Twitter-icon.pngFacebook-Icon-Large.pngInstragram.pngPeriscope-1.0-for-iOS-app-icon-small.png

HOME.jpg ALBUMS.jpg LYRICS.jpg TV.jpg VIDEOS.jpg
FORUM.jpg SINGLES.jpg ARTICLES.jpg RADIO.jpg MERCHANDISE.jpg


Gigography: 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019


No Surface All Feeling - Louder Than War Magazine, May/June 2016

From MSPpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
ARTICLES:2016



Title: No Surface All Feeling
Publication: Louder Than War Magazine
Date: May/June 2016
Writer: John Robb
Photos: Alex Lake



LTWJune16 (1).jpg LTWJune16 (2).jpg LTWJune16 (3).jpg
LTWJune16 (4).jpg LTWJune16 (5).jpg LTWJune16 (6).jpg
LTWJune16 (7).jpg LTWJune16 (8).jpg LTWJune16 (9).jpg
LTWJune16 (10).jpg



Can it really be twenty years since 'Everything Must Go'? Album of redemption and coming to terms with loss; songs of love, life and community dripped in melancholy and euphoria, John Robb explores the twilight terrain of the Manic Street Preachers.

When the Manic Street Preachers first burst onto the scene in 1989, few thought that their firebrand interviews, electric manifesto and nose for the perfect polemic could amount to a legacy that would endure for nearly thirty years. Even the band themselves stated that if their debut album sold a million copies then they would split up after making that one glorious statement to the world.

The Manics, in their DIY glam wardrobe, looked fantastic and sounded sharp. They were the dream interview but they swam against the incumbent tide with such ferocity that they were a dish to be savoured only by high decibel gourmands. Their debut album, 'Generation Terrorists', hinted at much more. The likes of 'Motorcycle Emptiness' had the mixture of melancholy and euphoria that had been a key component of so many great British bands. Their songs crackled with poetic intelligence and the way in which they were crafted, rather than merely written, marked the group out as more than another bunch of indie hopefuls with a neat line in patter.

Their early days saw them repeatedly oppose any kind of zeitgeist, before they were forced to face their defining moment when guitarist and co-lyricist Richey Edwards disappeared after coming increasingly off the rails, as depression compelled him to fixate upon the hopelessness of modern life. Even now, it's hard to listen to the band without thinking of his doe-eyed presence and quiet, intelligent intensity.

As with Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd, or Ian Curtis and Joy Division/New Order the loss of a close comrade can cast a long shadow over a group while also inspiring new heights of creativity. The pre-disappearance 'Holy Bible', with its reductive darkness and cloying intensity, is one of the darkest rides a rock band has ever taken. The best selling follow up, 'Everything Must Go' swerved into expansive, more commercial realms without losing any of the intelligence and emotional power of its predecessor. Rock music can be about so much more than empty posture, the Manic Street Preachers managed to fuse the militancy of The Clash and the traditional rock of Guns N' Roses to Joy Division's crystalline sensitivity.

While 'Holy Bible' has been rightly lauded for its soul-searing starkness and claustrophobia, May 1996's 'Everything Must Go' combined lush strings and synths with a widescreen guitar sound. It is perhaps a more remarkable record than its predecessor - grappling with a profound sense of loss via a stadium-filling series of anthems that prove mainstream pop and rock was still capable of generating depth and significance. Arriving in the middle of Britpop, the album was a huge success and rewrote the musical narrative of the era. The bulk of the lyrics were now written by Nicky Wire, his themes more social - in contrast to Richey's harrowing introspection. Despite this, the album is still littered with the personal, as Wire frames his existentialism within a wider context. Musically the band was on fire, with James Dean Bradfield relishing the return to crashing power chords and big choruses.

The band expanded their lyrical horizons to encompass such themes as the lives of war photographer Kevin Carter and Dutch painter Willem de Kooning. This highlighted Wire's developing technique, as reportage of these notable-but-distant lives are conflated with the band's tragic past with evocative ambiguity. Richey may have disappeared, but his spectral presence infused the guitar part on 'No Surface All Feeling' and the lyrics for the harrowing 'Small Black Flowers That Grow In The Sky' (the title a quote from the film 'The Best Years of Our Lives'). The song juxtaposes its emotive animal cruelty narrative against a subtext of the own self made captivity. Lines like "Here chewing your tail is a joy" take on profound, dark meanings when considered in relation to the lost guitarist.

