Manics' New Evidence - Planet Sound, 11th December 2009
By John Earls - "We need to have a little distance between this year and 2008. But a lot of songs are coming."
Teletext addict Nicky Wire seems the best choice for PS' final interview, and he's bubbling with enthusiasm at Manic Street Preachers' Cardiff studio.
"The new songs are incredibly melodic," says Nicky. "There's very pure, classic sounds. Every part has to be worth it, we're not just chucking stuff in."
The Beatles' Abbey Road album is proving to be a big influence.
"Everyone's comfortable in their roles on that record," explains Nicky, 40.
"Lyrically, it's very celebratory in places, but dislocation with the digital world is inspiring me. What I'm reading always inspires me, and at the moment it's John Gray, and particularly JG Ballard - that sense of society being lost."
The trio have six songs they're currently happy with.
"A Billion Balconies Facing The Sun is quite Fleetwood Mac," says Nicky. "Then there's Golden Planets.
"The working title is still It's Not War, It's Just The End Of Love - saying that we're not as insane as we used to be, but it hasn't really gone. Another song, Evidence Against Myself, sounds a potentially good Manics album title."
The band went post-punk on Journal For Plague Lovers to record Richey Edwards' final lyrics this year.
"It's on the cards that some Manics fans will think Journal was a one-album return," Nicky admits. "But it's wrong to force yourself to be like that - we only did it for Richey's words.
"Send Away The Tigers got a lot of people back on board, though, and we'd be content to be like that."
Journal producer Steve Albini may work on the next record too.
"I'd love to work with Steve again," Nicky enthuses. "I'm not sure we're making the kind of record he wants, but he loves classic rock like Cheap Trick, so he's not just a total indie head.
"We have a mad wishlist of people we'd never approach too, like Todd Rundgren and Jeff Lynne - Jeff once told James that he likes our deep string sounds."
What about a second solo album, to follow 2006's I Killed The Zeitgeist?
"I've already forced a couple of tunes for consideration on our next record," he laughs. "The last four Manics years have been among our better ones, so there's no time away from the band.
"But I've got loads of ideas flying around, and you never know what they'll come in handy for. As James says, we'll always need a B-side..."