Are rock stars totally unreliable and unscrupulous? If you send them down the shops or the weekly groceries, would they come back with 20 Marlboro and a six-pack of Kestrel? Are they the last person in the pub you’d put in charge of the Christmas Club? We think so, so we devised the Rock ’N’ Roll Dilemmas test. Richey James of Manic Street Preachers answers back to Chris Watts...
You find a tape in an old cupboard in the recording studio and you discover it has the most amazing song on it. If it was guaranteed no one would find out, would you say that you wrote the song, or would you come clean?
Richey: "We'd have to admit it. We're an honest band! We've always been really open about everything we‘ve done, even down to things like guitar parts on the album. If someone else in the band can play them better, then why not let that person record them? The truth would out one day
anyway. “It's like ‘Lolita'; superhuman suffering results in superhuman self-control.”
A review of a Manics’ gig is printed in a gay magazine saying the band are the perfect role models for young homosexuals. Would you sue the magazine?
Richey: “Uh, no. We've already had reviews in the gay press. We all come from a poor area of Wales anyway, and we're used to it. It‘s that Dogs/Hanoi imagery.
“I was always a little confused at the start. I listened to a lot of Joy Division and stuff, although I didn’t like the words. I just liked the imagery. l was always picked on at school for liking Michael Monroe. Heavy Metal is pretty insecure anyway. As always, you turn that resentment onto other minorities. Like the LA riots — the blacks turned their resentment onto the Asian community. That's a classic example of ethnic frustration.”
A shampoo company offers you a heap of cash to star In a TV advertising campaign. Would you accept?
Richey: “Not shampoo, because it has no relevance to what the band are about. We wouldn't consider a beer company either, because that's too rock 'n’ roll. Too clichéd. I think the only thing I would consider advertising would be the Sega Megadrive. For Nick, it would definitely be Tottenham Hotspur. James would probably go for Gibson guitars."
A band you really dislike offer a huge sum of money to buy onto your tour. Would you rather take a band you like but who have no money, or the band with the most cash?
Richey: “Deﬁnitely the band we liked. We’ve done three tours of the UK, and we took a British band (The Wildhearts) out on two of them. Loads of other bands wanted to come, but in the end it came down to the fact that the whole band really liked The Wildhearts' demos. They contributed to PA costs and that was all they had to pay. We‘ve never been in a position to be talking about silly money anyway. We're not that desperate for cash.”
Would you tour Welsh primary schools promoting rock ’n’ roll?
Richey: “Deﬁnitely not. I mean, we only played about three gigs in Wales compared to about 64 in London anyway. We're not “professional Welshmen’. We’re also not naive. We knew we had to move to London to get a deal.
"Local bands think they have a God given right to a deal. It's the easiest thing in the world to get a record deal! There just aren't enough deals for a thousand pathetic bands playing the Marquee three nights a week. Bands need definite ideas of what they want. The first London gig we ever played was a pub in Soho with no stage. We borrowed loads of gear from some friends, drove up to London, played for about. 20 minutes and smashed all the gear up. Then we drove home. Bands in general are far too precious."
A former girlfriend becomes a TV star. You’re broke. Would you sell your sex secrets to a Sunday newspaper?
Richey: “It wouldn't really concern me because I’ve never had a proper girlfriend! Girls never interested me until I was 21. I've dedicated my life to being lonely. GS Monk wrote that love was tragedy. It's the perfect emotion.
“I was celibate until the age of 21. I stayed in my bedroom reading Camus and Nietzsche."
John Lydon intends to reform The Sex Pistols for a cash-in comeback tour and he wants the Manics to join up as his backing band. Would you?
Richey: “Not at all. There's nothing worse than the nostalgia of a bygone era. We're fed the myth of punk, but I'm sure it wasn't as glamorous as we're told. It's easier for the media to rerun a movement than innovate another. We're fed up of all these myths about the British Empire and two World Wars. Nostalgia is offensive.”
You're offered a slot on ‘Top Of The Pops', but it clashes with a fan club gig in a pub for your most loyal supporters who have travelled from all over the country. Which show would you Play?
Richey: “We'd do 'Top Of The Pops'. We've done it before. There are bigger things than the individual and millions are better than hundreds. I never believe bands when they say they'd never play on ‘Top Of The Pops'. It's stupid.
"'Top Of The Pops' itself is very white collar and old school tie. It's impossible to do anything on the edge because they just won't broadcast it."
Would you sue Spinal Tap for naming you as the inspiration for a couple of very derogatory characters in a new film?
Richey: “I don't think we'd sue anybody over anything. Personally, I think ‘Spinal Tap’ is very sad. It diminishes the impact of music and makes it a joke. I have cousins aged 10 and 11 who are into the rave scene, and they see Heavy Metal as a joke. ‘Spinal Tap’ cheapens music.
“Then again, rave is an outdated ’60s thing. People will always have to get up for work on a Monday morning, and you can't go to work on acid! The rave scene is too trapped into small-town violence.“
Your record company thinks they can break the band in America If you relocate to Seattle. Would you comply?
Richey: “Not in a million years! The way Seattle has been treated is typical of corporate business. It's like when we came to London in '89/'90, everybody was looking at Manchester. Everybody was wearing flares and using samples, and it affected the media.
“Everything that followed Happy Mondays and Nirvana has been shit!”