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Boys From The Blackwood - Spiral Scratch, July 1991

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Title: Boys From The Blackwood
Publication: Spiral Scratch
Date: July 1991
Writer: Alan Parker

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"Media, sickness, more contagious than AIDS"

The wording is from a piece of Jamie Reid artwork from his (almost) never ending portfolio Chaos In Cancerland, but in the light of day it speaks more truth than any of the over-hyped, ultra trendy, new rock views.

The trouble with music is that its roots begin and end nowhere, every once in a while a group just comes long that makes the whole Rock 'N' Roll Circus more bearable to one group of people for so long, on a personal level nothing has rocked my boat (with any lasting effect) since the Sex Pistols rewrote the National Anthem and the Clash told us of London Burning (in the days before they swapped their bondage trousers for Levi 501's). The whole Manchester thing meant nothing and as for the good times to be had standing in a cold, dark warehouse all night watching lights flash and shouting "Acid", well, give me my Walkman and my bed any night.

Then right out of the blue and catching me almost off guard came the New Art Riot EP: What was It? Who was it, people were sure as hell talking about it. On first listen I must admit I wasn't blown away, the group that played the four tracks were good but not flawless. But then it began, the something that takes a group from the local pubs to the world. The Manic Street Preachers had found their way in to the National music press and with it some rather big comparisons were being drawn, the new Clash said some journalists (no mean feat when it's considered what the Clash gave us). Others simply linked them to the very feel and angry energy of the whole 1977 showcase. One thing was for sure, they were new, they were original and they were young enough to make people sit up and notice. By the time of their Motown Junk single (a classic piece of power chord destruction) I for one was hooked telling everybody who'd listen that they were going to be the next big thing, or maybe even bigger. I bought their records and left the window open so that everybody passing could be educated. I saw them live and left the other journalists to scratch notes on pads while I joined the pogoing masses at the front. To be honest the idea to interview them came via a quick two or three line chat with bassist Nicky just minutes before they took the stage at De La Vie, a small but amazingly trendy (so they tell me) club in my home town of Blackburn. I just couldn't believe they were so friendly and so softly spoken. Then came the infamous NME article of razors in the night, stitches and Sid Vicious reborn in the shape of guitarist Richie. So I rang the manager and begged a little and within only days of the phone call went round to the studio where the group are working on their debut album. Read on and find out.

Manic Street Preachers Interview

SS: Whereabouts did the whole idea stem from? Where did you all meet?

MSP: We all went to junior school together - infants school - comprehensive.

SS: So you've been on the treadmill since you were about five years old?

MSP: Yeah, we all live within about half a mile of each other and James and Sean live together. They're cousins, and they've lived together for ages, about seventeen years.

SS: So when did you start playing musical instruments?

MSP: James got his first guitar when he was about 17 but we didn't actually try to form a band until about 18 months, two years ago.

SS: Have you any embarrassing names to hide? Were you called something else?

MSP: No, it's the only name we've ever had.

SS: Where did that come from?

MSP: James just thought it up. God knows how. What we always used to do was be in James' bedroom or living room like watching everything that on TV and reading every single magazine and learning to hate everything I suppose. We'd take the piss out of everything really.

SS: Does it give you a sense of security that you've all known each other for so long?

MSP: Oh it does, definitely. I mean that's why like the press and people who are critical are never really important. We could never feel much respect for most journalists because we've seen their name so much in every paper we've read and we've seen what bands they've been pushing down our throats. I mean, we used to go out and buy all the records that NME and Melody Maker said were going to be great. We'd go out and buy them all and then say 'This is a load of shit.'

SS: Did you have any other ambitions than being in a band, or was that it, you knew you wanted to form a band?

MSP: I wanted to be popular, nothing else. I always thought I could be a classical musician, I could have gone to music college and all that, playing the trumpet.

SS: Where does the cannibal image come from?

MSP: Just a fad in Wales, where people make such an effect to dress up. Just to escape the boredom, really. Bands like Hanoi Rocks and Guns 'N' Roses are just massive and we're never ashamed to say we like those bands 'cos they did mean something to us.

SS: So the Manchester scene didn't affect Wales?

