Teletext Terrorist

I recently recieved the following questionnaire from Teletext. I filled it in and sent it back.

Dear Rosey,

I hope you don't mind me contacting you but I'm a freelancer at Teletext and I wondered if you'd mind answering some questions about the Manic Street Preachers for this weeks Fans Forum page? It's to coincide with the anniversary re-release of The Holy Bible .

Is The Holy Bible still their best work? If yes, why?
It's not my favourite but it's certainly their best. I love Generation Terrorists best cos it looks outwards, railing against the injustices of the world and even (in its form and content) suggesting that they can be overthrown. The Holy Bible on the other hand looks inwards, blaming the original sin of human imperfection for the evils of the world. This has been done a thousand times before; however The Holy Bible is unique. It is very compelling, not just because we can all see a lot of ourselves in it. The music underscores the unique lyrical worldview portrayed with brutal first hand honesty by Richey. Many artists wouldn't get away with being so introspective and morose, but Richey, being such an articulate, intelligent and attractive writer, was able to turn this into 'pop music'. That's why it stands out as a work of art; not cos it's got great singalong power-punk choruses, but because it goes desolate, dark places that very few artists in any media venture to; attempting to do this with a rock'n'roll record is even more impressive. And the fact that, while not being fun to listen to, it succeeds in conveying some of Richey's private hell to the listener, and helps them to identify with it, marks it out as very special.

Should the Manics have called it a day or do they still have a lot to offer?
Up to them really. If they feel they still have something to contribute and people still spend money on listening to them, then they should feel free to continue.

Why are they an important band? Do they have anything more to prove?
The only band in my adult life time to combine intelligence, glamour, adrenaline, bookishness, politics, energy, sloganeering and humour into one glorious fuck off roar of pop-punk glory. Maybe they still do?

The Manics paved the way for 'Cool Cymru'. Discuss
Originally they were very scornful of Wales, keeping the flags off their amps until it had already become cool to be Welsh. They used to hate where they came from, (saying it was full of rubble and shit) and were thus hated in Wales; I remember them getting bottled off in Swansea. However they certainly helped inspire a new generation of Welsh bands.

In the face of their fair share of criticism, what's the secret of their longevity?
Always having something intelligent and interesting to say. Never being predictable.

To what extent has the melancholia subsided over the years? How have the band evolved?
It's still there. The Descartes quote the band use on the sleeve of Lifeblood "Conquer yourself rather than the world" is a direct descendent of the inward looking misery of The Holy Bible. I think you can trace this attitude back to the defeat of the miners' strike in 1985, and it runs through all their work. It's disguised by the bristling angry optimism and the threats to burn down Barclays of New Art Riot and Generation Terrorists, but comes to the fore again as the band accepted the wisdom of the age that the world can only be changed by people changing themselves. While Generation Terrorists looks out at the world and finds it horrible, The Holy Bible looks inwards and is equally disgusted. Maybe Nicky's worldview is more varied as he has many more interests, thus the misery is more diluted.

In light of the lack of poltical insight shown by todays teenagers, how does a single like The Love of Richard Nixon get to number 2 in the singles

All the teenagers I know - the ones that come to the gigs we organise for instance - are very politically incisive. They've all seen through Bush'n'Blair's pointless war and they all support Love Music Hate Racism. They all distrust the establishment but are prepared to get involved with things that matter. These rarely include established political parties. Thus I can see why they might find a song about U.S. politics 30 years ago a bit obtuse, especially when they've got the more direct approaches of Rock Against Bush and Green Day's American Idiot to compare it with.

Can LifeBlood find an audience outside the Manics huge fan base?
Yes I think so as it is packed with some very poppy, upbeat little numbers. The only thing that could hold it back is the knowledge that it's an album by Manic Street Preachers, and it's not what people expect from MSP. But the band love to be unexpected!

As one reviewer put it, on LifeBlood, the Manics still manage to " in all the obligatory political and cultural comment..." In the past the band have been accused of being disingenuous (and have reacted angrily). Is it as fresh as their work in the 90s or starting to sound a little forced?
It's still new and challenging, never predictable.

Another reviewer states that, "...The Manic Street Preachers seem incapable of making an album that's not slightly disappointing." Since The Holy Bible,
it seems critics always expect more from the Manics. Why is this and is it fair?

The Holy Bible is unique, both due to Richey's skills and his mental disintegration. It's unfair to expect any band to come up with two such masterpieces, or to deliberately disorder their senses in order to make a record certain critics will like.

The NME stated that in the 90s, "...Blur brought back the pop. Oasis brought back the attitude. Manic Street Preachers brought back the brains..." Are there any bands in the 00s with the brains?
None in the same league.
The Libertines, Goldie Looking Chains and The Darkness come close in completely different ways. On the local Cambridge scene, we have bands like Princess Drive, The Virgin Suicides and Miss Black America whose lyrical intelligence owes a debt to The Manics along with the likes of The Clash and Gill Scott Heron.

Nicky Wire's recent slamming of the White Stripes - jealous or justifiable?
I've no idea what he said but I think that the White Stripes are as boring as fuck, who wants to watch some bloke grave-robbing far better-left buried blues 'classics' and noodling on his guitar all night? Not me, I went to watch 'A' instead when The White Stripes came on at Leeds.