Nicky Wire Is Wrong To Slag Off New Bands

So says Summer Camp’s Elizabeth Sankey, who’s disappointed in the Manics mouthpiece’s recent declarations to NME about the state of new music

I have great respect for Nicky Wire and the Manics. However, despite making a few good points in his ‘Rock’N’Roll Manifesto’ in NME the other week, I feel I should try to stick up for my new band peers.

Like spotty first years in grubby shirts and ties, we gawp in open-mouthed awe at the sixth former Nicky Wire, and wait patiently to hear his wise advice. Instead he tells us to naff off and steals our lunch money, shouting, “Nobody has replaced us!” as we run crying down the corridor.

And the reason for his dislike? How we look. “We’ve got this endless cavalcade of bands selling us fake Americana who have lots of facial hair, and live in a log cabin in the middle of fucking Montana,” he says.

Does he really want his admirers to display their respect by creating an army of giant men in dresses, lips smudged with lipstick, taunts to George Bush on their lips? Surely that’s just as bad as “a generation attired in American Apparel”?

If Jonathan from The Drums wore a paisley frock, would his songs be better? I’m keen to try it out as a scientific experiment, but I don’t think it would make much difference.

Wire seems to be most irritated by the lack of political discussion in modern music, describing us as a generation “in utter desolation” that lacks the sufficient musical vocabulary to discuss it.

Being in a band that wholeheartedly (frankly, to an embarrassing degree) peddles nostalgia I would argue that a song that offers escapism is just as valuable as an anarchic anthem directed at world leaders.

Music deals with the human experience, and yes perhaps some corners of our world are a bit too scary to dissect carefully in a three-and-a-half minute song, but that doesn’t mean that every band who doesn’t tackle the situation in Haiti is totally redundant.

Nicky Wire

For the record, there are still many brilliant bands who use their songs to highlight world issues and political frustrations, but it’s a tricky art and far too easy to get wrong.

Which doesn’t mean people shouldn’t attempt it, just that those who do successfully are sometimes few and far between. Nicky, you’re one of them, and you should take pride in that, but don’t berate others for not being like you.

Music is a constantly shifting, constantly evolving entity, and no-one can predict what is going to happen next. Does Wire want our generation to plug their ears with cotton wool until an artist he deems relevant comes along?

Now that’s a breach of free expression I could write a song about…

This article originally appeared in the September 25 issue of NME

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