They're wild, they're rock and roll and they're...well, jolly sensible chaps actually. Sonia Richmond finds the Manic Street Preachers in remarkably moral mood as she plays an eye-opening game of Scruples with Richey Edwards
1. You are standing at a posh reception in honour of your album, which has just gone platinum in Portugal. The overseas bigwig in front of you has just dropped a crisp £50 note onto the floor without noticing. Do you:
a) remark, "My goodness me! You seem to have dropped a very large amount of money on the floor!" and pick it up for him?
b) exclaim, "Crickey! My shoelace has just come undone!!" and sneakily pocket pocket the cash, because he's a representative of the "system" and thus should be taken advantage of?
c) say "Oh look, you've just dropped a £5 note on the floor, can I get you a drink?" then get a round and pocket £45 change?
Richey: "I'd chose 'a'. We've done it before, when we were with Nick's brother. He found a wallet which had loads of money in it and we handed it in straight away; no reward or anything. I don't think it makes any difference if it belongs to a beggar or a billionaire, it's just a question of knowing in your heart you're right."
2. Vanessa Paradis has just phoned to say she loves your work, and reckons she should be guest vocalist on the next single. Thing is, she demands that it be a new version of "Joe Le Taxi", that Lenny "Benny" Kravitz produces. Do you;
a) disagree - it'll compromise your artistic integrity?
b) agree - because Vanessa's tops and you've always liked Lenny's stylish tank tops?
c) get her in to do the vocals, then - when she's gone - swizz them around with a sampler so it's made to sound as if she's singing "boredom is the cynicism of the age. and we are all space bars in the sentence of life"?
Richey: "I do like Vanessa, but I don't like Lenny "Benny" Kravitz very much. He can't produce a record unless he finds a 1974 mixing desk. He tries completely to reduce music to the past. We're not exactly on the techno edge of music, but at least we realise what year we're living in. If we could do a version of 'Joe Le Taxi' like we wanted I think we would, 'cause I like Vanessa. I think she's beautiful."
3. Your record company has faced up to the recession and decided to make lots of employees redundant. They are picketing outside the recording studio where you are in the process of making your next LP. Do you risk being branded a "scab" by crossing the line?
a) By no means will you cross the line, the proletariat must be united.
b) Cross the line, because - funnily enough - your new LP has a great song, "Picket Scab Crossfire Genocide" on it, which confronts the issue.
c) Wait with the pickets for a few hours , then when they've all gone home nip in and finish that tricky plectrum manoeuvre.
Richey: "It's 'a' again. I'd never cross a picket line. The big thing when we were growing up in 1984 was the Miners strike and all the people that did cross the line in the Nottingham coal fields completely broke the strike. I don't believe in very much, but I'm old-fashioned enough not to cross the line. Even when there was industrial action at a college I was at, I wouldn't cross it. And it wasn't because it was like an easy day off, 'cause I never missed a day at college otherwise."
4. You've just done a big interview with "The Welshman", outlining your sense if national pride and love for your homeland. When it's printed, someone who calls themselves Uncle Reg rings informing you that he's a long-lost relative and reveals he has documents to prove that you are, in face from Wakefield in West Yorkshire. He threatens to spill the beans unless you give him loads of cash. What do you do?
a) Ask for a retraction to be printed in the next issue of "The Welshman", then write a heart-rending song about "roots" and an autobiography entitled "The Frailty of the Dispossessed"
b) Write and inform this "uncle" that if he dare open his mouth to anyone you will have him "seen to", adopt a leek and call your next tune, "We All Love Tom Jones".
c) Ask for a retraction to be printed in "The Welshman", phone up The Yorkshire Post and offer your story (for a nifty fee). Buy a book on Yorkshire "wit" and affect a tough, bitter-drinking brogue.
Richey: "I wouldn't do any of those things. I'd just let him do whatever he wants. If it was true, I wouldn't really mind. Even if I was from the most expensive part of Guildford, I wouldn't be embarrassed at all. Nobody can help where they're born. No, none of us can speak Welsh - it wasn't even allowed to be taught in our school. Wales is home though. After a long tour, I like to go home and see my dog. All I want is a smallish house near the sea, and I want three dogs. That's my ambition in life.
5. Madonna's book "Sex" has been shifting multiple units and she's planning on making a film about it all. She's asked if you'd all like to feature in it and James is dead chuffed, 'cause he fancies her. Only thing is she, you're the one she fancies, and she's requested that the rest of the band wear clothes, but that you appear with nothing but a sock garter. Do you;
a) Decline the offer, even though it will give you maximum "exposure" (ho ho) and not tell James?
b) Agree, perhaps a little too enthusiastically, ringing up James and shouting, "Madonna fancies meeee, hahaha!"
c) Ask for lots of money then do it, donning a James wig, while he dresses up to look like you and takes your place?
Richey: "I think we'd agree to do it - we bought 'Sex' the day it came out, and I think it's just soft porn - it's nothing more outrageous than you'd see in any porn magazine. She's just got a better body than 'Readers Wives'. I find it really sad that sex is still an outrageous concept to sell the public. Something like Prince's 'Sexy MF' is seen as 'dangerous', but sex is not dangerous at all; it's no big deal, it's part of everybody's life. I don't actually find her attractive. I fancied her on 'Top of the Pops' doing 'Like A Virgin' when she was soft. Now her body's very muscular - she's a bit like iron woman. If any of these I'd go with 'b', but I wouldn't ring up James. I'd never say that."
