Bassist Nicky Wire reveals the Manic Street Preachers' secret
Rock legends Manic Street Preachers have revealed the secret of their success - making huge mistakes throughout their career.
The Welsh wonders have sold eight million albums, had two No1 singles and are just about to release their tenth album.
But the trio reckon they've only been able to survive by learning vital lessons from their biggest disappointments.
As bassist and main lyric writer Nicky Wire tells Rated: "You've got to make mistakes to realise what you're best at.
"You've got to have something to react against, which is why it's good to have large amounts of failure.
"I wish Oasis had made the mad, experimental record they were capable of - I think it would have been a relief for them, and they'd have come back with something really amazing after it."
Six years ago the band's album Lifeblood sold only 100,000 copies, compared with the two million of Everything Must Go in 1996. Wire admits that he, singer James Dean Bradfield and drummer Sean Moore had become stale.
But new record Postcards From A Young Man - their third album in four years - is already being hailed by critics as the finest of their career.
"Being working-class has kept us hungry," says Wire, 41, who grew up in Blackwood, Gwent. "We started out with nothing. Kids from the same comprehensive in the Welsh valleys making it big, it's a Hollywood story.
"On a tenth album, most bands should be going through the motions. We're not very good at that."
He despairs that young bands don't protest against anything any more, claiming that "no one has replaced us" in inspiring teenagers.
"It staggers me that bands aren't angrier," the dad-of-two sighs. "There's so many soft targets, so much strife to write about.
"It's the first time dance music has exploded in a recession. I think technology, economic growth and decadence nullified the anger of our generation."
But Wire, a lifelong left-wing firebrand, admits he's on the verge of giving up political activism himself, because he's in despair at the Labour Party.
"I was deeply saddened at how Labour behaved in power," he says. "I've always believed in politics, and I just don't know if I do any more. For the first time, I'm losing hope in politics."
New song Golden Platitudes is a protest about New Labour - and the Manics hope Paul McCartney will play it on stage with them. The band supported Macca at a stadium gig in Cardiff in June, just too late to ask him to play bass on the album.
"He'd be perfect for that song," says Wire. "He sent us a really nice note after we supported him, and I'm determined to send him one back with a copy of Golden Platitudes, saying 'If you ever fancy playing live on this... '"
Macca isn't the only legendary figure in Wire's life - he has just written an episode of Doctor Who, but he admits he doesn't know if it's good enough to submit to the porducers.
It's about Welsh poet Dylan Thomas's final book tour of New York in 1953. "The Doctor serves Dylan his final drink, which causes Dylan's psyche to turn into a massive dragon that threatens New York," explains the musician. Wire's TV career may be uncertain, but at least his band are on a great creative roll - although their plans for the future could yet turn into another of their beloved big mistakes...
"The new record is our last shot at mass communication, at reaching as many people as possible," he says.
"After this, the plan is to a make great, sprawling, insane triple album. There's an album we love called 69 Love Songs by The Magnetic Fields.
"We're settled on the idea to go one better and make an album with 70 songs on it. And call it 70 Songs Of Failure And Hatred."
New single Just The End Of Love is out tomorrow and new album Postcards From A Young Man on September 20. They tour from September 29.