We go back a long way with the Manic Street Preachers. All the way back to a demo cassette wrapped inside a neatly written yet vicious letter from the bands incumbent guitarist Richey Edwards. At the time they wele a fledgling punk combo from the Welsh valleys, galvanized by the fire and brimstone of The Clash and Strummer's armageddon boogie. Already the demo showed that there was a lot more to them than blueprint punk rock. There were creative nourishes and a level of musicianship that was way ahead of what they actually required at the time. The letter was also intriguing: This was a band that knew what they were and also knew exactly what they were not. It was a biro manifesto that included a considered list of what they hated, like a pen and paper version of Vivienne Westwood's famous 1976 'Which Side Of The Bed' t-shirt.

The Manics arrived right in the middle of the baggy era with their own agenda. Having made their declarations, they proceeded to spend two years defining themselves along those battle lines. It was a beautiful and brilliant concept and one that would not have worked if they could not back up their militancy with tunes, fierce intelligence and sheer passion. In Sean Moore and James Dean Bradfield they possessed musical talents who could take the shrapnel prose of Nicky Wire and Richey Edwards and tum it into coruscating, emotionally charged pop rock.

None Of this would have mattered much, but somehow they broke out beyond their beloved indie music ghetto and into the mainstream. 'Everything Must Go' became a huge hit in the middle of the Britpop wars. It was one of those albums where every song sounds like a hit single; huge anthems that somehow balanced arms aloft stadium communality with profound introspection.

All those ago, it was hard to imagine that the band was going to break big. They were dressed as glam punks in the middle or the baggy era and were so deliciously out of place that only a small clutch of music journalists like me and the late Swells were convinced of their brilliance. A few months later they signed to Heavenly Records and I interviewed them sat in the back of a freezing transit van on a rainswept afternoon. Typically, they were in full stage gear and sat around me on the amps letting Richey lay out their constitution; his soft clipped voice belying his ferocious intent revealed by his bright burning eyes as he delivered a sermon that was so perfect that no other band has approached such purity. They were going to make one classic album and split up they told me, they hated everything and they wanted so much from music that it hurt. Of course they could never live up to this glorious ambition, but they meant every word. For the Manics, the spoken word was an aspect of their art.

They quickly became a cult band to the clutch of adoring girls and boys at their gigs. I would see them play everywhere - from Manchester's Boardwalk, where they confused the audience by taking bass knives to treble guitars, in Paris, and to broken colleges on the outskirts of London Where there was literally no-one in the room but your trusty scribe and a clutch of skinny students twitching at the group's infernal energy and plimsoll bounce. Did the band care? Like the early Pistols they just knew they were going to destroy rock 'n' roll and make their mark. They had already convinced themselves - that was the hard part - the rest of the world would be easy.

It may have taken four albums for their gate crashing of the mainstream to reach full momentum, but 'Everything Must Go' was one of those rare instances where the best band in the UK is also the biggest. The only time revisiting an album truly works is When it's a complete work - one of those albums where every track has a purpose that serves to ensure that the set remains as relevant decades later as it was at the time of release.

'Everything Must Go' (named by Nicky's brother, the poet Patrick Jones) is a curious album - part mainstream anthemic blockbuster and part introvert descent into the soul. It was the sound of a band coming to terms with loss without being mawkish. Richey had crashed and burned like an idealistic young Icarus flying too close to the sun disappearing, presumably forever, after the dark, stark 'Holy Bible'. Like Joy Division, the band had lost their totem. Richey may not have been the singer or the guitar player but he had been integral to their development. Like Joy Division, they elected to continue.

Although it was their big pop breakthrough, 'Everything Must Go', is as emotionally and spiritually dark and twisted as 'Holy Bible' - an exploration of the tragedy of the human soul. However, the music is far less claustrophobic and far more accessible, and saw the band score a fistful of hits - especially 'Design For Life' - the stadium anthem that managed to tick so many unlikely boxes to become one of the great pop songs of all time.

Without Richey, Nicky Wire emerged as the band's spokesperson. Nicky was always equally visible and vociferous as his former partner in crime. The pair of them used to room together on tour and would sometimes morph into two beautiful and dangerous whirling dervishes on either side or the stage, their kinetic presence framing the high decibel craftsmen between them. Nicky has never been shy about putting his view forward and his interview barbs are designed for maximum impact. Where once he was a spiky young man energized by punk nihilism, these days he takes on the role of the curmudgeonly older musician with powerful intelligence and sly humour.

