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You Must Get To Know Your Enemies - Aftonbladet, 4th April 2001

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ARTICLES:2001



Title: You Must Get To Know Your Enemies
Publication: Aftonbladet
Date: Wednesday 4th April 2001
Writer: Tore S Börjesson
Photos: Maria Östlin


James in Manic Street Preachers looks back. In Pulse he tells about politics, contradictions and the love of music.

The year was 1869. Karl Marx was 51. He was out in London. The goal was clear. At least one beer would be down at every pub between Oxford Street and Hampstead Road. There were eighteen pubs between Oxford Street and Hampstead Road. On his way home two o'clock at night he insulted all he met. "England just hurts! Only one country like Germany can produce champions like Beethoven, Mozart, Händel and Haydn!" He threw the pavement on the street lamps. He met one. He met two, three, four and five...The police heard the sound of broken glass. Karl Marx was chased by four with whistles in his mouth and pulled batons, but escaped. It was two years since the first band of "Capital" had been published. It was 21 years since he had set the point for the "Communist manifesto" with sentences that caused the blood to clot in the veins of the citizens. May the ruling classes fool for a communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing else to lose than their boils. They have a world to win. Proletaries in all lands, unite you!

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It's Somewhere

In the tradition - between oceans of bira, insults, broken street lamps, socialist struggle and literature - Manic Street Preachers belong. They grew up in the Blackwood working quarters. A skithal with 7,300 inhabitants in Wales. They became politically aware by opening the front door. " We were 15 bast. The political landscape exploded. The miners strike. Every week we saw them marching past our house," says singer James Dean Bradfield. Conservative English Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was in charge of two things, partly to introduce it according to her cheaper and safer nuclear power, and to provoke a decisive battle with the union.

Only in the area around Blackwood were twelve coal mines closed. The mining strike that followed became a bloody and bitter story. "Everywhere we heard things like: Kill Margaret Thatcher! Fuck off you conservative scum! In that situation, one concludes: something happens. Then it should be attentive. Keep an eye on and understand why what's happening happens. Once done, one has to say.

So If I can Shoot Rabbits Then I Can Shoot Fascists

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That's the one. The other is The Clash . It occurred at the same time. On TV. "I, Richey , Nicky and Sean saw that same evening. A program that celebrated the punk. We recorded it. Saw over and over again. Two songs from a gig: "Garageland" and "What's my name." Dirty, chaotic, glamorous. "It changed us forever. We seriously thought we could do what Clash did. They formed Manic Street Preachers.

"I know music can change people. For Clash, I changed. The way I talked, how I dressed, my ideas about life, how I moved to the outside world. Can you join a band and change people like Clash changed me, you've reached the goal. Music does not change the world, but it changes people. Once done, they can go out and create their own world, "said James.

This was 1984. In 1992, the debut album "Generation terrorists" came. Today, Manic Street Preachers has released its sixth album: "Know your enemy". In the meantime, they have conquered the whole world minus the United States and have become millionaires in English pounds.

An English pound corresponds to just over SEK 14. James and Company are dense. But as everyone who shares their background knows. Class membership is nothing to hang out on a gallows. You carry it.

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James Dean Bradfield wears it like a medal on his chest. It is still about highlighting contradictions and fighting. The alternative is idiot. Therefore: "Know your enemy".

"The title is a call to all of Britain who currently claim that Prime Minister Tony Blair is just a William Hague (right wing party leader) in disguise. Blair has his fault. But the view is still in the spotlight. - The people in Wales have not voted on the right for the past 100 years. Nevertheless, we have been ruled by the right hand side. But Tony Blair has said that we have the right to decide on our own lives. Right to any form of self-government. William Hague would never say that. Blair fights on the peace process in Northern Ireland. Hague had let it break down long ago. "When people say Tony Blair is a William Hague in disguise, it just shows that they do not read, do not understand. We say: Get to know your enemy. Read. Understand. Then you can go and vote."

