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Urgh! Imagine Finding This Lot In Your Bath!! - Smash Hits, 7th August 1991

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Title: Urgh! Imagine Finding This Lot In Your Bath!!
Publication: Smash Hits
Date: Wednesday 7th August 1991
Writer: Johnny Dee
Photos: Ken Sharp


They are the Manic Street Preachers and - watch out Shaky! - they're the future of Welsh rock 'n' roll. "Punktacular!!" exclaims an impressed Johnny Dee.

"Other bands look like football fans or your best mates or something and it's really dire," says Nicky, the bass player from the Manic Street Preachers. "We've got nothing in common with any other group and we wouldn't want to either."

"People hating us gives us as much happiness as anything" continues guitarist Richey. "Our goal is to be despised by all the people we don't like."

Viewers, welcome back to the "good" old days of punk rock, when the "kids" were "united", sported unwashed spiky hair and dodgy DIY fashion and enjoyed overthrowing the monarchy and stuff. Meet the Manic Street Preachers or the Manics to their fans. "We're the future of rock 'n' roll," they pipe in their lilting Welsh tones.

Here we are in tranquil Surrey countryside where the Manics are laying down some "tracks" for their first ever album ("we're gonna make a double album and the split up," says Nicky). They're staying here in a big rambling house that's been converted into a recording studio at the end of a windy, wooded lane. Whilst James, the singer, and drummer Sean are down in the basement listening back to the day's recording and occasionally sneaking off to play their newly purchased Sega Mega-Drive, the band's songwriting team of Richey and Nicky sit in their shared bedroom upstairs. Wearing T-shirts with slogans scrawled across them, they plop a Guns 'N' Roses tape in their stereo and sprawled across the bed they start to tell the Manics rock 'n' roll story.

They're from Blackwood in South Wales, a small mining town ("except there's no mines left"). "Everything's closed down and there's nothing to do," says Richey. "We just gave up and decided being in a group was easier."

"You can never find a date when it all started," says Nicky. "We've known each other all our lives. We all lived within a mile of each other and went to the same infants school, junior school and comprehensive."

So the Manics were invented. James (who uncharacteristically for someone living on the "edge" jogs six miles every morning to keep fit for their energetic live shows) thought of the name in his sleep ("it just came to him in his sleep") and the band was born. They'd barely learned how to play their instruments when they recorded two songs and sent them with loopy letters, about everybody else being crap and them being brilliant, to all the record business people they could find addresses for.

Nicky: "The letters were just angry rants about us being the future of rock 'n' roll."

Richey: "Most bands are so boring and inarticulate that they were bound to be interested."

Anded they were. Their debut London "gigs" were packed to the gills with music biz bigwigs with huge wads of money in their back pockets.

Nicky: "We always thought it would be really easy and it was!

Have you always looked the way you do now?

Nicky: "Not so extreme. We always knew if we were in a band we'd have to make a massive effort to look good."

Richey: "When we did our first concert we said we had to something, we had to look like a band. So we got our white school shirts and sprayed 'Kill Yourself' and 'Teenage Beat' on them."

Today, trend-spotters, Richey is wearing a shirt with "Nothing To Do" emblazoned on it.

Richey: "It's nice and cheap and tacky."

Nicky: "And we think it looks good for some reason, ha ha ha!!!"

The Manics have "courted" controversy from the start. On their first tour they were besieged with people wanting to beat them up. They got bottled off stage in Brighton, Nicky got punched in the nose in Scotland and at one gig Sean (the only member of the group with a girlfriend) nearly got decapitated by a cymbal when someone dived into his drum kit. As well, for their encore each night they'd smash up their guitars and amplifiers. At the end of the tour they'd run up a debt of £26,000 due to smashed instruments. To make up some of the loss they played a posh Cambridge University "ball", but even then they weren't safe from attack.

Richey: We started playing our set and, before we knew it, there was blokes on stage pulling the plugs out and wielding sticks."

Then, to cap it all, a couple of months ago in the middle of an interview Richey whipped out a razor blade and slashed the message "4 REAL" deep into his arm. He was rushed to hospital where he had 17 stitches. The scars are still visible and he scratches and picks at them continually.

"The journalist was trying to say we were manufactured and just hero-worshipping past bands." explains Richey.

The Guns 'N' Roses tape clunks to an end ans Nicky stares out into the garden. The interview is drawing to a close.

"We play rock 'n' roll and we live rock 'n' roll" says Richey. "Rock 'n' roll is our lives!"

"That's a Poison quote from Smash Hits!" laughs Nicky.

"You know, I think we'd die for rock 'n' roll," continues Richey dramatically.

Aha! So, would you kill your mothers for rock 'n' roll?

"Oh no," says Nicky, a puzzled look on his face. "We love our mums."