When the Manic Street Preachers began, they wrote a manifesto which said: 1) Take an album that would sell better than Appetite For Destruction by Guns N'Roses; 2) to turn in the world; 3) make the headliner of Wembley for three nights; 4) then disappear.
Today, almost 20 years later, they always release an album that sold more than Appetite (who has since passed the mark of 28 million); But they have toured the world several times, have made the headliner of Wembley (well, the Wembley Arena) several times, and, no, they have not yet disappeared.
They have, however, softened a bit, as the bassist and chief-lyricist Nicky Wire said today on the phone from his house in Wales. In fact, Wire looked after his 15-month-old son while we were talking.
"My wife and daughter left for a few days, so I'm stuck with my little guy. So, if you hear baby crying or sounds, you'll know why, "he said.
It is, of course, very far from the punks roots which the group has emerged. Originally named Betty Blue (after the English title of the film by Jean-Jacques Beineix 37 ° 2 Le Matin ). The Manics were born when Wire, guitarist-singer James Dean Bradfield, drummer Sean Moore and guitarist Miles Woodward got together in 1986. After Woodward left, they recurred Richey James Edwards, who finished co-writing in Chef with Wire.
The Manics quickly built a reputation for their irreverent attitude and, yes, it must be said, their manic behavior. Edwards once engraved "4 Real" on the arm with a razor blade during an interview. He later received 17 stitches.
Wire, meanwhile, imitated the Monty Python's grassroots lumberjack and put on women's clothes for concerts, and occasionally took out a rope to jump in the middle of a set and did some aerobic exercises on stage. The group also exasperated other groups in uncertain terms. At the V festival last year, for example, Wire treated Snow Patrol as "deplorable" and the Killers as "truly awful".
But in 1995, Edwards disappeared from the Embassy Hotel in London after leaving on 1 February. His car was found abandoned fifteen days later near the Severn Bridge, a popular place for his suicides. His body has never been found.
Ironically, the band finally found his rhythm after the disappearance of Edwards, with Everything Must Go in 1996 and his successor # 1, This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours (1998). Last year, the band released Send Away The Tigers , album that many critics and fans announced as a return to form after disappointing Lifeblood of 2004. Wire, the album and the subsequent tour rekindled their passion for Play on stage. "On stage, there's so much adrenalin - it's great," Wire said.
But, said the 39-year-old man, these manic days before are over.
"Does something manic? Not much, honestly! Bringing my kids to school and walking my dog at the same time is just about all I'm a maniac, "he said.
"Well, we did a concert in London a few months ago and we played six songs that we recorded in 1991 for an independent label called Heavenly Records. We had never made them on stage before, and it was quite manic and exciting. We just went on stage and we pretended to be 19 and we jumped all over like idiots! "
But they still have good years ahead of them, he added.
Really ? More sex, drugs, rock'n'roll?
It was a long time ago ? Then our bodies began to fall apart! Playing on stage is our new addiction. You know, we're clean boys!
You are known for your top concerts, but what is the most maniacal thing you have done for you?
A fan in Japan wrote me a postcard every day for four years! Then there were some people who wrote letters with their own blood because, you know, we had a strange reputation a long time ago. There have been some weird stuff, but basically they're really devoted and loyal.
What is the secret of the longevity of the Manics?
I think the big thing is that we've remained friends, and I think that's what drives us. Much of the musicians are somehow thrown together to make music and then they realize they do not really like each other. I think that our friendship has truly pushed us and that we are very lucky.
Oh, and the sport - we're huge sports fans! Sometimes it's just good to sit and talk about football, rugby, boxing or Formula 1, get away from the music ... empty your mind and talk about something else. I am a true addict to the sport. I got up at 2am to watch the archery at the Olympic Games this year.
That Richey did not play and was not with us when we really exploded, you know when we started selling millions of records and, unfortunately, Richey was not there. It's just a shame because it would have been great to see what he would have done. Even just with the lyrics - what he was doing was so cool.
You talk a lot about Richey, or is the subject taboo?
We talk about him all the time. We think of him. He is a friend, a colleague with whom we played football, an excellent lyricist. We do (his first songs) with a lot of pride, too. Motown Junk was the first song ever written together as a group, and we never stopped playing it since - it's been 20 years that the cheek.
You have a wife, kids and tours. How do you get to work-life balance?
I'm not an expert, but I think it's easier with age. I am 39 years old now, and if I should have done that at 25, I would have really struggled to manage both. But when you're older, you're more sensible. Finally, a little more!
Are you going to do something great for your 20th birthday?
I do not know. I think we would like to do something. But sometimes, you know, the idea gets bigger than what you wanted. It is difficult to control everything. So maybe we'll do something on a smaller scale, not like what we did at the Millennium concert - it was a real one thing, and something that will never be repeated. At all.
And a new album?
We started to do things and we hope to release the record in April or May next. It is a little heavier and darker, with an acoustic side that is soft. Then about half dark and heavy, and half, ah, like a little black cloud that grows up in the sky - it's something very beautiful.
How long before the Manics put the key under the door?
We are only 39 years old and we are making our ninth album ... As long as we have something to say, we will continue. The last 16 months were so good because it was probably our best album in 10 years. As long as we stay connected to people and want to say something to them, I think we can avoid all the karaoke.