"It was brilliant to put Richey back in the limelight."
Manic Street Preachers had one of their best years in 2009, with Journal For Plague Lovers doing justice to Richey Edwards' final set of lyrics, written just before his disappearance in 1995.
"Some fans love the sound and feel of the record," says Nicky Wire. "But, more than anything, they loved Richey's words. I love them too, and his style."
Nicky admits the band were nervous at the reception Journal faced.
"It's such a hard act to pull off, I was worried people would cynically write it off," says Nicky, 40.
"Even on The Holy Bible, it was hard constructing a record from Richey's words, but it felt perfectly natural this time once we got into the post-punk mindset. That's the sadness and joy, knowing we can't do it again."
Touring the album was even more emotional than Nicky was prepared for.
"It was slightly overwrought," he says. "But it was rewarding, the three London shows in particular.
"I hated standing still on stage after prolapsing a disc in my back, though I did play better because of it. I forgot I was hurt a lot of the time, mainly during the Journal songs, as mentally I felt like I did 15 years ago again."
The band also met sleeve artist Jenny Saville for the first time at one gig.
"Jenny was brilliant," enthuses Nicky. "She's opinionated, calm, intelligent and very succinct.
"The only disappointment was not having a Mercury nomination; that perturbed me. The winner should be a new band, but I don't understand why we didn't get shortlisted. Surely Richey's lyrics alone merit a nomination!"
Away from Journal, the band also wrote The Girl From Tiger Bay on Shirley Bassey's new album The Performance.
"It was brilliant, as it felt like we were working like the songwriters in Tin Pan Alley," laughs Nicky. "It might be a good route to go down.
"I thought our song is the most autobiographical on the album, so it should have been the title track, really. Yes, I am that vain!"
Nicky names The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart as his album of the year, also recommending The Horrors, A Camp and Pearl Jam's records.
"It wasn't great for bands coming forward, Kasabian apart," he muses.
"I love Kasabian's enthusiasm, and Sergio's lyrics are very under-rated. Plus, Kasabian are one of the few bands who really go for it. And that's the thrill of rock & roll, isn't it?"