Roy Wilkinson talks to James Dean Bradfield
The Manics clearly divide opinion. People love you or hate you. What do you think it is that annoys people?
Some people maybe have the idea you shouldn't parade your intellect and that doing so is vulgar. The same thing some people have about money you should never talk about it. People criticised us for using others' ideas writers and so on. We were just using those ideas to articulate what we couldn't. I could never show off about reading Sartre's Nausea, because I only understood a third of it, at most. (Laughs)
Did you mind the antipathy?
We actually found it deeply satisfying, right up to the disappearance of Richey [Edwards]. But after The Holy Bible album there was a kind of exhaustion. We wanted words that would ride with the music rather than kind of be chained to some tablet of truth.
Your vocal approach also divides people - the way you compact screeds of words into a song...
That felt brilliant for me - it was such a joy to write music where I could fit in a lyric like Yes. But it did become exhausting after a while. I wanted to breath and have césure-ic pauses.
What's a césure-ic pause? Oh, it's a certain pause in poetry. Rimbaud used them...There are two versions of the band really - lyrics by Nick [Wire] or by Richey. But where they'd work together, the distillation of that was Motorcycle Emptiness. That was when they'd sit facing each other over a desk, like on Alas Smith And Jones. I do find it a tragedy that those two don't get to write those lyrics any more.
How would you describe the new album?
There's a feel of nostalgia. And there is a classic-rock feel. We realised we could never again pretend we were of this age.
How was it working with John Cale and Ian McCulloch?
Cale actually recorded his keyboard part in America. But I've worked with him before. He's my favourite solo artist the Fear and Paris 1919 albums. He can be a severe presence, but when he opens
up you feel bathed in sunshine. The Bunnymen were my first gig, at Bristol Colston Hall, with Richey and Sean [Moore, Manics drummer]. Mac came in to the studio and spent about five hours thinking about his vocal between a few Courvoisiers and impressions. His impression of Bowie in conversation is just amazing.