MSP: No. Stone Roses just seemed a bit better because they were star quality. It's just in Wales you meet more frustration and more boredom. And that's why we thought we were going to be in a band because just the way culture leads itself like you don't seem to have any other option. You just get fed this big important scene, like music's really important and that's why it's bad that there's so many like backwash bands around that don't want to do anything, because people of, say, 13 or 14 now must be bored out of their skulls but they're still buying records.


SS: Are you one of these bands who did a great deal of gigging before anybody took any notice?

MSP: We only ever did about two gigs in Wales.

SS: Really?

MSP: We did another gig that was in London, Great Portland Street. The Horse and Brewer, just upstairs. The reason we didn't play in Wales at all was 'cos we knew we'd never get noticed. We also thought that the point of being in a band was to be seen and to get music together and to get lyrics together so we organised a gig.

SS: That was all self organised, was it?

MSP: Yeah, and then we just phoned up the NME and Melody Maker, just phoned everybody up and sent them all tickets. Bob Stanley from Melody Maker came down and it was a really good thing 'cos he was the really new writer on the rave scene. Like he left but he was the first to write about Stone Roses. But he loved us, he gave us a great review and then we met people like Martin Philip there and agencies for records were at a few of the gigs.

SS: So it's happened really quickly?

MSP: Yeah. We were playing places like The Falcon and the Bull and Gate. That was about November, late year in November, eight months ago. Just so that record companies could see us and then we signed with him there. After he saw us at the Rock On, like. Have you been there?

SS: I actually came down from Blackburn once with a band called Bradford to go to the Rock On. It had something on a handout or something - the place where the NEW bands come. See the new talent here tonight. And I guess the bands that were there that night would play that night and then disappear into oblivion.

MSP: You got to pay to play at those places. We lost so much money on every concert we did. We had to hire our own van driver. He drove up and he drove back the same night. Those early London gigs when we were just getting noticed, we would just pick the van up in the morning, drive all the way up and then we were never getting paid, usually paying fifty quid to play and we had no roadie so we were just packing up after the gig and staying around to meet all these people and, like, driving back home. Then getting up at seven to take the van back.

SS: I've actually been there. I've managed two bands in Blackburn and I know what you mean by needing one 24 hours day to one 40 minute gig.

MSP: Well, the gigs we were doing then were, like, 15 minutes weren't they? Three minutes... A lot of the times when we were meeting people afterwards, we weren't leaving London until about four. So we would just basically drive home and then take the van straight back and get no sleep at all, and then get back to normality watching Neighbours and stuff!

SS: Do you think you'll move down there?

MSP: Well we've been down here since January now in Shepherd's Bush and then we're on tour a lot so we don't get home all that much now. I've not been home once in the last five months.

SS: Does it matter to you that you are becoming public property?

MSP: We always wanted it to happen. When Stone Roses made it really big and they had Chris Phillips say that they'd had really big offers to go over to America and they said that they're not gonna go. Well, I just don't see why people don't want their songs to be heard. We think we've got something to say and the more people that hear us the better.

SS: So you're ready to be stars?

MSP: We always thought we were. The worst time for us was round about Christmas time because when we were coming down to London and then Christmas we were back home and there was nothing happening and we just didn't know what the press was going to be like or what our new single would do. But then once January started and the tour, well, it was great then. And then it was out every night, just wining and dining.

Spreading The Word

SS: What was your feeling on getting your first record out?

MSP: Motown was our first proper release. It was after Suicide Alley which was what we did together off our first couple of shows in London. We just did it more as a demo really, we did 300 copies and we didn't sell them, we just pushed them all off, like to anybody we could think of. 300 singles and we just gave them all away. Collector's items, they'll be.

SS: That's it, exactly! Everybody else does it. Everybody else puts one out, like 200 copies white label etc.

MSP: It was funny with Suicide Alley because it seemed like a record but we never had any copies ourselves! Kept them under the bed for three months!

SS: Because even that at the moment is becoming quite collectable. People just can't get hold of it.

MSP: Every time we pressed in a sleeve, we always did a different colour. So the first 500 are even more decorative, one's yellow, then there's blue and then there's a pink one.

