Manic Street Preachers
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|Manic Street Preachers|
|From||1989 to Still active|
|Genre(s)||Rock, rock and roll|
|Members||James Eastwood Bradfield, Nick Jones, Seanus Walrus, Christmas Edwards (deceased)|
|Awards||Number 1 Welsh Language Album, Tallest Bassist Award, Best Band Ever (fan based award)|
|Record Label||OMG Records|
Manic Street Preachers are a Welsh rock/pop band, formed in 1989 by friends James Eastwood Bradfield, Nick Jones, Christmas Edwards and Seanus Walrus in an attempt to avoid employment. Mixing together a powerful combination of political propoganda and punk infused rock, they stormed onto the music scene in 1991 to audible yawns of disinterest. In spite of these humble beginnings, the band would go on to make hit records and survive even the death of bandmate Christmas Edwards in a freak yachting accident. Their most famous compositions include such pop classics as "Ceremonial Murdering State Apparatus Of Oppression", "Repeat After Me That The Queen Is A Parasitic Demon In Human Form (And Not A Nice Old Lady As She Wants You To Believe)" and "Knees Up, Mother Courage".
Forming The Preaching Group
The band began in earnest in 1989 after a bar room brawl at The Crab & Scabbard in Blackwood. Bradfield had gone for his evening meal of several pies, a bottle of Jack Daniels and a packet of hog lumps when a young man dressed as Dot Cotton from television's EastEnders had wandered in. Some of the local gentlemen took exception to this flagrant display of transvestism and proceeded to attack the man, prompting Bradfield to abandon his 6th pie of the evening and enter the fracas. Such was the sheer force of violence exacted by Bradfield that night, it has led to an urban myth that Bradfield reaches a Zen-like state of pure agression when forced to discontinue eating his favourite pastry-based food.
Carrying the beaten man out of the pub in his strong manly arms, Bradfield discovered his name was Nick Jones and asked him if he knew anything about music. For some time, Bradfield and his cousin Seanus Walrus had been attempting to start a band; armed only with a Fisher Price First Drum Kit and a stolen microphone from the local bingo hall, they had made little progress. As it transpired, Jones had all the relevant equipment in a lock-up on the edge of town. A neighbourhood thug named Christmas Edwards charged Jones £5.76 a fortnight for the use of the lock-up, which until then had been Edwards home. Barely a week later, the four men had gathered at the lock-up and begun their first tentative steps on the road to becoming the greatest musical force to come out of Wales since Aled Jones.
Finding Their Feat
The Manics found being in a band preferable to actually doing something profitable with their time and they had soon become close friends. One legend from their early years suggests that Christmas Edwards loyalty toward his friends was so extreme that he was known to bite people on the nose if they looked at the band during their early gigs. The band's first ever gig took place in the back garden of the home of Nick Jones' parents. Several local teenagers were in attendance, charged £2 at the front door to gain access and a complimentary glass of weak lemonade. Of the handfull of songs played that night, the most memorable one came about through Jones and Edwards' love of German theatre, specifically Brecht. "Knees Up, Mother Courage" would go on to become a staple of Manic Street Preachers' concerts for years.
The band soon headed out on their first tour of the UK, mostly playing venues with poor lighting. Their sets were violent, chaotic affairs: many of the audience would throw items of stationary at Jones, who refused to wear anything but a tennis skirt and bra with ballerina shoes. Edwards would also cause great distress to the audience through spontaneous artistic statements involving his body and a shard of glass. Despite his violent nature, Edwards was something of an artist and had perfected the medium of body art. Carving slogans and caricatures into his arms and legs, he would charge people £5 to have a look and then leave rather swiftly. His most famous piece of body art was an image of Mickey Mouse carved into his left thigh, embellished with the words "SHIT OFF" in broad lettering.
Earnings from the tour went toward the purchase of an 8 track recorder from Walrus' mother, herself a sometime pop star in the 1980's. With the equipment in place, a proper recording was finally made of "Knees Up, Mother Courage" and distributed to music magazines throughout the country. It was a critical success, lauded by journalists and adored by listeners. The Manics had made an impact and they promptly celebrated with the purchase of a signed autograph from Tom Jones.
