"I'm Happy To Be A Fool" - Q Magazine, October 2001
Nicky Wire of Manic Street Preachers on feeling old, being nice to his parents and "useless beyond belief with women".
Hello. Where are you?
In a hotel room in London.
It's out round, what are you having?
I don't drink, so I'd have to say Ribena. But not Ribena light.
What were you up to 15 years ago?
Doing my O-levels, being obsessed with The Smiths and reading Oscar Wilde.
What was the worst thing about being 15?
We were useless beyond belief with women. It stood us in a good stead in the long run.
What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
Not to be embarrased by your parents. They did everything for me, but it's an age when you don't want to be around them.
What sort of music were you listening to then?
The Smiths and Echo & The Bunnymen.
What are you listening to now?
I'm buying a lot of old vinyl which I had to sell years ago to finance the band, so The Wedding Present. I like The Stroke, but they make me feel old.
What's the best record of the last 15 years?
Appetite for destruction, definitely.
What's been the highlight of the last 15 years?
We had no money and that feeling of us against the world was magic.
What's been your worst fashion crime of the last 15 years?
I'm happy with all my fashion disasters. I'm happy to be a fool.
What's the strangest story you've heard about yourself?
All of them. The cult of Richey stuff became so weird.
What question do you hate being asked?
What ever happened to that mad singer of yours? They don't even get it right.
Have you ever smashed up a guitar?
Loads. Philip Hall, our manager, would always come up to me before a gig and say, Don't worry about it boys, we can always borrow some money to buy you another one.
What's your motto?
Richey's was always be pure, we vigilant, behave. So I'll take that one. Oh, and be nice to your parents.
If you weren't a musician, what would you be?
I'd like to think I'd have been a footballer, but I probably would have done some humdrum job.
When did you last listen to Everything Must Go?
I can't remember, but I think there's a certain sense of euphoria to that record.
What do you think of Radiohead?
I admire their enigma.
Sum up the last 15 years in one word?
Fabulousdisaster. I've melded two words together.
A European tour and a greatest hits album. We want to remind people of our past.
It's been seven years since Richey's disappearance and the band still feels different, even after all this time. We never wanted to be a three-piece because the balance was perfect, but I think replacing Richey would have been a bigger mistake.
Richey and I met when we were kids and we lived near each other, so he's always been a very close friend. We played football together and did all the tings friends do. I've known James Dean Bradfield since I was five and Richey lived up the road, and I think that's why we've stood the test of time. It's very rare that a group of very close friends form a band together.
We always got on away from music as well and did everything together. James and I were in the same year at school and Richey and Sean Moore were a year older. They were the two weirdos. People would look at them because they had strange hair and wore odd clothes. They were into Echo & The Bunnymen before us and Richey was into Nick Cave, so when we met there was a bond which just got stronger.
Richey and I began to write lyrics together and it was always a joint effort until the end. I think it's bizarre that everyone goes on about The Holy Bible being Richey's album, and I don't mean to put him down in any way when I say this, but he wrote none of the music whatsoever. I wrote 25 per cent of the titles and the lyrics and yet everyone says it's his album.
I'm not taking anything away from him, because the spirit of the album is undeniably his, but it's hard for us to call it his album. To actually sit down and write with another person can be difficult, but up until The Holy Bible every lyric and every song was pretty much 50/50 between us. I suppose it was nice not to talk about guitar chords, I could talk about words with Richey.
We really miss him. Lately I think we feel happier remembering all the good things about Richey, which is important because it's easy to fall into the trap of just remembering the bad stuff. After all, it was only miserable for the last year. Before that it was all glory.
There wasn't a sense of darkness surrounding Richey when we were recording, but towards the end there was a horrendous atmosphere. It was almost as if we were waiting for something to go wrong. We sensed something bad was going to happen at that point and I suppose you could say, Oh he carved 4 Real into his arms four years earlier, you were always waiting for something bad.
But I think the truth was that there was a sense of impending doom. And with that there was a feeling there was nothing we could do about it. When a person gets to that level it goes beyond one of his friends trying to sit down and talk to him. We'd done all that. We'd put him to bed and looked after him and it reached a level where it was so bleak it was out of our control.
But I still have so many fond memories of him. When we played at a festival in Belgium, he fell asleep on James's shoe during the set. James had to tap him on the head to wake him up. Richey was a fantastic drunk at that point. He was a lovable person and I think it's sad that some of our fans don't even know he existed. Maybe it's time we re-educated all those Mondeo drivers in Northern Europe...