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The 6 Music Selector - BBC 6 Music, December 2004

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Title: The 6 Music Selector
Publication: BBC 6 Music
Date: December 2004

James answers the questions you asked.

Where can I find the best egg and chips? - Sean K, Ealing
"You can find the best egg and chips in one of two places. The first is a cafe called Sevigney's in Cardiff which is in an arcade and the second is a cafe on the Seven Sisters Road (London) called the Paradise Caf."

What's the biggest fight that the band have had? - A fan, East Kilbride
"The biggest fight we ever had in the band was when we had a bass player called Flicker and he used to refuse to put more than two strings on his bass. Nick was kind of taking the mick out of him cos he liked really bad punk and he tried to beat Nick over the head with his Doctor Marten. His 18 hole Doc Marten. Sounds brutal but I think we're still kind of friendly, and he was cool. "

Do you mind if fans come and say hello? - Damian, Bristol
"No I'm fine with it. Even when they say for the millionth time, 'God, you're shorter than I thought you'd be'. It's fine."

Which vocalists, past or present, have inspired you? - A fan, Merseyside
"Two vocalists I don't listen to obsessively but who inspire me are Nina Simone, I've got the same birthday as her. She's just kind of fearless. Sometimes she misses the note but it still sounds right. The other is early Mick Jagger stuff. Again, sometimes he doesn't hit the note but it's just perfect expression."

Nicky answers the questions you asked.

You usually write the lyrics but is there ever a situation where you have an idea of how you want the music to sound? - Liz, Georgia, USA
"Yeah there's sometimes when it's more of a feel thing than a perfectly structured thing. More in terms of reference points of other songs, other pieces of music. So for Cardiff Afterlife for instance, I kind of had an idea that it would sound like There is a Light by The Smiths. Not saying it does, but it's got that kind of feel. So, sometimes it's just a feel for it, yeah."

What's the best thing about being in the Manics? - Michael, Cork, Ireland
"I think the best thing is I've know James and Sean since I was 4 and a half. And we're still really good friends. That's probably the best thing of all. Through trials and tribulations. We were friends first before we were even in a band. Obviously with Richie too. I remember that I played football, rugby, cricket with these people before I actually played guitar with them. It's a rarity in our business."

Do you listen to your own music much? - Matt, Merseyside
"I think James and Sean tend not to listen to us as a band but I'm kind of a big fan so I do. Obviously at the moment I'm listening to Lifeblood a lot just cos I think we've made the right record. But it goes through phases, you know. Sometimes I'm weird and actually listen to Gold Against the Soul. I must be the only person in Britain that does! We're very critical of everything we've ever done but I listen to loads of stuff. We're reissuing the Holy Bible as well so I've been putting all that together with the DVD so I've been listening to that as well."

Which of your records is the most optimistic? And the most cynical? - Rich, Horsham, Surrey
"I think Know Your Enemy is the most cynical. Full of righteous bitterness. That was the reaction to This Is My Truth when we became that big. Everything Must Go is definitely the most optimistic. It's a flawed optimism like everything in MSP but it's celebrating that we're still together and making great music and writing great lyrics, hopefully. Everything Must Go has got that feeling of dampened euphoria."

Are there any Richey lyrics left and will they ever see the light of day? - David, Bristol
"There are a lot of lyrics that he left us. Well, I'd call them more poems really, pieces of prose. I just don't know what to do with them. The five we used on Everything Must Go we'd pretty much heard cos they were in rough demo form. It's just a hard thing. I guess we should think about putting them in a book. To be honest they don't make particularly easy reading. There's no other way of describing them really. Not that Richey's lyrics ever did, I suppose. I mean, they're brilliant... I should put them into some sort of book, I guess."

Why do you rarely do encores? - Lisa, Reading
"From my elephant-like memory, there's only one encore I can remember doing. At the Marquee, the old Marquee, in about 1991. We waited so long to go back on stage that most people had disappeared! So there were only, like, a hundred people left down the front. We never wanted to do encores anyway and we were sort of forced to do that one. So we've never ever done them since. It just seems like a bit of a con cos we put so much effort into the show that I think we'd have to lessen that effort, and then to come back on is just a bit showbiz really."

What's been the most memorable gig you've played? - Lisa, Reading
"There's plenty of memorable gigs. I remember a great one in Gurrock Bay on the Motown Junk tour when people in the audience had loads of syringes and they were syringing cider into our eyes. There was a big fight, James got covered in blood and stuff. I think you have levels where there were four of you at the start against the world and some of those gigs are really memorable. And then, obviously, 60,000 people in the Millennium Stadium on New Year's Eve, that's a different kind of enjoyment."

Sean answers the questions you asked.

What's your favourite new gadget? - Sarah, Warwick
"At the moment it's probably the new 60 gig iPod with the photo option, colour screen."

Is there one album you've made that you feel is closest to perfect? - Jenna, Sussex
"Not really to be perfectly honest with you. They take a long time to put together. And when that day comes, we'll probably give up as a band."

With the 10th anniversary reissue of The Holy Bible looming, does the album still fill the band with pride? - Richard, Suffolk
"Very much so and putting this package together has highlighted some of the things we've forgotten. Especially with the American-mixed album. I remember being very surprised at the time that someone could make something sound so finished, dare I say it, though admiring the UK release as we do. There's always that perfectionism within us, always striving for that perfect mix. It pretty much came close to it and hopefully when people hear it for the first time, they can appreciate it maybe even a little bit more than the original."

With seven albums' worth of material, there are songs you haven't played live in a while. Any surprises for the upcoming shows? - Aaron, Manchester
"There's going to be a few more off the Holy Bible, there's isn't going to be any surprises off Generation Terrorist or Gold Against the Soul. There might be one from This Is My Truth but, apart from that, pretty much all the stuff we've done off the Greatest Hits, with the new album thrown in. The one I can remember is possibly PCP that we are going to play, and Archives Of Pain. We're pretty much heading back towards the Holy Bible at the moment."