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Interview: Richey Edwards - Molotov Cocktails Fanzine, December 1994

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Title: Interview: Richey Edwards
Publication: Molotov Cocktails Fanzine
Date: December 1994

When we grew up, Red Wedge was everything, it was like “Red Wedge is gonna change the future of fucking music’ and so on, you know. Did it really? Who gives a fuck?

But you don’t think it can make changes, I don’t know, is this because you’re so sort of political, I dunno maybe you...

I think it’s all down to individual choice. I man the big thing about the, I mean if 20 people come up to me and go ‘Oh I’m a vegetarian and err, I’m for ecological issues’ fine you know, that’s fantastic, really good for you, but you’ve got to realise that the economic situation in this country is that the only people who can fucking afford ecological products are basically middle class, rich people. Most people, if they go into their Kwik Save and there’s like chemically sprayed potatoes for 10p a pound or pure home grown potatoes for 32p a pound, look you know what they’re gonna fucking buy and why pretend any different? You know, don’t feel morally superior because you can buy the right food, don’t feel morally superior because you can afford the right washing up liquid, it’s all bullshit!

It’s all pretence, you know, the people who buy lots of that stuff drive down to Sainsbury’s in like a 3 litre Range Rover anyway and it probably pollutes the air more than somebody using public transport. That is just the truth! I’m sorry if it makes me sound insensitive but, you know, that’s the thing that’s fucked up Britain is that people are too scared to admit just a tiny level of honesty, you know, its just vicious.

I’m sorry, I know I keep hounding the point, I know what you’re saying, it’s just that with some...

Well what party am I gonna stand for, recommend me a party.

I’m not even saying party politics, but I mean, for example, I would never have heard of Justice For Women if it hadn’t been for ‘Reach For Bleed’, like I think that’s like doing...

Right, right, good point. But I mean, what am I supposed to represent, as a white boy. What cause can I aspire to without feeling guilty about it?

Why feel guilty?

Well no, what cause can I justify without feeling like a hypocrite, without feeling like ‘Hey, vote green children, because you should.’ I’m not gonna say that, I’m not gonna say ‘vote for the Labour Party because you know they’re better than the Tories.’ I’m never gonna say that. I’m just saying that you obviously know what we believe in, what we stand for and you make a moral judgement for yourselves.

I’m really tired of people coming around all the time saying that ‘If you like me you should always vote for them’ because it’s just, it’s all bullshit. You know, like, how do you justify abortion, right, the Anti Abortion League, the rights and wrongs, they reduce it to a very simple level, you know. What about a woman who gets raped? What about a woman whose child’s gonna be born a cripple, it’s a very complicated issue, you can’t make it that fucking simple ‘we’re talking about all human life’, are we? Are we really? Are we just talking about the death of a human being, what about the death of a spirit, death of a person.

It’s just fucking, it’s absolute nonsense and it’s just like, the whole thing at the moment about the gay gene, the gene that justifies a person being gay, it’s the same thing the government are trying to do with erm, they’re trying to find a link between violence and the gene which is found in inner city ghetto areas, which basically means a black population, you know. So they’re basically saying that if they can prove that, it means black people are nasty and violent. It’s all fucking bullshit. They can’t even prove what the gene structure of a worm is, so how can they turn around and say ‘we’ve got a link with gay people and gene structure.’ It’s bullshit. And I think everyone knows it really but it’s all got the first three pages of every newspaper in the country, it’s fucking…

I’m constantly surprised, you know, it’s nasty. Like they’ve tried to find the link between, like suicide victims and crime victims and it’s just nonsense, it’s bullshit.

You’re constantly disgusted by our morals.

I’m constantly disgusted with people making easy solutions; I do find it quite unjustifiable really.

Well what happens if you try not to be a hypocrite, but then if you’re not doing anything.

I’m a massive hypocrite, that’s the thing. I’ve come to terms with my hypocrisy and all I try to do is not to make it worse by pretending to care about something which I know is wrong.

But what I’m saying is, it’s almost like if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem.

I don’t believe in that statement at all.

But isn’t it better to fight for something and maybe get some change?

No, I don’t think it is, I completely disagree. I think it’s a weak world because I think that if things get so bad that if a real decent solution will come, by picking tiny, insignificant little targets you just appease the minority and once the minority is appeased nothing ever happens. I think you need to get the minority completely pissed off with everything and that’s why I’m never gonna turn around and, like, stand up for something I don’t believe in.

But you’re never gonna see a revolution in this country, frankly.

Never! There will never be a revolution in Britain; everybody knows that, it’s too far gone. The best we can hope for is that Britain becomes a museum, gets closed down by Europe and gets put in a box and people travel around it once or twice a year, like Eurodisney and going like (puts on old git voice) ‘Oooh that used to be the SWLP.’ It’s the best you can hope for.

