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Manics Face Their Enemy - Sydney Daily Telegraph, 24th May 2001

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Title: Manics Face Their Enemy
Publication: Sydney Daily Telegraph
Date: Thursday 24th May 2001
Writer: Cameron Adams

Welsh trio Manic Street Preachers have made a career out of politically charged songs, but for their past two albums they have managed the difficult trick of also being a million-selling stadium rock act.

A Design For Life, one of their biggest sellers, even starts with the suitably non-rock line, "Libraries gave us power".

But the Manics have found success costs. Their latest album Know Your Enemy is so titled because they had become their own enemy.

The album features a deliberately tougher, rawer, more political sound designed to shake off casual fans drawn in by previous radio-friendly singles.

And though they welcomed the new millennium with a sold-out show of 60,000 in their home town of Cardiff, they turned down an offer to stage a similar show to launch Know Your Enemy.

Instead, they chose to play a gig in Havana, Cuba, where they were not only unknown but were the first major Western band to visit.

Know Your Enemy has already seen the Manics receive some of their harshest reviews for years. This has not escaped bassist Nicky Wire, who admits he "reads everything" about his band, having just polished off some New Zealand press.

"We're on our sixth album now, and you have to be careful you don't become irrelevant, so I'm glad there have been quite hateful reviews because that shows people still have an opinion about you," he says. "We wanted to get back that spirit of when we started the group. I think a lot of bands want to do it the easy way. People take career moves, realise it's much easier to write songs about their girlfriends."

Know Your Enemy has very few love songs. It follows This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours, the album that consolidated them as a stadium act and brought them to Australia for the first time.

Their previous album, Everything Must Go, was their most personal (written after the disappearance of guitarist Richey Edwards, who remains missing) and their most successful.

When they released their debut effort in 1992, the double album Generation Terrorists, they claimed they'd sell 15 million then split. They didn't and they didn't. But, with millions of sales and dollars now under his belt, Wire says making music for the masses isn't all it's cracked up to be.

"We always wanted success from the start, but it gets to the point of saturation, where you get caught in such a bubble and people keep telling you you're great all the time and sometimes you're not."

"We had a moment of clarity. Playing in Cardiff ... it was our home town, our country, 60,000 people ... you realise it's not going to get any bigger or better, it's time to go a different way. That was the peak, no point chasing that again."