Thursday, January 22, 2015

My Interview With Elizabeth Marcus, Director Of No Manifesto: A Film About Manic Street Preachers, Along With An Exclusive James Dean Bradfield Interview Clip (All This On Same Day Manics Announce U.S. Tour Dates!)

A week ago I offered up my review of the superb new Manic Street Preachers documetnary No Manifesto: A Film About Manic Street Preachers, and today I'm here to share with you my interview with the film's director, Elizabeth Marcus, and an exclusive interview clip with James Dean Bradfield in which he talks about the Manics playing America during the band's U.S. jaunt here on these shores in 2009.

This clip is not in the film but it may end up on the eventual DVD release. Apparently the DVD will have some extra footage (read below for more details on that).

It seems fitting that I'm posting this today as it's now been confirmed that the Manic Street Preachers will be playing the U.S. this April with a date in Washington, D.C. at the (new) 9:30 Club on April 2nd wedding anniversary! It's a good thing that my wife likes the Manics, isn't it? Details on the tour dates are here.

Here's a pic of director Elizabeth Marcus and producer/editor Kurt Engfehr and my exclusive interview with Elizabeth Marcus, director of No Manifesto: A Film About Manic Street Preachers.

Kenixfan: What was the first Manic Street Preachers song that you heard and when and where?

Elizabeth Marcus, director of No Manifesto: A Film About Manic Street Preachers: I first heard the Manics in 2001 when I asked a British friend with whom I was chatting with online for some music recommendations. He suggested that I get the album This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours. So the first Manics song I heard was "The Everlasting". It wasn't necessarily my sort of music, but the beautiful sound of James Dean Bradfield's voice soaring up on the first line of the first verse made me want to listen more. And so I did!

Kenixfan: How did the project begin? How long between starting the project and actually starting to film and interview the band members?

Elizabeth Marcus: The project began with a conversation that I had with my partner, Kurt Engfehr, about how the books that had been written and the TV programmes that had been made about the Manics tended to treat them as if the only thing that was interesting or exceptional about the band was the story of Richey Edwards. While obviously Richey was a very colourful character and his disappearance a perpetually intriguing mystery, I felt that there was much more to the Manics than just that. Kurt suggested that we make a film about them ourselves, and thus No Manifesto was born.

We actually started to film pretty much right away, though it took some time to secure the band's participation. The initial filming was conducted on the Forever Delayed tour in 2002. I already had plans to travel overseas and see some shows on that tour with friends I had made in the Manics fan community, so I brought a camera with me on that trip and interviewed fans who had contacted me in response to a request for volunteers that I'd made on Manics forums. The following spring, we used these interviews plus archival materials to make a pitch tape to show the band. They expressed interest, but at the time were preparing to make a new album (2004's Lifeblood). We persisted patiently in contacting the band's management company for their response until finally, in November of 2004, they said Yes.

Kenixfan: The Manic Street Preachers seem to be a band constantly aware of their own rich and complicated history as a band. They seem to be in a perpetual process of contextualizing, for lack of a better word, the events in their own history. Your film captures that process in action. Do you think that Nicky, James, and Sean see the film as important for them in that sense?

Elizabeth Marcus: I don't think that is something they particularly thought about in reference to the film. From the beginning, they said they wanted it to be our project, not theirs, and took a very hands-off approach to the project. They cooperated graciously with the filming process, and then left it to us to make the film that we wanted to make. What hopes or expectations they had for the film and what it might accomplish for them is not something we discussed.

Kenixfan: Did you meet any resistance from the band, the band's management, or fans due to the fact that you are an American?

Elizabeth Marcus: No. I think the fact that anyone in America cared enough about the Manic Street Preachers to make a film about them was regarded as an amusing curiosity.

Kenixfan: The film touches on the fact that the band hasn't broken big in America. Do you think that the band regrets not cracking the U.S. market and, more importantly, are they going to tour the U.S. any time in the near future?

Elizabeth Marcus: I think they probably have mixed feelings about not having become popular in America. In some ways, it has been simpler for them to not have to deal with America's brand of fame, but of course with their big ambition, I expect it was disappointing to them that they never got much of an American audience. As for whether they will tour the U.S. again, that remains to be seen! They enjoyed it last time around, and have expressed a desire to return, and hopefully they will. Please see the attached video clip for some interesting comments that James made in 2009 about the experience of being in America.

Kenixfan: Was the meeting with Rush arranged for the film or were you simply recording something that was already planned? Did Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson know who the Manics were before the meeting?

Elizabeth Marcus: The meeting with Rush came about completely independently of the film, and we were very fortunate to be able to get a camera in. I don't know whether Rush knew who the Manics were before that meeting, but my guess is that they did not. The full Rush interview will appear on the home video release as a special feature.

Kenixfan: How much footage didn't make the final cut and will we see more deleted scenes on the DVD?

Elizabeth Marcus: A documentary is a vast project, requiring reams more footage to be shot than will ever be useful. We included as much of the good stuff as we possibly could! The home video release will include 95 minutes of special features using footage that did not fit into the film, and we will be posting many other bits on our Facebook page as time goes on.

A big, big "Thank you!" to Elizabeth Marcus for taking the time to be interviewed by me, and another big "Thank you!" to Sue Scott for arranging it.

Find out more about No Manifesto: A Film About Manic Street Preachers via the links below:
November Films: