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Memories Of The early Manic Street Preachers - Louder Than War, 16th October 2011

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Written by Joe Rebel16 October, 2011

http://louderthanwar.com/memories-of-the-early-manic-street-preachers/ 213 Manic Street Preachers live at their first London show...SEPTEMBER 20, 1989: The Manics play their first London gig, at the Horse & Groom, Great Portland Street. Manic Street Preachers live at their first London show…SEPTEMBER 20, 1989: The Manics play their first London gig, at the Horse & Groom, Great Portland Street.In the early days of the Manic Street Preachers, the band was isolated, not many liked them, they were against the grain, outsiders. For a select few though, they were game changers, for people like me writing about them in the music press invited lots of flak for Joe Rebel in Exeter they nearly saved rock n roll….here’s a collection of his memories of the band and interviews and reviews from his manics fanzine charting the rise of the band…

MANIC ON THE STREETS

1992 WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE – BORE FUCKING BORE. THE MEDIA ARE LIKE FUCKING SHEEP, ONE STARTS, THEY ALL FOLLOW – ANY CHANCE OF SOME INDIVIDUALITY OUT THERE? RE”’MIXED RE”’HASHED GARBAGE – KIDS DANCED TO ROCK ”N’ ROLL LONG BEFORE MUSIC BECAME INFESTED WITH THE ”CLUB MENTALITY.’ BE HONEST, CAN YOU TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OCEANIC AND ALTERN”’8? SAD WANKERS – LOOK AT POOR WASTED BOBBY GILLESPIE AND POP’S CLAPPED OUT ”SOCIAL WORKER’ TIM BOOTH – HOW CAN KIDS LOOK UP TO THESE PEOPLE AS POTENTIAL ROLE MODELS? BEFORE YOU KNOW THEY’LL BE EXHUMING ROBERT MAXWELL’S BODY AND PROCLAIMING HIM THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER! THANK GOD FOR THE MANIC STREET PREACHERS, A BREATH OF FRESH AIR INDEED – FOR FUCK’S SAKE DON’T LET THE POXY NME OR MONOTONY MAKER TELL YOU WHAT TO BUY, MAKE UP YOUR OWN MIND – SAY NO TO THE INDIE CHILD: SAY NO TO RAVE CULTURE, AND BE SURE TO SAY NO TO THOSE SHYSTERS ”THE CRUSTIES’, DON’T PATRONISE THE MEDIOCRE, GIVE THEM A DECENT BURIAL TODAY, NO FLOWERS BY REQUEST! JUST REMEMBER, FUCK THE FUTURE BEFORE THE FUTURE FUCKS YOU! JOE REBEL – TORTURED REBELLION 1992.

from outsiders to national treasures? Manic Street Preachers from outsiders to national treasures? Manic Street Preachers

”I LAUGHED WHEN LENNON GOT SHOT.’ MOTOWN JUNK ” MANIC STREET PREACHERS

Tucked away on BBC 2 TV, early on Tuesday evenings in the early 90s, was Snub TV, a thirty-minute blast of videos, live clips and interviews featuring the prime indie movers and shakers of the day. I tuned in religiously every week, even though I disliked the majority that passed as contemporary music. However, one band that made me sit up and take notice, was Welsh four-piece, Manic Street Preachers. They resembled the bastard offspring of early Clash, The New York Dolls and a smattering of rock monsters Guns ‘n’ Roses chucked into the brew. Gangling bassist Nicky Wire and panda eyed rhythm guitarist Richey Edwards bore more than a passing resemblance to Psychedelic Furs front man Richard Butler and dead junkie rocker Johnny Thunders respectively, but they also possessed an energy severely lacking with any current NME indie darlings. While the majority of bands riding the wave of alternative music resembled part – time dustmen, the Manics were demented speed freaks caked in Estee Lauder. Diminutive screamer and lead guitarist, James Dean Bradfield, had a voice that in all probability could shred paper, and the band were togged out in vintage Clash-style spray painted shirts (”Kill Yourself,’ ”Generation Terrorist,’) and bollock hugging white kecks. They looked fantastic! I’d been crying out for a band like this since The Clash went into orbit in 1985.


Manic Street Debut TV Appearance from The Herb Whisperer on Vimeo.

The song they were demolishing on TV was Motown Junk, a high-octane slab of guitar mayhem, that bore the unmistakable imprint of early Clash, with a lyric that pissed over anything the likes of, The Farm, Blur, Curve, or Chapterhouse could muster. The following day, I tracked down the only copy of Motown Junk I could find in my local record shop. When I dropped the needle on the record, I knew immediately this was something special. The next step was to see them live.

In the winter of ”91, I travelled to Bristol, to see the Manics play the small Fleece & Firkin venue – off Bristol City Centre. I persuaded a few mates to join me, as the Manics were on route to becoming the next big thing. We arrived at The Fleece, only to be informed, the Manics wouldn’t be playing because they’d refused to comply with the clubs stringent sound level policy (The club operated a traffic light style sound regulator that required bands to play at an acceptable volume. When the system strayed into the red, bands adjusted their sound accordingly. During the Manics soundcheck, the red light was in evidence, when were asked to modify their levels, the band refused – believing this would compromise the show, they pulled the gig).

