After last year's Best Of album, Manic Street Preachers are releasing B-sides compilation Lipstick Traces on July 14. Few bands could cause fevered debates among their fans as to which is their best B-side. But the Manics have 80-plus songs from their past which have been whittled down to 18, and two unreleased songs, plus a free covers album. In the first of a two-part interview, as Manics prepare to play Move, Nicky Wire tells Teletext about their future.
PS: How's the next Manics album shaping up?
NW: It's time to shake everything up again. What we want to do is 10 cheerful, short pop songs. I say cheerful, but you're only talking by Manics standards - we haven't been on the happy pills. Ten songs is all anyone has the attention span for any more. I get to track 28 of The White Album and I still think it's fantastic, but nobody else seems to be interested in epic albums. Of course, that could all change and we'll end up doing a triple album.
PS: Sean Moore said after Know Your Enemy that you'd only do one more album...
NW: Hmm. I think the Stalinist plans for what the Manics would do went when Richey disappeared. I honestly don't know if this will be our last album, but we're not deliberately making it thinking it'll be a finale.
PS: Will Dave Eringa produce it again?
NW: It's no slight on Dave, but we need to work with someone totally new. We won't be getting a dance producer in, but he'll be of a different background.
PS: Will James be writing lyrics this time?
NW: Ocean Spray is one of the best songs we've ever done, so I hope James has more lyrics. I'm writing lyrics with my brother Patrick, as part of getting new ideas for the band. That's going very well, we're sparking off each other.
PS: Has anyone inspired the new album?
NW: Patrick's got me into the poet Carol Ann Duffy, and I wish I'd discovered her work earlier. She's fantastic. Not musically, but the approach Blur took on Think Tank is very inspiring.
PS: How has Blur's new album inspired you?
NW: We'd wanted to go somewhere completely new, musically and and physically. Hearing what Blur have done on Think Tank, it totally confirms we're doing the right thing. It's everything an established band's new album should be. We'll be making our record in America, hopefully it'll be as successful as going to Morocco proved to be for Blur.
PS: Any working title for the new album?
NW: No, the album title is invariably thrown up by one of the song lyrics.
PS: What new bands do you love right now?
NW: Oh, does anyone gain anything by me giving patronage to new bands? I think The Thrills are great - and they look like a proper band, which is important - but I think they can live without my praise. What I've been playing most lately is my Whitesnake albums.
PS: Are you pleased metal is popular now?
NW: No! Every braindead model has an ironic Motorhead T-shirt. If people love old rock so much, why does nobody mention how great Hanoi Rocks are?
PS: What do you think of the current scene?
NW: Yeah Yeah Yeahs have stolen my look wholesale, it's scandalous. Karen O in pop socks? I was wearing those four years ago. That's why we sold leopard-print tie T-shirts at Glastonbury, remind everyone who started it. They carry it off well, I have to say. My favourite album of the year is the Goldfrapp record. Train is the sexiest song I've heard in years. Alison Goldfrapp always looks fantastic, you can rely on her to make an effort.
PS: Why did you slate The Datsuns when the Manics played Brixton last Christmas?
NW: Because they're just terrible. My big problem with the new garage rock scene, or whatever it's called this week, is that the lyrics are invariably awful. I love AC/DC as much as anyone, but what you've got now is intelligent people trying to be more base and stupid in an ironic manner. The Datsuns typify that. There was no irony in Bon Scott - The Datsuns are nothing but irony. There's plenty more new bands like them, sadly.