Why have you waited so long before you started writing music to Richey's lyrics? Was it important that he was declared presumed dead not so long time ago?
The decision to make this album was taken before declaring him being dead. It was because we realised Richey wanted to us to make that album. The notes he left us, were like lyrics and it was we who got them. We knew sooner or later we should have used them. If we had worked on them in 1997 it would have been very abominable. We had to wait until the day when we fellt it's fine, it's time to use the lyrics. And it us took very long.
I'm sure that during the work you've been talking about Richey. Don't you think that rock n' roll life style and being in a band contributed to his tragedy? Or maybe it would still happen sooner or later?
It's a very difficult question (silence) Somewhere in my soul I really think that being in a band catalyzed everything what was in him. On the other hand if Richey hadn't played the music, if he had gone to study at the University and had become a professor, lecturer or someone like that, maybe even then the same bad feelings would have haunted him still. Generally speaking, yes, I think that being in a rock band was very effective to his emotions, that he had from a very long time, what is very visible in his lyrics.
Do you remember the moment when you decided to invite Richey to become a part of a band? What was so special in him? Because he wasn't the best musician, was he?
Oh, no, he wasn't. It was because we knew him very wel. We all grew up in the same town, we lived very close to each other. Richey was one year older than me and Nick, he was in Sean's age. There was some kind of interaction, we were in touch. You asked why we invited him to a band and the answer is not that easy - we liked the same bands, where were 4 people playing, like Sex Pistols or The Clash. On the other hand there were 3people bands like The Jam and Husker Du. When we played as tree parts we felt there's something missing. I think Nick and Sean knew it was me who should be a vocalist. I didn't want to become such but I was the only one who can sing. So when I finally became a vocalist, there was something missing. Richey was always very close to the band, he was very interested what band was doing, you know, like our friend. And finally he started changing his style, how he looked like. In one moment I realised, that he's a member of a band but with no position. I remember we started talking about it. And then Nick and Richey wrote something together. When it happend, it was clear Richey has to stay in the band. The thought he shouldn't be in a band because he can't play guitar didn't even come to our minds. I thought like "Fuck it! his lyrics are awesome! he's crazy about music journalism, he looks great and he's more intelligent than I am!" Nicky's and Richey's intelligency was on te same level. This situation was clear to me. We missed someone and before us stood a friend who was perfect for us.
I've heard in among the lyrics there were tips how the music should sound like. Is that true?
Yes, Pantera mixed with Screamadelica by Primal Scream and Nine Inch Nails. It's really strange, I remember that straight after The Holy Bible Richey said that the next album should sound like the mix of those bands. I answered: No. It was a matter of argument for us. And it's irony, to be honest I'm not sure if we'd really created the next album when Richey was still with us. I don't know the direction where his thinking would go. You know how is it like, believing in something 10 years ago and now you look at this matter in a different way. Richey would change his opinion for sure. I know if we had recorded the new album with him straight after The Holy Bible, in 1995, maybe there would have been no result. But now I think that if Richey had been here with us, he would like the new album.
But somehow you appreciated his music taste by choosing Steve Albini as a producer. Richey had been a huge fan of Nirvana.
And also The Pixies, Rapeman, he loved Big Black. I also like In Utero but I'm not that big Nirvana's fan as Richey was. I like also a lot of things Albini produced, as Joanna Newsom or even the album by Page and Plant [Albini recorded and mixed Walking Into Clarksdale but as producers there are mentioned only Page and Plant]. I think that the bigges honour for Richey is that we didn't have to record the album with his lyrics. With Send Away The Tiges we enjoyed with commercial success again and this album isn't the best move for commercial success. We honoured Richey's memory by recording something what was more difficul than recording another mere record.
Is it true after recording Nicky didn't want to release that album?
Yes. He wasn't sure if he's emotionally ready to pass this process. I think it was because he was getting worked up with all those words, he started thinking a lot about the past. And he said so if he's feeling so bad during recording songs then playing them live will be much harder. To be honest I ignored his doubts and said "No no shut the fuck up". Like a friend, y'know.
So we can say that this chapter is closed in The Manics history. Or maybe you still have some more Richey's lyrics?
Well, there are some of them but I don't think they might ever inspire our music. We're always doing music that is in the opposite of our previous works. I'm not saying that making Journal For Plague Lovers was very depressive. But now we will make something more euphoric. Like our version of ABBA [laugh].