Manic Street Preachers are to launch a multi-million pound bid to "crack Europe and America". The band, in the charts this week with "You Stole The Sun From My Heart", have launched their biggest ever campaign to try to equal their phenomenal UK successes abroad.
Although the Manics, who recently won two Brit Awards, are household names in Britain, they are virtually unknown in the USA and in some parts of Europe.
But that may all be about to change. The Maker can exclusively reveal that the band are within days of signing their long-awaited deal with Virgin in America. There had been concern that the album "This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours" wouldn't be released in America due to poor sales of 'Everything Must Go", which only sold approximately 100,000 copies in the States. But with the new multi-million pound deal virtually in the bag, confidence is high. The Manics are now set to spend nearly nine months touring America, after a hectic round of gigs and promotion in Europe. They
are expected to interrupt the American tour only to return to the UK for a series of festival dates, including V99 and T In The Park.
However, the Manics have stipulated that their European touring schedule must not interfere with their other passion - sport. The band have requested days off for various sporting events this year.
Their spokeswoman said: "They had a day off for the France vs Wales rugby game recently and another day off for the Holyfield fight. They're serious about breaking big abroad, but they've got their priorities right." A music industry source said the deal with Virgin was the 'best chance the Manics have of cracking America".
"The Manics have a real chance of breaking into America now. The two executives who effectively run Virgin in America, Ray Cooper and Ashley Newton, are friends and fans of the band, so they know exactly where they're coming from."
"Virgin are virtually the only record label in America who are breaking British bands just now. All the recent success stories of British bands - The Verve, Spice Girls and The Chemical Brothers - are signed to Virgin."
"It takes a lot of money to break bands abroad these days, with touring costs being so high, what with hotel bills, promotional activities and so on, but the rewards can be unbelievable.
"It is still an incredibly difficult market to crack, but if the Manics are going to do it, then Virgin are their best bet." The source said that although "Everything Must Go" performed poorly in the USA, "This Is My Truth..." could be the album to reverse the band's fortunes abroad. "The sales of 'Everything Must Go' were a bit disappointing for everyone concerned, but this could well be the breakthrough. It's such a commercial-sounding album, with an American flavour."
Europe is another area where the band are concentrating their efforts this year. "This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours" has already sold 500,000 copies outside the UK - almost doubling the sales of "Everything Must Go". Now the band and their European record label, Sony, are determined to push it nearer to the million mark with a hectic round of gigs and promotion.
John Fowler, Director of International Marketing at Epic, said he hoped the band could go on to sell nearly a million copies of "This Is My Truth..." outside the UK, matching the current sales in the 11K.
"The tours are going incredibly well in Europe just now. The band are playing 2-5,000-capacity venues and the reaction is unbelievable.
"With a little help from the American deal, I can see no problems with the band going onto sell nearly a million outside the UK."
The Manics' spokeswoman said "every stop" was being pulled out to improve the band's profile abroad.
"The band are out there, gigging, promoting, the lot. Every day they are doing gigs, TV, radio and interviews. They're really going for it this time - and it's beginning to pay off. They're bigger there now than ever."