Gran Turismo (1991)
After the success of their first tour, the Manics set their sights on producing a full length album. The band's management, however, had been unable to find a studio that was willing to have the band record there. Their reputation for violence and spontaneous male voice choir jams at their gigs seemed to be having a detrimental affect on the band. Taking charge of the situation, Christmas Edwards travelled alone to Stone Cold Studios in Cardiff. Little is known of the events that took place here, only that Edwards returned the following morning and announced to the band that they had a recording space booked. In the years since, Bradfield has only stated vague facts about how this was accomplished, using words such as 'encouragement' and 'kneecaps'.
By now Jones and Edwards had written over 340 lyrics. Sifting through the prose, Bradfield chose which of the lyrics were best suited for the record and began composing the music. In the case of classic Motorcycle Maintenance, he and Walrus wrote the music by slavishly copying the guitar solo to Don't Stop Believing and building most of the song around it. No sooner had recording begun than problems began to arise; Jones was frequently missing from the studio, spending much of his time gambling in the local pubs. Edwards was preoccupied with his body art. Only Bradfield and Walrus remained to record the actual record, made more difficult by the early destruction of Walrus' drumkit during a particularly aggressive take of "Hoover Lust". This lead to a stack of cardboard boxes filling in for the drumkit on the remainder of the record while Bradfield played every instrument he could find by intimidating it.
- "Slash 'N' Earn" – 3:59
- "The Bank Owes Me Money" – 4:32
- "Born To Bend" – 3:55
- "Motorcycle Maintenance" – 6:08
- "You Love Dust(ing)" – 4:18
- "Glove Feet / Textiles" – 3:29
- "Little Babies Have No Understanding Of Feminism" – 4:59
- "Repeat After Me That The Queen Is A Parasitic Demon In Human Form (And Not A Nice Old Lady As She Wants You To Believe)" – 4:09
- "Milwauke" – 3:06
- "Absolutely Incidental Disease" – 3:24
- "Remain Attractive" – 3:10
- "Repeat After Me That The Queen Is A Parasitic Demon In Human Form (American Mix)" - 4:32
- "So What?" – 4:28
- "Spectator Of Homicide (Witness Protection)" – 4:40
- "Damp Dog" – 1:52
- "Listening To Kiss" – 3:39
- "Method Of Eating" – 3:57
- "Condemned To Mock The Old" - 5:21
Golden Age Of Soul (1993)
Although critically ignored, Gran Turismo was commercially succesful enough to allow the Manics to record a second album. After intense discussions that took place over the course of a weekend, the band agreed that a second album would make sense as a follow-up to their debut. Nick Jones, who along with Edwards wanted the band to split up in a blaze of glory, was coaxed into staying with the promise of a state-of-the-art Dyson vacuum cleaner and an assurance that he could actually play bass on the next record. Despite his insistance that he didn't know what a bass was, Jones signed up and the second Manic Street Preachers album was officially begun.
The band's management decided that a change of scenery might assist the group in the creative process and paid for them to record at the famous Walt Disney World Recording Studio in Florida. Work on the album progressed swiftly in spite of Christmas Edwards being arrested on several occasions for picking fights with the animatronic characters on the Pirates Of The Carribean theme ride. Seanus Walrus was able to finally perform on record with the purchase of a new drumkit from the Argos catalogue. In writing the music, Bradfield chose to honour his early influences from the 1960's soul scene. The management were worried; not by the change in musical style, but by the acceleration of the band's ego. Bradfield in particular was making ever more outlandish demands during the sessions, including a refusal to perform his vocals unless they were recorded whilst he made perpetual loops on Mr Toad's Wild Ride. Walrus too would stop playing unless a new pair of drum sticks was provided for him every 30 seconds during takes.
Jones and Edwards once again delivered a multitude of lyrics for the record, many of them focusing on medical themes. This derived from Edwards short stay in a London psychiatric unit after he was arrested for carving the legend "4HEAD" on his forehead. Jones had visited him often and found the facility to be so pleasant he spent a weekend there pretending to be a former gambling addict. He later claimed that the fact he was a gambling addict and came out of the facility cured was purely coincidental.
