Plane journeys, chain hotels and local art have always inspired the Manic Street Preachers, says Nicky Wire.
The first time the Manic Street Preachers ever flew as a band was to Oslo and the first thing we did was go to the Edvard Munch museum. It was magical. That same year, I remember going to the Van Gogh museum and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. We were really keen to soak up culture and it was such an eye-opener that all these posters I'd had on my wall, or photos that I'd seen in books, were suddenly there right in front of me. It was staggering, and it's something that we've kept going until this day.
The luxury of travel within a band has become such a source of inspiration and relaxation. It's just been an absolute joy, like the fact we've been to Tokyo maybe 15 times in the last 20 years - it's such a magical place. It's so much fun being a bit of an alien and yet feeling almost at home as well. There's something so modern and futuristic about Tokyo, it has that Blade Runner essence to it. There's also something about LA that I've grown to really like - its sense of dislocation and falseness. Hike wandering in that dry heat.
There's nothing, though, like a tour through the heart of Europe, which we've done for the last two or three albums. Fewer and fewer bands are doing it, sadly, because the venues have changed, it's more expensive, all those reasons. But last time, we started in Tallinn, Estonia, worked our way through Scandinavia, then worked our way through Germany, before doubling back and ending up in Brussels - there are not many finer things than that really. Then again, sometimes you could put me in Hull and I'd be happy for four hours just wandering around.
We've also recorded on the road as a band, and in particular we had an amazing period in France at a dilapidated château near Brittany, not far from Saint-Malo. Everything Must Go and quite a lot of This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours were recorded at the producer Mike Hedges' amazing château, which had things like the old Abbey Road recording desk that the Beatles used, downstairs. However, recording on location can go wrong: while trying to record Lifeblood in New York with Tony Visconti, all I did was just eat and shop. I put on about half a stone and barely did any work at all.
I like to write when travelling, although none of it is ever quite finished until I get home to my bedroom. I'll arrive back with lots of scraps, quotes and photos. I wrote most of You Stole the Sun from My Heart on a BA flight to Australia -there was something about that moment on a plane when you see the sun out of the window, and the sky colliding with the blue sea. I actually do a lot of writing in hotels because I find them really inspirational; there is something about the anonymity of hotels that Hike. I don't drive, I don't wear jewellery... travel is the only thing I really spend any money on. I like chain hotels, not boutique ones, and I love writing on hotel stationery - it's a dying art.