The Guitar Is Not Revolutionary - BZ Berlin, 15th May 2014
Manic Street Preachers-frontman James Dean Bradfield in BZ interview about guitars, politics and German rock.
They played for Fidel Castro, interfere in political discussions: The Welsh Manic Street Preachers are one of the most important bands of the island. Frontman James Dean Bradfield (44) told the Gibson showroom in middle why he played American guitars in Cuba, as he wrote a hit song about the death from cancer of his mother and why he recorded a song with the Berlin pubs choir.
BZ: Strange: 2001 you have played in Cuba for Fidel Castro, in 2013 we meet with an American guitar company. Is not that pretty capitalist?
James Dean Bradfield: Even worse: I played an American guitar in Cuba! Gibson I always play. If you are a band and forecloses on the American market, one would shut itself off from half of the music fans.
On your new album there are few electric guitars. If the guitar less important?
Yes, the album comes out almost without electric guitars. I would say that the screaming, aggressive nature of the guitar has become weaker. I can not remember the last time as a new guitarist came on which I thought at first listen: Wow, the guy I want to listen to me forever. There was a long time no new guitar heroes more, who would have influenced pop culture. The guitar is no longer revolutionary.
So no guitar solos this time from you?
This album is very acoustic. So just a solo, very subtle, a bit like George Harrison in the Beatles. The album is introspective, it is a lot about feelings of mortality. About the ridiculousness of playing in a rock 'n' roll band, when you're 44. It's about people who have been lost, with which you grew up, who have died. Everything has changed in Wales, you will not recognize it again. There is no screaming revolution plate. There are only a very political song.
The song about the Thatcher era?
Right. It's called "30 Years War". It's not about Margaret Thatcher, but the policies of their Tory party, which is just as bad today as it was thirty years ago.
When Thatcher died, have you thought about taking the title from the album?
No, we have written it much earlier. Since there are no childish jokes like "Ding dong, the witch is dead!". The point is that she has killed a large part of the Welsh working class culture.
"Rewind the film" is your new album. Here, no one more rewinds nowadays a movie back, but pushed with a finger on any surface. Pretty retro.
Yeah, that sounds not even nostalgic, it sounds retro. The world in which we grew up, was quite different. There were a lot of industry, people have built around their political identities to mining and steel. Besides, many good writers and politicians have come out. True social values that were destroyed by Thatcher. The point is to see the present through the prism of the past. And to people that we have lost.
You have lost your mother to cancer and about the song "Ocean Spray" written in 2001. He still runs constantly on the radio. Is not that strange at such an intimate song?
All of us in the band had a very good relationship with our parents, there was no generation gap. Some plant a tree, some devote their parents a park bench. For me it was the only exercise to write a song about it. I did not think of the consequences. That I would play him once in an Italian football program, surrounded by half-naked women.
There is indeed a refreshing drink called "Ocean Spray." Did the company never use the song?
No, I can say to their credit, they never requested. They probably do not like the song. But they have never existed on any copyrights.
When was your first concert in Berlin?
1991 at the loft, which was the Mecca for bands at the time. Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Suede have played there. We were absolutely excited three times we've played there. We came to Berlin because we thought that it was a bohemian wonderland. But honestly, it has soon made us afraid, in the early nineties it was very different than today.
You are a great Krautrock fan, one reads.
Your in Germany must think we in the UK are idiots. We find good Krautrock bands like Faust and Can. And you think: Hey, those are just bands. But for us there are idols. And the other way around: German friends of mine came to England and said: Wow, The Clash have lived here! And we go to Dusseldorf and say: Wow, here Can added! We have a mythical view of German band, they were so influential. And then was the center of Dusseldorf still, not even Munich, which was then in, just very far away from it.
You have recorded parts of your album in the Kreuzberg Hansa Studios. Since the Berlin thinks of course equal to David Bowie and Depeche Mode.
One inevitably thinks of the legacy of Iggy Pop and David Bowie. But that's why we did not go. But because Alex Silva, with whom I grew up in Cardiff and now lives here and works with Herbert Grönemeyer. We wanted to work together again easily.
And since then they have taken the Berlin pubs Choir, with which you have recorded a song?
(Laughs) Yes, Alex knows. They were rehearsing in the studio below. And we have a chorus in a song, in which I have wished for a choir. So we just came down. And they sounded fucking great. Then I gave them pizza.