Preaching To The Enemy - The Base, February 2001
Part 1: So what is this Cuba thing all about and what is the new album like?
Why have you chosen to mark your comeback with the gig in Cuba?
We just wanted to, with this album we just wanted to come back in a different way and going to Cuba seems a logical progression for us, that... the way the record was sounding the way that we were thinking... y'know the way he stands up to capitalist America with that kinda socialist background... it just seemed made sense. I didn't really think it'd ever happen but it's happening in four days time now! Five days time so that's the reason why.
And you're the first band to go to Cuba?
Yeah... first Western band ever to play. I like the idea we're creating a bit of history... like the first men on the moon we were the first rock band to play in Cuba. I think it's something if I ever get round to it I'll be able to tell my grandchildren. My grand dogs probably... knowing me!
What are we to expect from 'Know Your Enemy'?
I think you can expect 'Know Your Enemy' to be completely different to the last album that's the best way of describing it. Everything has changed, some of it's kinda gone back, some of it's gone forward and some of it has stayed in the middle.
What sort of styles?
Someone's throwing up! He's not happy with what I said... That's what he thinks of me! Styles? Nah, I mean musically there's a lot of different stuff on there. Ranges from very early, our punk roots, takes in Beach Boys, y'know elements of disco, it's kinda all over the place. There's tributes to all the music we liked when we were growing up y'know, all the stuff that influenced, from early REM to early New Order to the Stooges, to ABBA! Whatever, it's all on there.
Are you afraid that including disco might alienate die-hard Manics fans?
I think by the end of the last album we'd probably alienated hardcore fans anyway. I think they came back to us with the single that we did called 'Masses Against The Classes'. Umm ... I think by the last single on the last album they were all like, y'know, get off your lazy arses and do something different. So I think they're expecting something. I think with the nature of the lyrics with 'Miss Europa Disco Dancer' I think because it's quite a sarcastic song I think they'll like it anyway.
Unhappy with the last album?
Umm... I think the reason we change, the reason we wanted to change so radically was perhaps half because we were disappointed with the results of the last album and half just through boredom I think.
All the best bands in history have reacted against themselves, not reacted against other forms of music or trends, they just react against themselves. That's what happened with us, y'know I think it goes in cycles. Our third album 'The Holy Bible' was a huge reaction against the previous two, and this album is a huge reaction again against the previous two.
What made James venture into the world of lyric writing?
Well urm... James wrote half the lyrics to 'Ocean Spray' on this... you could tell it's a special song for him because it's about his mum who died of cancer. He was very bashful and very shy, he was just in the corner kinda playing it. And we all knew he had this brilliant tune and he was just mumbling away and I said "Y'know you've obviously written some words ... y'know I'm not bothered." Y'know he had it was very touching and beautiful and Sean kinda did his tribute with a trumpet solo because Sean's a classically trained trumpeter when he was young. And I ended up writing half the lyrics towards the end as well so it was just a perfect ... that's a perfect snapshot of how the album went really that we all chipped in with different things and different ideas and it was much more... liberation in the record.
Part of the album was recorded in Spain. Do you think the environment influenced the sound?
Yeah, I think, not so much the sun but the idea that there was no-one else around and we were completely on our own and we could do whatever we want really and the record company didn't really hear this record till it was finished. So we can stand by this record ourselves if it fails it's our fault really there's no-one to blame but ourselves.
But it was beautiful over there... was in Anda Lucia... dunno there was just a whole aura of relaxation and trusting each other that we've come this far and we know what were doing.
Part 2: Where are the Manics at in 2001?
What changes can you say have taken place in the band since 'This Is My Truth'?
Halfway through 'This Is My Truth' we started to change, we did a festival in Scotland called 'T In The Park' which ... I lost it a little bit, and I think, since that day we played the Millenium gig in Cardiff in front of 60,000 people, walked off stage that night and realised we could never do that again and we had to change. And that was the catalyst really; realising that you can't go trying to recreate the peaks because they won't happen, it's better to go on a different path.
What are the main social issues you rallied against this album? Are there any?
There are, there's pet hates that I always have. But definitely this album the main issue is the Americanisation of the world really. The kind of spread of capitalism and it's evil ways. It's just all about, y'know, things that stand up against capitalism and stand up against America really which are far and few between but it's important that ... in these days really of music with bands that say absolutely nothing that I say something I guess.