6. You've been on tour but - gasp! - you forgot to Chubb lock the front door, and while away thieves came in and stole lots of things, including your prize copy of the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the UK". You are distraught: it is your favourite record and the only person you know who has it is Nicky. Do you nip round and steal his copy?
a) No. You accept that it has gone and place an advert in a record collecting magazine to replace it.
b) Yes. You burgle his house one day when you know he's out and explain your new copy came from a Swedish fan who's read of your plight.
c) You realise that possessions are a lie, and that art is not sacred but replaceable: therefore you go out and buy the new Betty Boo album because it has as much social significance.
Richey: "That record doesn't mean anything to me at all - I don't even have a copy of it as a single. We actually sold most of our records when we started playing pay-to-play gigs. It was about £50 to step on stage, and we'd have to hire transport. Now we just buy stuff on CD. If I lost my dog I would be heartbroken. I'd be upset if I lost my books from college... it's not that my possessions are a lie, I don't believe that at all. I've got lots of things, and I buy something every single day - a CD or clothes. I'd chose none of those options, but Betty Boo does have as much social significance as the Pistols, 'cause she's contemporary. Yes I do fancy her, actually."
7. You have just turned vegan, and thus eat no meat or dairy products. While promoting your new single in Denmark, you are taken out for a meal. You want to impress, and you reckon you'll be able to understand the menu. However, when you come to read it, you've no idea. What's to be done?
a) Swallow your pride and admit you are clueless, asking the waiter if they have some steamed veg and perhaps a slice of Ryvita?
b) Order anything that sounds a bit posh, wait and see what happens, then become struck with a dose of "waste food fear" and eat it anyway?
c) Order anything, wait and see what happens, then pick at the veg, leave the main bit and get completely and utterly snortered on the over-flowing waterfalls of alcohol.
Richey: "I think 'a', but I'd never want to impress in the first place. 'Waste food fear' is such a ridiculous concept. You see people in restaurants telling their children, 'You can't waste your food, there's starving people in the world' - that's just sad. There's huge food mountains in Europe, and that's what people should change if they want to distribute food to the world."
8. By a sudden stroke of fate, the Manics lose all popularity and lots of grungy girl groups take over the charts. A record company bigwig suggests that you get a girl in your band, or else you'll be out on your ear. Will you...
a) Agree to leave the music industry: it was a farce anyway?
b) Decide to grow your hair, get a couple of frocks and come back as Reenee, new Manics' girl guitarist?
c) Move record company, go solo and make lots of cash as Britain's new Brian May (snogging Anita Dobson optional)?
Richey: "It wouldn't upset us in any sense if grunge girl groups take over the charts. The 'c' option is the nightmare which haunts me very day. Just thinking of the man. I wouldn't mind being a driver - I like driving. That's why I joined the band, 'cause I wasn't the original guitarist. I was the only one with a driving license so I drove them around. I've only worked for eight weeks in my life, cutting grass. That was hell on earth."
9. You have just met a lovely young woman who you have given your most prized ornamental crucifix pendant to. The next evening, a young chick comes up to you and intimates that if you snog her lots she'll help you sort out that longed-for Japanese distribution deal. She is very good-looking. What do you do?
a) Refuse point blank, explaining you have just found the love of your life and you shall not stray.
b) Feel a bit flummoxed, then decide on a kiss-up with her.
c) Come over a bit peaky, then try and explain in detail the concept of commitment and it's relation to the existential theory of rock and roll vis a vis rumpo.
Richey: "'A' and 'c' I suppose. I'd refuse. Infidelity is the worst thing in the world. The few bands we've ever been on tour with, they've got relationships and make a big thing of their 'girl back home'. Then basically the first gig on tour they shag anybody or anything that moves. It's so pathetic. Stupid people are unfaithful. They just haven't got the intellectual capacity to deal with their emotions. I haven't got a girlfriend, and if, after a concert, someone wants to sleep with me, I would. I'm not lying to myself, I know it's very cheap, very lazy and involves nothing. I get no satisfaction from it at all - well, obviously a physical satisfaction.
"I know who I'd like to find commitment and happiness with, but she's not interested. Just a girl. I've been speaking to her for a year and a half, and she doesn't even come and see us. She's not interested in my life at all. It's a bit saddening because it's one of the few people I've been attracted to." (Looks a bit glum)
10. The industry has got to you and you're thinking of packing it all in, but the boys in the band are intent on going strong. Quelle confusion! So, do you:
a) Leave anyway and become a Buddist goat on top of a mountain in Tibet?
b) Get persuaded by the band that you should stay, 'cause you'll make pots more cash and be able to retire at 32 with eight houses in Surrey and 27 MG sports cars.
c) Mull it over for a while, then decide to become an Art Terrorist Sculptor, creating thought-provoking vehicles of subversion and excitement with papier mache, toilet rolls and glue.
Richey: "None of them, though I would leave. I'd just go home and live in my house. I probably wouldn't be able to afford a house, just a crappy flat like everybody else. I don't think there's any indignity in work as long as I could get a job I wouldn't find boring. Being in a band, we do the same thing every day, it's just like a job. I know we travel a lot, but we still wake up with four interviews to do every day, or more travel - and that's our day every day, just like getting up every day for work. It wouldn't be if you were Madonna, or U2 - they can take two years off to write an LP. We just like being around each other, but we get to do that so rarely."