- "Sleepover" – 4:51
- "From Despair To Accident & Emergency" – 3:34
- "La Tristesse Crossdresser" – 4:13
- "Your Health (And Why It Matters)" – 4:11
- "Lying Under A Landslide" – 4:14
- "Punch Drunk Monkey" – 3:26
- "Richey In The Hospital" – 5:02
- "Bubonic Blackheads" – 4:14
- "Symphony For The Mentally Afflicted" – 3:31
- "Golden Age Of Soul" – 5:34
The Holly Bible (1994)
Many of the groups fans saw Golden Age Of Soul as a sell-out and the Manics began to wonder just exactly what would please their fanbase. When they realised that nothing ever would, the decision was made to simply record an album that the band themselves would enjoy listening to. Sadly, Christmas Edwards' behaviour was deteriorating rapidly; during the writing phase of the album he wrote 3 full length novels, a screenplay and an essay on the deplorable state of grammatical education in modern day Britain. Bradfield stumbled across this essay when it was published some months later in the Daily Mail. Inspired by what he read, he quickly set about putting it to music and the first song for the new album was born. Having found a place to start, the band opted to continue writing for the record. Edwards' condition was so bad at this point that he was writing sonnets at a rate of 50 per hour. The band positioned him on a stool in the studio whilst Walrus' sat beside him to catch the notes as they flew from his hands, post scribbling.
Despite the erratic and inpenetrable lyrics, the album was a huge success. Critics and fans alike praised it as "The next best thing next to being slowly tortured to death". The band even made an appearance on popular television show Top of the Pops in which the band played Rasta. This appearance prompted a record number of complaints after James ate a curly wurly during the performance. In spite of this setback, the band were relieved to have made something of a comeback, but the increasingly peculiar behaviour of Christmas Edwards lead them to cancelling all remaining dates on their European tour that summer, when he was found attempting to purchase a luxury yacht from a Brazilian tourist during the band's stay in Cannes. Unknown to the band at this stage, Edwards' new obsession with sailing would yield tragic results.
- "Huh?" – 4:59
- "ifwhitebritaintaughtsomedecentgrammarskillsthissongtitlewouldn'tbesoirritating" – 3:39
- "Of Wanting A Portion" – 4:01
- "She Is Muttering" – 4:33
- "Carlisle's Insane (An Ode To Robert Carlisle)" – 5:29
- "Revels" – 3:04
- "5ft 10" – 5:05
- "Mussolini" – 4:12
- "Rasta" – 3:55
- "This Is Wednesday" – 3:58
- "Pie In The Summertime" – 3:05
- "The Incredibly Distracting Buzzing Of The Extractor Fan" – 6:12
- "BBC (There's Nothing Good On Nowadays)" – 3:55
The Death Of Christmas
Following the release of The Holly Bible, the Manics toured extensively across Europe. America had yet to recover from the death of Kurt Cobain and as such was closed to all musical business, preventing the group from touring the US. The European tour proved a great success but the band themselves felt run down and a decision was made to return to Wales. In order to avoid legal issues with the tour promoters, an Australian tribute band was used in order to complete the remaining dates. Returning to Wales the band officially went on hiatus; Walrus opened a DIY store in Bristol with his wife, Jones went into convalescene in an attempt to overcome a serious carpet detergent addiction and Bradfield went on a fishing holiday paid for by Cadbury's, the makers of Curly Wurly. Edwards, meanwhile, had become increasingly obsessed with sailing and all of it's aspects. He had spoken to his bandmates before they seperated about his vision for their next album; sea shantys in the style of Nine Inch Nails.
Although the band did not take Edwards condition too seriously, there was certainly cause for concern. Throughout their last tour Edwards had refused to wear anything on stage but a black sailor suit. He had taken to refering to the areas of the stage in nautical terms. At the last date the band had played, Edwards had even spontaneously burst into an acoustic rendition of the theme tune from children's television show Portland Bill. With the band on hiatus, he was no longer supervised on a regular basis, allowing him opportunity to sink further into his obsession.
