On politics, tea, B-sides and dresses...
Really, it's much more than we could ever have expected.
Manic Street Preachers’ new album ‘Futurology’ - their 12th studio set, no less - is packed with the kind of spit, fire and daring which most bands lose within their first tour.
Absorbing post-punk and ‘new pop’ influences, it’s an album which continually looks outward, projecting a pan-European ideal fusing the remains of the former Eastern Bloc with their native Wales.
The album is awarded 8/10 by Clash here, with reviewer Gareth James writing that it’s “the Manics doing what they do best, with added Krautrock, Georgia Ruth and Green Gartside. A rum cocktail, indeed.”
Gifted time with both James Dean Bradfield and Nicky Wire, Clash promptly swotted up on the Russian Futurists and Norwegian Expressionist painting. The results of that conversation will be published soon.
We also asked you lot for a few questions - it’s nice to be nice, like. The responses were swift and varied. Ignoring pleas to play certain towns and cities, as tour dates will no doubt be announced soon enough, we gathered together some of the daftest and most oddly insightful questions submitted.
So ahead of our full feature on the making of ‘Futurology’, here’s Manic Street Preachers vs Clash Readers.
Ian Wade: Given their reformation, do you still hate Slowdive more than Hitler?
Nicky Wire: I’ll be diplomatic here and say that it was actually Richey’s quote and unfortunately he’s not here to be asked. But I understand his pettiness.
Rod Needham: How many sugars do you take in your tea?
James Dean Bradfield: I take a quarter of a teaspoon. I do it myself. If somebody offers to make me a cup of tea I just say: ‘No, I’ll do it myself.’ I am a tea pedant.
N: I hate tea. I really despise tea.
J: I have at least eight cups a day - I’m a tea dragon. That’s just one of my nicknames.
N: I made a cup of tea in the studio for someone just the other day and James literally rushed over and chucked it away! You said it was like something you’d give children...you called it baby’s tea!
J: It was like baby’s tea!
N: I don’t drink tea.
Owen Wilkinson: Are B-sides dead?
J: B-sides are dead but we went and created at least nine extra tracks for this album so we’re going to find something there. There’s one, actually, which I think could have been on the album. But it’s another instrumental and we couldn’t have another instrumental on there.
N: There’s one called ‘Anti Social Manifesto’, which was close as well.
J: So they may be dead, but we’ll keep on doing ‘em.
N: We certainly seek out our own. I guess it’s hard to find anyone else doing it.
J: It’s always important to fans, especially when you’re young. Whether that’s ‘Angels and Devils’ by Echo & The Bunnymen, which was the B-side of ‘Seven Seas’. Or ‘Did You No Wrong’ which was the B-side to ‘God Save The Queen’. Two utter, quintessential moments that you would never have found on any album, but they gave you something else.I just levitated when I discovered ‘Angels and Devils’; I just played it over and over and over and over again. I sat upstairs in my bedroom until I got that voice from downstairs shouting: ‘James! Turn that off!’
N: I think ‘Well I Wonder’ was a B-side before it was on ‘Meat Is Murder’. I remember ‘Asleep’ by The Smiths, a B-side of ‘The Boy With The Thorn In His Side’, I think it is. F*cking amazing. Just Morrissey and a piano. ‘Asleep’ was gorgeous.
Cieran Owens: What’s your opinion of Plaid Cymru and of Welsh independence, given the Scottish referendum?
J: I think Plaid Cymru have been left in the wake of the SNP. You’ve Rhun ap Iorwerth, who’s just been elected up in Ynys Môn, up in Angelsey - he’s seen as the shining light of Plaid Cymru, that he could actually make it seem like a party that’s not a one-issue party anymore. People from outside see it as being a one-issue party, partly because of the language issue. Which is obviously an important part of what they are. But I suppose they’ve got to express to other people in Wales, let alone outside of Wales, that they’re more than a one-issue party. Alex Salmond just seems like such a committed politician. He’s left everybody in his vapour trail, in a way, because everybody just seems less committed when you compare them to him. Leanne (Wood)’s doing a good job for Plaid Cymru, she’s the first non-natural Welsh speaker to actually become leader of the party. A lot of people see Iorwerth to be the guy to tip them over the wall, put their heads above the parapet and make them seem like a proper political party. So that’s the view. That’s not my opinion - that’s the view.
Fionn Wright: Do you think the Manics - or any band - have had any genuine political impact? And Nicky, what’s your favourite dress?
N: Oh, wow...starting with the most important one, what’s my favourite dress? As David Gedge would say. It’s a white number which I bought in Cuba in a hotel lobby. I was in Cuba and I basically had a cross-dressing breakdown.
J: It was actually quite serious!
N: I felt pretty oppressed. I sat in my room and put tonnes of make up on, put this dress on and then sat looking at myself in the mirror...and then we had to do a photo session. I gave that dress away in a competition for Jo Whiley on Radio 1 and apparently it got lost in the post, which was even more frustrating because I wish I still had it! What was the other question? The less-important one? Politics! I think we have changed people like The Smiths changed people, like The Clash changed us. I think we’ve spoken to enough fans who’ve went on and become journalists and such like to know that some of the references we’ve used have become pointers, to give them that little nudge in a political direction.
Graeme Tennent: Which three bands - past or present - would you like to go on tour with?
J: Well, we’d have to support them. I’m not sure, really! Off the top of my head...the original line up of Deep Purple. A great band.
N: But Jon Lord’s dead so I’m not sure if that’s feasible.
J: Can we get them back from the past?
J: We’ll have them. Nicky?
N: ABBA! Just a great, great band. And particularly if they looked the same now as they did then. Some of the lyrics, though, especially the lyrics about the break-up of a relationship, are just absolutely wonderful, really incredible stuff. And the sessions guys they had are fantastic, I mean, those basslines...
J: How many is that? We’ve got one more? I think...Super Furry Animals! To have them back, playing that catalogue...we’d gladly support them