Nicky Wire hates flying. He hates spiders and snakes as well, but he hates flying the most. "I'll have to take drugs. Knock myself out" he laughs, referring to the band's first transglobal jaunt to Australia. The gangly bassist prefers to stay at home and hoover some. In fact, so famous is his love of cleaning, a fan once printed the words I Love Hoovering on a t-shirt for him. A delighted Wire wore it when the band collected a Brit Award a couple of weeks later. Getting him on the phone, however, is another matter entirely. It takes the hapless operator a number of attempts before getting him on line. "I've moved hotel rooms because the telly in the room I was in broke last night I can't survive without the telly," he quips, somewhat at odds with the angry young man of the Manics' earlier albums. Yet despite the Kirkegaard quotes, grand statements and rebellious poses, an undercurrent of tenderness and humour has always been a part of the band. Such affections however, have only come out of hiding since the release of This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours. Where once it rained scuzzy guitar chords, their latest album is a tight exercise In all things sensitive and bitter-sweet.
"I guess we have mellowed out somewhat," he begins cautiously. "Although the anger is still there. Usually our albums have a bit of an angle. There's always been a state of mind you could dissect but with this album it's just a collection of songs. And the best songs we could write. Which is strange for us because there's usually been a point to it all." Despite the apparent peace, Wire is quick to add that there are still loads of things which make him angry.
"I still find it unbelievable that we have a monarchy and a House Of Lords. I can't believe that Australia still has the Queen as its sovereign. I really hate the aristocracy. The whole class system still exists in Britain and from where I'm from there are still a lot of people who have a lot of talent and a lot of brains but whose lives are going to end up being wasted through lack of chance. That still makes us really angry." Yet the band have nominated their latest album the one with the most sense of purity and beauty. "As we Started recording it felt like the first time in our career we had reached any peace and comfort. There's been a lot of upheaval and change in the band over the last five years and for the first time we felt quiet happy being in the Manic Street Preachers."
Best friends since they were kids, the band has had a somewhat tragic past. Self-confessed nerds at high school, they formed a band to try and "get the girls? Their very first show was in a crappy Welsh pub called the Railway Hotel. "I knocked over a pint glass by accident and people thought it was a riot and started chucking pint glasses," reminisces Wire. Despite their penchant for frilly girls' blouses and a tendency to apply eyeliner with a somewhat heavy hand. they inexplicably attracted the psycho football fans and left a trail of debris wherever they played. A few notorious soundbites later (early Manic interviews are littered with hyperbole as well as fiercely intelligent quotes) and the band sign to Sony with plans to release one album, which would shift more units then Guns 'N' Roses' mammoth Appetite For Destruction, before promptly retiring. Much to their annoyance they would go on to release a slew of patchy yet gloriously inspiring albums, lose beloved manager Philip Hall to cancer and then watch guitarist Richey James fall into a black hole of depression, anorexia and alcoholism before disappearing without a trace as the band prepared for a promo tour of
the US. Responsible for the Manic's darker moments (see Small Black Flowers That Grow In the Sky and most of the Holy Bible album) much has been made of the guitarist's disappearance. Battling the resistance to disband, the trio went on to release two commercially and critically applauded albums and watched their audience multiply. Yet, listen to Wire talk about the Manics and it soon becomes obvious the driving force that propels their music has yet to abate.
"When we saw The Clash when we were growing up we just thought that they we're the most glamorous and exciting band and that's what we've modelled ourselves on. And we feel it as well. When we get on stage it's like being in a different world. Pete Townsend used to say that he would go into a different stratosphere. I feel like that as well."