On February 3rd 1995, Bradfield received a phone call from the police. Edwards had apparently been killed in a tragic accident; he had purchased a small yacht and attempted to sail it beneath the Severn Bridge. The boat's mast proved to be too tall and a collision was unavoidable. As the boat sank, spectators on the bridge claimed that Edwards and been laughing hysterically and feeding crumbled pieces of chocolate to a dead parrot he had tied to his shoulder. The band were devastated. Without Christmas Edwards there were serious discussions about finishing the band altogether. The band's fan club held a vigil at the Severn Bridge for 3 months in the vain hope that Edwards would resurface and lead them all on a nautical adventure. No one had informed them that his body had in fact been recovered and buried within 2 days of his death.
The future of the Manic Street Preachers looked bleak. And then, one day, Nick Jones wrote a poem about his adulterous feelings towards Sean Walrus' wife. The poem was meant simply as a joke (Jones himself was a happily married man) but when Walrus showed the poem to Bradfield, the guitarist latched on to it. Within the space of a day he had turned it into the song that would bring the Manics back into the spotlight. The song would be called 'My Designs On Your Wife'.
Everyone Must Grope (1996)
In spite of hunger strike protests from the group's fans, the Manics decided to remain together. Re-invigorated by the sexual tones of 'My Designs On Your Wife', they decided to create an album of raunchy ballads in a similar style. When the band's management were informed, they carried out a survey to discover whether or not sex was something the record buying public would accept in their music. Sold on the results of these polls, management gave their blessing and Bradfield, Jones and Walrus set about recording the new album in a private room of Cardiff's Pink Lips Adult Dance Club.
Upon release, Everyone Must Grope shot straight to number 1 in the album charts across the world. The Manics were asked to headline the big festivals of the day; Glastonbury, Reading & Leeds, the V Festival and The Hugh Hefner Memorial Concert. In spite of tragedy, the band had come out on top and were riding Lady Fame as hard as they could.
- "Elvis Impersonators Get All The Girls" – 3:29
- "My Designs On Your Wife" – 4:16
- "Kevin's Garter" – 3:24
- "Enola I Boned" – 4:07
- "Everyone Must Grope" – 3:41
- "Large Flaccid Object That Grows In Your Fist" – 3:02
- "The Girl Who Hungered For Meat Log" – 3:35
- "Removable (Your Clothing Is)" – 3:31
- "Nymphomania" – 4:04
- "Hysteria (Song For When You Are Coming)" – 4:17
- "Further Away (The Better)" – 3:38
- "No Flirting, All Fondling" – 4:14
This Is My Tooth Show Me Yours (1998)
Fame and fortune had finally been bestowed upon the Manics, when disaster struck once again. This time, no band members lost their lives but by all accounts it had been a very close call. During the final part of the band's tour in support of Everyone Must Grope, a particularly violent performance at the NIA in Birmingham had resulted in Nick Jones being injured. Eye witnesses claim that Bradfield had swiped Jones across the face with the headstock of his guitar when Jones attempted to provide lead vocals during one of the band's numbers.
Rushed to a 24 hour orthodontist, Jones was confirmed as having lost several of his front teeth in the fracas and a new set would need to be grafted to the remaining stumps as soon as possible if the bass players Grammy Award winning smile were to be preserved. A tense 7 hour operation took place whilst Seanus Walrus took in the sights of Birmingham with Bradfield. Finally, Jones emerged fully restored to his former glory. As a way of apologising to his friend, Bradfield handed Jones a small bag containing the teeth he had knocked out. Bradfield had spent the previous night after the gig scouring the venue for the remains and packed them away safely in order to avoid fans selling them on eBay.
Touched by Bradfield's gesture, Jones decided that the next album should bare a title reflecting the whole incident, even incorporating a competition for fans to win free copies of the album by taking polaroid pictures of their own teeth and submitting them to the band's official website. With typical verve the band flung themselves into promoting the album by disowning everything good they'd recorded, sticking their best track on a b-side and not playing anything off it on the accompanying tour.
- The Everlasting Song – 6:10
- If You Tolerate This You've Nobody To Blame But Yourselves – 4:51
- You Stole The Sun From My Heart, But I Have Your Family – 4:21
- Ready For Frowning (Song For A Disaproval) – 4:33
- Biryani – 3:51
- My Little Umpire – 4:09
- This Album Isn't Working – 5:52
- You're Tender And You're Easily Impressionable – 4:38
- Rent-A-Girl – 4:13
- Be Artificial – 5:13
- Balrog On My Shoulder – 4:49
- Nicky F***ed You – 4:45
- A.C.R.O.N.Y.M – 5:58
Know Your Limits (2001)
In early 2000, following their successful single 'Massages For The Upper Classes', the band started work on a new politically infused album produced by Neil Kinnock and with guest vocals from Margaret Thatcher, an idol of the band having being one of the main opponents of employment, a pet hate for the band.