In early ’91, the music press were falling over themselves to feature the band on the pages of the music press. They made good copy, and were a refreshing change from boring bollocks like The Soup Dragons and their ilk. Not only were the Manics strikingly attired, they were articulate, intelligent, and possessed a well-stocked armoury of acidic put-downs. “We hate Slowdive more than Adolf Hitler,”’

I finally got to see the Manics live, in December ”91, at The Diorama in Central London (I’d passed through here before, following a Rat Patrol gig in the early eighties). The Diorama was a bizarre setting for a rock ‘n’ roll gig – well-known for promoting alternative comedians, left wing benefits and art installations, it wasn’t the type of venue that usually accommodated the likes of Manic Street Preachers. However, despite such uncongenial settings, the gig was a sell-out. However, it was apparent from the off that the security couldn’t cope with the hysteria. The stage was invaded from the moment the Manics took the stage, causing a veritable headache for the hefty security presence. Also during the set, a raggle taggle bunch of of NME journalists and hangers-on, aligning themselves with third division also-rans, Fabulous, tried to gain publicity for their sorry little combo by rushing the stage. However, their sad attempts, didn’t have the desired affect, so, they turned on the fans. Their intimidation became physical as the gig progressed, and to my eyes, they were causing unnecessary hassle. Security had their hands full holding back stage invaders and moshers, so I kept one eye on the Manics and the other on the Fabulous mob. Now, I’m no saint, but one of the Fabulous goons lunged at some helpless kid, knocking him to the ground, so I intervened, and told him to stop! He quickly realised I wasn’t some snotty little indie kid, and scuttled away to the safety of the bar.

After the gig, I was enjoying a post-gig drink at the bar, when Manics manager Martin Hall and panda eyed guitarist Richey approached and thanked me for sorting out the aggro.

Following the Diorama show, there was plenty of drunken pub banter about starting a Manics fanzine. I wanted to be involved, as what better way to vent my spleen, then in my own fanzine? I’m an ideas man, but needed access to a typewriter (this was before PCs took over the world) and printing gear to get the fanzine out there. One guy, who expressed an interest, was a work colleague of an old mate of mine, Dave Goodes, one David Marsden. He didn’t say a lot, but, following a heavy Friday night on the ale, Marsden mentioned, he owned a laptop and had access to a photocopier. Initially, I didn’t envisage teaming up with Marsden, because there was something about him that didn’t ring true. But I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Also, he was reasonably intelligent and I didn’t think he would cause me any problems.

In 1992, the Manics released their debut album, Generation Terrorists. Aside from a couple iffy tracks (a lame re-recorded version of Spectators Of Suicide), it was an impressive record. In spite of a number of over long Slash style guitar solos. As with The Clash, BAD and The Alarm in the past, I eagerly turned my friends onto the Manics. Frankly, there wasn’t a lot else to get excited about. Meanwhile, I desperately needed a snappy handle for the proposed fanzine. Eventually, I settled on, Tortured Rebellion. All that was needed now was the bands blessing.

In early ’92, the Manics played Exeter Lemon Grove (there was a photo in Q magazine at the time of me wedged behind the first few rows) as part of the Generation Terrorists Tour. I met the band at soundcheck (they remembered me from The Diorama), and they seemed keen on the fanzine idea (the only other Manics fanzine at the time was Last Exit, run by the two girls who went on to form short-lived pop duo Shampoo) and they gave it their official stamp of approval.

manic Street preachers live in Bristol 1992 manic Street preachers live in Bristol 1992

WE ARE NOT YOUR SINNERS / OUR VOICES ARE FOR REAL YOU LOVE US ”’ MANIC STREET PREACHERS

I travelled to London with Dave Goodes a couple of days after the Exeter gig for a show at The Astoria. We met Martin Hall outside as the band were recording the video for the Slash ”N’ Burn single prior to soundcheck and he kindly added our names to the guest-list (bizarrely, he thought I was called Exeter Andy!). The Manics were on top form, despite Nicky Wire twatting a Japanese filmmaker with his bass. We blagged our way into the after-show party, met Wire, and took full advantage of the free bar. Goodes was unaware of such practices, and I pissed my self when he offered to buy a round of drinks, and Wire looked at him as if he was subnormal and said, “But the drinks are free!”’ A couple of weeks later Wire sent me a postcard listing his favourite five Clash tunes.

I desperately needed an exclusive interview for the first issue of my fanzine if it was going to stand out from the drivel sprouting up in the wake of the Manics success. Methadone Pretty, R*E*P*E*A*T and 4-Real were prime examples of excitable bedroom bollocks, pieced together by fans mistakenly believing they could pass themselves off as credible writers. Thankfully, most sub-standard efforts only lasted a couple of issues. However, articulate and intelligent writers also aligned themselves with the band and are well worthy of a mention. Nicky’s brother Patrick Jones was behind the Counter Language fanzine. The first fanzine directly connected to the Manics camp, and jam packed with well-written essays, poems and prose. Gill Armstrong’s Cultural Apocalypse, was another fanzine of worth (to which I contributed to – How not to get caught working while on the dole!). Anthony Melder’s Paki Revolution and Nausea, were also excellent cut ”n’ paste affairs. One of Melder’s essays was even included in the Little Baby Nothing CD booklet. However, Melder wasn’t a fan of Tortured Rebellion. I received a scathing letter from him after the first issue, viciously attacking my efforts. He said the editorial was good and opinionated, but the remainder was sycophantic crap! I wrote back, including a razor blade, and told him if he didn’t like it, he should stop moaning and use the blade on himself!