SS: That's one thing you'll get. Once things start getting bigger and bigger you'll get people who'll go... as soon as you get boffins on a band that's when it starts. They'll go 'Did you know the first single had seven different labels?' And then somebody'll want those seven different labels.

MSP: It's funny because the people who live upstairs did a radio edit for Radio One basically, and they had about 50 or 60 left over. And they were just going to chuck them away. We kept them so if people want them we can just give them a copy. They were just going to chuck them away, they didn't realise that people would want things like that.

SS: I think that the business side of the industry doesn't understand that fans are fans. People kind of want to know about groups.

MSP: I think that people don't understand life outside London. They don't understand what it's like. That when they get a band in it's like a really important thing. In London people can go and see a band every single day, they don't really care. It's just like a big conveyor belt which doesn't stop.

From The Wilderness

SS: I find that coming down a lot myself that once you get north of the M65 people think it's going to be cobbled. They don't realise there's actually a motorway running any further north

MSP: They actually think we still have asleep in Wales, they really do!

SS: Do you not think then that music becomes much more important to people in small towns?

MSP: Yeah - like our life was just like chronically boring. Nothing to do at all apart from just read magazines, books, play records and just want something.

SS: It's a lifeline. I used to run the Johnny Thunders' fan club and it was, oh, quite big. But what surprised me was that most of the members were from tiny villages. It didn't matter to people in London, they were basically spoilt. But you get people who were so sincere writing from - Puddlesworth - or somewhere, and I'd always write to them first.

MSP: The letters we get are all based from villages. We get letters from these two girls in Glasgow, they're all five or six pages long and they say we just wake up in the morning and we recite your interviews. It's just hard to believe.

SS: But then you kind of understand what it's like.

MSP: Yeah, we understand it totally. It's good 'cos all of them say it's like this is the first band. They never say they're ex-this fans or ex-that fans. It's like that they've found a band that they can actually identify with.

SS: I think it's good that if the members of the band themselves can actually relate to what the fans want. Because there're too many bands that come along and say I was influenced by nobody, nobody meant a thing to me. Y'know, the whole thing's a load of rubbish but I'm brilliant, you can carry on listening to me if you like.

MSP: It is really strange the way we perceive from our interviews people are always expecting us to be really violent or something. When we go to venues or do local radio or something some of the people are genuinely really scared as though we were gonna do something. But we've never been obnoxious to anybody at venues, 'cos they put on the gig, I mean, why should we hurt ourselves? We've never missed an interview or smashed a place up whereas a lot of bands would go there and are really obnoxious to everyone and say let's smash the fuckin' stage up straight away, because that's the kind of people they are.

SS: I think people want rebellion again, 'cos there's never been a rebellion. And the trouble is with the whole rock music scene as far as I'm concerned is that everything needs a label. It's almost like a massive supermarket, if you can't label it, then there's no place for it.

MSP: Like we're pissed off at the important things. Like y'know most of the bands are really nasty, and nasty at the wrong things. It's like the big rock method they want to leave out.

Icons And Idols

SS: It just seems awful that there's all this rock 'n' roll past and people think that 'if I'm going to be successful I've got to relive at least a third of that'. And to be seen to be publicly reliving it.

MSP: Well, we've got lots of people, heroes to live up to, but they've all been dead ones. There's been nothing current which has ever meant a thing. At the moment we can really get into The Faces and Rod Stewart. It only lasts two weeks and we just take the best bits and just file them away again. 'Cos ultimately, it is really sad that your life is so bad that you need another person's hero to find some worth in. There were no bands for us at the time, like y'know when we were 16, 17. There were all the bands that were around but they were nothing at all. So we had to go back and start watching videos, 'cos we were too young to have ever seen those bands. We totally missed out on punk, we were only eight. And then when we read about punk or early Stones or The Who, it all seems so much better than anything else. It seems the same as well, it just seems like rock to us. We can't separate the Clash from the Stones, it just seems the same to us.