Any songs to do with Ritchie's memory on this album? No.
Who is the enemy?
The enemy is us. Y'know we became our own worst enemy I think. It's easy to admit your faults if you've got the sort of social background that we've got, very hard sort of upbringing - you dissect yourselves. And y'know we don't really need anyone to tell us we knew that we'd become a bit lazy and we had to change.
Are you releasing two singles on the same day purely because no band has ever done it before?
We're releasing two singles which we thought that no band had ever done it but we found out they have so... I think Throbbing Gristle did it and Lush. I think Lush went in at 61 and 62 and Throbbing Gristle didn't even get in the charts so hopefully we'll have a bit more success than that! It just kind of goes hand in hand with the Cuban thing really just trying to do things differently. Y'know 'So Why So Sad' is the white side of the album, and 'Found That Soul' is definitely the black side, the dark side or the nastier side shall we say. Because it is as you say a lot of different styles on the record so we didn't want people to get the wrong impression.
You're on your sixth album... do you think about how many you'll be around for realistically?
I think bands like us are always getting asked about splitting really. And because we're quite honest about the tensions and stuff that exist within the group people always kind of think we're on the verge of splitting up. Which is not really the case but we're just kinda honest about the fact that it could fall apart tomorrow. Y'know we're not... so many bands just kinda continue to trawl about for the money y'know, the reunions and all the rest of it. Y'know some people get the wrong impression that we're going to split up every single day but... we could do! It's hard to explain but there's no point lying about it and say, y'know, we probably owe Sony about 10 more albums, but it doesn't really matter.
Part 3: What is the new video like and what does Nicky think of this year's Brit Award nominees?
Why did you feel the video suited the song 'So Why So Sad'?
I think it's very difficult to make a literal interpretation of the song 'So Why So Sad' in terms of a video. The song starts off very romantic and cheerful and pretty and ends being quite dark and I think the video was trying to show that, that it's that kind of end of the '60s flower power gone wrong and everything on the verge of huge decay. Y'know, that people don't realise what's going on. The video is the beautiful people basically, the Californian beautiful people, y'know there's an army invasion going on but they're more interested in their suntans. So it does fit the song, but like I said it's not exactly a literal, a literal interpretation.
What overriding emotion do you want people to feel when they see that video?
I think the video, well the opening shot of the video for 'So Why So Sad' a kid playing baseball on the beach and the father is throwing a grenade, and the end shot is that grenade being hit. I don't know if you'll show that version on your programme. It's just saying y'know, that blindness to reality really that does comes across from America sometimes, that, the whole gun law thing, the gun culture. If you don't realise what's going on then it's just going to happen, the chaos, death and destruction will occur and the father is blind to this he just chucks the grenade because he doesn't really care, he's more interested in just looking good on the beach.
Is that house on the cliff as amazing as it looks?
It's a model. I think it's a bit Titantic, a bit French and Saunders Titantic, heh heh heh, it's that kind of crappy model thing that was my first impression. It was nice inside. There was a shot that was a model but the actual set was very nice, very habitat. They wanted us to go to some house in South Africa but we didn't have time so we just did it in London in a fake studio. All the other stuff is in L.A... it's just that we didn't have time to go. So all the scenes you see on the beach, the baby and everything all the army, that's all done in L.A. but we did it in East London.
Nicky Wire is asked about the Brits:
I really liked Moloko last year, I think their videos are really good. They're just a kind of odd, bizarre band, I think it's hard to categorise them so definitely between them and Radiohead, because I think Radiohead pursue their own path, almost to the point of self destruction which I think is a really good way to do things! So either of those two.
I'd go for Craig David actually. I think he kind of re-invented British R&B. All credit to him y'know he's, he just seems fresh doesn't he? And young and handsome, all the things that we're not anymore. It just seems... it's not imbued with any kind of violence or gangster type shit which you get a lot of in America with R&B y'know... I dunno it just seems nice.
Previous Brits rock n' roll stories
You're asking the wrong person here I can't think of any. I'm just in my own world at those gigs. I wish John Prescott had beat the shit out of Chumbawumba though, because Chumbawumba are imbeciles and I much prefer... I'd rather hear John Prescott sing than them. In fact they shouldn't even be allowed to sing they should be made to work in McDonalds.