Yet, following a couple more missives in a similar vein, Melder and I became regular correspondents. Sensing we had a common goal, I invited him to come and stay in Exeter. Despite Melder’s fondness for the universally despised Manchester United, we hit it off. But, he saw through Marsden’s bullshit, and we gave him the slip, and spent the lunchtime drinking and discussing music, films and books, and our dislike of society and beyond. But when we made our way back to my place for a ”sniff,’ Melder disappeared; only to return with a bottle of scotch shoplifted from Sainsbury’s! We downed the free booze, snorted up the ”sniff’ and hit the pubs of Exeter. Unfortunately, we were arrested and charged with Criminal Damage following a spot of high-junks with a concrete block. I agreed to take the rap on the understanding Melder paid half the fine. He only sent me a tenner! So, if anyone knows Melder’s whereabouts, get in touch, he owes me Ã’£200!

”IF YOU WANT A PICTURE OF THE FUTURE IMAGINE A BOOT STAMPING ON A HUMAN FACE FOREVER – GEORGE ORWELL

WHEN YOU AWAKE DO YOU FEEL BETRAYED AND LONG TO BE RETURNED TO YOUR MOTHERS WOMB? DO YOU DRAG YOUR FEEBLE BODY TO THE BATHROOM ONLY TO SEE OLD AGE CREEPING UP ON YOU? DO YOU CRY OUT AND FEEL SICK TO THE PIT OF YOUR STOMACH? AND FEEL MORE AFFINTY WITH THE DEVIL – GOD IS JUST A FADED MEMORY – YOU WANT TO DIE – YOU WANT BLOOD TO SPURT FROM YOUR VEINS – THE WORLD SEEMS EMPTY, WORTHLESS, POINTLESS AND SAD – YOU SWITCH ON THE T.V – YOU WANT TO WEEP, WEEP UNCONTROLLABLY – WHY IS LIFE SO CRUEL? WHY MUST YOU BE SO UNHAPPY? THE MEDIA DEALS IN INVENTED HAPPINESS – AS THE YEARS PASS YOU BY, YOU FEEL YOU HAVE ACHIEVED NOTHING – YOU FEEL ANGUISH, BITTERNESS AND DESPAIR. BRAINWASHED AT SCHOOL, HUMILATED AT WORK. MODERN SOCIETY SPURNS INDIVIDUALITY – YOU CRY BUT NO ONE HEARS YOU ”’ YOU ARE ALONE WALLOWING IN SELF-PITY – YOU CURSE YOUR PARENTS FOR BRINGING YOU INTO THIS HORRIBLE, EVIL WORLD – YOU WANT SOMEONE TO HOLD, BUT NO-ONE IS THERE – HOW CAN YOU LOVE WHEN THERE IS SO MUCH HATE? YOU ACHE – YOUR PAIN IS SO INTENSE YOU FEEL LIKE EXPLODING – YOU DON’T FIT IN – YOU CAN’T FIT IN – UNWANTED, UNNECESSARY – EYES RED FROM SO MANY USELESS TEARS – TEARS THAT ARE WASTED – WHO ARE YOU CRYING FOR? ARE YOU CRYING FOR YOURSELF? LIFE IS ONE BIG LET DOWN – DROPPING TO YOUR KNEES YOU FEEL HATRED LIKE YOU’VE NEVER EXPERIENCED BEFORE – YOU CRY UNTIL YOU CAN’T CRY ANYMORE – REDUNDANT JOE SWINFORD – TORTURED REBELLION – OCTOBER 1992.

The Manics toured extensively promoting Generation Terrorists, and one of many shows I attended, was at Salisbury Arts Centre on March 13TH 1992. Wire agreed to be interviewed after the gig, for the final draft of the first issue of Tortured Rebellion. Dave Marsden brought a Dictaphone to tape the interview , which he’d ”borrowed’ from a work mate, and I’d prepared a few questions. But Marsden acted nervous and edgy before the gig, and hit the top shelf, knocking back whisky and double vodka like someone was going to snatch it away from him. But I paced myself, as I didn’t want to come across as a drunken arsehole (done enough of that in the past). Prior to the Manics arrival on stage, I suggested, to Marsden that since we had the Dictaphone, we bootleg the gig. But, Marsden’s abuse of the top shelf had taken its toll, and in his drunken stupor, the Dictaphone slipped from his grasp and shattered on the floor. I was incensed, as we were now unable to bootleg the show and tape Wire’s interview! However, Goodes, came to the rescue and jotted down Wire’s answers in longhand.

The gig was a muted affair. The audience didn’t get it and were somewhat subdued. It didn’t help matters, when two idiots shouted anti-Welsh chants at the band. Bradfield leapt on this immediately, “Aren’t men horrible, I wish I was a girl.”’ After the gig, Marsden was stumbling around like an idiot ”’ but we secured the Wire interview. The first issue of Tortured Rebellion sold out of its initial run of 150 copies in a matter of weeks. Below is an abridged version of Wire’s interview that appeared in the first issue.

By sticking to your game plan and splitting up after World Domination etc, don’t you think you’ll be taking away something that is important to your fans?

NICKY WIRE: “We still think we’ve got something to say, and really like making records, but it’s like when you go into HMV and see a great band has made one great record and then split up. It doesn’t drag on and get boring.”’

What has been the highlight, for you, so far?

NW: “Some people say Top Of The Pops, but for me it was when Richey carved his arm up (Richey famously carved the words ”4 REAL’ into his forearm following a heated debate with journalist/DJ Steve Lamacq) it was worth it just to see the look on that journalist’s face.”’