The interview starts as we are talking about punk's conceptual democracy - the opportunity for anyone to get up and play. Nicky can't help himself; entertaining as ever, he will always take the perverse route - This is part of what makes him such great company. "The democracy of music has been a disaster I think. I blame it on punk," he starts before checking himself. "I must press the positive button here. Sometimes I think there is so much cynicism within the band - a healthy cynicism that never allowed us to get ahead of ourselves. Maybe it's partly a South Wales valley thing. We are a lot less romantic than our Celtic cousins. We are realists waiting for something to go wrong. We are post-industrial people with that same kind of mindset. I think about this and also 'Everything Must Go' in the context or Britpop and the merciless piss taking in South Wales and it's that realism that I was reflecting in the lyrics of 'Design For Life'.

"The whole of that scene seemed to be cloaked in that irony and archness and that just wasn't And that lack of irony was something that we could relate to with Oasis and the sheer, romantic rock 'n' roll, wasteland of them that was so unlike the southern Britpop stuff like Sleeper and those bands that were like an ironic grin and made dreadful music. We were just not in that kind of place. Just before that period had been all bad for us. It had been a bad two years with our manager and one or our closest friends, Phillip Hall, dying of cancer. That had a massive impact on us - Far more than we knew at time. Then Richey coming out of the back of 'Holy Bible' with the self fulfilling nihilism and darkness.

The couple of years leading up to 'Everything Must Go' had resulted in the Manics paying a price that was almost too much. The pressure and expectation of being in a successful band affects nearly everyone. For sensitive, deep thinkers like Richey, it can be too much to hear. You either cope or cave in. When I interviewed them during this period, I could see this process playing out in instalments. Eventually, I'd leave with fingers crossed for the increasingly hollowed out Richey. In the early days, the band had that first rush of optimism. When I caught up with them during the second album and I interviewed the glamour twins in their Birmingham city centre motel room there was a certain weariness and cynicism creeping in, despite some attempts to distract themselves from the pain with sex and booze. Months later, even this would not be enough for the young guitarist who was beginning to spiral out of control.

"Early on, whilst we were playing 'Holy Bible' every night and making it work, it felt like an amazingly tight band reacting against the world. But then it started to get worse. There were the trips to Thailand that were not quite in control. Richey was unwell and I caught a bug that stayed with me for a long time. Nothing good came out of that trip just the raw fucking nihilism of the whole trip that really affected us. After 'Holy Bible' there was a lack of control from the early days when everyone was being united and the force or the four of us together, which was our strength - that disappeared. We were working hard to finish the album. We were ploughing on and recording the third album in three years. Richey was waking up with scars appearing and I felt terrible all the time. On the Holy Bible Tour we must have played the songs from the album every night and it was intense. It was not much fun to play 'Archives Of Pain' and 'The Intense Humming Of Evil' all the time."

'Holy Bible' and 'Everything Must Go' - sometimes it feels that the two albums are bookends to an era. 'Holy Bible' may have been more claustrophobic and one or the darkest records ever recorded by a charting band, but its darkness hung over the follow up album.

"Coming up to 'Everything Must Go' we wrote 'Design For Life', and it had to not be a pale imitation of the genius or Richey's words on 'Holy Bible'. I wrote a lot of crap words in the months after Richey, then 'Design For Life' came and it was the only thing that made sense for the band. Sometimes it's annoying when people think Richey wrote all these songs but it's the natural consequence of being in a band. Sometimes it's annoying when they have a list of Richey's greatest lyrics like 'Motorcycle Emptiness' when I wrote half of that myself! Of course I'm Richey's biggest fan and we were collaborative sometimes. That collaboration could have been a title or an ending by me or vice versa. I quite often start with a title to this day; it frames the lyrics and sets the tone. 'Faster' was the last time we collaborated on an even keel. Sometimes Richey would still show me the lyrics, and if there was nothing I could add I would say, 'It's brilliant'. For me and Richey, our jobs in the band were writing lyrics. It was a division of labour in the band and our work ethic. We had recorded four albums in four years. We worked hard. It was like a sixties band with that high turnover and we saw it as work."

Lyrically, 'Everything Must Go' is made up of new material from Nicky and some left behind by the now absent guitarist. The songs moved away from the introspection of 'Holy Bible' with opening track, 'Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier' and 'Enola/Alone' being complex, multi layered songs. At the time, the band had to bear the burden of Richey's breakdown and disappearance. This proved particularly hard to endure as they were a close knit unit who had been friends since childhood, sharing records, ideas, jokes, dreams, and even homes.

