Uncut's 2007 Album Preview Special
NICKY WIRE on Send Away The Tigers – the 8th album from the Manic Street Preachers
UNCUT: When did you start working on the record?
WIRE: We started writing last October, about a year ago. That was more writing than demoing. We haven’t rehearsed an album for a long time, we’d just realised we’d got a bit lazy, and we wanted to be able to go in and play a record together. Since This Is My Truth we just haven’t practised together enough, so it made it much easier to go into the studio and play a lot of it live and look at each other – not so easy!
How did making the solo albums affect the band’s dynamic?
I think it helped. James always wanted to be Jackson Browne and I always wanted to make Metal Machine Music. I think that helped, to make a selfish record, and then get back to making a right old racket together.
How would you describe it?
It’s a real glossy punk album. It’s more Guns N Roses than McCarthy. They’re too hard to copy. Some bands you’ve got to leave alone. Joy Division, Sex Pistols and McCarthy, just stay away form them, they’re too good. It’s the best bits of Everything Must Go and Generation Terrorists. It’s the youthful idealism of Generation Terrorists, the kind of ambition we couldn’t pull off back then, and the song-writing of Everything Must Go. A vague sense of euphoria you can hear on Everything Must Go, which isn’t easy for us to get; there’s an uplifting feel to that album, and I think we wanted to get that again.
Did the reissue of Everything Must Go have any impact?
There’s definitely been a bit of that, especially because the press has been so good about it. I worked on that as well, because I’m the Bill Wyman archivist, so I’ve been knee-deep in that. That was enjoyable, rediscovering all the raw rehearsal tapes and little demos from my house. It reminded us that, post-Ritchey, is probably what we’re best at – trying to be intelligent and trying to be thought-provoking, and also writing huge, anthemic rock songs. But there is that overshadowing thing. But it’s always going to be there with us.
Does it remind you of anything else?
The things that we thought we were good at – a bit of politics, working class rage. And the sense of euphoria, which we think had been lacking on our last two records, really. As happens with all bands, you try to react against what made you popular and by the end of This Is My Truth, for all our bravado, I don’t think we ever actually thought we could get that back – and when we did, we reacted against it. We spent eight years denying who we are. When we released Lifeblood, people didn’t actually know it was us. Friends would come up to me and say: “Is that you, or the Pet Shop Boys with a rock vocalist?”
Why the title?
Send Away The Tigers. It’s what Tony Hancock used to say when he wanted a drink – it’s like, “the demons are coming”. It deals with Tony Hancock and the decline of Tony Blair. The liberation of the zoo in Baghdad is a central theme. It’s very similar to “All You Need Is Love” played by Guns N Roses.
Is it a political record?
The world we live in does hang over the album, but it’s not in your face politics as such. You can’t just avoid. I love cynicism, I love nihilism, but when we started we were idealistic beneath all that. I just tried to write a little bit as a younger person rather than a sad, cynicised older person. It’s good to break out of that. It’s more idealism that nihilism.
Do you have any particular songs on it you’d like to talk about?
There’s a track called “Rendition”, which is kind of based on Jack Lemmon in the film Missing, mixed with the CIA act of rendition. “Rendition rendition Oh good God I feel like a liberal/Rendition, rendition I wish we still had Jack Lemmon.” It’s a slight sense of joie de vrie about this album – I don’t want to be pious. There’s got to be a sense of fun about it.
The song with Nina [from The Cardigans], “Your Love Alone Is Not Enough”, sounds very much like a single. There’s a track called “I’m Just A Patsy”, which is comparing me to Lee Harvey Oswald – the usual ridiculousness, really. There’s a “Sweet Child O Mine” song called “Autumn Song”, which is based on the same sort of ideals of “Sweet Child O Mine” – it’s falling in love with your girlfriend at the age of 16. I needed a lot of regressive therapy for that!
INTERVIEW: MICHAEL BONNER