If the group ended tomorrow what job would you like to do?

NW: “I know it sounds boring and not very ”rock ”n’ roll’, but I’d like to be a librarian!”

One of the finest Manics gigs I witnessed was at Bournemouth Academy, in October ’92, which I reviewed for Tortured Rebellion…

‘Manics fans are a motley bunch of fuckers. What have we got? A smattering of fading glam rockers – the pissed up ”t-shirt brigade’ (The Levellers, I ask you!) plus the usual concoction of curious thirtysomethings (”what did you do in the punk wars daddy?’). The Bournemouth Academy is two gigs away from the conclusion of the latest Manics UK tour. Bearing that in mind, you may be think our lovable Welsh chums would be suffering from gig fatigue. Wrong! Tonight’s performance proves the Manic Street Preachers have at last shaken off the tedious ”punk pretenders’ tag that has dogged them since their conception. As of now, they are a GREAT BRITISH ROCK BAND. Sad music hacks are championing the latest musical vomit, but Manic Street Preachers stand head and shoulders above them all. My only complaint, due to laziness, time, or whatever, is the distinct lack of new material aired. The obvious changes are the addition of last two singles, ”Motorcycle Emptiness’ and ”Suicide Is Painless.’ Also, Guns ”n’ Roses’ ”It’s So Easy, has been replaced with a rabble-rousing version of old Clash fave ”What’s My Name.’ To be fair to the Manics, the older tunes (pre-”Generation Terrorists’) sound better every time I hear them, namely, ”Motown Junk’, complete with James’ paraphrased intro of The Supremes ”Where Did Our HATE Go?’ Jesus, they even resurrect Damaged Goods oldie, ”Strip It Down,’ and take it up a notch. Electrifying! The band has now adopted a distinctive ”rawk’ look. Richey is clad in black leathers, with ”All Rock ”n’ Roll Is Homosexual’ painted on his shirt. Wire, the effervescent pop tart, is all feather boa and sexy PVC trews. As for James, he looks more like Joe Strummer with every passing day – with pumping leg, and the veins on his neck looking likely to implode at any moment. James MUST now rate as one of the top five British guitarists of the last two decades. He certainly gives his heroes Steve Jones and Jimmy Page a bloody good run for their cash! What is overlooked when appraising the Manics, is Nicky and Richey, are the greatest ROCK song writing team since, Strummer/Jones and/or Jagger/Richards. Despite the plus points, there are still disbelievers who dismiss the Manics. But what are these people hailing as the new kings? Suede? The Verve? Fuck that! Unless they screw up big time, Manic Street Preachers are going to be massive…’

Joe Rebel with Nicky Wire Sheffield 1992 Joe Rebel with Nicky Wire Sheffield 1992

Travelling to see the Manics in ’92 and ”93 became a regular occurrence. Also, I received plenty of help and advice from the band and in particular, Caffy from the Manics management, Hall Or Nothing. Requests for the fanzine came from as far a field as Japan, Australia, Germany and Italy. I also regularly received packages from Caffy, of limited edition T-shirts, rare photos, hand-written questionnaires and promo items from the Manics first US jaunt, which were given away as competition prizes.

At the Town and Country Club in London on 19th June 1992, I interviewed Wire, and a grouchy James Dean Bradfield at the after-show party, and also reviewed the gig…

Joe Rebel with Nicky Wire at the Town And Country club 1992 Joe Rebel with Nicky Wire at the Town And Country club 1992

‘I’ve frequented most major London venues in my time, but the Town And Country has somehow eluded me. Actually, it isn’t that different from the rest, apart from affordable bar prices, which is rare in ”the smoke’ at the best of times. Following an absence from the UK gig circuit, the Manics are back in town for their only headlining show, this summer. There are a few notable changes from the Manics of old. Gone is the Public Enemy walk-on music, replaced by Allen Ginsberg’s famed, ”Howl,’ poem. The obligatory white jeans and spray painted blouses are discarded in favour of Nick’s ”rock ”n’ roll’ leathers, and Richey’s black jeans and fetching pink and black shirt. James, on the other hand, resembles an extra from a low-budget gangster flick in his baggy second-hand pinstripe suit. Wire is his usual cocky, on-stage self; with quips and insults spat out in rapid succession, “All men should castrate themselves.” Planned next single, ”Little Baby Nothing,’ saw James, pluck two excitable and surprised young females from the crowd to ”’sing’ Traci Lords part. But, before you could say ”Clash copyists,’ it was all over. As the audience headed for home, we’d heard rumours of a record company party upstairs at the T&C. It appears, only fifty VIP passes are available to guarantee entry. Considering the supposed ”’limited passes,’ we were surprised to see, what appeared to be several hundred people rammed into the small upstairs room. It’s amazing what news of a free bar does to certain people. Despite a large number of liggers, the atmosphere is great. Sean Moore is first to appear, “Good gig or what?”’ he enthused to TR. Snatching a word with Wire was difficult, bearing in mind the number of young ladies jostling for his attention. I handed Richey a Kiss badge a friend had given me. “Hold that a minute,”’ he said, and handed me his drink, and immediately pinned the badge to his shirt. What a lovely bloke. Outside, Richey signed autographs and posed for photos with a number of emotional Japanese fans. He invited TR to a nearby restaurant. But I’m sure manager Martin Hall had planned this, because about a hundred people followed! Martin bought a massive round of drinks, while journalists Simon Price and Andrew Collins, Carter USMs ”’roadie’ and former Exeter resident, Jon Beast carried on the party. We crawled from the party at 2.30.a.m. Oh my head! Roll on the next time…’

THE INTERVIEW.