The band had failed to break America and decided to do Cuba because of all the cheap booze. The band were booed offstage having chosen to preview new b-sides such as 'My Free Market Love Affair', 'Capitalist Serenade' and 'Red Death'.
The album 'Know Your Limits', was released in the UK to general apathy despite the entire album featuring drinking songs. Asked if the title was ironic in an interview, Jones responded that the band were 'pretty pissed on Babycham at the time' and simply chose the first phrase uttered to them, in this case a passing policeman who had observed the band passed out on a bench near the studio.
- Found That Vole – 3:05
- Cranberry Juice – 4:11
- Intravenous Anaphylactic – 4:02
- Cheer Up, Charlie – 4:02
- Let Rachmaninoff Sing – 3:46
- The Year Of Putrification – 3:40
- Wattsville Smooth Jazz – 4:29
- Misdiagnosed Penile Cancer – 3:52
- Dead Tomatoes – 3:23
- His Last Fainting – 3:16
- My Hernia – 4:56
- The Convoluted – 5:54
- Loyal But Despondent – 3:31
- Epic Centaur – 6:26
- Baby Alien (We Are Not Alone) – 3:38
- Freedom To Preach Scares My Children – 2:59
In 2004, the Manics released what would become their best selling record of the new decade. Filled with simple rock songs, Milfblood saw the band commenting on various popular issues of the day, in an effort to harken back to their earlier records. The choices of single, however, went on to cause controversy that the band had not expected. The first single release was 'The Love Of Graham Coxon - a scathing indightment of the Indie Rock guitarist, in which Nick Jones complained about how someone with so very little dress sense could be capable of gaining continual critical praise. When asked if this was all simply 'a case of sour grapes' during an interview with Jo Whiley, Jones proceeded to rant at high volume for the remainder of the interview about how disturbing he found Whiley's facial features when she smiled. This caused to automaton Whiley to wave her limbs erratically and express support for our Reptilian Overlords, which led to a lifetime ban from BBC Radio 1 for the Manics. This was only Whiley's lifetime - later she was taken out the back, shot in the neck with a bolt gun, sold for scrap and replaced with a spare Jo Whiley.
The second single caused even more controversy. Written as an ironic commentary on the racial prejudices people still held about the Welsh, 'I Live To Fondle Sheep' was banned by most radio stations and the explicit accompanying video (directed by Bruno Mattei) was pulled from MTV circulation after only one showing. Bradfield insisted in the New Musical Express magazine that the song was ironic, intended to point out how people still view the Welsh in such a negative light. When the journalist speaking to Bradfield questioned him about Seanus Walrus' 2002 arrest for breaking into a Yorkshire farm owned by David Bowie, Bradfield swiftly ended the interview by offering him pie. He was never seen again.
- That Unpopular George Orwell Novel – 4:08
- The Love of Graham Coxon – 3:38
- Empty Holes (The 9/11 Song) – 4:05
- This Is A Song - 4:20
- I Live To Fondle Sheep – 3:57
- To Catch A Ghost – 3:58
- EMAIL.Y – 3:34
- Stavros – 3:14
- Hallways/Levers – 3:42
- Three's Company – 3:21
- Fragments (The Pastry Song) – 4:02
- Leonard Cohen Afterlife – 3:27
Send Away For Your Free Tiger (2007)
With their commercial popularity at an all time high, the Manics began to grow weary of the album making process. 2006 had almost seen the band split after Jones and Bradfield had stopped taking phonecalls from Walrus and gone out on tour without him as The Great Western Zeitgeist Experience. When the tour failed due to lacklustre attendance, the Manics reconvened to discuss future projects. Jones informed his bandmates that he had been approached by several companies with the request that the Manics provide jingles for their advertisements. Seeing this as a bold new direction, the band set about creating short songs for Kellogg's, Uncle Ben's, Gregg's, Imperial Leather and even a small pie shop in Birmingham city centre named Urban Pie.
