How the Welsh wonders picked themselves up and became bigger than ever after losing their friend.
Everything Must Go was an album born of tragedy and uncertainty. The Manics' previous outing. 1994's The Holy Bible, was a critical and - to some extent - commercial success, but it also charted the mental turmoil that guitarist and lyricist Richey Edwards was going through.
On February 1, 1995. Richey disappeared, leaving the band effectively in limbo The guitarist was never found (and was finally declared 'presumed dead' in 2008) but, after much soul-searching, the three remaining members decided to carry on. Everything Must Go contained a number of Richey's lyrics, but it was also the sound of the remaining three-piece hauling itself back from the brink. Musically it was uplifting, filled with huge rock anthems and sweeping orchestral arrangements. Lyrically. though, it still trod some very dark ground and it stands as one of the most fiercely intellectual pieces of work to ever shoulder its way through the mainstream doors. Now being reissued to mark its 20th birthday. bassist Nicky Wire looks back at the Manics' toughest hour...
WAS THIS AN ALBUM THAT NEARLY NEVER HAPPENED?
"Probably, yeah. It was only [first single] A Design For Life that convinced us to continue as a band. We had no direction. we didn't know what to do. 'Closure' is a crap American term, but we were just dangling, we didn't know if we still existed as a band. I'd written a lot of lyrics, which were all shit, but there were two. Design For Life and Pure Motive, which combined to make A Design For Life, that seemed to be quite good. James [Dean Bradfield. vocals/guitar] wrote the music, sang it down the phone to me and said he thought we had something special."
WAS THIS ALBUM ALWAYS GOING TO BE DIFFERENT TO THE HOLY BIBLE?
"Yeah. We did some writing for the Judge Dredd soundtrack [before Richey disappeared] and, even taking all other considerations out of it. we were never going to stylistically repeat The Holy Bible. James always led the direction musically and we'd already sketched out Kevin Carter, Small Black Flowers...and No Surface All Feeling. There was a definite musical shift going on anyway, but A Design For Life crystallised the direction."
WHAT WERE THE RECORDING SESSIONS LIKE?
"Once we got into our groove it was genuinely the most natural album we've ever done. I can still taste and smell the tumbledown French chäteau where we did it now. It was isolated and calming. and after the trauma of Philip's death [co-manager and PR Philip Hall] and Richey's disappearance, it felt good to just feel the power of music. If you look at the lyrics, it's not the most uplifting. but it twisted from pure misery into a kind of warm melancholia."
DID YOU WRITE ALL THE STRING SECTIONS YOURSELVES?
"James had that in his head and Mike [Hedges] was the perfect producer to bring it out. James would whistle or describe what he wanted, and Mike was amazing at transferring it into reality."
HOW DO YOU LOOK BACK ON EVERYTHING MUST GO NOW?
"It was one Of the biggest hits Of the year and it started with the line. 'Libraries gave us power' We'd be doing arena shows and you'd have couples holding each other and singing, 'Harvest your ovaries dead mothers crawl'. This album sold 1.2 million in a year. People look back and say it was a conservative time with Britpop, but the lyrics weren't. We made absolutely no compromises there."