his voice reveals just how disorienting the long slog of a concert tour can be.
"I'm just in Minnesota, unpacking my suitcase," he said, with a hint of irony, by telephone last Monday night.
But, despite the outside pressures of touring, the Welsh band Manic Street Preachers is enjoying rare North American success with its ninth studio album, "Journal For Plague Lovers." Cobbled together using the lyrics of one-time rhythm guitarist Richey Edwards - who disappeared in 1995 and was pronounced legally dead earlier this year - the CD crackles with an urgency not heard since the band's landmark 1996 album, "Everything Must Go."
The Manics play World Cafe Live in Philadelphia Tuesday. Wire, 40, answered a few questions from The Press ahead of the Philadelphia show.
Your tour manager, Angus Jenner, said the tour has been going well for you guys. Is that accurate?
Yeah, surprisingly well. We're just genuinely thrilled. I mean, we had no expectations at all; we hadn't been here for 10 years, and the fact that there's so many dedicated fans turning out - you know, who are genuinely pleased to see us. It's just been a massive help to us.
To me, your new CD is right up there with "Everything Must Go" and "The Holy Bible" as some of your very best work. There's just something special about this record.
It is dictated by the lyrics. Making music to the lyrics of what we kind of consider a 27-year-old genius at his peak, which is what Richey was at this time ... He loved the art form of lyric writing - it was a real challenge to him. It almost pushed us to that kind of psyche, because you can't force yourself there. It needs to come from a different direction, and, with Richey's lyrics, we sound like a different band. We sound more post-punk, we sound more Nirvana-esque. There's so much pressure on us, within us, to do justice to Richey's words. We had to make a really great album.
I think you touched on something there. You're right - it's a different sound; it's not a better or a worse sound with your lyrics as opposed to Richey's lyrics. It's like apples and oranges almost, isn't it?
It is. It is. And the best thing of all is when Richey and I worked together. We used to sit down and write lyrics together, (songs) like "Motorcycle Emptiness." Then, you get the best of both worlds. It's a real shame that it was disturbed by circumstances. We just sound a different way with my words. It's been brilliant to go back and be that band, with the heavy basslines and the weird, off-time drumming, and (Nirvana "In Utero" producer) Steve Albini coming in to produce it - that was something Richey and I talked about back in 1994. So, we really wanted to do this album, we really hoped to get Steve Albini. And (album) art-wise, we really wanted to use (painter) Jenny Saville for the cover, who we had used for our album "The Holy Bible," and it all came together.