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Manic Depressives - The Auckland Sunday News, 30th June 1996

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Title: Manic Depressives
Publication: The Auckland Sunday News
Date: Sunday 30th June 1996
Writer: Paulette Crowley

The quest for happiness is an all-consuming one for most.

We spend a lot of time pleasure-seeking, in search of our nirvana.

But for Welsh band Manic Street Preachers happiness is a joke.

Their music has always been a celebration of being working class and their hatred of the British class system.

And their lives appear to reflect their negativity.

Former figurehead Richey James often tried to cut himself up on television, attempted suicide on numerous occasions and, on February 1 last year, he disappeared.

His car was found on the eve of a promotional USA tour, and despite a police investigation and massive publicity, he hasn't been seen since.

No one knows if he's dead or alive.

The three remaining members of the band - James Bradfield, Nicky Wire and Sean Moore - decided to carry on as a group and have just released their fourth album Everything Must Go.

James Bradfield, who spoke to Sunday News from London before a European tour, didn't want to talk about Richey, but volunteered umpteen theories on why the Manics were not as self-obsessed as other musicians.

After a confession he'd just returned from having been at the pub all night, Bradfield talked a lot.

"In terms of like self-obsession we have documented quite a lot of that. We were scared of actually dwelling on a happy moment. It almost seemed over self-indulgent.


"Everyone knows what it's like to fall in love, everyone knows what it's like to have a broken heart. But not everyone knows what it's like to hate with a vengeance."

Critics have said the Manics are "brutally honest about their self-destructive tendencies", and Bradfield agrees.

"We didn't really want to display our happiness because we didn't feel it was necessary or informative at all. Some bands, all they write about is themselves and their own experiences. We've always had a kind of voyeuristic streak in us. We've always liked to write about things that inspire us."

Last year was tough after Richey's disappearance, said Bradfield.

The members, who formed the band in 1989, had all known each other since they were 10. They grew up in a tough mining community in Wales - working class to the max.

"Last year I would make sure at least one week out of every month I would go home and spend time with my parents. You lose touch if you don't go home."

Bradfield likes to keep life as simple as possible. His pastimes are basic.

"I drink quite a lot. I go running quite a lot. I read loads, watch telly loads and go to the cinema loads.

"I haven't really indulged myself in terms of buying myself a house or cars. I just haven't done any of that.

"It's a fallacy to actually say people can get carried away with themselves. Or that there's some kind of invisible acute force called success and money that changes people. If you don't want it to change you, you won't let it change you."

The Manics, who plan to come to New Zealand in January, recently supported chart-toppers Oasis.

Was that band's hard-living, drug-taking reputation for real?

"Contrary to what people might think, they're really cool guys and they treated us really well. People think they're coke infested, tantrum-throwing f...ers from hell.

"Liam's (Gallagher) got a bad reputation - everyone thinks he's a prima donna. He's not. He was cool. I've supported a lot of groups in my time and sometimes you get treated like a piece of shit."

Bradfield says the drug culture in music may seem like it's back, but he reckons it never went away.

"Looking emaciated has become the ultimate fashion accessory, I suppose, but it's been there for ages. The drug impetus fell on to club land in the 90s and now it's resurfaced in rock. It'll always come back. Things go away but they always come back."