The Last Word: James Dean Bradfield - Kerrang, 27th July 1996
The ultimate questions on life, sex and roast potatoes. This week, the Manics' James Dean Bradfield talks to Paul Elliott...
Last time you heard a song and thought, 'I wish I'd written that'?
"The Universal' by Blur. Obviously, I'm not a massive fan of Blur, but I couldn't deny that it was a great song and an amazing lyric. I hate it when somebody I don't admire writes a song that challenges you to write something as good as that. I took it quite personally. When I heard 'The Universal' I had a nervous twitch for a day after."
Last time you saw Nottingham Forest play?
"Away at Tottenham - that was the last game I managed to see last season. I had a brilliant seat right above the goal. We won in a penalty shoot-out. It was amazing. Nick (Wire, Manics' bassist) is a Tottenham fan but he didn't come with me. He knows more about sport than anybody in the entire music industry, but he doesn't actually like going to sporting events. He's a remote control man. After the penalties in the Tottenham game, Mark Crossley (Forest goalkeeper) ran the length of the pitch and dived on the floor, and right then I knew we wouldn't get to the Cup final, because the players celebrated too much."
Last time you made a complete arse of yourself?
"The other night. I went out with this girl to this dodgy French place for some food. The menu was all in French, with English explanations underneath. In those situations I develop a nervous twitch. I always feel like I'm going to knock things over or something. For some reason I develop some kind of dyslexia. Suddenly, when I have to make a decision, words don't seem to make as much sense as they used to. I was looking at this thing and I thought, 'What the fuck is that?'. So I said to the waiter, 'Oi, what's chivvy sooflat?'. As I was saying it I could feel a voice within me going, 'Don't say it! It's chive souffle!'. As the words were coming out of my mouth, I just wanted to reclaim them."
Last time you felt proud to be Welsh?
"That's a really hard one. It was probably when I watched a documentary about the Cynning Valley. It's a coal pit that had been closed down, and the miners used all their redundancy money to buy the pit back off the government for 1 million pounds. And the first year, they ran it at a 3 million pounds profit. And you've got to ask yourself the question, 'Why did they close it down in the first place?' Sometimes the Welsh haven't got it in them to spell it out that we are a different country. There are so many risible Welshisms in English comedy folklore. But when I saw that documentary, I felt pround to be Welsh."
Last time you went round yer mam's for tea?
"I go back at least once every three weeks. My mum does the best roast potatoes. She pot boils them, then shakes them around to get them fluffy inside, then she lets them cool down and she smears the potatoes with a thin layer of it. It's gorgeous, the best. Mum's got a new trick now. She cooks chips in a wok. They're really soft on the inside and really golden brown on the outside. She's a brilliant cook, my Mum."
Last weird dream you remember?
"I've had too many bad ones lately."
Last book you read?
"'Concrete Island', by JG Ballard. It's so relentless. All the way through you want the guy to escape from this situation, but the book doesn't offer any glimmer of hope. At the end, you're almost praying for a Hollywood ending - 'Please get the fucker out of it, so I can just put the book down and forget about it.' But the guy is left trapped. It still pisses me off."
Last time you were crapping yourself with fear?
"The week 'A Design For Life' was released. I felt like a wife coming back from maternity leave. I didn't know if anybody wanted me at my job any more. When it went in at Number Two, it was quite life-affirming."
Last time you were in a fight?
"A year ago. I'd been a club talking to a girl I knew, and a boy reached over and took my drink and just looked at me. I said, 'What's wrong, mate?'. And his friend put his arm across me and said, 'Just leave him, he's mad'. I was really annoyed, but I felt that my fighting days were over. My heart wasn't really in it. "Then I got outside and tried to hail a cab on Charing Cross Road, and as a cab pulled in for me some other boy pushes me out of the way and says it's his cab. By now I could feel it boiling up inside me. I said, 'Mate, this is my cab, fuck off', and then he put his hand in my face and pushed me away. And that was it. I punched him straight away, and I was really sorry I did it. He had blood all over him and his girlfriend was shouting, 'You bastard!'. That was the last time."
Last time you were spooked by a fan?
"I've had really crap scenarios with people coming up to me in the street, full-on Richey-philes, saying point-blank, 'You should be ashamed of yourself!'. And I'm like, 'You grew up with him, did you? You know him better than I do? Fine'."
How long can you last?
"I haven't got a clue and I don't really care."