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Famous Last Words - Q Magazine, May 1999

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"Famous Last Words" with Nicky Wire


How the devil are you?

Average. Maybe slightly agitated. I'm desperate to find somewhere in Cheminitz (in the former East Germany) that's showing the Lewis fight.

What was the first gig you went to?

It was The Alarm at St. David's Hall. They were too nice and too positive and a little bit dim, but they had it ten times harder when they started, being Welsh. I remember thinking, our band's going to be a million times better than that.

What were you like at school?

I was pretty mega. Eight O-levels, four of them A's; three A-levels, two A's and a B; and a degree in politics. It was a pretty tough comprehensive and they called me Shirley and Gaylord, but because I was good at football that got me out of trouble. I captained school football and cricket and was a rubbish librarian.

If you weren't a rock 'n' roll star, what would you be?

If it hadn't been for the knee injury and the fact I bottled out of training with the Welsh Youth team when I was 13, maybe I'd be a footballer. My teacher said I'd be the Welsh Beckenbauer.

What's your most treasured material possession?

There's a pair of Diesel sunglasses I really love. And there's some autographs of '50s footballers my Dad gave me. And a Paul Simonon painting of Cromer that I got for Christmas.

What's the worst record you've made?

When we released You Love Us on Heavenly, there was a track on it called Spectators Of Suicide, which was fucking brilliant. Then we re-recorded it for Generation Terrorists and it sounded like The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

When did you last cry and why?

I cried at my brother Patrick's play, Everything Must Go - his title, I nicked it. And there was this thing on Blue Peter. Bonnie, one of their dogs, was retiring. I love dogs and I used to have a Labrador called Bonnie. So I had a bit of a sniffle then.

What's your poison?

I've hardly touched alcohol for the last five years. My favourite drink is Ribena. My mother used to make me Ribena lollies.

Pick five words to describe yourself?

Disciplined. Organised. Melancholic. Sleepy. Pretentious.

What's in your pockets right now?

A tissue. Some Deutschmarks. A tour laminate. I have pioneered the male handbag, which always has loads of stuff in it. Eyeliner and books? Spot on. Plus paracetamol, Vick's, Gaviscon, tapes, notepads, a wet flannel and Evian water spray.

Who was the last person you punched?

I've never ever been in a fight. I broke the arm of a security guard at the Reading Festival with my guitar, but that was an accident.

What's the last record you bought?

Wilco's Summerteeth. It's mega.

What are you most likely to complain about in a hotel?

Each one has to have a pool, Teletext and windows you can open.

What characteristics do you think you've inherited from your parents?

My Dad was a hard worker with an anarchic streak, which definitely comes through. Physically, I'm like my Mum - more feminine.

What is your most unpleasant characteristic?

I ask too much of people. I'm a stickler for too many pointless things. Like, if there aren't Golden Wonder Salt & Vinegar crisps in the dressing room I get a bit annoyed. Walkers? Walkers are shit.

What's your culinary speciality?

At my most daring it's grilled cod steak, fried potatoes and peas. (In all seriousness) Also, I do like a fried leek sandwich.

What is your greatest fear?

(Shivers) Ooo, there are lots. I hate guns. I get scared of money. I don't like people knowing where my house is. And flying. I refused to do Famous Last Words just before getting on a plane - I thought that was tempting fate.

What music would you have played at your funeral?

(Firmly) I don't want to answer that. Too doomy.

What's the greatest film ever made?

One that made a big impact was Gattaca - the sci-fi eugenics one with Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke. Sean always cries at the end of it, even on the tour bus. Rumblefish and One Flew Over The Cookoo's Nest are ones I keep going back to.

Can you recite a line of poetry?

(With lovely diction and rhythm) "Three dark days in London / City of the restless dead / It's intelligentsia / It's so hurried in the head." - Dylan Thomas. Sounds like one of my lyrics? I suppose it does.

Have you ever been arrested?

Me and my mate were walking home drunk from Risca to Blackwood. We broke into a car. My mate tried to hotwire it and I fell asleep. We got a night in the cells, a court appearance and a conditional discharge. Not exactly Ian Brown material.

What turns you on?

Boxing. Rugby. The White Album. Clothes - there's a Jean-Paul Gaultier sailor suit I've just bought and I'm looking forward to wearing.

Happiness is...

Being home in Wales when it's raining, with my dog beside me and the radiators on. Radiators are my favourite sort of heat. Very clean.

Where are you off to now?

Off to soundcheck. Then around Cheminitz to see if I can find any statues of Karl Marx, though I expect they've all been knocked down.