SS: I think it was just more accessible in those days. I mean, you get a lot of situations now where somebody has just become the current star and the first time you see them in public this 14 stone gorilla is protecting them. Whereas you had bands like the Clash and the Stranglers opening the windows at venues and saying 'We know it's sold out but get in!' It didn't seem to matter, a thing like that. I think it was just an individual thing. Some people just become arrogant, the minute they're in a position of power, it's their individual choice.

MSP: And people always expected us to be arrogant after reading us in the press. But when we were just slagging off a bad and would say something, like outrageous, it was just because we were pissed off, it wasn't because we're the fucking best. Anyway I think we are the best band around at the moment. But only because every other band is so dire - hopelessly shit!

SS: Do you think the music papers in this country play terrible games with bands?

MSP: Oh they do. If they're a barometer of youth culture then they're just totally wrong. The bands that they force feed them are not even that big anyway. They don't sound all that great. Like Happy Mondays were on covers and covers and they weren't charting.

SS: The trouble is the whole world's full of back handers. It's like such a body's manager is the brother of the guy who writes for such a body. So could you come down and do these. I know that there were magazines I've written for that there were a whole list of people who want interviewing and half the time you're saying 'I'm sorry, but who are these people?' And somebody says 'Oh it's OK, we'll do it 'cos such a body says we'll get tickets for the tour and there's a free album going to be sent down' and all that stuff.

MSP: Well, I know that NME were going to a feature on Power Dreams and then Power Dreams said 'Would you do the interview in Japan'. We'll fly you over to Japan. They got a two-page feature then.

SS: It is a sick business.

MSP: Totally sick. That's why we don't care about it. We tell them to go arseholes. We just accept them. Especially in London when little indie bands come along and have obviously got a manager who knows his stuff and every A&R man is there, and they're all in the background saying 'that could be the one, that could be a hit, yeah' and once one says it's good they're all like going 'Yeah!'

SS: Exactly. It just takes the guy that's probably on the biggest salary to go: 'These boys have really got something' and then everybody he's brought with him are saying 'Y'know, you're very right.'

MSP: They'll get signed and then they'll get forgotten and then there'll be the next band. It's just like all industry - totally corrupt.

SS: That is the sad thing that the music business has become an industry in which people in higher positions don't actually understand that some people might be creative. They just don't understand that.

MSP: Like all the people we've got working for us we can put trust in but when we go into the Sony building most people that work there don't really care. It is just a job to them. And they earn like huge amounts of money, when we think of what people live on back home, and they work in conditions that are so ... well, it's disgusting.

SS: The rock world has been a dream factory, it's given people millions of pounds to do a job that y'know, take it back into the north and you've got people doing a job that's certainly, as far as work's concerned, it's a lot more hard work. But they're getting paid one third of a per cent of what these people that are just sitting back and going 'Sounds good, we could market that one.' It's a really weird world, it can be very confusing.

MSP: It doesn't piss us off 'cos we always thought they'd be real arseholes. It just confirmed what I always felt. The worst thing is that a lot of them don't know anything about their job anyway. We've met people who've said, 'Who'd you like, 'Guns 'N' Roses' were good' and we'd say yeah, and they'd say 'Have they made an LP yet then?' Like Guns 'N' Roses sold 60,000,000 LPs and they don't even know! This woman came from America and she said 'I've got a hot new tip for you this band that's now breaking, REM. A fresh new band!'

Thieves In The Temple?

SS: One thing I did want to say, I hate quoting other people but I did hear an interview with you that said that you were only after making album. Does that still stick?

MSP: Well, we just think our first LP is going to be the most important benchmark for rock in this decade.

SS: Is the plan still that it could be a double album?

MSP: Yeah, well it's gonna be 20 songs. They might be able to press them out on one LP, I don't know, I don't think they will personally. The only thing about a double album is that everybody says that it's going to cost around 10-12 quid to buy.

SS: Yet good single albums cost 10-12 quid to buy.

MSP: Yeah, I know. But if they package it as a single album then they can sell it for £8.99.

SS: I can't see the real difference in that. My way of thinking, always has been, take the difference away and then see what you're doing. I mean, what are you gonna get with a pound? They're putting vinyl albums out these days for £8.99 and CDs out for £9.99. What's the important thing that that pound's going to buy you. Are you gonna lose by spending it?