What did you think of America and Japan?

Nicky Wire: “The USA it’s just…I completely detest it. It’s the most washed up, stagnant shit-hole I’ve been to. Japan is the only country that’s got any dignity left; it treats people the right way. America’s just buy, buy, buy. Every fan wants something free. You go to Japan, and it’s just like I want to be. In Japan the culture really excites me.”’

What about the rumours about the band splitting up?

Nicky Wire: “All I think about is retiring live, like Ziggy or something, but we’re NOT giving up, we really enjoy writing songs. We still haven’t made any money. We just LOVE writing songs, and pissing people off! We’ll never be nice people.”’

Is fame going to your heads?

Nicky Wire: “Fame will NEVER go to our heads, because we’re so close. We’ve known each other since we were five, and we’re not going to develop into something grotesque.”’

Do you care about your fans?

Nicky Wire: “I don’t think it’s fair to talk about caring about your fans; you start getting into Alarm territory. We treat our fans well, do great songs, and play brilliant gigs, and will ALWAYS be a brilliant band. I’ve been as nasty as fuck because it’s just the way I like being, but if someone has got a good reason to say ”’fuck off’ to someone, that’s fair enough as far as I’m concerned.”’

Is Richey improving as a guitarist? JAMES: “I think that question is a non-starter. You should be asking me if he’s getting any better as a lyric writer. He means more to this band than anyone with his looks and lyric writing. If he does improve as a guitarist, it will be a bonus. But, if he doesn’t, who cares.”’

In July ”’92, Marsden and I travelled to Belgium to see the Manics play the Belga Beach Festival. The following report appeared in Issue 3 of Tortured Rebellion.

Joe Rebel with James Dean Bradfield at the festival in Belgium Joe Rebel with James Dean Bradfield at the festival in Belgium

‘…Monday morning 6.00 a.m in Ostend, and there seems to be an obscene number of wide-awake locals going about their business. Time to find the local public transport”’a tram”’to take us down the coast to De Panne ”’ the setting for the Belga Beach Festival 1992. The tram as a mode of transport is not recommended for those with delicate stomachs, especially when self-induced, following a night of indulgent excess of duty”’free alcohol and cigarettes. The bloody tram bounces and bends it’s way around impossible looking corners, but eventually worms it’s way down the coast, setting us down after a shaky ninety-minute ride.

Joe Rebel with Richey at the Belgian Festival Joe Rebel with Richey at the Belgian Festival

The surroundings are pretty much what you’d expect from a daylong open-air festival; a large stage, numerous roomy tents and security fences form an enclosure holding between thirty and forty thousand people when packed. Overcoming the language barrier by virtue of the fact that nearly everyone spoke English, we went in search of the promised back-stage passes which we obtained from a rather obnoxious, fussy little Englishman with a ponytail, who advised us to get out of his face, and STAY out of it or we will lose our passes! We kept promised to stay out of his face, not for his benefit, but for our own. Charmed I’m sure! We finally had access to wander around freely for the rest of the day, and by 10.00 a.m. there were literally thousands of people waiting for the gates to open. But, most of them would have looked more comfortable at a Chartered Accountants seminar, than at a Manics gig. We weren’t here for the likes of Curtis Stigers, Wet Wet Wet, or Ringo Starr and his All-Star Band, so, we headed off to the guest bar, strategically placed left of stage. This placing allowed liggers, friends and crew to observe activities on stage from a comfortable distance. Can anyone tell me why the idea of an Englishman ordering a Coke reduced the bar staff to fits of uncontrollable laughter? If they thought we were in search of the infamous Bolivian marching powder, they were wrong, this ain’t genocide, this is rock ”’n’ roll! A couple of hours, and a few vodkas later, we wandered up to the VIP car park in search of the Manics tour bus, situated close to the hospitality area. It appeared security had tightened, and our yellow wrist tags, did not grant entry into such coveted territory.

Plan A was put into action. We located the information caravan and asked the assistant if she could phone Manics manager Martin Hall. It was soon sorted, and we were in. James kindly got us a drink from the bar and we sat down for a chat. Fifteen minutes to show time, Richey and Nick joined Sean and James in the dressing room, and we arranged to meet the band after their performance. The now familiar intro tape of Ginsberg’s ”’Howl’ penetrated the air. A feeling of anticipation and expectation among the first seven or eight rows brings a much needed adrenaline rush. The Manics enter, and James, centre stage has kicked the pinstriped suit into touch, in favour of a pink ruffle-fronted shirt, and de rigueur white jeans. Richey is clad in blue shirt and white jeans, and for once, without the familiar paint splattered slogans of old. Nick sports a Sex Pistols t-shirt (Fuck Forever!) and Sean favours a less controversial U2 tour t-shirt and shorts. We push towards the front of the stage, jammed alongside the Belgian hordes, who’s appearance would be better suited to a Beach Boys convention. Fuck me! I can’t believe it, there’s even people sun bathing, sampling the delights of picnic hampers, and beer from garish green cool boxes. Sad, sad people!