When the band's record label reminded them that a new album was due, the band decided to make use of the jingles they had recorded in order to cut the work time on the album in half. The rest of the tracks were simply added at a later time. Upon release, many fans complained that Send Away For Your Free Tiger was far too commercial and a sell-out, a betrayal of the Manics ethos. The majority of fans, however, were simply confused by the record's content. The free download single, 'Untergang', caused particular confusion as it was sung entirely in poorly edited German.
- Send Away For Your Free Tiger – 3:37
- Untergang – 2:49
- Your Love Alone Is Not Enough (But If You Had Some Pie That Would Be Lovely) – 3:55
- Indian Korma – 3:54
- The Second Grape Ape Impression – 4:09
- Rent Audition – 2:59
- Atombomb – 3:40
- I'm Just A Pasty – 3:11
- Imperial Leather – 3:30
- Winter's Over (If You Want It) – 6:43
Gerald Ford: Plague Lover (2009)
2008 had been a difficult year for the Manics; Send Away For Your Free Tiger had been a disaster in both critical and financial terms, and not in the same way as Milfblood - it actually was. The band had further disappointed fans by not touring the record (in order to spite them for disliking it) and a Godlike Genius Award from the NME magazine had been rejected by Nick Jones as being "not shiney enough". All in all, the band's popularity was at an all-time low and the future of the Manics looked in jeopardy.
Sometime during the summer, James Eastwood Bradfield had been clearing out the Cardiff lock-up that had been the Manics' first practice space. Although not in any dire need of money, it had been decided that the money used to sustain the lock-up could be better spent elsewhere and that the band were finally going to sell it off. Amongst the cardboard box drumkit and copies of Juggz magazine, Bradfield found a ringbinder folder containing the first lyrics Christmas Edwards had ever written. Until now, none of the band had ever seen these writings and Bradfield quickly assembled the group to share the find. Although simplistic and devoid of the later insanity so loved by fans, these lyrics managed to inspire the group to once again record a new album; this time, made up entirely of Christmas Edwards' surviving works.
The Manics recruited famous record producer Steve Albino to work on the album with them. Reluctant at first, Albino signed on when Jones introduced him to the science of hair dye and sunglasses. Fueled by their newfound energy, the band were able to complete the record in less than a month but decided to wait until the following year to release the album. Walrus had famously upset fans further back in the Autumn by posting violent hate messages on a Manics fan forum and the group decided it would be better to wait for "the heat to die down" before attempting to engage their fans once more.
They needn't have worried; Gerald Ford: Plague Lover proved to be the band's most anticipated and subsequently most loved album for years. Critical acclaim and massive sales helped restore the faith of many fans, but nothing had proved more helpful to the band than a direct threat to the listening public made by radio presenter Zane Lowe. During one of his evening shows, he had played the album's opening track "Baked Potatoes" as a world exclusive, threatening to tear off the faces of listeners everywhere if they didn't enjoy it. With such a threat hanging in the air, Manics' fans decided to avoid Lowe's wrath by bootlegging the radio broadcast, keeping his threat at the beginning as a stark warning to future listeners.
And so, through a mixture of renewed creativity and abusive broadcasting, the Manics had reclaimed their glory for a second time. The only question that remained by the end of 2009 was how long they could maintain it for.
- Baked Potatoes – 3:33
- Phil Collins Extended Drum Solo – 2:24
- Werner Heisenberg And I – 2:47
- This Jokes A Knock-Knock – 3:03
- Gerald Ford: Plague Lover – 3:44
- She Bathed Herself In A Bath Of Grease – 2:17
- I'm Left, You're Right, Turn The Page – 2:39
- Marlon Jackson – 2:50
- Revolving Door Policy – 2:52
- All Is Celery – 3:34
- Hypertension/Attraction – 2:04
- Alaska State Nudist Colony – 3:24
- Williams First Book Of Words – 4:14
- BONUS TRACK: Fat Lady - 3:21
Tours and Deals
An extensive UK tour brought the Manics' new album to the fans in a unique way. The band would play the album in it's entirety first, take a short break, then return to the stage in order to perform some of their classic hits in the style of George Formby. Fan reaction was overwhelmingly positive and even lead to some fans attending gigs with their own ukelele's in order to participate. Riding high on the success of the Gerald Ford: Plague Lover UK tour, the Manics finally visited the US for a tour. Although it had been many years since their last performance there, the band discovered that America loved them as much as it ever had; very little. In spite of this, the tour was enough of a success to pay for the band to fly back to the UK after the final date. Safely home, the band found themselves still full of the energy that had driven them through the making of their last album and it's tours. James Eastwood Bradfield suggested heading back into the studio to make a new album as soon as possible. Seanus Walrus, however, was not willing to participate.
