Manic Street Preachers on their US tour with Suede: “We share a DNA”

Manics' frontman James Dean Bradfield tells NME about their history and upcoming dates with 'The London Suede', revisiting their divisive album 'Know Your Enemy', and Nicky Wire's new solo record

Manic Street Preachers and Suede have announced a co-headline US and Canadian tour. Check out the dates and ticket details below, as Manics’ frontman James Dean Bradfield tells NME about their history with the band and other recent activity.

Come November, the Manics and Suede (known in the US as The London Suede due to copyright reasons) will be both be hitting the road once again – recreating the line-up of a European tour they did together back in 1993.

“I can’t think of a band I’d rather share a stage with than Manic Street Preachers,” said Suede frontman Brett Anderson. “They have long been an inspiration to us, and I know there are thousands of Suede fans who feel the same. It’s nearly 30 years since we last played together and I think these shows are going to be something really special.”

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Suede press image
Suede. CREDIT: Dean Chalkley

For the upcoming tour, Bradfield promised that the Manics would deliver “a banging greatest hits set – as simple as that”.

Looking back on their joint 1994 jaunt back when the Manics were promoting their seminal third album ‘The Holy Bible’, Bradfield told NME: “God almighty, that’s a long time ago, isn’t it? I vividly remember those gigs because Richey [Edwards, now missing guitarist] was coming back from what you might call his emotional event and was insisting that he wanted to come on the road. We were treading softly with Richey at some points, and Suede had lost Bernard Butler as their guitarist and were going through the transition of Richard Oakes coming into the band.

“I remember just looking at them and thinking, ‘Wow, are they going to survive after losing Bernard?’ Because he was such a brilliant guitarist and musical architect. He had that chemistry of writing with Brett and left big shoes to fill. I remember being obsessed with ‘Dog Man Star’ (1994) when it came out, which is such an amazing album that I used to listen to all the time.

“Watching Suede on stage and Richard Oakes was just amazing. He had the hair, he had the moves, he had the chops, and he fitted in on stage. The next question was if they could write songs together, they came out with [1996 album] ‘Coming Up’  which is one of the best albums of the ‘90s.”

Asked if that provided inspiration for the Manics when they relaunched in 1996 after guitarist and Richey Edwards’ disappearance, Bradfield replied: “I suppose so. I forgot that we could be included in such a list, I suppose. The difference is that we never replaced our lost member, but we never really thought about people watching us to see if we could continue without someone as vital as Richey. I never thought about the bloodsport of watching to see if we’d fail!”

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The European tour with Suede were among the Manics’ final gigs with Edwards, which Bradfield said he looks back upon fondly.

“At the end of that tour, it became apparent that touring would be harder for Richey than he realised,” Bradfield told NME. “It was quite an awkward time, but it was also filled with good memories. Some nights, Richey was marking the shows out of 10 and he’d come off and say, ‘That was a nine!’ It almost seemed like it was still part of his lifeblood and quite fulfilling for us. For the four of us to be stood there for ‘The Holy Bible’ and people not quite knowing what it meant yet, we were so unified physically, sonically, and aesthetically.”

Both bands are survivors of the ’90s – as well as alumni of the NME Godlike Genius Award – but Bradfield also noticed a greater “symmetry” between the Manic and Suede.

“A lot of bands were quite short on glamour at that point [in the early 90s],” he said. “They shared the same DNA with us of trading on an underground customised glamour. They had these dystopian, J.G. Ballard landscapes in a lot of the songs, so along those lines we definitely fitted. We were both quite visceral live bands too. Brett is one loud motherfucker on stage! They kind of share the same path as us. They’ve been through a few things and they’re still here.”

The Manics and Suede were also lumped in with the Britpop movement of the ’90s. Suede had always vocally rejected their place in the genre, while Bradfield said they were able to “switch off to stuff like that”

“We’d been around before most of those bands, except Blur,” he said. “We knew that ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’, ‘La Tristessa’, ‘Faster’, ‘Revol’, ‘Motown Junk’ and ‘You Love Us’ had existed way before Britpop had ever been a twinkle in anyone’s reproductive systems. We knew that we were apart from it, but when we got co-opted into it we weren’t bothered at all. It meant that we played to bigger audiences, sold more records and reached more people. Then all these people knew the lyrics to ‘Faster’ and ‘A Design For Life’.

“In politics you say you need to win the middle ground, you need to give up a part of your soul. Suddenly we were winning the middle ground and hadn’t given up any part of our soul.”

