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Preaching To The Converted - Spin, June 1999

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Title: Preaching To The Converted
Publication: Spin
Date: June 1999
Writer: Craig McLean
Photos: Peter Robathan

Spin - June 1999.jpg

Manic Street Preachers want love American style.

Ask singer James Dean Bradfield to describe Manic Street Preachers' status in their native Britain, and he's succinct: "Massive. I feel a bit stupid saying that," Bradfield says, "as if I'm trying to over justify my position in another part of the world when it's obvious that we're completely anonymous in [America]."

But make no mistake, the Manic Street Preachers are stupid-huge. Since forming in 1988, the Welsh band has sold 3 million copies of their five albums worldwide, had more than ten Top 20 singles, and has twice received Brit Awards for "Best Album" and "Best Group". Stateside success has been elusive, however, which could be attributed to external factors such as guitarist/lyricist Richey Edwards's disappearance in 1995 on the eve of an American promotional trip (he hasn't been seen since and is presumed dead), and a subsequent tour supporting Oasis being aborted after only a handful of dates.

Or it could just be that the things that encourage rabid love for the band back home - their intricate, often obtuse lyrics; Edwards's battles with self-mutilation and anorexia; their fiercely intellectual approach to something as traditionally dumb as big-sounding rock music- send out confusing signal to U.S. rock fans who might otherwise enjoy their stadium-filling anthems.

With their new album, This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, the Manic Street Preachers could reverse their luck. Like its predecessors, Truth casts the punk aesthetic as a noble quest for inner contentment, but wraps it up in a poppier, sleeker package. "It's nice thinking about a new audience who won't buy into all the baggage that comes with us," says Bradfield. "But we're not so stupid as to plea for acceptance. That's just self-destructive."