Manic Street Preachers have caused the biggest stir in the U.K. Rock scene for years! Debut album 'Generation Terrorists' scaled the heights of the charts and got up everybody's noses with its ‘bugger off’ attitude! STOKO was resolutely unimpressed until witnessing the band live, when it all suddenly made sense! Still, that didn't stop guitarist Richie James from missing his first interview appointment! Good on ya Richie!
Everybody hates the Manic Street Preachers. It's official. The only reason they've sold any bloody records is either a) curiosity or b) a 'developed' sense of humour. Outspoken little farts with the talent of Darlington F.C.; all mouth and silly trousers.
They sprang to attention a year or so ago with their tacky rehashed Punk Rock imagery and their enlarged mouths obviously unconnected to their brains. Blissfully unhindered by talent and dress sense, they became the band you loved to laugh at. Their records were crap. They came from a village in wild woolly Welsh Wales and gained all their experience of rock 'n' roll through videos and the music press. The Manic Street Preachers were infuriating; unoriginal, hyped beyond belief, pretentious, humourless little tossers and famous despite the fact that they hadn't bloody done anything.
Talk about giving red rags to lots of bulls. Sending me to interview them is on paper a very silly idea. I borrowed their recent debut, a pompous double album, entitled 'Generation Terrorists' and found simple Rock Music. Admittedly, a few tracks impressed but it was on the whole clichéd garbage. But don't worry; they claimed they would be splitting after their debut release because they are so fucking rock 'n' roll. As the day approached I, knowing full-well that they enjoy playing silly buggers with journalists, was fully prepared for such. They may be 'Generation Terrorists', but I recall a generation before them, and thus what Punk Rock should be like! I turned up at the hotel for the interview a couple of minutes late. Keep the bastards on their toes. They weren't there.
I went to the gig, fuming, determined to get an interview with the bastards. Liverpool University was filled with more tossers than yer average sperm bank, imitating the band's image with their home-made shirts. I witnessed a cross-section of musical groupings; Hardcore Punks alongside Hardcore Ravers queuing for their beer cordial (dilute for taste). An expectant atmosphere climaxed with a Public Enemy intro tape and there they were.
And suddenly, it all made perfect sense. Behind all the bollocks and hype I was seeing a band playing gutsy Rock music the way they enjoyed best. And people were having 'fun', that's what all the hype missed out on. And the crowd section who, like me, had come to see them fall flat on their arses, seemed equally impressed. It felt like the good ol' days of sweaty clubs, sweaty bands and sweaty punters. By buggery, the Manic Street Preachers were brilliant.
Inter-song banter was kept to a minimum. "Faggot!" shouts one exceptionally intelligent member of the crowd. "I'm gonna fuck you so hard up the arse after the show," retorts singer James, scouring the crowd spitting. "Where's the 'queerbasher'?” Without even a 'goodnight Cleveland', the band were gone; no encore, no bollocks. So I was converted. But I was still going to interview them and they'd still be giving me a hard time. I tracked them down backstage, girded my loin and prepared myself for an onslaught of insult.
"God, we're really sorry about before, a bit of a misunderstanding, I was waiting for you in another room.”
What? Polite bastard! Richie James grips my hand firmly and smiles. Sean Moore, the drummer, greets me with a similar typical South Welsh friendliness. A media-created double bluff. The bastards had got me again. Well congratulations I came here thinking you were a bunch of twats. "Well that's fair enough, we have so much hype.” Richie seems used to this response. "A lot of people think, 'they're on a big label, they've got a good manager, so they've got lots of press.' What they forget is we come from the most piss-poor shit town in the middle of nowhere - for us to even get a gig in London was a massive achievement, it took us a year of saving to get a gig at the Rock Garden. We'd done about ten gigs and Sounds rang up and said they wanted us on the front cover. I mean, what band would say no? We knew we'd get accused of hype but at the same time we didn't want to spend our lives playing local pubs.”
So what about the claims you made about splitting after doing your first album? "Well coming from where we do, all we wanted to do was get to London and get a record deal. We set ourselves lots of really impossible targets basically. The only thing we had left to do was to do a double LP. We wanted to do an album that reflected the boredom of where we come from. Everyone in London thinks everything's a big laugh. Coming from a crap town, it's not.” For a band with such obvious disdain for the flock'n'roll business in general, surely I could get their skin crawling by informing them that by mere inclusion in this one-off magazine, they were directly associated with bands such as Pearl Jam and Nirvana who, by my pathetic reckoning, they were bound to hate.
"No, I think it's good,” smiles Richie, almost apologetically. "For the first time bonds are being judged for the music they make rather than the lifestyle they lead. Everything from the Eighties was really stagnant, it was so wrapped up in fashion and style." What with the imitation Manics shirts in evidence in the crowd, I was reminded of me as a nipper dressing up as a dodgy Punk. A sense of camaraderie comes in the face of adversity - it feels good to belong to something and the image or fashion was an essential uniform. So surely, you're just as guilty as anyone of functioning through an eccentric image?
"We'd just listen to as much music as we could get our hands on, that's as contrived as we are. We were never attracted to the Poison school of Rock. How many people own a fucking Harley Davidson these days? It's just shit. Like Nirvana got on all the front covers and they're not interested in being a band and neither are we.” But you flirt with that imagery, calling a song ’Motorcycle Emptiness.’
"That's about that whole myth - 'if I could be James Dean, if I could get my leather'- you've been fed the myth and that's crap.” It's as simple as that. The Manics are misunderstood young men. And they're not dicks either. On reflection, the album does have more fillers than Dolly Parton's love humps but, bugger me, these boys could be onto something. See them now whilst they're still playing smaller venues but be prepared to be mocked for doing so.
Distinctly untrendy. Indistinctly damn good fun. 'You love us'? Not yet, but we're getting there.