Manic Street Preachers, 2021. Credit: Alex Lake
Manic Street Preachers, 2021. CREDIT: Alex Lake

Meanwhile, last week saw Manic Street Preachers release the 21st anniversary edition of their divisive 2001 album ‘Know Your Enemy‘ – described as a “radically reimagined director’s cut” of their sixth record, entirely remixed and reconstructed to form two separate albums as the band originally planned. ‘Door To The River’ forms the softer side of the album, with ‘Solidarity’ containing the rockier edge.

“It really bugged me because I knew what we intended and I take most of the blame for steering Nicky [Wire, bassist and lyrics] and Sean [Moore] drums away from the two album concept,” Bradfield told NME of the record’s initial 2001 release. “We’d already done that with the first one, there was always a complication or a concept with us and we finally had this massive success behind us with ‘Everything Must Go’ and ‘This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours’ – why would we want to mess that up by doing two separate albums?”

He continued: “Now that I play it like this, I know we’ve got more great albums in our canon that we were missing. I just didn’t know what ‘Know Your Enemy’ was, and now I do. It’s a sort of creative peak, it’s us indulging ourselves and trying to come to terms with our complicated worldview and our personal feelings. Sometimes that doesn’t lead to the greatest hits, but you can make a great album. At the time, we didn’t present the complication of what we were trying to convey. Now we have, and it’s richer. Everything has been remixed, it’s simpler, and clearer, and everything is in context.”

Manic Street Preachers perform in Havana, Cuba in 2001. Credit: REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo
Manic Street Preachers perform at the Karl Marx theater in Havana, February 17, 2001. Credit: REUTERS / Alamy Stock PhotoRP/ME

‘Know Your Enemy’ also contained various anti-American themes, and saw the band launch the record with a controversial show in Cuba in front of Fidel Castro.

“You realise how you have a complicated love affair with America,” Bradfield said of his thoughts on the US today. “There are so many positive things that come from it, whether it be literature, film, music or just the aesthetic or post-war design. You can’t stand on stage most of your life with a Gibson Les Paul guitar and not realise what America has given you, culturally.

“There’s also a flipside where there’s a great dividing conflict like the San Andreas Fault. It causes tension. The experiment can still hurt itself by making strange decisions sometimes.”

Bradfield said he “didn’t know” if the Manics would be playing any special ‘Know Your Enemy’ shows in the UK, but that some progress had been made on the follow-up to 2021’s acclaimed ‘The Ultra Vivid Lament‘ – which came out a year ago this week.

“We’ve written some songs, but we have no idea what they mean yet, no concept, no blueprint,” he said. “I have no fucking idea. We’re focussing on going to America at the moment. Nick’s new solo album is finished though and he’s just deciding how to put it out. It’s brilliant. He should just fucking put it out.”

Asked if he’d make another solo album after dropping his second effort ‘Even In Exile‘ back in 2020, he said: “I’d like to do something a bit more commercial perhaps, if I did another solo record. The last thing was a concept record all about Chilean revolutionary’ Victor Jara and the people and history around him.

“I loved doing that and not having to write a hit. If I did something solo again, I’d like to go a bit more Blondie, write some hits, and maybe work with another singer.”

MANIC STREET PREACHERS AND THE LONDON SUEDE US TOUR DATES AND TICKETS

The full US dates for the Manics’ and Suede’s joint tour are below. Band pre-sale tickets are available from this Wednesday (September 14) at 10am local time, before going on a general sale on Friday (September 16) at 10am local time. Tickets will be available here.

NOVEMBER
3: VANCOUVER, Canada – PNE FORUM (The London Suede close)
5: SEATTLE, WA – NEPTUNE THEATRE (Manic Street Preachers close)
7: SAN FRANCISCO, CA – THE WARFIELD (The London Suede close)
9: ANAHEIM, CA – HOUSE OF BLUES (Manic Street Preachers close)
10: LOS ANGELES, CA – THE PALLADIUM (The London Suede close)
13: AUSTIN, TX – ACL LIVE AT THE MOODY THEATER (Manic Street Preachers close)
16: CHICAGO, IL – AUDITORIUM THEATER (The London Suede close)
18: SILVER SPRING, MD – THE FILLMORE (Manic Street Preachers close)
19: PHILADELPHIA, PA – THE MET (The London Suede close)
21: BROOKLYN, NY – KINGS THEATRE (Manic Street Preachers close)
22: BOSTON, MA – THE ORPHEUM (The London Suede close)
24: TORONTO, Canada – MASSEY HALL (Manic Street Preachers close)

Having played a secret and intimate London show last week, Suede will release their ninth album ‘Autofiction’ on September 16 before a lengthy UK headline tour in 2023.

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