Manic Street Preachers recount ‘lazy anti-Welsh bigotry’ they suffered
Manic Street Preachers have opened up on the ‘lazy anti-Welsh bigotry’ the band experienced when they started out.
In an interview with frontman James Dean Bradfield and drummer Sean Moore in The Times, Bradfield recalled the earliest days of the band and the reaction from the London music press on encountering the four young firebrands.
“The idea for a band happened around the time of the miners’ strike,” said the frontman. “Margaret Thatcher was in power and she was ripping the heart out of communities like (the band’s hometown) Blackwood.
“We saw massive unemployment, families living on food parcels, daily violence between miners and the police. The toughness, the drive, the empathy and the happiness we’d known in the valleys as kids was disappearing. No wonder our early songs were political.
“You know what really surprised me when we started getting a bit of success? I won’t use the r-word, but there was definite anti-Welsh bigotry from the music press. All they talked about were sheep shaggers and Tom Jones. Lazy, lazy bigotry.”
Conquer the world
Sean, who lived with James and his family after the drummer’s parents divorced (James’ mum and Sean’s mum are sisters) revealed how it was impossible to persuade anyone from London-based record companies to come and see them.
“When we did play our first live shows we couldn’t even persuade any A&R men to come and see us,” he recalled. “If we were going to conquer the world we needed money and a record deal. We needed publicity and to be in London.
“When we did finally get our name in the NME, it felt like we were entering into a battle with the music industry. The anti-Welsh stuff, journalists questioning our motives. As if we were trying to sell a big lie. We all found that hard to deal with.”
For the future both say the physical demands of being in a stately middle-aged rock band have taken their toll.
“Some people still expect us to be the same band we were (back) then,” said James. “Teenage punks writing songs about social upheaval caused by Thatcher.
“Politically everything has changed, and we’ve changed. We’re all in our fifties, we’ve got families and mortgages. I love touring but physically I’ve taken a battering. You’re not supposed to get any older in the music business, but it’s hard to pretend you’re 18 when you’ve got backache and your knees hurt.
“Long gone are the days when we used to smash all the gear on stage,” he added. “And long gone are the days when I used to insist on a few bottles of whisky in the dressing room after a show. Now it’s all about the cheddar. Some nice bread, olives, sweet potatoes and plenty of teabags. Sustainably sourced, of course. And people say we’re not as angry as we used to be. How dare they!”
Sean admitted the question of how much longer they Manics can keep on keeping on is one that isn’t far from their minds.
“That’s a question we’ve started asking ourselves recently,” he said. “We’re older and heavier than the three blokes who made the Everything Must Go album. We still have the venom, but I can only see us carrying on for another 10 or 12 years. Much as I respect the Rolling Stones, I wouldn’t want to be hobbling out onto a stage in my seventies. When we’ve had our time we’ll bow out gracefully.”
Manic Street Preachers play Venue Cymru, Llandudno on December 1. Buy tickets HERE
Find out more about the Manics via: https://www.manicstreetpreachers.com