Manic Street Preachers bassist Nicky Wire has this week previewed the band's new album, "The Holy Bible". And he has also revealed that the band's autumn tour, scheduled to open at Glasgow Barrowlands on October 5 is now in jeopardy because of Richey James' much-publicised illness. The Manics have firmly ruled out the possibility of employing a stand-in guitarist for the tour, or playing the dates as a three-piece.
Wire told The Maker: "James (Dean Bradfield) saw Richey last night, and he did seem a bit better. But he's not going to be doing Reading Festival, and now we're just looking to the British tour.
"If he doesn't do that, I don't know if we'll do it really. There's only so far you can go with the 'soldiering on' mentality. Obviously he's better physically and mentally than he was four weeks ago, but we still really don't know if he'll be well enough in time for the tour. I think it's looking quite promising. The tour's still six or seven weeks away so there's time for him to get better - but I'm just so pessimistic about things in general at the minute. We're going to do Reading as a three-piece - the dreaded power trio! We've only done one gig without Richey, in Glasgow, and I didn't really enjoy that at all. But we'll do Reading, see how it goes and get it out of the way. Festivals aren't something I'll ever relish, but I did quite enjoy it the last time we played Reading. We were really only about fourth or fifth on the bill, and people really seemed to like us. It was a bit of a breakthrough"
As previously announced The Holy Bible is released by Epic on August 30, and Nicky describes the album as "gothic with a small 'g'. It's not Cranes, but it is quite a morbid album. We've rejected our past in a lot of ways with this album. There's a bit of early Joy Division on it, and a few PiL basslines."
Wire admits that the musical content of The Holy Bible might alienate the more metal-orientated section of the band's audience. However he added: "Alice in Chains are one of our favourite bands at the moment. They're like the American version of Joy Division, but a lot louder."
Nicky's track by track guide to the new LP is as follows:
YES: It looks at the way that society views prostitutes as probably the lowest form of life. But we feel that we've prostituted ourselves over the last three or four years, and we think it's the same in every walk of life. Marlene Dietrich said that she'd been photographed to death. Red Indians believe that every time they're photographed a little piece of their soul goes. We came to a point where we felt a bit like that. I don't want to come across like Eddie Vedder or something, because we've always made an effort to make our pictures fairly aesthetic. But you come to a point where you think, 'Why are we doing this?' It must come with maturity.
There's a line in there, 'Tie his hair in bunches, f*** him, call him Rita if you want.' You can get to a position when you're in a band where you can virtually do anything you want, in any kind of sick, low form. It's not something we've particularly indulged in, but it is a nasty by-product of being in a group.
IFWHITEAMERIATOLDTHETRUTHFORONEDAYITSWORLDWOULDFALLAPART: It's not a completely anti-American song. It compares British imperialism to American consumerism. It's just trying to explain the confusion I think most people think about how the most empty culture in the world can dominate in such a
total sense. I've got an ambivalent attitude to America. I can't tell whether I should embrace it or just be confused by it. When we went to New York, I'd watched 'Cagney and Lacey' so much that I felt like I knew New York already when we got there.
The last lines ['F*** the Bradey Bill / If God made man they say / Sam Colt made him equal'] are about the gun laws that Clinton is trying to bring in. It would disenfranchise the black communities, who generally don't have licences. The white rednecks in middle America do have licences, but statistics show they cause as much crime."
WALKING ABORTION: There's a line: 'Horthy's corpse screened to a million'. Horthy was a Hungarian fascist military dictator before the second World War, and the devotion that a fascist dictator can achieve just show such a terrible flaw in human nature. There's always a chance that it'll be revived, because there's a worm in human nature that makes us want to be dominated."
SHE IS SUFFERING: It's quite a simple song, both musically and lyrically. It's kind of like the Buddhist thing where you can only reach eternal peace by shedding every desire in your body. I think that the last line, 'Nature's lukewarm pleasure', is Richey's views on sex. I can't really explain it, but that's the way he sees it.
ARCHIVES OF PAIN: That was the song that me and Richey worried about most, and did the most work on. It was written as a reaction to the glorification of serial killers. In 'Silence of the Lambs' Hannibal Lecter is made into a hero in the last scene of the film - people feel sorry for them. It's like that line from Therapy?: 'Now I know how Jeffrey Dahmer feels'. I don't f***ing want to know how Jeffrey Dahmer feels, and I think it's quite appalling to put yourself in that position. Everyone gets a self-destructive urge to kill, but I don't particularly like the glorification of it.
