After smashing success in Europe and around the world, the Manic Street Preachers are going to try their luck in the United States. Again.
The group has won tons of critical acclaim in the United Kingdom for its fifth album, “This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours,” but lyricist and bass player Nicky Wire said the group’s past American tour wasn’t as successful as he had hoped.
“We became popular in Europe and the U.K., but we got a bad start in the U.S.,” he said. “We never concentrated on it as much as we should’ve. We did about three or four tours there, only 30 gigs, which is not a lot.”
However, the group looks to remedy that as they make their way through the states, stopping at St. Andrew’s Hall in Detroit tonight. Wire (born Nick Jones) said this tour is an important step in the group’s career.
“When we started in 1990 it was always about the American dream,” he said. “Now the world is a lot smaller, everything now is possible to do. We’ve done everything everywhere else. After this, really that’s it.”
There are plenty of differences between performing in the United States and in Europe, but the band has adjusted well. One major factor was the size of the shows the Manic Street Preachers play. Wire said one show on New Year’s Eve in Europe drew more than 55,000 people.
“You can’t play to 600 (people) in Detroit and do the same thing. It’s like getting back to where we started from. In the U.K. they’re just so obsessed, they’ve been with us for 10 years,” he said. “We’re the longest-living soap opera in rock ’n’ roll. They buy the record and they buy into the whole history.”
The history seems to be what makes the band so intriguing.
In 1993, the band’s manager, Phillip Hall, lost his battle with cancer. Then, in 1995, guitarist Richey Edwards turned up missing. His car was found at a service station near the Severn Bridge in London. He hasn’t been seen or heard from since, and his disappearance remains unsolved.
“I try not to think about it too much, but it does have an effect,” Wire said. “Now I don’t take things for granted, I work hard, focus on things more than when I was younger.
“I don’t like to say it, but hardship leads to great art, although it scares me to think what could happen next. Suffering is good for the soul.”
In the case of the Manic Street Preachers, it seems to be good for the albums, too. In 1998, the group was named “Best Band in the World Today” at the Q Awards. In 1996, the group took home more than 17 honors for its album “Everything Must Go.”
Wire admits that lots of the band’s music is politically inspired.
“Definitely, but not in the shouty, ‘you must hear me’ way,” he said. “I write about things that interest me. I try to create awareness. It’s a big problem with kids in Western society. They’re not aware that they can travel or what kinds of things the government performs. It’s a universal message.”
He said it’s a quality of his lyrics that he draws on from other bands.
“Public Enemy - I like the way they look, the things they said. They mix politics and music, I liked how they did it. The Clash, I guess we sound a lot like them. I guess you could say we’ve matured. We’ve come to play live shows with real energy. We’re a lot older, but still, we’re very energetic.”
With as much success as the band has seen overseas, and as much promise as it holds in the United States, Wire said he is still content with where he is regardless of what happens in the future.
“I’m very privileged,” he said. “I live in the same place in Wales I was born in, in this small mountain town with no civilization around. I’ve been married six years, happily married, I don’t drink or do drugs. I’m kinda boring.”