Manic Street Preachers' bassist. Can't play the bass properly.
How were you in 1998, when you were on the Q cover?
We were recording This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours and, fucking hell, it felt like it was our time, everything was good, and Rankin made us look dead sexy. He even hid our post-success chins.
You seemed wired for success.
Unusually, everything had gone smoothly. We had singles in Tsunami, The Everlasting and You Stole The Sun From My Heart but If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next was the magic dust. It sold 600,000. It was a pro-war song. You don't get many of those on the radio.
The Everlasting's "in the beginning when we were winning" is youthful idealism gone sour, though...
I was tired. I'd got my little house, I was reading [notoriously grumpy Welsh poet] RS Thomas and thinking how comfortable things were, but how things might be getting too big.
Did you retreat from it?
I was outed as living in a terrace house and our saturation level pissed people off, the hardcore thought it was a step too far. Now it's just another phase, our "imperial phase" as Neil Tennant once said. Having that level of success means that people cherry-pick our back catalogue: The Holy Bible sells 6000 copies a year and parents bring their children to our gigs.
What's your relationship with Q? And the rest of the press?
We grew up with writers and some are still with us, but I know what it's like to be a writer. I'll always listen to valid criticism and take it on board.
What sort of fame have you got now?
Wonderful and comfortable. It's not an issue to sign something or to be part of the community.
As you were asked in 1998, are you still angry?
I bewilder myself with my pettiness and anger. I try to be more constructive. It's not healthy.
Are you still the "vainest most arrogant fucker in the world"?
No, but I was then. I spent 1993-'98 thinking I was a rock'n'roll genius.
Are you all for the Coalition?
It's an illegitimate government. The Liberals are just a pressure group and Nick Clegg has been at the top of our studio cunt-o-meter for some time now. He'll be a Tory peer soon. Being a coalition means never having to do what you promised in your manifesto. It's raised our heckles in song.
And how is the new album progressing?
I'm a man of titles, so it's provisionally called 70 Songs Of Hatred & Failure - better than, say, Gorillaz calling their album the fucking Fall. It's one more song than The Magnetic Fields had and it's a grand folly. There maybe a lot of instrumentals if we struggle.
I've talked so much shit, I don't know where to start. Maybe not learning to play the bass properly.
Shaking hands with Fidel Castro didn't look good...
Shaking hands with a dictator never looks good, but it needed saying how good Cuba's health and education systems are and that life expectancy is greater than in the US. I knew we'd been overpowered when the Minister Of Information said, "You will play Baby Elian..." At least we're not wailing around in paranoia like Thom Yorke.
What would the Nicky of 2011 say to the Nicky of 1998?
Would he like him? More than he'd like the '91 version who was over the top. I was pretty reflective, quite morose and since we'd just got Sky, watching a lot of TV, which is always good. I'd tell him to enjoy it more: it doesn't matter that the bigness is pissing people off.