Mr. Wire, you call yourself the Peter Mandelson of Rock'n'Roll. What exactly does this statement mean?
Well, Peter was the chief strategist of New Labour under Blair and Brown. It's his merit that the party had a renaissance in the Nineties and won a triumphal victory at the parliamentary elections. But no one thanked him for it. Now he's in the House of Lords and New Labour got dropped.
Do the Manics get the respect they deserve as the last survivors of britpop?
I wouldn't say so. We're one the few bands left who celebrate guitar music. Who else does that? Everything I see out there is a stinking pile of indie bullshit that can't relate to anything. That is so cool that no one can identify with it, that there's no scene and no movement. Everyone is so fucking idealistic, so anti-everything, that they can't see what's important: making good music. And wearing the right clothes.
Something that's always been important to you?
I love clothes. The only positive thing about this generation is that fashion got a lot better than it was in my youth. Back then it was really hard to find nice clothing. Sometimes I wish I had been born later so I could be young and thin and try out new clothes.
And when you say clothes, you also talk about dresses.
What do you like about dresses?
They're comfortable and also a statement. A refusal against the antique conventions of the establishment: men have to wear trousers and women have to wear skirts or dresses. It's a protest against outdated rules, which only exist to get broken. And it's always funny how everyone freaks out about it.
How did you get interested in dresses? Through grunge?
No, a lot earlier. I grew up alone with my mother and when she wasn't at home I wore her dresses and her jewellery. She always laughed about it and never choked this tendency. I also went to school or to the pub wearing a dress; it always attracted attention in that small Welsh village - and that was what they were supposed to do.
You never got into trouble?
I could always avoid that. Probably because due to my height and the high heels I had quite an impressive appearance. And I was the captain of my school's football and cricket teams. That always saved me from some beatings. My nickname was Shirley, like Shirley Temple. But that didn't traumatise me.
How did the girls react?
They thought it was funny and thought of me as one of those weird guys, who make music and wear dresses. Like the New York Dolls, who I often sourced. The Stones tried crossdressing as well to provoce. When grunge came, I could say that I was the precursor and that Kurt Cobain must had seen photos and videos of me (laughs).
You played with Cobain at Reading Festival 1992. You were wearing a feather boa and a sequin suit.
What a brilliant gig, what an outfit! The jacket looked as if Michael Monroe of Hanoi Rocks had designed it personally - in pink. I just took that thing out of my closet a few days ago, but it was so fucking tight. My daughter freezed - it was so embarassing for her. She said: "You've got to be kidding me. You went like that on stage and didn't get stoned?" Today's youth is a lot more conservative than at my time. What a shame.