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Under The Grill: Nicky Wire - Top Of The Pops, 4th April 2005

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Neh! Pop music wasn't like this in their day, y'know! All of this was CD shelfspace when the Manics started out! Nicky Wire dons his old man get up and tackles some old gipper cliches!

Old gipper cliche No.1: Top Of The Pops isn't as good as it used to be!

Nicky: Every two years there's a re-branding and re-positioning and then one minute you're doing it live. But then again even at the start we'd still be doing 'Motorcycle Emptiness' and then Take That would come on. So if you look at it in that sense nothing has really changed. It's just we've got older I guess.

Old gipper cliche No.2: All chart music is the same these days!

Nicky: I think half the reason we're still going is that we haven't always managed to fit in with anything, right from grunge to Britpop to anything. That's why bands like us and maybe Radiohead have survived. I think this is our 20th or 21st Pops performance today, which is quite frightening, and our 30th consecutive Top 40 hit. We're normally on every two years or something. We've never been that kind of alternative indie band who wouldn't do the show though. It is quite the opposite for us. It is something we have always wanted to do.

Old gipper cliche No.3: All these chart battles are rubbish!

Nicky: If you're gonna be beaten by anyone it is better to be beaten by the King. As long as it's not Rooster or something like that. I felt more gutted when Mark Morrison beat us when we had 'Design For Life' out. Our single sold about 92,000 copies and Morrison's sold about 94,000 or something so there wasn't a lot in it. Singles were really selling back then as well. Elvis's single was about 6,000 in front of us last week. But times have changed, singles have changed. It's still our third Number Two single. Two Number One's and three Number Two's ain't bad.

Old gipper cliche No.4: Re-releasing old songs is a waste of time!

Nicky: It's not something we're really precious about. If there's enough space maybe. It will be 10 years before long that 'Design For Life' first came out so that just shows how long we've been around. The Clash did it with 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go', with the Levi's ad, and they were the ultimate punk band in that respect. So it's not a problem for us.

Harry Old gipper cliche No.5: Look after your fans and they'll look after you (in old age)!

Nicky: If you come to one of our gigs it is one of the strangest mixes of fans. At the front you've very much got the leopard print feather boa hardcore fans who would go out and buy our debut album 'Generation Terrorists'. Then you've got mums and dads who think we're clever, socially responsible people who they would like their children to watch. It is a very odd mix of people really, from 15 to 55. I don't care who comes to see us. I'd rather a 10-year-old girl come to see us than McFly.

Old gipper cliche No.6: Pop and politics don't mix!

Nicky: I was lucky enough to go to university and get a degree in politics and sometimes you hear bands talking about it and they seem so naive. It has taken a war for some people to realise what America's foreign policy is but it's been like that for the last 40 years. That's a fallible nature in us. We've all got our bad points. The test is if you're a political band, you tend to write political songs and not just make political or charitable statements. We've always written political songs and these other bands don't. They'll talk about it and be ambassadors for Oxfam or UNICEF. But they never actually write political songs. If you try and articulate your political feelings you're putting your head on the block. It's a really difficult thing to do and I know we've failed a lot. But sometimes we've succeeded as well.

Old gipper cliche No.7: That goes double for Girls Aloud!

Nicky: I'm not snobby about pop music or pop bands at all. In fact it's what I grew up with. From the Bay City Rollers through to Abba. I just think what's missing now is that there will always be something slightly more subversive that creeps through. Unfortunately in a world dominated by Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh, it is just too clean.

Old gipper cliche No.8: Who the 'ell are Goldie Lookin' Chain?

Nicky: I live in Newport like Goldie Lookin' Chain so all the references on their record I completely understand. Buying Quavers from the Spar is a delicacy in Newport. It's a beautiful thing.