James Dean Bradfield biography

James Dean Bradfield

Last updated: 28 January 2009

The Manic Street Preachers singer promised after Lifeblood that fans wouldn't hear from his band for two years.

And so the Manics decided, albeit briefly, to have a rest. "After Lifeblood we decided that people deserved a rest from us, and we're not the best kind of people to actually get distance from it ourselves.

"Contrary to people actually saying 'Manics split' over the years, we never actually talk about that. It still feels like a youth club band, regardless of our age," he says.

Seeing 'Words and music by James Dean Bradfield' written down actually made me feel happy. For once I've lost a bit of my insecurity.

James Dean Bradfield

But James wasn't cut out for 18 months spent on a golf course. "We kept wanting to go back in the studio to do a Manics album, but we really tried to stick to it for the first time. It sounds horribly sincere and earnest but I really just missed having music in my life."

Bradfield's debut solo album, The Great Western, was released in July 2006.

The time away from the Manics saw him regularly making the same journey between Cardiff and Paddington, echoing the travels taken by the band as they first tried to find success. "I noticed that a lot of my writing was happening on that train journey, and I began to realise it wasn't an accident."

Fittingly, his song An English Gentleman paid tribute to the late Philip Hall, the band's earliest mentor and publicist. "I remember Philip coming to meet our parents for the first time. He wasn't the flash Londoner that they thought he was going to be. There wasn't that much difference between them in a strange kind of way. But even though he was very comfortable with my parents, there was something quite swashbuckling about him."

Elsewhere, the closing Which Way To Kyffin referred to Kyffin Williams, one of Wales' greatest artists. "I was in west Wales and I had this feeling where I didn't want to go back to London. I was really fighting not to go back.

"I just felt like driving up to Anglesey to find Kyffin Williams. Just drive up to North Wales on the spot, make the three-hour journey and paint myself into a corner and never have to leave again. Almost in a metaphorical way, like the chorus says, I was trying to paint myself a different life so you can be captured in the painting and don't have to leave it."

"I deliberately did most of it in The Square Studio in Hoxton and Stir Studios in Cardiff, and they're really small studios. When you're actually playing in there they don't sound like big rooms. I like the idea of stuff being a bit more cloaked, more murky and 70s-esque."

While James played all guitars and bass, and some keyboards, it wasn't all a solo effort. To See A Friend In Tears was a Jacques Brel cover, and Nicky Wire penned the lyrics to Bad Boys And Painkillers.

"After the very first session I did, which wasn't too successful in my mind, it's corny but I realised that that telepathy you have with people you've grown up with and played music with since you were 15 - I will never ever take it for granted again. I realised that you couldn't ever put a price on it.

"I've just realised that I actually really enjoyed it a lot. Seeing 'Words and music by James Dean Bradfield' written down actually made me feel happy. For once I've lost a bit of my insecurity."


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