The Manics set consists of a collection of tried and tested tunes. No surprises today. ”’You Love Us,’ ”’Tennessee,’ ”’Nat-West,’ ”’Stay Beautiful,’ ”’Motown Junk,’ are all included. The highlight, was the incredible ”’Motorcycle Emptiness.’ Along with ”’Little Baby Nothing,’ these two songs sound harsher live, as opposed to the polished studio versions. Nick’s on-the-ball dry wit is limited to a dig at God-bothering footballer David Platt. But before you could wink, it was over, and the Manics exited to the lilting strains of the ”’Repeat’ re-mix (Stars and Stripes). It was now time to hotfoot it back to the band enclosure. We pass through the closely guarded gates, with its high security presence (including a number of the Belgian Olympic squad). We arrive at the Manics dressing room, and following a cooling off period, the Manics appear. Sean’s the first one out, but, doesn’t hang about, he’s off to locate road manager Rory, so more of him later. Martin Hall rounds up the band and leads everybody to hospitality for a feed. Judging by what remained of the impressive seafood platter, the band weren’t hungry, or perhaps they didn’t fancy the seafood on offer, as the food remained relatively untouched.

We were invited to join the band for the meal, but I declined, and got stuck into the free Belgian booze. Over the next three or four hours the band drift in and out of the picture. They spend as much time as they can with us, posing for photos, autographs etc in-between conducting several pre-arranged MTV interviews. The talk is of music, loves and loathings, the evils of drug abuse, roadies, and The Alarm (Nick’s fave song ”’One Step Closer To Home’). Nick leads the debate on our national game, with the footie banter revolving around our respective teams chances the following season – Nick (Spurs), James (Notts. Forest), Joe (Arsenal) and Dave (Spurs). Nick speaks enthusiastically about recently transferred Spurs legend Gazza, and James revels in roasting Joe about his beloved ”’ARSE-NAL.’ While chatting to the band, a pony-tailed roadie (there was a lot about) enthused about James’ Welsh t-shirt, much to the amusement of Nick, Dave and Joe. The roadie obviously doesn’t know much about the Manics, because he asked if James was Welsh! Richey proves the genial host, not only giving us several bottles of wine to take home, but chipping in with an impressive array of humorous quips. Forget culture, alienation, boredom and despair, this man can really make you laugh. Ringo Starr begins his set, so the band wanders off to take a look, but they don’t last long. All too soon, it’s time to bid the Manics a fond farewell and begin the arduous journey back to Blighty…’

I blagged a couple passes for the Manics 1992 Reading Festival appearance, and the day before purchased a small amount of speed to help us through the long day. I gave Marsden the gear for safekeeping, but as the day wore on, fatigue got the better of me, so, I asked Marsden to divvy up the ”’speed.’ He fumbled in his shoe and informed me it had disintegrated in his sock? (Yeah right!). Was Marsden becoming a flaky bastard? Even though I was jaded, I reviewed the gig for TR.

‘…”’DAYLIGHT BORES THE SUNSHINE OUT OF ME.’ God, how those words ring true? I hate fucking festivals and everything they represent. Namely, a chance for backstage pop star backslapping, inter-band slaggings, pissed and drugged up indie scum and the most exaggerated bar prices ever encountered. If it wasn’t for the Manics, I wouldn’t piss on the Reading Festival! I’m sure the indie scum love being caked in mud and shit, but I don’t, so FUCK YOU, veteran festivalgoer! The usual cluster of Neds, Carter, Senseless Things and Mega Shitty Four t-shirts are in evidence, how surprising.

Fuck off and die you horrible smelly cunts! Let’s have the Manics and bollocks to the rest! I pass on the various ”’delights’ of Henry Rollins, Thousand Yard ‘Shite,’ and the abysmal Farm! As Showtime time nears, John Peel reels off today’s football results, and nearly every result, receives a boo, or cheer. But, dragging out lowly Scottish results was a bit fucking much mate! The dulcet tones of Marilyn Monroe’s ”’I Wanna Be Loved,’ penetrate the air, signalling the Manics arrival.

”’You Love Us’ kicks things off, and the mosh pit explodes. Time to hang on to the ”’tackle.’ No stage diving today, wankers! James obviously has a total disdain for festivals, goading the audience and spitting at them throughout the 45 minute set. The climax was a surprise. Nick smashes his bass into two and knocks two front of stage security guards out cold (one hospitalised!). The set climaxes with James jumping from the stage and offering up his shattered guitar to the first taker! Before you can say, ”’that’s a Gibson!’ his prized guitar hurtles skyward, and one lucky punter pockets a cracking piece of Manics memorabilia (I’d liked to see that punter explain to a copper, how he came to be in possession of several broken pieces of a very expensive guitar). As a result of the battering the security guys received, the Manics beat a hasty retreat from the festival site. On the downside, it left five hundred pissed off, angry punters to shuffle away empty handed from a promised signing session at the Melody Maker tent. Time to do likewise and vacate this shithole! Here’s hoping there’s no more poxy festival appearances!…’

“YOUNG WHITE TEENAGERS KNOW THE CULTURE OF THEIR PARENTS IS BANKRUPT.”’ CHUCK D (PUBLIC ENEMY)

manic Street preachers live at Kilburn 1992 manic Street preachers live at Kilburn 1992

I was at Kilburn National Ballroom, when Wire uttered his infamous Michael Stipe comment – ”’Here’s hoping Michael Stipe goes the same way as Freddie Mercury pretty soon.”’ What wasn’t widely known at the time, was Manics joint manager, Phillip Hall had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and Wire took umbrage at Stipe flaunting his sexuality with the ”’has he or hasn’t he got AIDS’ debate. To be honest, I didn’t give Nick’s comment a second though. But as he mentioned when interviewed, anywhere except London, nobody gave a fuck! At the after-show party, there was a distinct atmosphere as the ramifications of Wire’s comments sunk in. Wire didn’t care, he was fully aware of what he’d said (He even gave me the shirt he’d worn at the gig). However, crappy support band, The Disco Assassins were visibly angered at Wire’s mouthy aside, but were still desperate to gain entry to the after-show shindig.

