Nicky Wire: The Way I See It - New Statesman, 28th May 2009
The Manic Street Preachers bassist on art and politics BY
Does art make a difference?
Definitely. For me, just watching a South Bank Show special on Francis Bacon when I was young or hearing Morrissey talk about Oscar Wilde signalled that there’s a great universe out there that you have to explore.
Should politics and art mix?
It’s the hardest thing to do, but when you get it right, it’s fantastic – Picasso’s Guernica, the Specials’ music. My band, Manic Street Preachers, got closest with “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next”. We had a song about the Spanish Civil War top the charts.
Does money corrupt an artist?
You go through a period where it does. We were the quintessential educated, working-class band. When you get money, it does stifle your ambition initially.
Which artist do you most admire?
At the moment, there are two: Jenny Saville, who’s done two of our album covers, and the poet RS Thomas. He unpicks the fragile Welsh psyche.
What product, if any, would you advertise?
I’d definitely write a song for an anti-litter campaign.
If you weren't an artist, what would you be?
A cleaner. I applied to work at the Foreign Office when I left uni, but I know I could never have done it.
If you were world leader, what would be your first law?
I’d follow the Scandinavian thing and say kids don’t have to go to school until they’re seven or eight.
Who would you banish?
The royal family. They should be privatised – put them through the fucking misery that we’ve all gone through.
What would you like your legacy to be?
The idea of legacy post-Tony Blair is deeply unsettling and somehow sickening.
Do you love your country?
I have an odd sense of patriotism. I can’t stand it when someone says, for example: “I like Brazil because they play the best football.”
Are we all doomed?
I think we are. I have thought this since I was 12 years old. I think it was after the night I saw Threads. We are always one step away from utter destruction.
Manic Street Preachers are currently on tour. Their new album, “Journal for Plague Lovers” (Columbia), is out now