"We were aware of Richey's state all the time from the previous three years. In the early days there was the Steve Lamacq interview when we first saw how serious it was. We were all on edge, and with 'Holy Bible' being like that we knew things were serious. We understood Richey's words and the implications of them. Lyrics like, 'I'm stronger than MENSA...' but then it's not all internalized on 'Holy Bible' though - 'Archives Of Pain' is about capital punishment and it's my favourite lyric on the album, it's unbelievable."

After Richey disappeared, the band was caught in a strange flux. Not knowing if he was ever going to come back exacerbated the jolt of losing one or their closest friends. "We didn't do anything at all," explains Nicky. "We were left dangling. We did nothing at all. For four months we did nothing. I then sent James two lyrics for 'Design For Life'. We had no rehearsal but James played something he had written down the phone to me that made me think of Phil Spector, then we said we should practice the song. At first Sean put a weird waltz into it and that sounded pretty amazing and it felt really good to just play again. It felt like we could carry on. Straight away.

"It was more of a relief than cathartic. A relief that we could still do ourselves justice after Richey. It was a different band but it still had the same baggage. The idea was to move on and maybe write a bit more social, historical lyrics and map into our own culture a bit. It was to be a bit more open and it became that way with more of my lyrics. It was a conscious decision. I couldn't chase my tail, I just didn't have the esoteric brain speed of Richey in his words. I decided to strip the words back and make it easier for James to sing in a more naturalistic way. 'Design For Life' was initially two pages of lyrics and it had a lot of dross in it and James picked the bones out or it. James has always edited the lyrics. It's annoying to see full transcripts that have been there since I was fifteen edited down and I would think, 'Why can't a bloke sing three full pages of lyrics?' But then James rarely takes out the wrong lyrics. I felt more comfortable writing lyrics like this with less poetry and prose - the best forms of art are when you get it right."

'Everything Must Go' may have been a reaction to the loss or their dear comrade, but some of it was already being written in those difficult last few months when Richey was in and out of The Priory and his pallid face peered out of sprawling music press features littered with strange observations about music, Mishima and the dark side. It made for fascinating reading, but always left you worried for him. The last time I saw him was a couple of weeks before he disappeared. He was sipping vodka out of a bottle and talking of numbing the pain. He had the glazed faraway look of someone who was so worn out - quite a contrast from the fierce and wildly optimistic young man I'd initially encountered.

"This new style or writing was on the cards even before Richey disappeared. 'All Surface' and 'Small Black Flowers' were there, and we already had the embryonic 'Kevin Carter', which started with a very jazzy reel because we had also decided to make the musical palette loads broader. We were also after the Spectoresque dream. Richey was never as much as an influence on the musical side of the band, but we were of the opinion to take the music away from the 'Holy Bible'. I loved Oasis's simplicity of chords; their yearning and melancholia. That sad melancholy gives a comfortable feeling, the Morrissey melancholy that you can enjoy."

Richey may have not been on the album physically but he looms large over the Manics' biggest selling record. "'Small Flowers' was there and there was 'Elvis...' which I finished," continues Nicky. "Richey still had a vivid presence on the album and that comes though with some tracks post 'Design For Life'. 'Everything Must Go' is bursting with vitality, bursting with life - like on 'Australia', a song which is relentlessly upbeat. By bringing in Mike Hedges in and recording in France that made a difference. The album now feels so free. It was good to be out of Britain. No one knew who or what we were up to, it was bliss. We were using the old desk from Abbey Road that was used by the Beatles and on 'Dark Side Of The Moon', eating French food and in a comfortable artistic environment for the first time - and that's what we really needed".

I asked if revisiting the album was emotionally fraught. "People are really open," Wire explains. The most startling thing at Manics' gigs is songs like 'Small Black Flowers', where people are prepared to go with us even when the subject matter is really dark. Songs like that can be hard to listen to, and sometimes it can be hard to ignore the lyrics, especially when it's one of the songs James plays just on an acoustic guitar."

Despite it not being the dark trip traversed by 'Holy Bible', there are plenty of crepuscular nooks and crannies on the album; 'Interiors (Song For Willem De Kooning)' was a Richey lyric inspired by the life of the Dutch master who had been blighted by Alzheimer's disease, the song also included references to Richey's own state of mind and his practice of self harm.