Joe Rebel with Nicky Wire at Kilburn Joe Rebel with Nicky Wire at Kilburn

I witnessed a near-riot at a Heineken free festival in Swansea when a group of rival Welsh soccer hooligans bottled the band off stage due to Wire’s supposed anti-Welsh comments in that week’s NME – resulting in the gig being cut short after Wire was hit by a bottle. Unwisely, I didn’t hang on to ALL my Manics memorabilia. Two shirts Wire wore on stage (one from the infamous Kilburn show) were sold to buy booze and substances! Bradfield once gave me a signed copy of rare first single Suicide Alley – which I flogged, for Ã’£30! (It now changes hands for in excess of Ã’£600, Doh!).

Manics road manger, Rory, was in comedy pyschobilly jokers King Kurt in the eighties. But during my time following the Manics, his attitude towards my friends and me was baffling. For some mysterious reason he didn’t like the TR crew and when it came to handing out backstage passes, Rory ignored us. But we never gave him any reason to dislike us, but he treated us with utter contempt. I never found out his problem. Perhaps we were the wrong sex? Aside from Bradfield’s occasional outbursts, Rory was the only one who acted like a prick in all my time following the Manics.

Around the time of the release of 1993’s Gold Against The Soul album, it came to light Marsden became involved in criminal activity while working as Assistant Building Surveyor for East Devon Council. Marsden was sacked for withholding client’s cheques. The Fraud Squad became involved and wanted to prosecute, but Marsden’s employers sacked him to avoid any adverse publicity. Marsden denied any involvement, and told Caffy, he’d been ”’picked on.’ This was complete rubbish; Marsden was a very convincing liar. I was even accused of giving him a hard time. Very soon, more of Marsden’s misdemeanours became common knowledge. Marsden and I helped my mate Alf move house. But during the move, the deposit for Alf’s new flat mysteriously disappeared. It couldn’t be proved, but Marsden was down as chief suspect (He later admitted the dirty deed). Needless to say, Marsden quickly became a social pariah, and I severed all ties with the crooked bastard! Dave Goodes still saw him on occasion, but eventually, he too, saw through Marsden’s crap and washed his hands of him when it was revealed he masterminded a robbery at a local Exeter pub where he worked, resulting in his accomplice receiving a hefty jail term!

Due to Marsden’s foolhardiness, Tortured Rebellion folded after five issues. It was tragic, because we were fast becoming a success. But as Marsden had access to a word processor and photocopier, and I didn’t, that was the end. Also, my drink and drug dependency was spiralling out of control and I couldn’t run the fanzine on my own due to the state I was in. Fortunately, the final Tortured Rebellion was printed before Marsden’s ”’dealings’ surfaced. Below is a condensed version of the last interview with Nicky Wire that featured in the very last fanzine.

In retrospect how do you feel about the Michael Stipe remark?

NICKY WIRE: “Exactly the same as I did when I said it really, you know I don’t regret it at all.”’

Don’t you think it’s hypocritical of the press to ridicule you for the Stipe remark when your dig at Princess Diana last year, went largely unnoticed?

NICKY WIRE: “Yeah, I mean hypocrisy is just what sums it up, he’s a pop star (Stipe), they love him, and what I said was really just to show that all up.”’

What has been the reaction from the other members of the band?

NICKY WIRE: “Disillusionment really. People have just taken everything the wrong way. They’ve (the press) been waiting for some time to nail something on us. Whatever they want to do they can. If they want to write articles about press biting back with old fogies like Boy George, or complete non-entities like Kitchens Of Distinction, what does it mean in the real world? It was obvious what the reaction was going to be, but I was surprised how strong those reactions were. They were more interested in trying to keep the fucking Town and Country (London venue) alive! They’re going to start a petition for the Town and Country. Fucking shit bands, in a fucking shit place! I can’t believe how precious people are about that. What does that mean in the fucking real world! I can’t believe anyone would put his or her name to it! I’m sure he (Stipe) hasn’t got AIDS anyway. That’s one of the sick things, he’s just using it, and flaunting his sexuality to make his point again.”’

Do you think ”’Patrick Bateman’ will cause further controversy because of the line, ”’I fucked God up the ass?

NICKY WIRE: “I expect so! It depends what controversy is. I mean it’s easy to be controversial within the pages of the music press, because a lot of the time it never gets outside of that. Those papers are sort of comic self-imposed forms of controversy. It’s not like getting on the cover of The Sun. If we did that I might consider it controversial, but otherwise, I don’t really think it is.”’

I bet Columbia (Manics record label) aren’t too pleased?

NICKY WIRE: “No! It’s a really self-indulgent song, one that we really wanted to write, and it’s totally down to us. I don’t know if anyone will like it, it’s just something we’ve always wanted to do. A rock thing, but it really is self-indulgent.”’

