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The Stones, The Clash, The Who, Public Enemy - They're All Tossers - Hot Press, 29th April 1991

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Title: The Stones, The Clash, The Who, Public Enemy - They're All Tossers
Publication: Hot Press
Date: Monday 29th April 1991
Writer: Paul Byrne


1991 is a time for respect, dignity, restraint - Listen carefully as the Manic Street Preachers offer some quiet words of reflection about the state of pop to a hushed Paul Byrne!

For those of you who reckon Jim Morrison was no more than a crap poet who took a lot of drugs that made him fat, rich and stupid, or that John Lennon was merely an ageing hippy who wouldn't recognise a radical political idea if it walked right up to him and shot him, let me introduce you to a kindred spirit: Richie Edwards of Welsh hate-merchants Manic Street Preachers.

"A big part of our songs deal with pop culture," he explains, "the fact that when you're young you know, and you've got a really shitty life and you just get fed all these images that are supposed to offer some kind of salvation - but it never did us any good. We fell in love with all these bands for a few months and then we just looked around and our lives weren't any better. All these bands that are supposed to give you 'hope' - they're all tossers, every one of them. Bands like The Stones, The Clash, The Who, we used to really look up to the, And now bands like Public Enemy and Guns 'N' Roses - all these bands are just little things in our lives, they're not important at all."

Love Label

Richie and his three brothers-up-in-arms in Manic Street Preachers are what a theologan (and just about everybody else) likes to call Angry Young Men. Not for them the Rolling Stones' tour programme, t-shirt, book, double live album, movie, designer leather jacket; not for them the you've tasted-the-rebellion-you've-seen-the-ad-you're-wearing-the-jeans-now-buy-the-single-and=the-double-album-retrospective-and-the-video-compilation...For MSP the perfect band make the perfect debut album, sell a perfect 20 or 30 million, and the fuck off into early retirement and perfect posterity.

"I think that that would be the one perfect statement," offers Richie, "it's what we hope to do - to become the biggest rock band in the world and then disband. Because, you know, as soon as you become a massive band everybody expects so much from you, and you want to say 'Look, we've sold millions of this LP, we've done the tour, now goodbye!' It'd be the perfect statement which no band has ever made; they all just carry on and on, making crap records."

It's an idea(l) that the band expressed particularly well on a recent edition of Channel 4's The Media Show, and it's the sentiment behind the band's latest single, 'Motown Junk'.

"Motown Junk is just another attack on pop culture," remarks Richie, "it's an attack on another force-fed icon. We weren't attacking Motown itself necessarily; we were just saying that everyone always goes on about Motown being the perfect record label, and you know, they were brilliant songs, but they were all about love, and they weren't saying anything about our lives..."

What about 'What's Going On?', 'Ball Of Confusion', 'Living In The City', 'Inner City Blues'...?

"Yeah a lot of those were great songs, sure," answers Richie, "but ultimately Motown is seen as this perfect love label. It just seemed like the best name to get our message across."

Spent Force

Manic Street Preachers' rise from small-town criers to major label sweethearts has been fast, steady and cock-sure. Pooling their Giros together a little over a year ago the band recorded and pressed 300 promo copies of their debut single, 'Suicide Alley', which they duly sent off to everyone they reckoned was anyone in the music business in England. A series of London gigs followed, two more singles ('New Art Riot' and the current 'Motown Junk') and a heap of media attention. Inevitably the band started to get noticed in high places.

"At the moment we've got a lot of majors interested," smiles Richie, "I think we're probably going to sign with CBS this week."

Which of course will cause a little problem. With a record deal comes the contractual obligation of actually making records. And CBS may be looking for more than just one album, no matter how many millions their debut does or doesn't sell.

"Basically we just want our LP to be the most important political debut rock LP of all time," states Richie flatly, "and if it can sell in the terms that we're thinking of I just don't think anybody will demand a follow-up. Personally I don't want to be involved after the first LP. After that I think I'd probably be just a spent-force. After a band have a flash of brilliance they become obsessed with themselves - they start singing about themselves. I'd never want that to happen to us; I'd rather die first..."

Maybe he should sign the contract with Levi's now?