MSP: As long as we're happy with every song on the album then it doesn't matter.

SS: Have you written all the songs?

MSP: We've got about 15 that we're happy with. So we want to write another five or six.

SS: Does that include what's been already, are you interesting to do any of the ld singles on the album?

MSP: We'll probably put You Love Us on it, 'cos we'd like to re-record it but that'll be it.

SS: So what is your scope? Is it an album, a few more gigs and then will the Manic Street Preachers become dust?

MSP: The plan is, the Americans are really keen, I mean they want us over in America and that's one of the reasons we got such a good deal with Sony 'cos their American part of the company had heard of us already and they're really excited. So the plan will for an LP in December, and then perhaps we'll go to America in December, tour with the LP over here and go over to America in January. Just tour with the album.

SS: Are you looking forward to that?

MSP: Oh, totally. They're going to put out a special EP, just as a taster for radio stations. Like it's been played on college radio a lot already and they've played four of our songs on one show. And then Every Day I Weep, they've been playing.

SS: So the campaign's already going?

MSP: Yeah.

SS: Would it bother you if, say, the same thing happened to you as happened to Guns 'N' Roses? You produced a really successful album and then spent around two years just touring and promoting it?

MSP: We'd be happy to do that. Then if we felt like it, if we needed to do another one then we would. You can leave a classic album that says everything you want to say that can be played for ever. We want, like, a real classic purity, because we've never heard a band that were perfect, that we could really think, that's it. 'Cos they all just carried on too long or all the off-shoots or the spin-offs of all the ex-members were just so banal and uninspiring, you just lost faith in them. We thought the first Clash lyrics on their first LP were really fucking brilliant. And then you see Mick Jones, and you think, well, did he ever really mean it? Or you see Old Joe up on stage with The Pogues and you think well...

SS: What about the New York Dolls, they had a really good two albums?

MSP: I really like the New York Dolls, but lyrically there wasn't enough in them. They had a great, even brilliant idea, but their songs aren't too hot at the end of the day.

SS: I do see that as a band you do tend to put a lot into your lyrics though. That's great because it always makes me laugh when so many bands sell records with a lyric sheet included, and ther's maybe four lines and then a repeat times eight. They can find it a bit difficult to make people listen to that song 'cos if it was me I'd say, well, miss that one out, go on to the next.

MSP: That's our originality 'cos we care that we print our lyrics. We care what we do about everything really. The way we look and the way we tour. People say it's hype and stuff like that but everything's been natural with us. Everything's been interesting 'cos they've got nothing in their minds.

SS: Well, that's rock 'n' roll, isn't it? Find me a rock 'n 'roller that didn't have a big mouth. Back to '62 and you'd be right on that one. I think people tend to want fresher and fresher ideas but as I was saying to someone the other week, what, in rock 'n' roll could you produce that was that fresh?

MSP: I know. You end up like a circus or something.

SS: There's nothing any more, you'd have to go so far out.

MSP: Yeah, then it just wouldn't be accessible. We've said it before like there's no edges you can cut off any more in terms of originality all you can do you just return rock 'n' roll to what it always was. Just a really political pose. It's primary function. The essence is the key word here. It's what we take from every generation of rock 'n' roll and become the perfect band which I don't think there ever has been. Some have got close, like the early Stones.

SS: Some bands have the essence for perhaps two or three albums, but then it goes, like perfume, it washes off.

MSP: We know if we hang around too long you're bound to end up like, really assholes. That's the only real reason why we'd want to get out.

SS: Would it be that if The Manic Street Preachers have this massive album and the tours were going good and everybody accepted you, and then in 12 months time the band did split, or something, I take it there wouldn't be any solo album?

MSP: No. That would be an atrocity. That would be the whole point about splitting. It would be seen as just a really perfect thing to do. Because a band to become so huge and that everybody expects they're gonna just carry on then we can't do any better. It would be a perfect statement for the band to make. I wish other bands had done that in the past.

Blessed Are The Meek

SS: But what would you do afterwards?

MSP: I'd want to go and live with mu mam. I mean, that's where I'd be really happy, living with my mam and my dog.

SS: I think that's really lovely. That's the most sincere thing I've heard in ages.