N.B. Several quotes and interview snippets from Tortured Rebellion were used by Simon Price in his Manic Street Preachers book Everything. Despite a couple of mentions, the large majority of material he lifted went un-credited. So, Pricey, a validation of your source would be appreciated in future re-prints!

Marsden retreated into hiding, and following a short respite, he showed up at my local pub again regaling all and sundry with far-fetched stories about how he was ”’fitted up.’ He didn’t fool anyone, least of all me. I knew he was lying, and very soon, no one else wanted to know him. However, while Marsden was living in a shared house in Exeter, he stole a number of his landlord’s rare records, and cashed his fellow house mates benefit cheques. That wasn’t all! Marsden was also pocketing the payment for a rehearsal room from a band he ”’managed.’ Due to Marsden deplorable behaviour, he upped sticks and relocated to Bristol, but still continued his deception – conning a small Bristol based indie band out of a grand after convincing them the cash was payment for a record plugger he’d hired! Not surprisingly, it was complete fantasy. The cash went straight in his bin! Marsden was never convicted of any crime, and in late 2005, he was found dead of a suspected methadone overdose.

After Tortured Rebellion’s untimely demise, my drinking and drug taking was of gargantuan proportions. I was fast becoming dependent on speed, and devouring enormous amounts of booze. However, I still managed to see the Manics live on the Gold Against The Soul Tour, at Torquay Rivera and Newport Centre. By this time, the Manics were well on the way to becoming a very successful outfit. The Torquay and Newport shows were good, but support band, Blaggers ITA came very close to blowing the Manics off stage. I spoke to Nick and James after the gig, and they were friendly enough, but they did remark on how thin I looked (If only they’d known how much gear I was chucking down my neck!).

The Manics popularity escalated, but I was more interested in getting out my head. I still bought the records, but lost touch. I eventually curbed my ”’habits,’ and resumed some normality in my life. But it wasn’t until 1994, that I saw The Manics again, at an Anti-Nazi Festival at Brockwell Park in Brixton on May 28th 1994. The Manics shared the bill with The Levellers, Billy Bragg and Credit To The Nation. A friend, Roger Baker joined me on the trip, and on arrival in London, we joined the march against the Nazis from Kennington Park to Brixton. We pooled our limited resources (Ã’£15 between us!) and stocked up on essential supplies of cigarettes and booze. I bumped into Martin Hall and Sony supremo Rob Stringer, before the Manics were due on stage and Martin told me, the Manics would be performing a handful of new songs. “You’ll love it Joe. It’s well punk rock.”’ The Manics were cultivating their now legendary combat image and the songs Martin mentioned, became the blueprint for third album, The Holy Bible. Not only was an image overhaul on the cards but also the new material, including, future singles, Faster, and Revol, did indeed lean towards a punk rock vibe, but the songs were considerably more complex.


Roger and I had no interest in watching the Levellers; so, we ventured backstage to speak to the Manics. James was chatting to a friend; but when he saw me, he gave me a dirty look and carried on talking to his mate?? Wire and Sean Moore had already left the site to get home for Match Of The Day, but Richey was still hanging around. He handed Roger and I a beer, and unlike James, he was gracious company. But he looked painfully under-nourished and was shaking like a leaf. While talking to Richey, James sidled up to me and said, “You look well out of it!”’ I explained, that I’d got up at 5.30 a.m. to travel to see him play, and deserved a drink for my efforts. However, Rob Stringer rounded on me too, and said, ”I saw you downing a bottle of scotch during the Manics set.’ I wasn’t bothered about Stringer’s comment, but I was disappointed Bradfield made such cutting comments. I tried engaging Bradfield in conversation, but he wasn’t in the slightest bit interested (OK, I’m not Allen Ginsberg, but he could have been less of an arsehole). Roger was uncomfortable in Bradfield’s company and wanted to leave. Then, without warning, James turned on me. He stared threateningly at me and tried to goad me into confrontation. I was baffled by his behaviour, as I hadn’t said anything to upset him. But there was absolutely no way I was going to be drawn into any of his shit. So, I said goodbye to Richey and left. As we were walking away, Roger said, “God, that Bradfield is such a prick!”

I’ve seen the Manics play several times since Brockwell Park, but haven’t been in contact. Of course, mega success has engulfed the Manics since I jumped ship. Richey mysteriously disappeared and subsequently, the Manics became one of the biggest bands in England. Personally, I think they should have called it a day after the Everything Must Go album – as that would have been a great way to put a full stop on proceedings. Subsequent albums, This Is My Truth; Tell Me Yours and Know Your Enemy, contain a couple of good songs, but they don’t rank amongst their greatest. After the under-rated, Lifeblood, in 2007, the Manics returned to form with the fabulous, Send Away The Tigers. With the advent of Myspace, it’s easy to track down past associates, and in late 2007, with a little searching I noticed Patrick Jones had a page. I sent him a message, mentioning Tortured Rebellion, and the fact we’d met and corresponded back in the early nineties. But apart from adding me as a friend, I heard nothing.

I saw the Manics play nearly thirty times between 1991 and 1998 and at their peak; they were second only to The Clash. To this day, the Manics still have a special place in my heart. But now, their audience are in all probability the same wankers who denounced them as, ”’queers” and ”’Welsh bastards’ back in the days of Motown Junk and You Love Us. The Manics in their prime were a veritable tour-de-force, but it seems, they are now easing into retirement with a mellower edge. But it remains to be seen if they can ever write another song as beautiful as Motorcycle Emptiness.