Street Wise - Worldpop, February 2001
Releasing two singles on the same day, playing in Cuba and writing songs about Ibiza Uncovered: the Manics have never done anything by the book. worldpop caught up with Nicky Wire to find out why the group are returning to their roots ... …
So why two singles? worldpop: Explain your decision to release two singles on one day. Nicky: Because the songs are separate entities. With double A-sides, you're going into Spice Girls territory. Found That Soul is a statement of rediscovery - we've found out what made us want to be in a band in the first place. It's like our early stuff musically and lyrically. So Why So Sad is influenced by the Beach Boys. It's probably the most poppy thing on the album so we didn't want it to represent the whole record because there's a lot more stuff on it.
worldpop: Can you tell us a bit about each of the videos? … Nicky: The video for Found That Soul only cost £5,000. It's lots of Manics fans filmed around London reading their favourite books. I don't know if it will even get shown! So Why So Sad is the big budget movie, the extravaganza. It's an invasion of a beach in LA. The beautiful people don't even realise there's an invasion going on because they're so obsessed with their suntans and swimming trunks!
worldpop: LA doesn't seem like a very Manicsy place ... Nicky: No, we didn't go. We did ours in London. I couldn't be arsed to go over there!
Know your enemy worldpop: Why did you say your new album is 'one of the best albums of all time'? Nicky: Because it's boring when bands come back saying, 'It's our best album.' There's so many shrinking violets around, you need someone to talk bulls**t! Our album needs to be placed in the framework of history rather than just in the framework of our albums.
worldpop: Who is the enemy? Nicky: For us it was ourselves. Man is his greatest enemy. You get a bit lazy and complacent and you need to re-evaluate yourself. We walked out on the millennium in front of 60,000 people in our own country and you can't recreate that, it's going to last forever. From 60,000 people in Cardiff, we're playing to 600. We couldn't keep getting bigger.
worldpop: Your record company biography describes you as 'the people's band'. Are you comfortable with that? Nicky: (Laughs) 'The minorities band' I think. We've always given a lot so I think people for some odd reason trust that we're telling a bit of the truth. But you've got to take an opposite position sometimes because otherwise you'd be swamped by what you're told. It's important to stick out like a sore thumb.
worldpop: How long before you get an outstanding contribution award at the Brits? Nicky: I think one of us would probably have to die, that's the way it usually works! I don't think that will ever happen to be honest with you.
worldpop: You've taken your first turn as lead vocalist on the album. How did that go? Nicky: It depends what you think of my voice. Pretty shambolic shall we say. It's very nasal and very out of tune. James has also written some words, Sean plays his trumpet again and I played some guitar on the album. We wanted to change people's perceptions of us.
Politics and Popstars worldpop: Why is there a song on the album about Ibiza Uncovered? Nicky: It's the whole voyeuristic Big Brother, Ibiza Uncovered thing. Those shows are so tedious, just people wandering round, smiling, laughing, drinking, then crying, then snogging someone, then crying again, then showing us their arse. I hate it all.
worldpop: Is there going to be a song on the next album about Popstars? Nicky: Popstars is undeniably compulsive television. I just really wish the Geordie girl had got in. When her parents had that bottle of champagne and flowers I just felt so gutted for her. I'm not one of those real musicians who hates pop music but I think it's gone too far. Young kids need different role models because they're looking at perfect pop band who are perfectly toned with perfect teeth. When I was growing up I had Johnny Rotten who looked like an alien. You could look like Albert Steptoe but still be a pop star then.
worldpop: What do you think about Eminem as a role model? Nicky: I think Eminem is the absolute epitome of America. It's not his fault, it's what that horrible country has produced. He's the ultimate white trash capitalist ideal born to fruition. I think Eminem is a poet of his surroundings. It's not his fault, it's the country's fault.
So Why So Sad and Found That Soul are released on 26 February. The album Know Your Enemy is released on 19 March.
Interview: Tammy Hoyle