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Manics - How They Snapped - Wales On Sunday, 6th November 2011

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Title: Manics - How They Snapped
Publication: Wales On Sunday
Date: Sunday 6th November 2011
Writer: James McCarthy

Polaroid pictures reveal band's musical journey

These are just some of the polaroid images Manic Street Preachers bassist Nicky Wire has collected of his band since they formed more than 20 years ago.

The Blackwood rockers have come a long way since the early '90s, when singer James Dean Bradfield pledged: "One album, then we split. If it doesn't work, we split anyway."

Ten hit studio albums later, the band are still going strong - despite the tragic disappearance of guitarist and lyricist Richey Edwards on February 1, 1995. He was declared presumed dead in 2008.

Now the band have published a coffee table tome called Death of a Polaroid, A Manics Family Album. Many are taken by Wire.

The 42-year-old said: "In a pre-digital age, the representation of 'the moment'- unplanned randomness caused by the restrictions of the format - was often what made artworks so captivating.

"The hiss as analogue tape ran through reel to reel tape machines. The warmth of a proper live room with decades' worth of stories to tell.

"The flicker and crackle of Super 8 film through a handheld camera. Or the magic of watching a picture develop in your hand."

Wire bemoaned an age where everything can be retouched on a computer and phone apps can replicate any photo style.

"Basically, you can cheat at anything," he said. "To me, the polaroid has always been a truly honest format."

The outspoken Wire, brother of Welsh poet Patrick Jones, has been fascinated with instant cameras since he was a boy.

"There is no truer representation of 'the moment' than the polaroid," he said.

"They played a vital part in documenting the magical moments of my youth and they have been a constant in documenting the history of the Manic Street Preachers."

The limited edition version of the book includes one of the actual polaroids take by Wire.

The bassist soon regretted the decision to give them away but by then 50 had already been sold online.

When the band first formed, a polaroid would be taken at the start of every photo session.

"Before long I began taking them myself to record the beauty of the world as I saw it," said Wire, who lives in Newport.

Each of the singles from the album This is My Truth, Tell Me Yours included a polaroid photograph in its artwork. Among his polaroid collection, Wire has pictures by celebrity shutterbugs Rankin, Kevin Cummins, Steve Gullick and Tom Sheehan.

The book also features images by photographers Mitch Ikeda, Robin Turner, Neil Cooper and Andy Earl.

"For me, the polaroid is the perfect medium," said Wire.

"With time colours fade and lines blur, but the details of lives caught in camera in that split second are always genuine, honest and truthful." Shots from sessions for the defunct music paper Melody Maker show Wire and Edwards painted gold, while there are pictures of the band in their early days wearing Clash-style stencilled shirts, dressed in military clothing at the height of Britpop and standing in Lord Harlech's North Wales garden.

Other images show fans' Manics-themed tattoos, at Tokyo's Capitol hotel, and in Cuba - where they met Fidel Castro before becoming one of the first bands to play the Caribbean island.