Nicky Wire, bassist of the Welsh alt-rockers, on honoring their lost comrade.
Lyricist and rhythm guitarist Richey Edwards went missing in 1995, and your new album is composed entirely of lyrics he left behind a few weeks before. Is this a celebration or a memorial?
It's definitely a tribute to his words and intellect. We were quite disciplined and almost academic in that. Richey's lyrics make us sound like a different band - more angular and new wave. Our previous record, Send Away The Tigers, had been a big comeback, a good success. Perhaps that gave us the space to finally look to the past. It was a joy to be working like a four-piece again. It felt like we were almost complete, that symmetry we had as four kids growing up and making records together.
On this album, you got to work with legendary producer Steve Albini.
We wanted a brilliant engineer. Sometimes you want a producer to come up with arrangements or string parts, but were were very focused and well rehearsed for this record. We wanted someone to make us sound caustic, loud - and in some songs, sensitive. Steve was the perfect person. I really got on with him. He's cynical, bitter, twisted - I mean that in a really good way! [Laughs] We bonded in our hatred for other music. We'd put on the TV every night, and in the U.K. you get swamped with loads of music channels. It's great seeing his reaction to stuff. He calls everything "a giant digital hiss."
How in the world was Jenny Saville's stunning cover painting banned from U.K. supermarkets?
They seemed to imply that it was an image of child in distress. She's a classic painter in terms of cheap oils and heavy brushwork, it's completely irrational and insane. You go into a supermarket and can buy computer games with car crashes, death and guns. You can buy porn magazines. But you can't buy a beautiful piece of art. It's such a brilliant, androgynous image of bewilderment and beauty. Richey would have loved it.