The Manics seem revitalised here. Does it seem that way to you?
“It does feel a bit like that. If you look at our lead-off singles since 2001, hardly any of them have had any kind of punk rock influence in them: The Love of Richard Nixon sounded like Pat Metheny. We just thought, “fuck, let’s just go for it.”
How did the songs develop?
“We’ve had a keyboard player with us since 1996, and it’s been great in a lot of ways – but it’s maybe made us lose sight of when we used to practice together in our living room. I’m not saying it’s a real return to roots, but it’s a return to using your first idea, rather than chasing the second or third one, like on Lifeblood. Sometimes it’s nice to disengage your brain.”
It sounds quite political also?
“I think for the last few years, I think you can get a bit scared about what a political lyric might mean. Bile and anger is one form of it of course, but I think Nick thought he wanted to write something a bit more human and a bit more straightforward. Something like “Imperial Bodybags” is about trying to humanise a reaction to death.