For the past 15 months the story of the Manic Street Preachers has been dominated by the disappearance of their guitarist, Richey Edwards. In that time the band have finally managed to move on from the tragedy with their current hit single 'A Design For Life', and a new album 'Everything Must Go', soon to be released. Stuart Bailie found the band still puzzled and in shock, but fighting fit and ultimately optimistic.
Nicky Wire was at home, outside Cardiff, when he learnt that 'A Design For Life' had debuted at number two in the charts. He was happy enough, and planned to celebrate with a Sunday tea round at his Mam's.
His neighbours had taken to waving at him now, more friendly than before. In the past they'd seen this odd figure cabbing it up the valley from town at the finish of the band's tours- exotic and exhausted. Nicky would frantically mow the lawn for a couple of days and the disappear again. Now they could appreciate his job better.
"See you on Top of the Pops then." they would remark smiling.
Manic Street Preachers were big-time now. Why, the band and their painfully rich history had even made the cover of the South Wales Argus. As if prompted by this, the guy next door approached Nicky. He'd heard of the groups personal problems, and was offering to assist.
"I hear that you're looking for a new keyboard player" he said " Well, my brother in law might help you out. He plays on the ferries you know."
But Nicky had a more pressing matter to deal with. As planned he rang