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Manics: We are all 'confused and bewildered'

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The Manics: Echoes of our past are really coming home to roost
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."
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"The track is a celebration of the city itself and its culture" explains Nicky."Sometimes you write a song of a specific moment and that day in particular being in Liverpool, getting up early, walking around the city in the sun and taking Polaroids, realising all those things like Echo and the Bunnymen and The La's and all those filtered cultures that influenced you when you were young."It was as much about that as that sense of defiance in terms of Hillsborough and the way a group of people took on the establishment in Britain and through sheer intelligence and hard work actually defeated them."It's a truly staggering effort by the city itself and a group of people."He goes on: "So it's the story of the morning and how it fades into this celebratory gig that we did as well and if there is a symbol of defiance on the record that is part of it."Closer to home, both Nicky and James agree that there was "no need" to rename Wales' Second Severn Crossing as The Prince of Wales Bridge. The car of late Manics guitarist Richey Edwards was discovered parked close to the bridge by police in the weeks following his disappearance in 1995.Now the patriotic Welshmen have enlisted the help of compatriot Catherine Anne Davies - aka The Anchoress - to duet on Dylan & Caitlin - a track about the marriage of legendary Welsh poet Dylan Thomas."She nailed it," both agree.
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From the Mersey to the Severn and beyond, the Manics will see plenty of the nation's bridges as they set off on their biggest series of gigs for many a year. Their UK tour kicks off next week and then there's a subsequent European support slot for Guns N' Roses, as well as a guest appearance at Robert Smith's personally-curated Meltdown Festival in London.Not to mention their set at the BBC's Biggest Weekend in Belfast on 25 May."I'm looking forward to watching James at the side of the stage watching Slash play guitar!" jokes Nicky."Yeah, I'm looking forward to that if I can get to the side of the stage," admits James."It is quite strange because obviously we made those statements about trying to sell more records than Gun N' Roses all those years ago and now we'll be supporting them on their victory lap" adds the singer.
The band are dreaming of another number album - to go with 1998's This is My Truth Tell Me Yours - but admit that there were no record release celebrations.Like with superstitions, the Manics are happy to leave all that to somebody else."There's no celebration when the record comes out," admits James."Its all nerves and number-crunching. The amount of ambition that we still have is kind of unreasonable."Nicky adds: "We've had four number two albums."I think we lost out to the Arctic Monkeys, George Michael and lots of good acts. So it would be pretty depressing to lose out to something about the circus."We can only assume he means The Greatest Showman soundtrack.Resistance is Futile is out now and the Manics start their UK tour in Newcastle on 23 April
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