There's a book by Marcel Foucault with a chapter called 'Archives of Pain'. Richey and I did that book at university, and it had quite an influence on us. It talks about the punishment matching the crime. But the song isn't a right wing statement, it's just against this fascination with people who kill. A lot of people don't like to see rapists getting off with a #25 fine.
That line, 'Kill Yeltsin, who's saying?' - well, Yeltsin is a figure of hate to us. A person who's basically an alcoholic... That's a personal, petty Manics thing.
REVOL: All those lines like 'Breshnev married into group sex', are just analogies, really. It's trying to say that relationships in politics, and relationships in general, are failures. It's very much a Richey lyric, and some of it's beyond my head. He's saying that all of these revolutionary leaders were failures in relationships - probably because all his relationships have failed!
4ST 7LBS: Every word of that is Richey's, and it's pretty autobiographical. I think that when he was admitted to hospital, he was down to about six stones, which, for a five-foot-eight 25 year old, is pretty grim.
There's been a lot of media coverage of anorexia lately, and I think for a lot of people it's like the final act of self-control. Nothing can alter your course; you've got to keep control of what you're doing. But of course it's like a slow death. Any association with self-abuse and self-control is pretty romantic in a naive sort of way, but obviously the reality of anorexia is much worse than the idea.
MAUSOLEUM / THE INTENSE HUMMING OF EVIL: These two can be twinned together, because they were both inspired in the same way. Last year we visited Dachau, Belsen and the Peace Museum at Hiroshima, and those places had
quite an intense influence on us, and on the whole album. Dachau is such an evil, quiet place. There's no grass, and you don't even see a worm, let alone any birds. All you can hear is this humming of nothing. In the museum at Belsen there's the original sign which hung there. It says, 'Welcome to Belsen Recreation Camp.' It's the same with the Peace Museum in Hiroshima. When you're young you're brought up to think that the Americans dropped the bomb because they had to end the war, and loads of Americans would have been killed otherwise. But when you go there and seethe pictures of the whole city completely flattened, and the black rain, and all the people who died from the secondary effects .... If anyone goes to those places and doesn't feel an immense sense of loss, they've got no soul. The lines: 'Churchill no different / Wished the workers bled to a machine' are about how Britain always thinks that it has a superior attitude. But as soon as the war was over, the attitude was: 'Let's go back to normal and exploit as many people as we can again. Keep the proles happy, tie them to their machines and then send them out to war again to be killed when we need to.
PCP: I think that's more than anything about the right to freedom of speech, and freedom of the media. Once the state gets control of that in a country, you know everything's f***ed. That's the one thing that I think is really frightening about Political Correctness - the eradication of words. It's just so Orwellian - destroying words, changing dictionaries and changing the meaning of words. Obviously, PC as an idea is inherently good. So is socialism and so is communism, and they ended up being abused. A lot of PC followers take up the idea of being liberal, but end up being quite the opposite.
FASTER: Frankly, a lot of it is all Richey again, and I was always completely confused by it. But when he wrote it he told me it was about self-abuse. The opening line is: "I am an architect / They call me a butcher" - and of course, he's been carving into his arm and all that ... I think it's the most confusing song on the album. I added some stuff about the regurgitation of 20th Century culture and the way that everything's speeded up to such an extent that nobody knows if they've got any meaning any more. It's probably the first time that we've written a song and not completely understood what we've written.
THIS IS YESTERDAY: That's the simplest song, musically and lyrically, on the album. It's about how people always look back to their youth and look on it as a glorious period. No matter what walk of life you're in, you always revert back to childhood and look on it as a beautiful time when, as the song says, 'Someone, somewhere soon will take care of you'.
DIE IN THE SUMMERTIME: Again, it's all Richey's, and there's lots of disturbing images: 'Scratch my leg with a rusty nail / Sadly it heals ... / A tiny animal curled into a quarter circle'. It was one of the first songs we wrote for the album, and I found it pretty disturbing when Richey first showed it to me. Now, of course, it's even more so, and I think this and '4st 7lbs' are pretty obviously about Richey's state of mind, which I didn't quite realise at the time. Even if you're quite close to someone, you always try to deny thoughts like that.