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Rebels Without A Clue - Select, April 1991

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Title: Rebels Without A Clue
Publication: Select
Date: April 1991
Writer: Andrew Perry
Photos: Steve Double


MANIC STREET PREACHERS say they hate every other band around and are only in it for the money. But do the self-styled rebel rousers practise what they preach?

"We’ve been accused of slagging off every band there is, and we’ve been told to stop. But our statement is that we hate every other band. We’re not interested in them. That is all we can say. I’ve got no respect for any other band in the world.

"I know people think we’re off our heads, but it’s the truth. I’m just interested in getting three number one singles, pissing off to America and making the greatest rock album of all time."

Nicky Wire, bassist and motormouth of Manic Street Preachers, is getting pretty good at delivering his band’s misplaced manifesto on the state of rock’n’roll. Such tantrums have filled many a music-rag column-inch in weeks past, so the shock tactics are having their desired effect. But what have they got to sell us? Where’s the beef?

Well, er, that’s a problem. The Preachers have been together since ’88, playing would-be event-style shows in London and their native South Wales backwater, and have released three singles, only the most recent of which, ‘Motown Junk’, has caused any kind of ripple.

And, to be frank, even that’s a bit of a canine’s repast, with a few tinny chords half-inched from The Clash’s first LP (along with the stencilled-on slogan chic) and a squeaky voice snarling out lyrics intended to shake the world well off the end of the Richter scale.

‘Motown Junk’ peddles a quasi-punk ethos of trite love song symbolising social decay and a necessary aural revolution, while its B-side is ‘We Her Majesty’s Prisoners’ (well, somebody had already used ‘God Save The Queen’).

To their credit, these boys are thinking just that bit bigger than Birdland. All this self-generated hype is attracting the interest of the major labels who are to help them execute their masterplan...

"Everyone we talk to," claims Nicky, "we say, We’re not signing unless it’s a contract for just one double album, one debut double. Then we’ll make enough money from that to last forever."

"Yeah," adds Mod-ish singer James with a smug grin, "because it’s going to be the most important reference point for ten years to come, and, well, forever really."

What’s going to happen is: the boys will record their four-chord toons and then, with the large sums advanced to them by AN Other Fascist Corporate Structure Inc, buy in Public Enemy’s production team to give them the once-over.

"We’ll just hand over the tapes," says Nicky, "and say, Add some noise! Or, y’know, some threatening things. The idea is for them to stamp their identity on our big rock sound. It’ll always separate and that’s why it’ll be so good. ‘Fear Of A Black Planet’ and ‘Appetite For Destruction’, that’s what we wanna mix."

A fine idea: PE meets GN’R. Any sign that they’ll accept?

"Oh no," Nicky blushes, "we haven’t asked them yet. We want to get a lot bigger before we do it. But we’ve always thought out of proportion to our means."

MSP are some way short (say, from here to Mars and back) of being the new Guns N’ Roses, both in commercial and artistic terms. Wouldn’t it be enough just for them to know they’d made some great records, even if no one got to hear them?

"All great art," retorts Nicky, "is always massive and well-known. No great art is reclusive. That’s why Van Gogh sells for £50 million."

And he died a pauper. Surely there has to be something more than sales figures - a creative buzz?

"Yeah, we’ve had one of them," James reckons. "At some of the concerts we’ve done, it has been like seven rows of just absolutely mad people. At one concert, they stole all our mic stands, and they just went all across the crowd and got smashed up in the end."

Phewee. It’s a marvel how rock’n’roll can perpetually be reinvented. And did he say seven rows? Hell, these boys have a long long way to go...

Fact File

NAME: Manic Street Preachers
FORMED: 1988
ORIGIN: Blackwood, Gwent, South Wales.
LINE-UP: James Dean Bradfield (vocals, lead guitar); Richey James (rhythm guitar); Nicky Wire (bass); Sean Moore (drums).
SONGWRITERS: Lyrics - Nicky, Richey; music - James, Sean.
MUSICAL STYLE: Tinny retro punk.
RELEASES: ‘Suicide Alley’ single, promo pressing of 300 (1989).
'New Art Riot’ 12-inch on Damaged Goods (1990).
‘Motown Junk’ 12-inch on Heavenly (1991).