Lyricist and bassist Nicky Wire talks to us about writer's block, George Orwell and how today's "digital hysteria" inspired their 13th album.
The Manic Street Preachers have revealed that their new album, Resistance Is Futile, was inspired by "the sickness that purveys through social media".
The band's 13th studio album is out this week (April 13), and while lyricist/bassist Nicky Wire insists they're not nostalgic about the past, the record does examine society's current obsession with social media.
"It’s a celebration of bewilderment with modern philosophy and life," Nicky told OfficialCharts.com. "It’s not nostalgic [but] there’s a certain defiance there about things that have gone forever. We are celebrating things that avoid the digital hysteria – be it a Yves Klein painting, or a Vivian Maier photograph or the city of Liverpool. There are things out there that don’t need to be liked a million times by a tech company.
"I feel sorry for the generation beneath us who have had their brains rewired. It feels like the next step of evolution of this virtual world and it does frighten me."
The record's title and artwork - a Franz von Stillfried-Ratenicz image of one of the last Samurai warriors - is also a reference to the power digital media has over our lives. “The album isn’t particularly judgemental, it’s more reportage," Nicky said. I’m just baffled and feel sorry for young people because I think they’re missing out on the tangible beauty of life. It’s nearly impossible to avoid the sickness that purveys through social media."
"Why are people surprised they’re stealing all our information? It was pretty f**king obvious," He added. "They invented how to make money without selling a product but turning the user into the product, yet they present themselves as a cuddly and liberal.
“That said, there’s no pretence that there’s some version of 1950s Britain that we should go back to, it’s more an examination of things that have disappeared without us noticing. It’s that classic Orwell quote, that we’ll be too busy looking at our screens to notice everything has been taken away from us."
At the end of last year Nicky hinted that the band may not release another album, claiming his creative juices had run dry. Things took a turn for the better, he says, when they came up with the album's lead single International Blue. "Before we had Design For Life for Everything Must Go, we had a lot of songs like Small Black Flowers and Kevin Carter, but it didn’t feel like anything was gelling.
"Likewise with this one, until International Blue and Hold Me Like A Heaven came along… they kind of bound the album together. To be honest, the quote was off-hand because I was going through a bad time with my mum – it felt like we were trudging through the mud. When we came up with International Blue, the world just felt like a better place."
Nicky admitted that Resistance Is Futile wasn't the easiest of their albums to make, citing an enforced change in recording studios, his mum's health and his age as major hurdles. "However," he adds: "I think that worked in our favour in the end.
"Once we realised the melodic potential of every song, it all came together. We weren’t chasing a theme this time, we were just trying to make every song magical."