All rise! The Rock 'n' Roll court is now in session, with Judge B'Stard presiding! RICHEY JAMES OF MANIC STREET PREACHERS YOU ARE ACCUSED OF THE FOLLOWING OFFENCES...
That you could be charged under the Trades Descriptions Act for daring to call yourself a guitarist.
Guilty. But it's not really the point. When we started the band it was obvious that the other three were pretty good musician, and we didn't see the need for another guitarist. So they just asked me to read as many books as I could, and write some words. I play on some songs in the studio, basically when I feel that bothered. Live, maybe out front some people can’t hear me, but they definitely can on stage. Have I got any better? Yeah, but that's not difficult. Starting from zero, you're bound to improve a little bit. Steve Vai needn't worry!
That you were stupid enough to carve '4 Real’ into your arm with a razor blade, in a quite shameless publicity stunt.
Not guilty. It wasn't a shameless publicity stunt. It was a night in Norwich, playing to about 11 people, when there was hardly any interest in us. There was an argument with a journalist, which descended so low that it was the only thing I could do. I've never hit anybody in my life, I never would, and the only way I could make a point was by hurting myself. Obviously not to that extent, but it's something I've done since I was a teenager.
That, despite the Manics' image as snotty upstarts, you are more likely to be in bed by 9 pm with your cuddly sheep.
Not guilty. We haven't got any cuddly sheep, anyway. Everybody knows we're not a party band. We're quite private people, from the day we signed a contract we've been asked to parties all over London, and we don't choose to display ourselves in that way. I don't see why, just 'c. we're a band, we've got to have things in common with other people in our industry. If you go to a pub, you don't see all the bricklayers at one table, all the carpenters at another, and all the school teachers at another. You make your own friends, and you stick with them.
That the Manics are really a James Dean Bradfield solo project, with the rest of you filling in as stage props.
Not guilty, James is obviously the most important member of the band, but for all of us music has always been about much more than the guitarist's ability. I don't think James would be interested in making music if he didn't have lyrics he liked. He can admire the technical ability of Steve Vai, but he'd still turn round and tell you that it's the biggest pile of shit he's ever heard. When certain people see us live they can tell James holds it all together, but there's more to being in a band than that.
That you should of kept your promise to split up after one album, given the declining sales figures for your second effort, Gold Against The Soul', in the UK.
Not guilty. The whole point was to be hypocritical, to be false. All we wanted to do was write better songs, and find a better economy with words. I think 'Gold Against The Soul' is definitely a better record than 'Generation Terrorists'. We are improving all the time. Everybody knows the first album would have been better if we'd left out all the crap, but we wanted it to be a double so nothing was left over.
That, given your willingness to open for them, you would much rather be Bon Jovi than Generation Terrorists.
Not guilty. The thing about 'Generation Terrorists' was that the title was misunderstood. At the age of ten or 12, everybody is full of some kind of optimism, and by the time they leave school they've given up on everything. In those five or six years, your fife has been radically changed and pretty much destroyed. That's what the title meant. But I don't think we'd wanna be Bon Jovi. We were surprised at the scale of things that day; we'd find the size of the backstage operation difficult to deal with. We find it hard to be with people we haven't known for a long time. We've only got a crew of four or five people, and it's taken us two years to trust them. Before we even played a gig, we said we'd support anybody, and when we signed to a major label that attitude stayed. It's a good way of playing to new people. A bit of suffering is good for the soul.
That, despite the many comparisons between the Manics and The Clash, the only safety pin you wore during the Punk era was in your nappy.
Guilty. We totally missed out on Punk. We existed as adolescents in a sort of mid- to late-'80s vacuum where nothing was happening musically, and you have these vague shadows in your mind about the great groups. So we bought all these records by Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, The Clash and The Who, and we couldn't get what they were. Like, to buy a Clash record next to a Rolling Stones record ... to us they were the same sort of group. But when you start reading about them, you realise The Clash were meant to be opposed to The Stones. When we were teenagers, we didn't know that. Gradually you work up your own aesthetic. At the same time, I'd say that The Clash are one of my favourite groups of all time.
That your promise to headline Wembley Stadium after `Generation Terrorists' was released now looks about as likely as the inaugural Pig Flying World Championships.
Guilty. At the same time, we said 'Generation Terrorists' would sell 16 billion copies - every home from Bangkok to Senegal would have it. We found it difficult coming from a small town in Wales; before we got a deal it was a nightmare trying to get a gig. We did these horrible little gigs in London, and there would be literally two or three people there. We'd be driving home going, 'Oh, next time we go back it'll be really busy'. If we didn't have that self-belief, we'd have gone the way of almost every other provincial band that finally gets to London. They do one gig and there's no f**ker there, and they go home and don't bother coming back. Our self-belief kept telling us we'd get a deal, make an LP that would be so good we wouldn't need to do another, and we could f**k off and live by the sea!
That yourself and Nicky Wire would prefer to work as beauty consultants for Max Factor than in a Rock band.
Not guilty. The only make-up we ever wore was never very artistic; it was just cheap and sluttish, and done in about 15 seconds. Again, we came to London at the height of the Manchester Dance scene, and we wanted to distance ourselves from everything that washappening in Britain at that time. We were forced to play places like the Rock Garden, and it's so wine bar-ish and fake, and we just wanted to fit in with that.
That your constant claims to be high-brow literary types are thoroughly undermined by your appearances in Smash Hits.
Not guilty. I find it really difficult to understand people's attitude towards Smash Hits or teenage magazines in general. It's like saying they've got no intelligence. Everybody's been a 13- or 14-year-old. It's the same sort of people who say only girls read Smash Hits; you know, girls are more or less half the population, and to deny half the population access to any ki. of thought is morally vile. I think Smash Hits is a fantastic magazine.
THE JUDGE'S VERDICT
Richey James, you may be the Graham Taylor of the guitar, but you have mounted a strong and eloquent defence on behalf of your band. Sadly, your spirited support for Smash lids means that we are forced to sentence you to 40 lashes with a wet daffodil, and a round of golf with Max Boyce!