MSP: Since January we haven't had any time to ourselves at all. I mean, we've just been 24 hours a day, just really busy. And like, your nerves do start to go, don't they. It almost gets like a job, and that's the worst thing, if it ever gets like a job.

SS: What was once joyful, becomes everyday.

MSP: See, if it gets to office hours, then that's it. It's easy to see how you can get tired of it all. Like, when we were over in Ireland, never getting any sleep at all, playing shitty little places and then, this journalist, travelling with us and all that, and meeting people over there and it's like all the time you've got to be really articulate and this when you've had no sleep, and feel like shit. Especially in Ireland when you're offered every alcoholic accessory in the world and you've got to work. And then when you do go back to the hotel to your room you just say 'right, go to sleep', and you can't, you just need to switch off.

The Gospel According To...

SS: I think what is bad is that from now on you'll be expected to be incredibly articulate every time and there's gonna be days when you won't feel like it.

MSP: Yeah, it's gonna be hard. You're just always trying, y'know? We'll never turn down an interview. We did one for a school, in Sheffield. Well, there were two on the trot. Both for kids in comprehensive schools, they went on for half to three quarters of an hour really and well, they said they'd asked everyone to do it and they'd all just gone 'Fuck you'. I just think that people should show some respect, something like that.

SS: This is how we started out. Yeah, we started writing for fanzines, which is the biggest labour of love in the world. You ring these record companies and you say, 'But I do this fanzines on the Sex Pistols and it comes out once a month and they go 'Well, Johnny Rotten couldn't give a fuck about meeting you anyway so I mean why do you do it?' Well, because I like them! Well, suppose things went 'Look, we've got this mega Wembley Stadium thing for summer. Would it be done or would it be turned down?'

MSP: No, we'd want it. While we're going we want to reach as many people as possible.

SS: So you really want to take it right to the masses?

MSP: Yeah. We've always thought we'd rather do ten minutes at the Hammersmith Odeon on stage just 'cos we might not see this. We're never gonna play in the daylight, that's one thing. We're never gonna do daylight tours.

SS: Why?

MSP: It's just the worst thing. We did one in Milton Keynes recently. Milton Keynes - ugh! We can't do daylight gigs. One thing which we know we learnt when we were reading the final play by Gang Of Four was that the lyrics were really great but nobody ... like you could play to some people you know that would never want to listen to the Gang Of Four because of the way they sounded. I thought, well, it's a really stupid thing for that band to do to restrict the really good things they want to say to a musical form which people don't want to listen to. And then bands like that wouldn't go on Top Of The Pops, and you know, you should. I mean we'd want to go on Top Of The Pops. I think it's really important.

SS: You know when you go from a label like Damaged Goods to something like Sony, did that come as something as a shock to you, coming so fast or was that expected?

MSP: We always thought we were a good band. So it wasn't a surprise.

SS: So is it nice that your master plan is also the master plan of somebody else?

MSP: We really have got this insane mentality that we think everything we say will come off - and most of it does. It really is a natural thing, just an essence. Like we thought we won't bother playing in Wales, just go and play in the Pavilion, we'll get a record, get a manager, and it all came true.

SS: There's a philosophy of that called 'will to power', if you will it, it happens.

MSP: We read all these dodgy books about philosophy and stuff.


SS: I'm really kind of astounded that so many newspapers and magazines want to slag this band off.

MSP: The majority of people do slag us off i.e. the old journalists. Y'know the press is like about their past. They really know that we can be a threat to all their icons, stuff like that. Their icons are useless and we can be master stars. A lot of the time they don't like us because we don't respect them. We realise that they're not that important. Then, that's a threat to their jobs. Once people start realising that most journalists don't really care, they're not very articulate, and dull, and have a shit taste in music, then that's it. Their jobs are gone, they have no reason for existing any more.

SS: I mean, the reason behind Spiral Scratch anyway, I mean none of us considers ourselves to be journalists. We all consider ourselves to be writers. The thing about it is, for most of us, this is not our day job. Our day job is that we write books about rock stars and this is just a sideline. As far as we're concerned, give the people something, but give them an honest opinion. Once the day comes to read this interview, it'll read as it is. That magazine is about giving people a chance to say something, but not to do the old journalistic trick of turning it round on them.

