Richey talks The Maker through the new album.
Manic Street Preachers guitarist Richey Edwards has been talking exclusively to The Maker about the band's new album 'Gold Against The Soul', set for release by Columbia on June 21. Richey's track-by-track commentary on the LP, recently completed in nine weeks of frantic activity, goes as follows:
"Sleepflower" - Nobody seems to be able to get to sleep without artificial aid these days - whether it's alcohol, pills, or even exercise programmes. Round where we come from, lots of people seem to walking around with muscles bulging everywhere, even if they're only five foot two, and it's unnatural to be like that. I don't think it's a matter of vanity, because it's not as if anyone ever sees them.
"From Despair To Where" - In the Western world, living conditions really aren't that bad. Most people have somewhere to live and enough to eat - and yet most people are unhappy. I don't think many people ever come home at night thinking 'What a great day that was!' And that's why totalitarianism will always be tempting - because a fascist leader can say 'I'll make all your decisions for you. You don't need to have any responsibilities. I'll take care of your life.'
"La Tristesse Durera (Scream To A Sigh)" - We took the title from a book on Van Gogh, although the song's got nothing to do with Van Gogh. It means something like 'the sadness goes on', and it's about the way life doesn't get any better as you get older.
It's always a beautiful image every year when the war veterans turn out at the Cenotaph, and everyone pretends to care about them - but then they're shuffled off again and forgotten. I'm much more symphathetic towards older people than towards my generation - I think they have a lot more dignity, and seem to be able to take care of their problems themselves. People of my generation seems to be so selfish. I'm no exception, because you can't escape from the culture that surrounds you. A phrase like 'Trade Unionism', and the idea of caring about the community you come from, is now seen as laughable - and of course, that's a product of the political culture over the last 15 years.
"Yourself" - It's about being dissatisfied with yourself. We humans are the only animals who are burdened with the knowledge that we're going to die. So every day you look in the bathroom mirror and try to convince yourself that you look OK, so you can carry on with your daily routine, when actually you know that you're a flabby piece of shit. It's really difficult to keep feeling good about yourself when you keep seeing all these perfect, airbrushed images in magazines.
"Life Becoming A Landslide" - It comes from the idea that the first thing a baby does is shriek at the horror of it all. And as when you get to adolescence, the rewards of being older don't really give you any satisfaction whether it's getting a car or a fuck or a CD player.
It's also about the fact that, if you go into newsagents and see pornography on the shelfs at an early age, it becomes very difficult to reconceal that with the idea of 'love' that you're presented with later. I think we're romantic people in some ways, but when it comes to relationships it's not a question of 'Can you trust another human being?', so much as a question of trusting yourself. The animalistic nature of man seems to mean that you're bound to find another people physically attractive. And there's something dishonest about shutting those feelings off - it seems puritanical to deny yourself that. The idea of sin is still so widely pervading.
"Drug Drug Druggy" - It's just a very ambivalent attitude to drugs - and the different things that people use as drugs. Everybody has their own little obsession. I find it really annoying the way people come up to you and say 'Hey, I just smoked a couple of joints and I'm really off my head.' So what? If someone said ' I've drunk 10 pints and I'm really out of it,' you'd think they were pathetic, and it's the same thing.
"Roses In The Hospital" - It's just about the idea of something beautiful in a decaying place. It's about people who hurt themselves in order to concentrate, or just to feel something.
"Nostalgic Pushead" - It originally started off with the idea of a middle-aged person knocking things that would be exciting and valuable to a new generation. So many people said to us when we started. 'Oh, seen that, done it, don't do it again.' It's really depressing that there's a new generation growing up and being offered the same icons, like The Rolling Stones. The biggest bands now, like Pearl Jam, obviously grew up listening to the same records their parents did. But the whole Sixties perspective of change no longer exists.
"Symphony Of Tourette" - It's based on Tourette's syndrome, which is a disease where a child constantly swears and spits at everyone around him. He can't help himself. He'll go out on a shopping trip, and up to an old lady and say fuck off you old cunt. It's a twentieth century disease, only indentified this century, and there's no cure for it. It's almost as if they're saying what everyone else secretly wants to say. Because most people spend their lives doing things they don't really want to do, and no one gets to tell that irritating little man to fuck off.
"Gold Against The Soul" - It's an apocalyptic vision of Britain from the Thatcher years to the 'caring Nineties'. People got so selfish in the Eighties. To me, Roy Lynk (the right-wing leader of the Union of Democratic Mineworkers) was the archetypal Eighties person. He probably thought he was doing people good - but he's a class traitor. I hope that his children grow up to realise that.
The media thinks that if you're working class, you've got to be one of two stereotypes - either tipping your cap to your employer, or a drug fiend permanently bombed out your skull. You've got to be a lager lout, or an effete Morrissey fan who never does anything. But working class people can be violent and sensitive.