You either love or loathe Manic Street Preachers. There's no in between. It's not really possible to just think they're sort of okay. MSP arouses feelings. They provoke and challenge on purpose. Chaos has always been close at hand. Even before they'd really started off, they'd made up their minds. They were going to be big in no time. No scruffy club gigs for them.
Singer James Dean Bradfield explains: "Many young musicians have a wrong, romanticised image of what being in a new band is like - we couldn't see the fun in travelling in a crowded mini-van, living in shabby hotels and freezing - only to play in small dirty clubs, dress in the hallway and eat lousy food. And on top of that, loosing money doing it! There had to be a quicker way to get big fast - and the media was there. If used properly, they're the best spring-board there is. We got them where we wanted."
You manipulated them?
"Absolutely. Of course we had something to say - only we did it in a speculative way. Everything we said was true and we meant every word. We were bored with our hometown, the environment, the society, the government and the unemployment. Everyday was boredom. People say it gets more and more difficult to shock. Someone said you had to blow your head off to shock. Well, now Kurt Cobain's done it. Old news!"
One example of their outspokenness is the statement about John Lennon really being nothing but a prick, not worthy to respect. Statements like that were made to upset older people in control of the all-important media.
"Yeah, but I do think he was a prick. I've nothing against The Beatles, but Lennon lost all perspectives. He had millions in the bank and sang that he was a "Working Class Hero" - bullshit - he was fiddling with his art collection!"
Growing up in Wales has its disadvantages, I realise after some conversing.
"We grew up in the middle of the miners strike. Demonstrations everyday, many people starved, our friends' families were evicted. We grew up to despise the environment in which we lived. Many miners were also self-convinced martyrs. They saw something romantic in starving and suffering. It was a part of being of their social class and they were proud over it. Absolute crap! Everyone deserved better! My generation started to rebel. We despised a lot of people and decided to be honest about it. Boredom was life. We were stuck in a vacuum."
So these cocky young men - Sean Moore, Richey James, Nicky Wire and James Bradfield - made saucy rock with cocky lyrics and performed this to the English. Remember that the Welsh and the English are very different people, and they seldom get on together. If the Welsh are sarcastic as well - then things can go pretty bad. Often times the audience would shout obscenities like "sheep-shaggers" to the band - and they replied: "Sure, we shag them, and then you eat them." Sheep and coalmines is Wales in a nutshell to the ignorant.
"We hated that stereotype, James says. But then I moved away and when I got back I realised it was true. There's fucking lots of sheep."
The band has recorded three albums:"Generation Terrorists", "Gold Against The Soul" and the latest "The Holy Bible", which is the most difficult one to understand. The two previous ones featured a pretty simple rocksound, almost like the early Alice Cooper-songs.
"Commercialism to a point, but then it's all about creativity. This time we've written with our souls. It's somewhat harder to get, but give it some time, he says."
Manic Street Preachers got big against all odds. Now they're the favourites of the English media, in spite of the admitted manipulation.
"We need a good rock band in Great Britain - the yanks got everything after Zeppelin!"