When approached by Bradfield and Jones about his attitude, Walrus explained that he was tired of not being given free reign to play his trumpet on their albums. This came as something of a suprise to his bandmates, who had no idea that Walrus could even play the trumpet. A deal was made that Walrus could play trumpet on at least half of the albums' tracks. But this led to another request, this time from Jones, who demanded the right to sing on the album. He had contributed lead vocals to the final track on the previous album and felt it only right that he be allowed the opportunity to do it again. Walrus and Bradfield agreed that this was perfectly acceptable and Jones was promised lead vocals on half of the albums' tracks. Thinking that matters were finally resolved, the Manics headed into the studio to record - only for a further request to be made of them. But this time it was not from a member of the band, but from British actor Tim Roth. A huge fan of the band, Roth had sent them a postcard asking if they would be willing to use strings on the new album and use a picture of him as the album cover. The band wrote back promising to use strings on half of the album's tracks and requested a photo from Roth for the cover. Disturbed by the image they later received back from the actor, they instead filed a restraining order and chose to use an image from Roth's early years.
Postcards From Tim Roth (2010)
The first radio play of the lead single from Postcards From Tim Roth proved to be the biggest disaster of the Manics' career to date. The fans hated "(It's Not War) Just A Lot Of Pushing & Shoving" with a passion. The biggest complaint made was that Bradfield had unknowingly plagiarised the string arrangement from the 90's pop hit "Stump" by Steps. Hundreds of fans declared their allegiance to the band was dead, many more agreed they would purchase the single upon release if only so they could ritually burn them in protest. The majority of fans, however, agreed to file a class action lawsuit against the Manics in order to prevent them from ever releasing the new album.
In an effort to win the fans back and put an end to the lawsuit before it had begun, the Manics arranged a competition; they were to play an album launch gig at the YMCA in Hammersmith, London, a gig that was open only to friends, family and record industry types. The band announced that a select number of fans would be able to win tickets through the competition, allowing them to attend. Things seemed to go well until the night of the gig, when fan backlash reached fever pitch over the fact that the band had not simply opened the doors and allowed anyone and everyone into the venue. Word reached the band early on that death threats had been made against them, but the Manics decided to go ahead with the gig - though this had clearly rattled them, as they went on to deliver one of the worst live performances of their career. Some reports claimed that the band had made a radical departure from their normal promotional style and played more than one song from the new album, but it was later established that this was a hoax and in fact they'd played mainly Everything Must Grope and Send Away For Your Free Tiger material. Upon release, Postcards From Tim Roth proved to be a commercial success and received decent reviews from the critics. But the damage had been done and the band's fanbase were not willing to forgive so easily.
- (It's Not War) Just A Lot Of Pushing & Shoving – 3:29
- Postcards From Tim Roth – 3:22
- Nowt Or Summat (feat. Ian McCaskill) – 2:50
- Gooin Down – 3:41
- Letsbe Avenue – 2:44
- Drinking Your Own Pint – 1:57
- Golden Showers – 2:49
- Where's Me Washboard? – 3:50
- My Veranda Faces The Fruit & Veg Store – 2:12
- Variety Performance – 3:34
- 4 Ever Using 4 Instead Of Four – 3:04
- Oh, You Rotter! – 2:44
National Tragedy (2011)
The year that followed the release of the band's tenth album would prove to be a bleak one. Crushed by the record's poor reception, Jones took to drinking heavily and staying up until the early hours of the morning posting abusive messages on the band's official Twitter feed (though some fans mistook these tirades for a sneak peek of some of the lyrics for a new album). Bradfield sunk into his own depression, growing a beard and retreating into the Welsh mountains to live a hermit like existence whilst writing an updated edition of The Good Pie Guide. Seanus Walrus shocked fans everywhere when he announced that not only did he expect the band to be officially broken up before the year was out but that he had also been secretly playing bass guitar for Swedish garage band The Hives for years.
