Manic Street Preachers have decided to carry on as a three-piece, seven months after guitarist went missing. The band will begin recording their fourth album next month.
In a prepared statement, bassist Nicky Wire said: "We've sat down and discussed whether to record or not at great length, amongst ourselves and with Richey's family, and basically decided we would have a go. We have been rehearsing regularly for the last few months and have over 20 new songs which have been written over the last year. The last six months have been very difficult for us, but we feel ready to start recording."
The band are currently considering producers and locations for the recording sessions. Singer James Dean Bradfield has played some "fantastic" new songs to friends on an acoustic guitar and has also written some lyrics for the first time, although the bulk of the words have been penned by Nicky Wire. Richey contributed the majority of the lyrics for the band's previous three albums.
The band have performed as a three-piece once before, at the 1994 Reading Festival, while Edwards was in hospital recovering from a nervous breakdown. The Manics have not played live since their dates at London Astoria last Christmas and they have been effectively inactive since Richey disappeared in February this year.
Band manager Martin Hall said that, despite repeated police investigations, there was still no clue as to the guitarist's whereabouts.
"There's been a lot of media speculation, and rumours flying around - but the facts are that since Richey walked out of the hotel on the February 1 he hasn't contacted anyone and have been no 100 per cent positive sightings of him," he said.
What has emerged is that Richey left a note and presents for friends, family and other members of the band before his departure.
There are no plans for the band to play live and there is not expected to be any record release until 1996, at the earliest.
"We're just going to get into the studio and see how things go," said Nicky Wire. "There's no rush."