Generation terrorists for the Nintendo kids, these Welshmen are not afraid to rock.
"Bands like Guns 'N' Roses, Black Crowes, Nirvana, and us have helped to put rock back on the agenda. All those indie bands are tawdry and grey," says Manic Street Preachers' bassist Nick Wire in a kind of creaking Welsh John Lydon drawl. Both he and guitarist Richey Edwards - the man with 4 REAL etched up his arms in scar tissue - are laden with fake leopard skin, fanzine patches and mascara and look as if they have not been to sleep since the release of the first Guns 'N' Roses album. Probably they haven't Manic Street Preachers has a mission: to save the world from authoritarianism, repression and My Bloody Valentine.
"we've spent double the budget of the My Bloody Valentine record on our album already," says Nick, smiling. "I'm quite pleased with that."
The upcoming Manics LP Generation Terrorists is a monster of rock, a double album of teenage post-Sex Pistols, post-Axl Rose anger, absurdity and shouting. Like the band's insane single - best of which are the anti-pop-as-aesthetic "Motown Junk," the sneering "You Love Us" ("I laughed when Lennon died") and the AC/DC-meets-the-Clash styled "Repeat" ("Repeat after me! Fuck Queen and country") - Generation Terrorists is wild, raging punk metal whose infuriated seriousness is saved by glamour, noise, and melody. What more do you want? Trombones?
The Manics' non-party view of life was moulded by a childhood spent in a glum, grey town in Wales where - if their own legend is to be believed - they lived only for their record collections and the music press.
"We never had anything to be positive about," says Richey. "We were in a town where there was nothing to do. The only entertainment was the media and the media was offering us nothing. Every week, we used to read the music papers, and it would take us all week because we would read every single thing in there. It really mattered to us."
The Manic divide music into Rock and Not Rock. Rock is Manic Street Preachers, Rolling Stones, Sex Pistols, Public Enemy, Hanoi Rocks, and the Clash. Not Rock is everything else.
"Rock's rich tapestry and its history have been all we've ever had," says Nick. "I do think the only moments in music when political change or whatever came close to happening have all happened in rock. Rolling Stones, Puck, even Bob Dylan..."
Manic Street Preachers would clearly love to be the next link in the chain. What happens next depends on whether anybody actually likes Generation Terrorists. The Manics desperately want you to like it, and they are obsessed with touring America into submission to make you like it. They could do it, too, if they don't talk themselves hoarse first.
"America is the most important place to us. America is our dream," Nick confesses. "One thing I've always wanted is to get a No.1 album in America...Pitiful!"