Libraries Gave Us Power

It is not time to stand up for socialism. It is not time to stand up for anything at all. Except vegetables. Manic Street Preachers are crossing. They obviously find out on their new album, highlighting Paul Robeson in "Let Robeson Sing". A pioneer. Born 1898. Death 1976. Professional in American football. Trained lawyer. World famous as actor and singer. Uncompromising in its struggle for justice and equality. He stood up for the black ones in the US decades before Martin Luther King . He already rejected Nazism in 1934. He fought against the fascist General Franco during the Spanish Civil War. He stood up for the struggle of the workers wherever they were in the world. In words. In song. In practical action. He was stamped in the 1940s as a Communist and was subjected to a work ban at home in the United States. He got his passport seized. Even the black ones turned to him. But Paul Robeson did not get a millimeter.

"Whether I'm a Communist or not is irrelevant. The question is whether American citizens, regardless of political conviction, have the right to enjoy their constitutional rights," he said. Paul Robeson was great. IN THE U.S. In Scandinavia. In Great Britain. Everywhere. But, taking his passport, he could no longer travel to Europe and behave. However, it was only the body. Not the voice.

"He sang to the miners on one of the first transatlantic telephone lines at all. Sing with its amazing, deep voice. You know: "I wish I was there with my brothers in Wales". It is beautiful. Nicky has it on record. He starts crying every time he hears it," said James.

Can't Anyone Make A Difference Anymore? Can't Anyone Write A Protest Song?

Manic Street Preachers asks the question in "Let Robeson Sing" and thus delivers the answer. They can. Not many others can do it now. It's not just about writing protest songs. It's about writing at all. Most of the songs that are heard on the radio today are not written by the artists in front of them.

"In the past, 75 percent of them had low on Top 20 in England writing their own material. Today it is 25 percent. It's like a damn soap. It's not artists we hear. There are spectacles." Why? "Money. That's what it's all about. The record companies pick people directly from the stage school and make them dance, sing and look beautiful. They say: shut up for the rest of your lives, and we guarantee that you enter obscene summons. The companies make bold profits and have total control. Perfect. Yes. Think about it." How many artists feel dangerous today? Even Manic Street Preachers can not claim a review. Today's pop and rock music is a well-known dwarf poodle. It does as Husse says: Is fine on command.

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I Long For Someone

"Nihilistic, narcissistic, destructive and totally crazy motherfucker are going through. As a reaction. However, I have a strange feeling that it will not happen. But there are still some I believe in. Like Marilyn Manson . He is one of the greatest people in the world. You have a moral majority in the United States who wants to see him dead. Or banish him to damn Brazil. I do not know how many deaths in how many schools around the United States he has been blamed for. He has been exposed to more death threats than the United States presidents in the past 100 years. But he just says: Fuck it. If they kill me, they'll kill me. I continue. It is courageous."

Recently, Manic Street Preachers were at Fidel Castro in Cuba and gave a concert. All of this may lead to the belief that James, Nicky and Sean long back to the Soviet Union, the DDR, the Berlin Wall and tanks that roll into Prague and protrude on dissidents.

That's not what it's about. It is about reminding that capitalism is not always the answer. As a song title and refrain sounds on the new album: "Freedom of speech will not feed my children".

Has the fall of communism changed people's lives in Russia? "Well, they can buy fake Levis. They can go to McDonalds on the weekends and eat burgers and drink a lot of coca cola. It may be good, but it has had a price. Old values ​​have been broken."

Manic Street Preachers do the contrary, highlighting traditional, socialist values ​​in the light. In parallel they have dug back in rock and pop history. Went home.

James Dean Bradfield spent the past year spending a lot of time at home in Wales. There he has played his old vinyl records: Saints , Buzzcoks , Dead Boys , Clash, Magazine , Beach Boys , Velvet Underground"

It has put an impression on the new songs. "Found that soul" are Saints. "Dead martyrs" magazine. "So why so sad" Beach Boys. It's all about strong melodies loaded with energy. Performed according to the principle that the shortest path between two points is a straight line.

"This is my truth tell me yours" was too thoughtful and repeated. It was never pronounced, but when we did it we must have in mind to make a record as commercially successful as "Everything Must Go". This time it was more: Let's do the fuck we want. We had not repatriated before we entered the studio. Most of the songs we only typed four times and then we had the final versions, says James Dean Bradfield.