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Manics: We are all 'confused and bewildered'

Manics: We are all 'confused and bewildered'
From BBC - April 16, 2018

On Friday 13 April the Manic Street Preachers released their 13th studio album Resistance is Futile.

Talk about tempting fate.

The veteran rock'n'roll agitators, however, are too long in the tooth to concern themselves with matters as frivolous as superstition.

"There's no point," declares frontman/guitarist James Dean Bradfield.

"Enough bad things have happened on dates which were not Friday the 13th!"

Back in October it seemed like the Manics - who released their hard-hitting debut, Generation Terrorists, in 1992 - were finally ready to surrender, give up their musical guns and let younger idealists (like Stormzy) shoot lyrical bullets at the establishment.

Bassist and songwriter in chief Nicky Wire told BBC Music at the time that he doubted if the band would ever make another record.

Now just six months later, and with a defiant and joyful new album out, it seems the 49-year-old was simply having an off day and was subsequently galvanised by the unexpected lightning bolt of lead single International Blue. Wire describes it as the "sister song" to one of their early hits, Motorcycle Emptiness.

"I have listened to a lot less music over the last year undoubtedly, it was a particularly crap day and it was slightly over-dramatic, I guess" he explains.

"Anything you say these days is amplified to such a degree, which I kind of knew anyway.

"Then International Blue was the track that just made the album feel like all the other songs were better.

"It happened with [1996 album] Everything Must Go. We had loads of songs but when Design for Life came it made all the other songs sound better."

Throughout Resistance is Futile there is a prevailing sense that after 30 years of fighting, the Blackwood band are finally giving in to the modern world but - crucially - not giving up.

Perhaps, like the last samurai warrior on the cover, the elder statesmen of Britpop rock are finding their new place in the post-truth digital era.

"We have been around for such a long time that we have seen everything rise and everything fail," says Nicky. "Ideologies, songs, ideas."

"Us!" adds James, also 49, with a laugh.

"I think we are all pretty honestly confused and bewildered about most situations that you view and find yourself part of," Nicky goes on.

"I do not know if that's an age thing or giving up? It does feel like a particularly harsh time for people.

"We are lucky enough to still be doing what we want to do within a band but the reflective world you live in and the constant incessant dialogue of vicious hate speak grinds everyone down, I think."

The album title itself, plus tracks like opener People Give In and final track The Left Behind, appear at first glance defeatist - yet the songs themselves sound anything but.

"There's a lot of duality on the record," explains frontman James.

"A song title like People Give In you can either look at it as 'give in' to collapse, or 'give in' to this plea for empathy that we are asking for in this song.

"We do feel like we are living in an age when things rapidly disappear and things from the past rapidly lose their meaning but we just feel as if, as an anomaly, we still have a power to convert people to 'the way' - the MO [modus operandi] of what our band does."

'Celebration of the city'

Another track, Liverpool Revisited, serves as a musical tribute to the "truly staggering" people of Liverpool and their long fight for justice for the 96 football fans that lost their lives at Hillsborough in 1989.

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