Continuing our occasional series, Manic Street Preacher Nicky Wire seizes the day and singles out his champions and reprobates
I first became aware of him when I was 16. He just seemed like the most eccentric, mad person I'd ever seen in my life. It showed all the paintings he'd done, all the studies of crucifixion and landscapes, and he just made a huge impression on me. I think he summed up post-war loss really, and a lot of his paintings were like half-human, half-animal. I love the way that his studio was like the most chaotic thing I'd seen in my life, but he managed to get his discipline and his form into his painting. And, of course. he was completely f***ed up! The man was a rent boy-cum-boyfriend-cum-girlfriend-cum-anything, really. He didn't believe in love, he just believed in sexual obsession and that came out in his painting.
A Lot of people gave us presents when we were on tour in Japan and I was given four copies of this book called No Longer Human. I also bought a biography of him while I was out there. The guy was incredible. After the war in Japan, when everything became very militaristic and everyone wanted to return to the old order, he was very much an outcast. He tried to kill himself 11 times before he actually managed it by jumping into a river at the peak of his popularity, which I always find interesting.
He was like a James Dean for Japan, a figurehead. He was from quite a wealthy background, rebelled against everything, flirted with communism, flirted with anything in a skirt but was homosexual as well... a classic f*** up. But the books No Longer Human and Setting Suns were excellent works of literature. He was also a deranged drug user, of course, as well as a boozer who took part in three love suicide pacts – but he didn't actually die until the third one in 1952. Up until then, his mistresses were always the ones who died.
Again, when I was younger I remember seeing Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf starring him and Elizabeth Taylor, and I'd never seen a film with so much shouting in my life! I was watching upstairs in my bedroom and I had to keep turning it down in case my mum heard it. I think my favourite film with him in it was The Medusa Touch, when he could bring down buildings and cause disaster, and he's got a scrapbook of everything he's done but nobody believes him. I've always loved the idea of having that power. I wish modern actors had voices like his. A classic Welsh hero.
I've always been a huge sports fan and when I was really young, like five or something, all those fights against Frazier and Foreman were so exciting. He was the most popular man in the world at the time. He was this black superstar figure who stood against traditional American values. A lot of people forget how daring he was for his time. And I still love boxing, even if it may be barbaric. One of the countries that has banned boxing is Sweden, we've been there four times and it's the most boring shithole in the world. I saw some photos of Ali last year and he was the most beautiful boxer ever because he had more than brute force. He was cool.
I've always had a slightly dodgy fetish with people of great power, even if they abused their power to a massive extent. How Mao managed to come from such humble surroundings to become leader of a quarter of the world and managed to drag them forward at the expense of 43 million people is amazing To do that, in your own head you've got to be amazingly strong. I just really admire the way he refused all western influences. He made Richard Nixon seem like a complete fool and I hated Nixon, because he was like a slimy second-hand car dealer. I think that Mao looked really great Exciting stuff, exciting times.
It's just that song 'Constant Craving'. It’s the most abysmal song I've heard in my entire life. I find her voice really nauseating, I hate perfect voices like that, because my own view of a good voice is Johnny Rotten. This has got nothing to do with her sexuality, I might add. She's just one of my middle-of-the-road pet hates.
THE ENGLISH RUGBY UNION SIDE
Every time they win, it doesn't matter if it's against New Zealand or whoever, they always parade around Twickenham. But every time they lose they moan about it in the papers, about getting stamped on and all that. And then they get their lawyers. Plus they're all in the RAF or PR or advertising and I'd always looked on rugby as a working class sport. It's nauseating the way they've professionalised it. They think they've some divine right to win, and in all honesty the only times they've won it's been with the most boring brand of rugby. It's the difference between Brazil winning the football World Cup and Germany winning it. Flair against something clinical.
I think we've had the weakest Conservative party ever for the past 12 months and Smith has been completely anonymous as opposition leader. He's too much of a socialist lawyer, scared of upsetting people. He'll never make a fool of himself. I prefer people like John Prescott and Dennis Skinner, who seem much more in touch with ordinary people. Just like Bobby Gillespie, they've got a bit of soul. John Smith is faceless and everyone thinks he's got a dodgy ticker as well, so The Sun will never let him get in anyway.
That fever Pitch book really annoyed me because I am a huge football fan and I found it trivialised and added so much humour to football. And it was about Arsenal, the most boring team ever. There was no mention of antagonism or violence between fans, its all very jokey and playboy-ish. Just very much Independent, Observer readers' stuff, really. And since then he's f***ing everywhere! 'Nick Hornby writes about TV, Nick Hornby writes about radio, Nick Hornby on Suede'... f*** off! He really gets on my tits. He's just cack.
GRANT LEE BUFFALO
I'm sorry, I couldn't hold this back. It needs to be said that this brand of American AOR country rock is as AOR as Phil Collins, really. I've never heard anything more redneck with middle-American attitudes. I remember when it first came out Michael Stipe said he liked them, which I don't mind, but they actually used it on their adverts, like 'Michael Stipe's favourite bane That a pretty cheap stunt. If you've got to start your career on the basis of someone else liking you. it should at least rely on the press, because when they f*** you up in a few years it'll be a lot more exciting. And you just know that all the Vox journalists are going to love them. And you know they're going to be massive this year because they're a classic three-piece, and they've got Great American Hard Working Band stamped on them. Why don't the Americans produce some lazy c***s? This is deathly dull.