James Dean Bradfield , singer of the Manic Street Preachers, about the ongoing war against himself
It was the summer when England regained its self-confidence. After years of grunge, grunge from the US had dominated the charts, now young musicians with Moptops brought rock 'n' roll back to the island: Oasis published their debut album and celebrated themselves as the best band in the world, Blur defended the English 'Parklife' and Jarvis Cocker of Pulp helped the dandy to revival. Pop music was once again allowed to be proud and embrace life.
And then at the Glastonbury Festival in 1994, four men in camouflage suits and storm masks were suddenly on the stage. They sang lines like "There's no black in the Union Jack" and played loud punk rock. Manic Street Preachers was the name of this band. It had earlier attracted attention as a Welsh version of Guns N 'Roses. Then came their third album, "The Holy Bible," an angry manifesto against fascism, the death penalty, and other topics not suitable for the hit. A short time later, her guitarist Richey Edwards disappeared without a trace. He was later pronounced dead without his body ever being found. The Manic Street Preachers went on without him, re-invented as a Brit pop band, and despite many critics, they are still far from breaking up. On the 7th of July, Almost exactly 20 years after The Holy Bible, now their twelfth studio album Futurology appears. In the interview speak James Dean Bradfield on the burden of old songs and explains why the Manic Streets Preachers are constantly at war with themselves.
Their new album was created at the same time as the Rewind The Film, released a year ago. Nevertheless, the two plates are very different.
That's true. Rewind The Film is about coping with the past and arriving in the present. We realised that we are over 40 and still play in a rock band. For many, that's ridiculous. Sometimes it seems ridiculous to me. With "Futurology," we look that in the eye and say, "Yeah, we're old bastards, shit on it, there are still things that are worth fighting for."
For what, for example?
On the record is a song entitled "Let's Go To War". It's a reaction to everything that happens around us. I grew up in a family that has always chosen the Labor Party. I've chosen Labour all my life, but since Blair, this party has become so damned corrupt that I'll never be able to vote it again. It brings me to despair, because of course I do not want to vote for the Conservatives or Ukip. At the same time I am frustrated that no young band picks up on this problem in their music. "Let's Go To War" is about it: I have been abandoned by my party, and nothing happens in music anymore. So we go to war ourselves - against ourselves and our self-doubts. We need this war with ourselves,
In the song Walk Me To The Bridge you sing "Old songs leave long shadows" Does that also apply to your old songs?
Yes, old songs are sometimes a burden. They remind you of ideals that you have lost and wrong decisions. The more songs you write, the more you realise how many mistakes you've made.
Futurology is a very political record. Thematically, it looks almost like a sequel to The Holy Bible.
Yes, there are some songs that could also be on The Holy Bible: Europa Geht durch Mich, Mayakovsky, Dreaming A City. That's not so much to do with the music, but rather with the narrative style. We have been working with my good friend Alex Silva for the first time since 1994. He has been living in Berlin for several years and suggested that he should take up residence here in the Hansa Studios.
How did you come to work with actress Nina Hoss on Europa Geht Durch Mich?
Nina I know about Alex, she is his girlfriend. I wanted another voice on "Europe", so I asked him if she could sing and Alex said, "Yeah, she has a great voice." I was a bit nervous because I thought: What if it does not work? Then I should have told my friend: "Sorry, your girlfriend can not sing on our record!" "But Nina was a perfect fit. In the end, I wished she had sung more songs on the album.
Had you thought 20 years ago that your band still exists in 2014?
Me, but Nicky (Wire, Bass) and Richey are not. I always had bands like The Clash in mind. If they had stopped after the first album, we would not have received "London Calling" and "Combat Rock". I love the idea of a band that changes, mutates, matures over the years. But Nicky and Richey were always there... well... nihilistic. (Laughs)