Manic Street Preachers: Touring isn't just about the money

18 May 2021, 10:22

James Dean Bradfield on the new Manic Street Preachers track

"I can imagine why bands would give up now," James Dean Bradfield tells Radio X as pressures from COVID and Brexit make life tough for musicians in 2021.

James Dean Bradfield has been telling Radio X that he sympathises with young bands who've not been able to tour, claiming that playing live to enthusiastic crowds "kept us going at the start".

Speaking to George Godfrey on The Evening Show, the Manic Street Preachers frontman explained how being in a band at the start of their career wasn't about making money from gigs - it was making a connection.

"We'd be in a van, travelling from the Valleys in Wales, up to Stoke or up to Glasgow, and if we felt that if there were 20 people that night who really enjoyed us, that kept us going," he recalled.

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"Bands don't get that much money at that level, they're driving themselves, they're eating questionable food, changing tyres when the van has broken down... It's a pretty hard existence, but at least it's fun. At least it was fun.

"I've as much empathy as I possibly can for younger bands who felt as if they had momentum and then it all stopped for them.

"Bands don't ask for that much sometimes. They just ask for that magic moment where they know that the next time they go back to that place, those people that they connected with last time, they'll come back and maybe bring a friend with them.

"It's that real deep thing of knowing that somebody has understood how your band look, sound and feel is really important to a young band."

Bradfield also expressed his concerns about the difficulties that the pandemic, coupled with the new processes over working visas after Brexit will have on touring musicians.

"The hurdles that bands have to jump though now, to go and play places like France, Spain and Belgium - all the places I've played all my adult life - it's going to be much harder for young bands.

And when you fold back in to that, venues closing down, people perhaps being a bit nervous to go to gigs, [ticket] prices going up because of the added COVID security... it's all sounding grim, isn't it?"

His comments come as Manic Street Preachers announce a new album, The Ultra Vivid Lament and a full UK tour for Autumn 2021.

"This has posed an even bigger challenge to something that was difficult but fun. That's what really is upsetting, I suppose.

"I can imagine why bands would give up now, but hopefully that fun rock 'n' roll element will come back. Those are the most important things a band will miss.

"That's what kept us going - it certainly wasn't the money. It's that kinetic chance of touching someone in the audience with your songs and that you might establish a relationship with them over the course of a number of albums."

The Ultra Vivid Lament by Manic Street Preachers is released on 3 September 2021.

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  • 26 September O2 City Hall, Newcastle
  • 28 September Usher Hall, Edinburgh
  • 29 September Caird Hall, Dundee
  • 1 October Victoria Hall, Stoke On Trent
  • 2 October O2 Apollo, Manchester
  • 4 October Barbican, York
  • 5 October Barrowland, Glasgow
  • 7 October O2 Academy, Leeds
  • 8 October Guildhall, Portsmouth
  • 10 October O2 Academy, Bournemouth
  • 11 October Corn Exchange, Cambridge
  • 13 October Forum, Bath
  • 14 October Dome, Brighton
  • 3 December The SSE Arena, Wembley, London

Fans who pre-order The Ultra Vivid Lament from the official store can get early access to tickets, with a pre-sale starting on Wednesday 19 May at 10am.

Tickets go on general sale on Friday 21 May at 10am from