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Practice What We Preach - Daily Record, 4th May 2007

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By John Dingwall

MANIC Street Preachers bass player Nicky Wire has blasted Coldplay and Snow Patrol, claiming they are not bright enough to write hit songs about politics.

TheWelsh rocker is proud of his band's impressive back catalogue of politically motivated rock tunes.

But he claims Coldplay frontman Chris Martin and Snow Patrol singer Gary Lightbody have jumped on the bandwagon by supporting political causes - while being too timid to educate their fans through their lyrics.

Nicky said: "Looking back over our career, I'm really proud of our track record because there are so many bandwagon jumpers around now who'll write an anti-Bush song. It's just the easiest thing in the world to do.

"I kind of wonder where these f***wits have been living for the last 20 years because America has been doing the same thing non-stop going back to the Seventies in South America.

"It's never been any different. I do find it odd that they need such a disaster of a war to make them think,'Oh, America's got some bad foreign policy'.

"I find it strange that their songs are never about those things though.

"Whether it's Snow Patrol or Coldplay, I have nothing against those bands, but I just think that if you want to do those concerts and say you think about those things, don't you want to write a song about it? I find it weird."

Nicky, 38, added:"I have nothing against them as people and I don't think it is insincerity on their part. I just think it is a lack of intelligence. Political songs tend to p*** people off so they are probably being very career minded."

The Manics - Nicky, Sean Moore and James Dean Bradfield - travelled to Cuba in 2001 where they met the communist country's leader Fidel Castro.They have constantly criticised the US in songs, such as Let Robeson Sing, a tribute to the civil rights campaigner who was banned from travelling outside the US because he had criticised the treatment of blacks in the country.

Now they are back with their eighth studio album, Send Away TheTigers, out on May 7, and oozing confidence again.

The band's first single from the album, Your Love Is Not Enough, has been released this week and features Cardigans singer Nina Persson as guest vocalist.

It's their best in years and sees them reverting to the clever rock anthems that have been their hallmark for 15 years.

But Nicky admits there have been occasions when he has felt like a rock dinosaur.

"I feel like a relic sometimes," he told me."I feel so alone in the fact that I still feel engaged with political issues. I watch Newsnight every night just because I enjoy it.

"People look at me blankly and ask why I'm not watching YouTube or MySpace and I tell them it's because I prefer watching Jeremy Paxman.

"I went to university and did a degree in politics. It would be a complete lie for me to write an album of love songs or songs about nightclubs or drugs because it's something I have never been interested in.

"It's something innate in me, something I can't get rid of. I grew up during the years of desperate Thatcherism when theTories used Wales and Scotland as guinea-pigs which gave us something to react against. Now everything is a grey morass and it's harder to rebel."

Scots will be able to hear the new songs live at Glasgow's Barrowland on May 14 before the trio return to play the Rock Ness music festival on the banks of Loch Ness on June 10.

But while Scots fans will go crazy for rock anthems such as Motorcycle Emptiness and IfYouTolerate ThisYour ChildrenWill Be Next at Rock Ness, Nicky believes our cousins across the Atlantic will never forgive the band for repeatedly criticising US foreign policy in song. "The thing that f****d us up in America was having the Cuban visa on our passport," he admitted."We've avoided the full body search but we do get pulled over rather a lot.

"We have sold records everywhere in the world, including Canada, but never in America.

"Unlike those bands I mentioned earlier, we've criticised America and that's the death knell for a band. That's probably why we've never made it there. They don't like it.

"In fact, there was a time after Cuba and having been photographed with Fidel that I started to feel like George Galloway. I got a bit suspicious and paranoid.

"We're really looking forward to getting up to Rock Ness. Everybody tells me how beautiful a setting it is. We haven't been up that far for a long time and I've been told such good things about it that I can't wait.

"I'm a bit scared of the midgie attacks. I remember we played with Oasis at Loch Lomond what must have been 10 years ago and it was beautiful.

"We had to get to the gig by going on a little boat across the loch. I woke up with quite a few bites the next morning. Rock Ness sounds like it will be worth it. We've been very lucky. Scotland has always been really good to us from the reall early days of playing little clubs in the likes of Dundee. It genuinely is always a pleasure to come back up."

The title of the new album comes from legendary British comedian Tony Hancock who used to utter the line,"Send away the tigers when he suffered a bout of depression.

"It was more about sending away the doubts and trying to stop worrying about reinventing ourselves," Nicky explained. "You sell millions of albu and start doing stadium gigs and as yourself what the logical path is. You have to choose whether to destroy yourself or become U2 and we ended up destroying ourselves.

"You get more cynical and feel the criticism more. Send Away TheTigers was about not worrying about that and just doing what we do best."

He admits the band's self-confidence took a dent following the release of the previous album, Lifeblood.

"Coming from Wales there is a natural tendency, whether best actors or bands, to turn into fraught, nervous, alcoholic f***-ups," said Nicky."From Richard Burton to Anthony Hopkins to the Manics, there is a stream of self-doubt that reeks through us.

"It's healthy. We're very realistic. There's nothing sadder than actors or a rock bands who still think they've got it when patently they haven't. That's what keeps us on our toes.

"We have been pretty close to being Welsh alcoholic f***-ups. We reached a point where we had used up all our indulgences and our vanities with solo albums, even going back to Lifeblood, which is a record we are really proud of, but it didn't connect with the people who loved us way back when.

"We wanted to make a quintessential Manics record by mixing the euphoric splendour of Everything Must Go, the naive punk idealism of Generation Terrorists, our ability to write brilliant rock anthems and hopefully some intelligent lyrics which stimulate the body and the mind as well.

"We wanted to make an album we can play live because Lifeblood was such a sedate, beautiful record that we struggled.

"We're very physical and are one of these bands who treat live music as an art form.

"We wanted to get that physical energy back.

"We came back wanting to transfer all the energy we possess as people and as a live band into making a classic rock record which we probably haven't done since Everything Must Go.

"All the signposts were there. It was really a matter of us getting focused and disciplined again.

"You get to the point that you end up putting so many songs on an album that it gets diluted and we just wanted a short and perfectly formed rock record."