"It was interesting. 'Interiors (Song For Willem De Kooning)' - we haven't played that song for fifteen years and it seemed really fresh. Also, you've got 'Kevin Carter', about the war photographer who killed himself - there's a lot of depth in there - And it went on to sell 1.2 million albums in the UK. That would be impossible to happen today with the censorship of the digital generation; people's brains are not programmed for that kind of content. People don't want any challenge or depth. They want a fake euphoria or a yearning for home like 'take me home' and 'hold my hand'. They have got songwriting teams around the UK with lyrical logarithms to make people reel warm and fuzzy. I'm saying that as a fan because I genuinely love pop music. I listened to Abba when I was growing up and I was drenched in Scandinavian melancholia and absolute misery and coldness.

"Within that two years when our album came out, you also had Radiohead, Massive Attack and Blur finding their feet. With Oasis, people look back at them as a conservative time with white blokes just playing guitars, but there is so much more there - listen to the melancholic majesty, despite the awful production. It works on a raw emotional way and it was great having that working class intellectualism teetering on destruction - and now it's everyone moaning about the wifi connection. In the past, the two ways the working class could escape was traditionally football and music, but neither carries the weight that they used to. I wouldn't want to be young now. It's a heart-breakingly bad era to be young in. There is the endless pressure to succeed. There is no real freedom and there is less freedom of thought."

1996 was a different time. 'Everything Must Go' saw the Manics fulfil their own prophecy. After all the heartbreak of the last couple of years, the band was suddenly embraced. A few years on from the their incendiary debut they had been through so much and were now not scared to let the mask drop. The tenderness that was apparent just below the surface on their debut is reflected in a love song like 'Further Away', while 'No Surface All Feeling' - the song with Richey's guitar actually audible on it - is about a missed friend "People genuinely loved the record and it went in at Number Two and people fell in love with us again," declares Nicky. "It was genuinely a big record and was in the chart for 62 weeks."

The Manics had finally broken through to become one Of the biggest bands in the UK. The album was perfect stadium pop at its very best. It also came out in the middle of Britpop - a time when British bands were creating great pop music that reflected people's lives, which for once was getting played on mainstream radio and TV. It was like the whole country had decided to celebrate itself. They may have been releasing their fourth album but it fitted perfectly into this brave new world. For a group that had craved the big time for all the right reasons it was the moment. By the time they got there it may have been darkened with Richey's shadow, but the surreal nature of success was now there to be experienced.

"There were some great things in that period - like when Arthur Scargill came to meet us backstage, or meeting Kylie and then Fidel Castro coming to see us in Cuba. That Cuba trip was romantic - it was a fabulous disaster but I always wanted it to be like the Sex Pistols thing, like it was in Technicolor. Music has now got so boring now. Like when you go to an awards ceremony and people stand there and say, '...and now thanks to my team'. We never had a team. I'm still a massive fan of pop though. I want to be in it. When the Libertines first carne along I saw pictures of them and I thought I would love to be in that band, but that was maybe the last band I wanted to be in. There is nothing out there, but I still find things that I fall in love with. Like Bill Ryder Jones - that has a great melancholia and a brilliant Liverpudlian sadness. My daughter has been bigging up music to me. She got me to listen to Bring Me The Horizon and I have a soft spot for them."

But then the Manics were always misfits: Pop fanatics who fell in love with the form and found out there was so much more to hate. Rock 'n' roll firebrands immersed in melancholy; artful experimentalists with a love of traditional rock - all beautiful contradictions. They arrived as super smart kids armed with incendiary guitars from outside the metropolitan epicentres of cool. They thought about pop culture every minute or the day and created the perfect band from the fragments in their heads. They were the outsiders looking in, and that always makes for great music. Sure;y all great British music has been made by the renegade outsiders - the small town dreamers who actually believe in the power of rock 'n' roll: those who able to scorch the earth unhampered by the dead weight of big city cool.

"When we first started there was antagonism at the gigs. The ticker tape rapture of the best moments of your life, like the first time at Reading Festival where we abused the audience. We were going up with Iggy Pop, Johnny Rotten and Morrissey. From day one we were rock historians; we loved Velvet Underground, the Mary Chain, the Stones and Who - We were completely enraptured by rock history. We wanted to look like Clash and in a way, the beauty of our isolation was that we were deluding ourselves thinking that was a realistic possibility."

