If it's Thursday, it must be the Manic Street Preachers. Read on for the never reticent Nicky Wire's vivacious views on V, celebrity culture and, er, cross-dressing. Snow Patrol fans might want to look away now...
The Manics have played V several times over the years. What are your memories of the festival like?
"The time we headlined in ’99 was great. It was probably the biggest we were ever gonna be. It was post-'This Is My Truth...', and I think it might not have been our greatest phase, but it was definitely our most powerful phase. I remember Mel C being in the dressing room, which is quite odd in itself. I remember having a really good outfit: leopard print long socks, a really good miniskirt and a really good black T-shirt with a pink sash!”
What will you be wearing this year?
“I’ve got a few ideas. To be honest, I thought I let myself down at Glastonbury. I had all these plans – lovely white dresses and a Steffi Graf tennis outfit - but I turned up and it was such a fucking sea of mud that I just couldn’t wear anything but what I had on. So if the sun shines at V, then yes, it’s gonna be wonderful! I’ve got a few options, but they’re all female, that’s all I’ll say."
What do the rest of the band think about this?
“I did get James to wear one of my mum’s blouses in the early days but he wasn’t comfortable, it didn’t suit his Steve McQueen ethic. But if I got Tom from Kasabian and Tom from The Enemy to drape themselves in a pink feather boa [for the cover of NME’s Glastonbury preview issue] I can do anything. It was really funny, they were like. ‘I’m going to get fucking killed in my hometown’. They took it well, but you could tell they were really deeply uncomfortable. I think they got into it by the end! I was trying to get them into some eyeliner, but it was a step too far…"
Are you planning any musical surprises as well?
"We’ve been gigging for ten weeks solid so we’re trying to think of something fresh to put in. What it’ll be I can’t really tell you yet, but it’ll be something. We’re on for 65 minutes. It’s really hard for us at the moment, ‘cause we did our own tour and we did 26 songs every night – loads off the new album, loads of old stuff, loads of curios. But when you get faced with 30,000 people wanting to hear ‘If You Tolerate This…’ and ‘A Design For Life’, it is easy to slip into giving them what they want. Also, ‘Your Love Alone…’ has totally regenerated the band as far as big crowd singing goes. I don’t know if we’ll try and get Nina in to guest with us, I’m not sure if she can make it at the moment, we’re trying to figure that out. We’ll still do ‘Faster’ off ‘The Holy Bible’, though, and we’ll still do lots of early stuff like ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ and ‘You Love Us’."
Is there anyone else on the bill you're looking forward to seeing? Snow Patrol perhaps?
"Snow Patrol is the biggest divide in Britain. They’re probably the biggest band in Britain, but they’re also the most hated. It’s a weird dichotomy for them. They are utterly deplorable, there is something unredeemingly utterly shit about them, you just cannot put one’s finger on. It’s a desperate form of music, the endless repeated lines, over and over, the same drab fucking little thing on and on and on. They’re the great losers turned into the great winners, that’s their redemption. I won’t be watching them."
Ok...How about The Killers?
"The last Killers album is truly dreadful and I think everyone thinks so. The first record was brilliant, but then the second one comes out and it gets great reviews, but then you realise the terrible, concocted, false nature of it all. The Bruce Springsteen comparisons are so utterly wrong. There’s no authenticity in that record at all, extremely false and calculated. People might like it, but people with brains don’t. All that getting Tim Burton to direct their video, get a supermodel in the video, falling for the same shtick. They’re morally bankrupt, for Mormons especially!"
Is there anyone you are looking forward to seeing?
"Graham Coxon is on, which I’m looking forward to. Bright Eyes is on. It’s disparate, there’s one really good act on every stage, it just happens that there’s a lot of rubbish to go with it. I’ve got nothing but undying respect for Iggy, there’s a certain kind of touchstone in rock history, whether it’s The Sex Pistols, Joy Division or Iggy, that you just don’t mess with. He is the greatest, most scary entertainer I think there’s probably ever been. At Glastonbury, he indulged in some kind of stage invasion, which was probably the scariest moment of the whole festival. He's on at the same time as us? We’ll have to up the ante even more then!"
Bring the skipping rope out again, perhaps?
"The skipping rope’s back out again, so I’m going to do some skipping halfway through the set which is all good. If there’s been bemusement, bafflement, physicality, sweat and even a bit of violence then we’ll come off stage knowing that it’s been a good gig. It’s always on ‘You Love Us’, but we’ve been opening with it recently, which kind of defeats the object, ‘cause I’m so fucked after that I’m crawling along as we go into ‘Your Love Alone...’ – maybe a final flourish!"
Will you be hanging out with the Hollyoaks actors and Big Brother contestants backstage?
"The odd time that I do tip my toes into that, the most reassuring thing is that no one knows who the fuck I am! I think somehow, despite the insane nature of our band, the whole triumph and tragedy of it, the whole Richie thing, we’ve managed to avoid that kind of celebrity, and it’s not an easy thing to do. I feel really proud when I go into those places, everyone looks at me like I’m a complete alien. They’re the most straight people on earth, they’re really conservative fuckers. Those people are just vacant, imbecilic empty vessels. I kind of feel pity for them. I can’t say I’ve ever been to the tent at V – that seems to be the kind of culture that is really pervading at the moment throughout this country, it’s so utterly empty. The test of time will show the ones that meant it. I’m going have to start reading some tabloid newspapers so I can recognise these people. Perhaps Donny Tourette will be there! He’s great car crash TV, their series was such enthrallingly appalling TV."
What would Richie have made of all this?
"One of my regrets is that he was never around to feel empowered over that many people, I would have loved to have seen it, he would have bestrode this country with intelligence, wit and candour – he would have been brilliant, I really miss his presence at times like that, because who knows? The very short time he was with the band he did some absolutely amazing stuff so who knows what he would have done after that. When he carved '4 Real' into his arm, there were only about 24 people there at Norwich Waterfront, I guess that partly was the point. In Thailand when I turned around and he was just chopping away with some knives, maybe it was the power that scared him. We’d absolutely love him at these festivals. I think the biggest gig we played with him was nothing, like fifth on the bill at Reading. That’s a shame. I think he would have been appalled at the total lack of intellect, of the bands rather than the people. I don’t think Richie ever had a problem with people en-masse really, that wasn’t his thing, it was much more culture-based, so I think he would have had a deep-rooted problem. It would have been brilliant to see – I was reading some articles the other day, and just the relentless... God, he was worse than I ever was! He was utterly relentless and remorseless in his castigation of virtually every other band!"