Last week Xfm launched its bid for a licence in South Wales, and called in local hero Nicky Wire to act as figurehead for the stations application...
How did you come to get involved in the Xfm project?
It was through Nick Davidson, who's Xfm managing director now but who was at Red Dragon in 95/96, around the time of Everything Must Go. He was unbelievably supportive to us at a time when there was no Welsh identity to the station and no confidence in Welsh music. We became friends and we've stayed friends ever since and it was a pleasure to get involved.
What is it you value about Xfm?
Particularly in South Wales were saturated with corporate London programming, and this promises an alternative to that. Real Radio plays insipid music and for most stations the only Welsh music they play is Torn Jones and Bonnie Tyler. And yet every year this region seems to be producing bands like Kids In Glass Houses that are breaking through. and it would be great to have a radio station reflecting that and helping more bands to do so.
How different would you like Xfm South Wales to be compared to its London or Manchester stations?
In Wales we've got a heritage now that we can be proud of, and these bands expose Wales to a wider world in Britain and beyond There are great new bands and our own Xfm would be a fantastic showcase for them.
Why are so many bands now coming out of Wales? How big a role did the Manics play?
We helped We took a lot of the flack at a tune when people thought Welsh music was just The Alarm. There was an inner confidence that was missing. We had to leave Wales to get everything - a record deal. management. radio play - and now bands don't have to do that.
What exactly does your role involve?
I think its just helping in putting the bid together. It makes me feel great to think we could have it.
How important was radio to the Manics when you were teenagers in Blackwood?
It was everything. Everything was based on radio and the music press. and radio play is still the most important factor in breaking a band.
Did you get much support from commercial radio when you started putting records out?
In Wales we got less support than we did anywhere else. and that's because of the lack of confidence there was. But things did pick up after Motorcycle Emptiness, and I believe Suicide Is Painless was a Top 10 hit in the airplay chart.
Do you think radio is as important as it always was, now people can go online and find music themselves?
I do. Being the trainspotter and Music Week subscriber I am. I study the airplay chart every week and look forward to the Rajar reports because I think radio is really important. It's a joy to wake up and listen to BBC6 Music and hear records you never thought you'd hear on the radio. And Xfm does a similar thing - its fantastic to hear them playing The View two weeks before everyone else.
Moving onto your music, how did you enjoy the solo experience?
It was exactly what I wanted it to he. Q described the album as a "future cult classic" and that's what I wanted when I was making it - something like Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music. wanted to face my fears and show my inadequacies on stage. because it can get very comfortable being in the Manics. I think James feels the same, and it's really helped with the new Manics stuff.
Are you back as a band now?
Yeah, we've just finished recording the album in Ireland and its out in LA being mixed at the moment. I'm really excited about it. It sounds like a cross between Everything Must Go and Generation Terrorists.
Have you got a title?
It's called Send Away The Tigers, and should be out in early May. Or, in music industry terms, that probably means late June.