Nicky Wire pauses for breath, before acknowledging the powerhouse creativity of the band's singer: "James is taken for granted. When people hear 'Motown Junk' it's what he does with the latent anger of the rock classicism that is brilliant. The band was about Marx's division of labour, which we took from Public Enemy. What we were anti or against was a really important thing; we were anti-love - love songs before we realized that to be against something is easier than explaining yourself. At that point in time before you had the real sense of what you were about it was easier to define yourself by what you hated. We were seeing bands like Moose on the telly and we were watching it smashing our televisions up. We could not believe that a band that bad could be on the TV, it was a dreadful era."

Sometimes the Manics seemed like generational misfits from a time when rock 'n' roll meant something. I asked Nicky if, conversely, they were middle-aged teenagers. "Yes! Me and Richey really liked Richard Briers and programmes like 'Ever Decreasing Circles'. In many ways we were really middle-aged. We had also been growing up with the music press and wanting to believe. Going back to '96 and 'Everything Must Go' - it was amazing year for albums; there was Beck. lots or stuff. It all kind of embellished popular music, which we thought was not just about winning two Brit awards, but making a speech about comprehensive schools. Everything we did was all on the fucking hoof.

"Everything Must Go' has the most humane and emotional delivery. In a way, with the band, inner emotions are warm and true and the outer emotions socially responsible. At that time, were more positive than we were before. There was less nihilism and less narcissism - the album was maybe the product of the more optimistic times. There was the sense that it the end of the Tories and everyone felt good about their demise. Records and newspapers were selling, people were engaged and interested - you felt everyone could do it."

The new Manics felt this surge of creative optimism. As the songs were recorded the band felt they were really onto something. It was a great feeling. "I wasn't surprised at the eventual success." admits Nicky. When 'Design For Life' was mixed I thought, 'It cannot fail'. How could we not? We could not see how it could not be massive. If Sleeper were selling records, then ours must be stratospheric. If Shed Seven could sell records, I couldn't see it how we could not have a hit.

"'Everything Must Go' was an interesting album for us. Part of the inspiration was that we knew that we could not reach those heights again; because of the nature of us, we can communicate on a mass level. It was always appealing to treat songwriting as a serious thing. We worship at the altar of songwriting, music and lyric direction and we have an obsession with the song as an art form. In the end, we sold three million albums and we were on the point of the Depeche Mode/U2 level and then we went to Cuba and blew it. There came a point; 'Do we take it bigger?' We had that choice, but the follow up, 'Know Your Enemy' is an incredibly awkward record. Coming off the back of songs like You Stole The Sun' it was a case of, 'Fucking hell!' In many ways, we are very blessed in that we can do as we please. Sometimes we feel like making open hearted commercial songs like Bowie did With 'Let's Dance' and 'Ashes to Ashes', which mean as much to me as 'Heroes'. Not that we will get to those kind of heights because nothing that that good will ever happen again. When Bowie died it felt like something gigantic culturally had gone."

Nicky draws breath. The sheer scale of Bowie's cultural impact continues to sink in. "Bowie was the coolest cat on the block right to the end. We still have that creative madness in us and we had it for a long period, but maybe we have more control now and we are less scattershot. The thought process is now more constructive; maybe because we have kids and we are married, you don't want make a tit of yourself. I could quite easily do it again though and I do kind of miss the freedom of that period. It was the best time and we talked to journalists all the time - oddly I can't think of friends in other bands. I kind of think we would have been journalists in another life. When we did we always wanted to talk with photographers like Pennie Smith and ask her about her Clash book, or we wanted to work with Kevin Cummins and talk about his photos. When we started we would have interviews with ourselves in the bedroom - horrible conversations about McCarthy and Guns 'N' Roses."

From the start the Manics felt fully primed. This intense dream, this ornate preparation, meant that from their first interview they were quote perfect for getting their message across. "In interviews the music was barely talked about," recalls Wire. "James picked up a guitar and learned a whole album in a week and I couldn't explain that. Initially, I was the rhythm guitar player but I went to bass when Richey joined. Maybe I went to bass because of Paul Simonon and the way that he held the bass low. The other reason 'Everything Must Go' really works is that it was the first time I felt like a bass player and I locked in with Sean. James was so relieved that we did the interviews though - Him and Sean had best time while we talked for hours and they forgive us. In those days James was chronically shy and he spoke through his guitar apart from that period in London when he enjoyed himself for the party year."

Nicky Wire smiles his Cheshire Cat smile, ever entertaining company. The flux of the past and the band's heavyweight history is so fascinating when contrasted with those youthful dreams 'Everything Must Go' is about to be curated, yet again underlining it's classic status, and the UK's great survivors are still dealing with their powerful legacy with the same sharp observations and self deprecating smiles as always.