As the Manics release their new album on Monday, Nicky Wire talks about the inspiration behind their best LP in years...
"We've been through a process of destroying what we are," said Nicky Wire. "All great bands do that."
"Ever since This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours (1998) we've been trying to reduce ourselves to a pile of rubble."
Whether that impulse was conscious or not, they succeeded.
At the end of 2004's Lifeblood tour - flogging songs that just didn't have the soul worthy of their name - the band was drained to a pallor.
"We never contemplated splitting, but there was a general malaise."
"If we hadn't done that small tour after Lifeblood, which reminded us what people like about us....," he trailed off.
"I don't think we would have split up because we get on too well - but we might have fizzled out."
That would have been a hideous end to the career of a band that arrived on the music scene in 1992, promising one amazing album and a world tour before burning out for ever.
From the moment they reneged on that promise by making a second album, The Manics have delighted, angered and confused their fans in equal measure, and from such entrenched socialist beginnings they ended up as a bloated stadium rock band.
"We've reacted to what we'd become," he concluded.
"Know Your Enemy (2001) was self-indulgent and lazy with scattered moments of brilliance, our Marlon Brando period."
"And our last album, Lifeblood (2004), I mean, if you listen to Love Of Richard Nixon, it just sounds nothing like Manic Street Preachers."
Regardless of the negative critical and commercial reception to both albums, he doesn't regret either.
"I think the criticism was a good thing. I know we've made rubbish records and absolutely brilliant records - The Stones without Their Satanic Majesties Request just wouldn't be as good because it's an intrinsic part of their story."
After a two-year hiatus, with Wire and James Dean Bradfield releasing solo albums while drummer Sean Moore learned the martial art of kendo and floorboarded his attic, the band reconvened to continue their story.
"Doing the solo albums has been really important in terms of letting us do the albums we wanted to do in a vain kind of way, and then realising what we're genuinely great at," said Wire with familiar indefatigable belief pulsing in his eyes.
"Doing the few solo gigs that I did, meeting people and being stimulated and having loads of fun, I realised that The Manics had lost that element of fabulous disaster."
"I did five solo gigs and, apart from 200 hardcore fans that followed me around, there was no one there - utterly disastrous!"
"It made me really face all the fears I faced when I was young and it was challenging and invigorating."
"People don't identify us as individuals and I find that encouraging."
"Perhaps James was a bit more shocked by that because he's the consummate musician, but Richey was always known as Richey Manic and that Ramones ethic, it just feels right."
"It was good to know that we're seen as a band."
Reinvigorated, the trio set about rejoining the dots that would allow them to paint their eighth album on a worthy canvas.
"Send Away The Tigers isn't a high concept album, but the theory behind it is important," emphasised the feather-boa wearing bassist.
"Sometimes you have to learn from your own past."
"When we started this album it was the three of us, in a rehearsal room, making a right old racket."
"We blasted Guns 'n' Roses' Appetite For Destruction in the studio and James remembered that he could play every single song on that album."
"We just felt liberated."
"We wrote about 30 songs and we've been fiercely editing this time because in the past we'd perhaps put too much on some of our albums."
"It's short - 38 minutes - and these are the best 10 songs."
Eight albums in, The Manics' best songs are a subject of debate.
The purists would claim the glamorous nihilism of the early trilogy - Generation Terrorists, Gold Against The Soul and The Holy Bible - while the more commercial Johnny-Come-Latelies will cite the epic terrace anthems of Everything Must Go or This Is My Truth.
That split, easily distinguished as the time with and then without their missing-presumed- dead guitarist Richey Edwards, has long forced factions between Manics fans.
Ironically, those two groups were likely united in discontent by the lacklustre efforts of Know Your Enemy and Lifeblood.
On Send Away The Tigers, the band is making a more conscious attempt to unite their fans, and reunite with their fans.
"I'd been reading a lot about Pete Townsend after he did Quadrophenia and how he realised that he'd lost touch with what Who fans loved about The Who," offers Wire of why new song Underdogs directly addresses the social misfits the band seemed to have left behind.
"At least 50 per cent of our committed fans are still freaks," he said proudly, "and I think a lot of those people are still attuned to our sensibility."
"We are trying to get a new generation of fans but the demographic of our audience is pretty odd, and our career's always been hugely disparate."
"Sometimes we sell millions of records and sometimes none."
"Our greatest hits (Forever Delayed) sold a million then Lifeblood barely did 200,000."
"The Holy Bible sold nothing, Everything Must Go did loads and This Is My Truth was our biggest ever seller."
"So, although the forthcoming tour's sold really well, we don't really know where we are with this record."
"And that always helps us because it gives us a fierce reality check."
"If you're Coldplay, Oasis or U2 it must be easy to fall into the trap of always doing the same thing because it is a really nice lifestyle when you get to that point."
"But this is the fastest tickets for our tour have sold out in about 10 years - 40,000 in a weekend."
"That process of re-connecting is beginning."