Manic Street Preachers have unveiled the first clip of their new film Be Pure Be Vigilant Behave. See if first on NME below, along with our Q&A with director Kieran Evans.
The film, directed by longtime collaborator and BAFTA-winning filmmaker Kieran Evans, is a live movie of the band’s 20th anniversary tour of seminal album ‘The Holy Bible’ in 2014.
The first taster of the film is a blistering rendition of classic single ‘Faster’. Check it out below.
“Despite what people may say, it’s a very hooky album,” director Kieran Evans told NME. “There are moments like ‘Faster’ and ‘Revol’ that are some of the most thrilling rock n’ roll songs that you can see – the effect on the audience is incredible.”
Explaining the lo-fi DIY ethos of the film, he added: “Wire and I were discussing how we’d pitch it, and we settled on ‘The Sex Pistols directed by Gaspar Noé’.”
Be Pure Be Vigilant Behave will debut at Premiere Cinemas Cardiff on 19 October as part of the tenth anniversary celebrations of Swn festival. For tickets and more information, visit here.
To celebrate the premiere, we had a quick catch-up with director Kieran Evans.
How would you describe the premise of the film?
“The whole point of the movie was the make an anti-concert film. We were moaning about cranes and all that festival footage. One night a couple of years ago we were talking about how much we loved old Sex Pistols concerts. There’s a brilliant compilation of punk films on Sky Atlantic at the moment all about that old Tony Wilson show, So It Goes. He’d film Buzzcoks’ gigs but only send two or three cameras. Because they had longer takes and would just cut what they had, it felt so much more exciting than having say 20 cameras where nothing is left to chance. We wanted to leave something to chance with this. The whole premise was me with a low-end, lo-fi camera, shooting one member of the band each night, going round them each gig from a different angle and shooting the audience. That was it – the golden rule. There wasn’t an intention to release anything, it was more about a document of the tour, but then a friend of mine edited some stuff together and we realised we had something.
“Wire phoned me today and said he still had a headache from watching the film. I didn’t know whether to be chuffed or worried.”
Is there any backstage stuff or is it purely performance?
“No backstage stuff. It was purely performance. They are totally sick of talking about ‘The Holy Bible’ so there was nothing worth recording that hasn’t been said before. The shows were just extraordinary, you don’t need to break out from that. It was as much about the fans’ reaction as it was the band. Obviously, this record means so much to so many people. Just capturing the fans mouthing the samples as the start of the songs as much as the lyrics, it shows how much of a mark this album has made on people.”
“Wire phoned me today and said he still had a headache from watching the film”
Watching people lose their minds to ‘The Intense Humming Of Evil’ was really something…
“It was! And ‘Of Walking Abortion’. I had all of these strange places that I could squeeze myself into, like underneath James’ monitor. You’ve got that sense of the crowd going mad.”
Before the band announced to do the tour, they sounded reluctant and unsure if they could recreate that nihilistic spirit of ‘The Holy Bible’. Do you feel that these shows succeeded in that?
“Yes, and not only that but the audio recording and mix is an extraordinary live recording. It’s very, very faithful to the album. You end up with an extra layer of appreciation for the band, their musicianship and what they put into it. If they couldn’t give it 100% then they wouldn’t have done it.”
Do you think there will be a live album of it too?
“I can’t talk for the band, but the recording is so extraordinary I would be very surprised if they didn’t release it at some point. If they do, it will probably be joined to the film. I’m going to have to tell the audience that if you’re epileptic, turn away, but if you do close your eyes just listen to Dave Eringa’s mix and it feels like you’re there, it’s astonishing.
“There are other things to do now. They’re in the process of writing new songs and I’m in the process of finishing another film for them, so that’s a bit mental. I finishing a documentary called ‘Escape From History’ from Sky Arts which is all about how ‘Everything Must Go’ came about.”
“It wasn’t to be ‘a concert film’. We wanted it to reflect and respect Richey Edwards and Phillip Hall and they’re in there. When we were doing the edit, me and Wire and I were discussing how we’d pitch it, and we settled on ‘The Sex Pistols directed by Gaspar Noé’.”
Is the running of the film just ‘The Holy Bible’ in order like the first set?
“Yes, just that – but with the challenge that it wasn’t to be ‘a concert film’. We wanted it to reflect and respect Richey Edwards and Phillip Hall and they’re in there. When we were doing the edit, me and Wire and I were discussing how we’d pitch it, and we settled on ‘The Sex Pistols directed by Gaspar Noé’. Those films where the credits and the titles come right in your face.
“It’s a dark record but the whole idea was to celebrate it. Despite what people may say, it’s a very hooky album. There are moments like ‘Faster’ and ‘Revol’ that are some of the most thrilling rock n’ roll songs that you can see – the effect on the audience is incredible. As well as being in honour of Richey, it’s also a celebration of the record. It was very tough for the band. I knew for a fact that Sean never wanted to play the album again in his life, but he put that to bed. I don’t want to use psychotherapy jargon about closing the door, but there was a closing of the circle by doing these shows. They were glad that we recorded it in a way that reflected how it might have been for them.
“Even the ending is brutal. There’s no James waving to the crowd. Let’s just have the camera wobbling and leave the memory where it is.”