MSP: The first interview we did lasted five hours and the only bits they'd pick is when we'd slag off a band. They'd make us out to be like that, and all our artistic talent would be swept aside.

SS: Do you mind being notorious?

MSP: No, I love being notorious. Like people have a go at us, we're a rock 'n' roll band, they're passed off, they want to look down on us, and that's all evil things to do 'cos their idea of music is not like that, their idea of music is a background noise and like, middle class indulgence to while away the time. Listening to Dire Straits, listening to Chapter House is just the same - background music. I mean like, they have the kind of like, bland, give up on life kind of attitude. All this, like, shoot evil bands, they find a kind of worth in that, or they find a worth in a kind of really macho laddish illegal Happy Mondays lifestyle. That's the two musics they champion and both of those I think don't say anything.

SS: How did you find the reaction to your You Love Us single. How did you find the reaction of the general public?

MSP: When the single came, 'cos it was delayed for so long. On those six gigs we did it was brilliant. Each gig was packed out. Even on the Mojo Jump tour which was like just sold out every night. There were people locked outside every night and a lot of people would come along out of curiosity and throw a few cans and let's be really arrogant but at the end they love it. We can always win people over.

SS: What does astound me is that nothing that has been written about you is correct. You're so nice and articulate and everything, yet you would never dream that from what's been printed.

MSP: I mean, there's been some articles on us which I really like and that I think are really good. I thing most of the stuff we've had in NME have been quite good. James Brown - James Brown was good. We were on the front cover 'cos we had to have one like that just to elevate us to a rock 'n' roll band.

SS: I just don't like 20-year-old journalists with 40-odd year old attitudes. I find it really hard work.

MSP: Well, on the first NME interview we did we said like, that we've had enough of the NME, we want to go straight to the Star and the Mirror. We've got in the Star already. I don't know if you saw that. The Star piece was after the Marquee, two days after. They said this is the return of rock with politics and fresh ideas. And like, the Daily Mirror's coming with us. We're doing this Cambridge Ball at Downing College and royalty's there and everything and the Mirror's coming with us.

SS: How did you get involved in that kind of thing?

MSP: We said we were nice sweet little boys and they don't want to listen to the music, do they?

SS: How do you feel about those people paying 150 pounds for a ticket?

MSP: Makes you sick, don't it? It's going to be a brilliant concert. I just hope we get bottled off after one song. That's all we pray for.

SS: You could bottle them off.

MSP: We've had really quite violent reactions at some of our concerts. In Brighton at the University, there were about 400 cans and bottles and everything. Sometimes, well, it's brilliant. It's 'cos they love us or they hate us 'cos they think they should be doing it better than we are. It always makes a concert better. Like in Scotland, it was really violent, wasn't it? I got punched in the face. Yeah, James' mouth was bleeding and I just got some syringes, filled them up with lager and was going whoosh... like a jet of water. 'Cos at least people that hate us are experiencing a feeling that they don't get very often, which is a feeling of being pissed off. It's better for them to take their frustrations out on us than beating up their girlfriends or their wives or whatever. Or just fighting for no reason. I'm happy for them to beat me up instead. I mean, like, generally, a lot of people really do despise us.

SS: Have you ever received a death letter from the Happy Mondays yet? I believe they've given one to just about every other band in the universe. You know, like, if ever you're on the same bill as us...

MSP: We'll have 'em.

SS: It's very good though that people are having strong reactions, whatever they might be.

MSP: That's what we always thought music should be about.

SS: Yeah, get people riled!

MSP: Yeah, like last year especially, every band was sort of pally with each other. At least this year we've introduced a bit of bitchiness.

SS: You're not interested in being pally with anybody, then?

MSP: No, not at all.

SS: Is there anybody that if you met them you'd feel a bit in awe of?

MSP: I don't think so. I'd like to meet Slash and Chuck D. Not anybody else.

SS: Anybody out of history?

MSP: It's always interesting to meet people out of history. I would like to have met Stalin, just to see what he was like. He really was an exceptionally evil man.