But the band's disolution would once again be temporarily put on hold by fate. In the spring of 2011, a member of their management team was looking over statements for the previous financial year when he noticed that the Manics were still officially on the payrole. A meeting was held with the band's record company who stated that the group would be dropped if they didn't release a new record. Finding themselves summoned to a recording studio in Cardiff, Bradfield, Jones and Walrus were forced to work on new material under the close scrutiny of an armed guard but after several weeks of recording the only useable track completed by the band was a cover of the Christian traditional hymn "This Is The Day (That The Lord Has Made)".
The record company finally gave up and decided the best course of action was to release the new song as a single with a heart tugging video consisting mainly of clips of dead Christmas, package it with a collection of old ones and call it a singles collection. The band themselves were so dismayed with the situation that they announced a farewell gig for the end of the year, along with a boxset containing all the singles and 10% of their B sides for the reasonable price of the customer's soul and first born child. With the legal action still being taken by fans, nobody was expected to turn up for the show. But on the night of the gig, the O2 Stadium in London was packed with fans old and new in support of the group's legacy. By all accounts, it was the best gig the Manics ever performed, which included amongst its highlights a duet with Gryff Rhys Jones and a 10 minute drum solo by Seanus Walrus, during which Bradfield and Jones assaulted each other with inflatable hammers. As the house lights went up at the end of the gig, Nick Jones stepped forward to the mic stand and made a chilling promise to the fanbase: "We're going home for 2 years, but we'll be back. And then you're all gonna pay!!"
In March of 2013, Nick Jones made the official announcement via the band's Twitter feed that a brand new Manics album would be released in September featuring brand new songs written by all three members of the band. When asked about the direction of the new record, Jones would only say that the album had been inspired by the plight of the English honey bee and its record decline in recent years, the quality of English cricket and traffic congestion. Jones also mentioned that the music itself would consist mainly of somber french horn sections over synthesised drum beats.
In a break from tradition, the band decided to only make the album available in digital form. Upon release the group's fans would have exactly 24 hours to download the album from the official website before the tracks would be wiped permanently. After that, no further version of the record would be made available in any special format or with any bonus songs or material. In an interview with NME magazine, Seanus Walrus explained that the band had taken this decision based on the continual moaning and complaining from fans. "It's basically a way for us to release an album but also cover our arses; if the fans love it, that's great, but if they bitch about it then we'll just say it never happened. If it doesn't exist, who can say otherwise, right?" This lead to a series of discussions in Parliament on the legal validity of this approach after other bands and artists began to follow suit.
- This Sodden Welsh Tart (feat. Catherine Zeta Jones Douglas)
- Shut Your Moaning
- Builder Of Bee Hives
- 4 Hours In Traffic (feat. Simon Le Bon)
- (I Miss The) Cricket Highlights
- Anthem For Les Dawson
- As Shallow As The Soil (That Buried The Evidence)
- 3 Ways To See Welshpool
- Running Out Of Honey Bees
- To The Manor Born
- The Hundred Years War
- Nick Jones is incapable of finishing an entire cheesecake.
- Christmas Edwards had a long standing habit of collecting the foil off milk bottle tops.
- James Eastwood Bradfield is 748th in line for the throne of The King of Wales.
- Seanus Walrus can personally recite the entire lyric sheet to the Fleetwood Mac album Tusk.
- James once caught a bullet between his teeth, though nobody can remember a gun being fired at any time during the incident.
- Nick has been in talks to play Elizabeth Taylor in a film biopic for several years.
- Christmas Edwards was terrified of shoe laces.
- Mr Grumpy from the popular Mr Men children's books was based on Seanus.
- The numerical measurement of guitar ability is known as a 'Bradfield'.
- Christmas Edwards actually intended The Holly Bible to be a jazz fusion record.
- James is rumoured to have never knowingly touched another man.
- Nick Jones is taller than he looks.