What I’m saying is, take a concrete example like Nestle and the third world; you know they give baby milk.

Yeah I know that.

But isn’t it better to stop Nestlé's and get other people to stop buying it because you’re talking about human life here?

Is it? I dunno.

What about if one baby gets saved in Africa, isn’t that worth it?

No, see, that’s where I completely disagree. I mean people make a big thing about a death of a child, it’s ‘so tragic.’ I think the tragic thing about the death of a child or a teenager is that its life would never mean fucking anything. That’s the tragedy, that his death is so meaningless that even if you took care of that child and he survived, he still would have grown up to mean fuck all. Just like he does in the west.

(Interviewer Gesturing to himself...)

Yes, but that’s all ego, that’s…

That’s not about ego.

No, it is, that is the tragedy, that is the fucking tragedy about human life, that it means so fucking little. Unless you’re like Einstein or Newton, you are just fucking continuous raw cattle that has no control over what it does, that can’t affect its future an yet you live your life when you find some value in it. If a sixty year old man came up to me and said “I’ll give you all my experience,” why would I want to take it? What does his life mean? It means bollocks. Now he lived his life, he worked really hard, he struggled, he scrimped and saved, had a couple of children and for two weeks a year he had a good holiday and he fucking died. Big deal. The thought of a six year old kid getting smashed down by a car is sad, but it’s not a tragedy. An eighty year old man dying of ill health is a tragedy because their lives mean fucking nothing. That is the tragedy of human existence, that it I so fucking pointless.

What about other people though, what about mothers who watch their children die, put it in those terms. Like what if Nicky died basically because he couldn’t get the food he needed, for no good reason other than the greed of a multi-national?

But he’s not, is he? He’s not. Nicky’s not gonna die, right, because he’s probably going to be knocked over by a car, get fed different kinds of shit. It’s the same thing, he’s gonna die of a different cause. In the third world you die of starvation, famine, illness, disease. In the west you die of heart attacks, lung cancer, whatever different sorts of diseases. The end result is the same, that you live a life that does no good to anyone and you die, it’s just sad. The only people that matter are Newtons and Einsteins, they’re the only things that count.

But why do they count in that case?

Because at least they can make some kind of statement to the world, that they are above nature, because I think that if you can beat nature you’re worthy. If you can’t you’re just another dying thing.

Why is it a conflict though? You love Camus don’t you, to Camus nature was on of the places he felt securest, most content, safest.

The thing is when I say I like an author, I don’t particularly respect them. Like Kafka. Kafka could have lived twenty years longer if he’d eaten meat, he was just a vegetarian in the wrong time, you know. I mean, I could turn around and say that’s an example for not being a vegetarian but I couldn’t give a fuck. You know, he died, big deal. If he’d lived another twenty years he would have wrote crap literature. Everything falls apart, you can’t justify anything.

Ernest Hemingway, who I think is one of the biggest pieces of shit on this planet, ends up blowing himself apart because he realises his literature has gone wrong. Tennessee Williams is exactly the same, you know, he repeats himself so much. It doesn’t mean he’s a bad person, it just means he’s just like, uninteresting, you know, don’t care. (someone passes him a drink) Thanks very much. God I never thought I’d see that somebody they made me a coffee.

Are you getting in the festival spirit now then?

Oh yeah, I’m having a coffee, it’s very festival.

It’s one of those paradoxes that Camus felt happiest when he didn’t have to think, which was when he was in nature. It’s like you don’t want to, you didn’t seem to, I dunno, it’s one of those things where because you think so much and you don’t want to.. what you were saying about Vodka.

Yeah I agree, but see like the level of pretence which is backstage now, I could go into that beer tent and there would be three or four bands that would come and talk to me who I’ve got nothing in common with and they think just because I’m in a band that they are superior to the crowd outside. I think the people in here are probably worse, they are just egotistical old wankers and they think they’re so special. The worst thing is, so many people in here, they are very happy to be here, they think “I’m really happy, last year I was out watching the gig and now I’m backstage, I’ve achieved something.” You’ve achieved fuck all, you know, it just doesn’t matter. There’s not one band here today who is truly important, that’s the sad thing.

Who are the truly important bands?

At the moment? Take That. Take That are important, there’s not one band here that is as important as Take That. Take That matter, no other fucker does.

Take That are popular, but what about if a band affects maybe five thousand...

In maybe twenty years we might have an impact on somebody because of what we believe or what we say, but we’re not important now. That’s just the nature of culture. The thing is, like, art bases all its importance on death, the end, you know, the final comeuppance. Popular culture bases itself on sex and violence, and sex and violence is truly more real to the majority of people than death and the end and bankruptcy. You know, when everything falls apart.