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Manics Get Serious - The Straits Times, 20th November 2008

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ARTICLES:2008



Title: Manics Get Serious
Publication: The Straits Times
Date: Thursday 20th November 2008
Writer: Eddino Abdul Hadi


Manic Street Preachers have never been your average rock 'n' roll band.

With hit songs such as If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next, The Masses Against The Classes and A Design For Life spouting highly literate lyrics, the Welsh trio have always stood apart from their Britpop ilk with astute songwriting and working-class and pro-revolution stance.

They will play a highly anticipated show at Fort Canning Park on Monday, their first concert in Singapore.

Bassist Nicky Wire, 39, says they write only about things that matter to them.

"We grew up in a place where education was really important and we were lucky enough to go to university,' he says in a phone interview with Life!. 'If I wrote about nightclubs or girls, I'd be lying, because it's not something I'm particularly interested in."

The Manics, as they are also known, have been together 22 years, since they met in school.

Wire explains their longevity: "A lot of bands today just don't take it seriously enough. For us, making music, being in a band was everything, we gave everything up to be in a band. Some bands just see it as a career option and not a complete way of life like we did."

In fact, The Manics are no longer young punks but family men. Friendly and relaxed, Wire apologises for being constantly distracted by his one-year-old son Stanley, whom he is baby-sitting at home while his wife, Rachel, is away on a trip to Euro Disney with his older daughter, Clara.

"It's a bit chaotic," he laughs, describing how he is doing this interview while juggling the toddler on his shoulders.

The Manics were formed in 1986 by Wire and schoolfriends James Dean Bradfield on guitar and vocals, Sean Anthony Moore on drums, and Miles Woodward on bass. Richey James Edwards replaced Woodward in 1989 as lyricist-cum-guitarist, and the band achieved moderate success with albums in the early 1990s.

During this period, The Manics also made tabloid headlines with Edwards' manic depression and tendency to self-mutilate, culminating in 1995 when he suddenly disappeared while they were getting ready to travel to the United States to promote their third album, The Holy Bible.

Edwards is still officially listed as missing to this day.

"He is always in our thoughts and in our minds," Wire says.

"We never really got huge before Richey disappeared. We never sold millions of records back then and I would love to see him on stage and feel the power when we play in front of the stadiums and arenas today."

They still keep a quarter of their royalties for Edwards should he ever reappear.

In 2001, the left-leaning band became the first contemporary rock act to play in Cuba as a guest of then-president Fidel Castro, a trip that Wire describes as "a bewildering experience".

"I really enjoyed it but at the time everything was so insane. There were so many journalists and cameras following us around because it was a historical moment," he says.

"Fidel himself was just really intelligent, he was a really nice person. At the time it was just the ultimate rock 'n' roll moment."

At their gig in Singapore, they will be playing several tunes from their latest album Send Away The Tigers, released last year but Wire also assures fans, "You'll get a taste of our history".