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We Only Want To Get Drunk - Select, December 1999

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Title: We Only Want To Get Drunk
Publication: Select
Date: December 1999
Writer: Pat Long

Select99-1.jpg Select99-2.jpg

...well it is pub prices. Let the Manics give you the most VFM New Year in two millennia. And no, it won't all be Welsh bands playing.

New Years Eve 1999: the dying seconds of the greatest century in history...what better way to celebrate the high point of 2000 years of human achievement than listening to 'The Intense Humming Of Evil' with 53,999 other beered-up Manics fans in the cavernous environs of the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff Arms Park?

While killjoy Catatonia guitarist Owen Powell recently opined, "I can't think of a worse place to spend New Year's Eve than a rugby stadium, to be honest," the Manic Millennium hoe-down is gearing up to be a triumph. The stadium will be transformed into the UK's biggest indoor arena and the second Largest in Europe - only Ajax FC's stadium in Amsterdam is bigger. The venue itself may be slightly less than intimate, but as tickets are set at the positively pre-millennial purchase price of £30 - with all drinks at pub prices, served until 2am - it seems that only the most hardline 'Holy Bible' obsessive Manics fan will find reason to quibble.

Though Catatonia are unlikely to be a possible support act and Stereophonics will be otherwise engaged at Cream's Pier Head bash in Liverpool, rumours are currently circulating on the Net about who will be warming the stage. Fellow Welsh power trio Feeder are hotly tipped, along with a mouth-watering double header of the Super Furries and Wales' nu-psych young bucks Big Leaves.

The night won't be exclusively Welsh though Nicky Wire made clear at a press conference last month: "There's a lot of our favourite bands playing. We don't want to have a Welsh-only music policy, it's just a night of music." Whether or not the bill's made public before the night or not, if any band can make the turn of the millennium a dignified and ennobling event, as opposed to an excuse for merely enjoying the alpha and omega of hangovers the day after, it's the Manics.

As for the third millennium, the bands sixth album and subsequent greatest hits package (tentatively titled 'Forever Delayed') are due in 2001 to mark their tenth anniversary. There's also 'Masses Against The Classes', a fuss-tree, no-frills clash-inspired rocker on its way in January. But for now as Millennium fever enters terminal phase, the Manics are planning a quiet night in with a few thousand close friends. And you can bet everything you own that they won't play U2's 'New Years Day' as the clock strikes 12.


Nicky Wire on the Manic Millennium, 'Masses Against The Classes' and how his dog Molly will be there to cheer them on.

At the start of the year you told Select you would be spending the millennium's eve "In a hotel that takes dogs somewhere in West Wales"...
"That's What I do normally. but now we'll be in front Of 50,000 beautiful, drunken people. There'll be a good 25,000 hardcore fans there but obviously there'll also be a lot of people just out for the occasion cos it's only £30. Its not a lot to get in, as these things go. You have the guy from Cream saying he's got 14 hours of DJs for £99, which is all very well but it's only some blokes spinning a few records isn't it? Once again the Manic Street Preachers are determined to be as cheap as we can [laughs]. We're not going to make any money on this gig unless we sell a million T-shirts."

What can you tell us about the set you'll be playing and the presentation onstage?
"We're playing two separate sets - we do one before 12 o'clock, come off, have the New Year's celebration then go back on and do the last 45 minutes. The welcoming of the New Year will have a link-up with the rest the world - you'll see Paris and Sydney and everywhere else on the big screens. We're also going to have a collection of favourite events on film from recent history - Whether its Dennis Potter talking on television, Jack Kerouac, or Linford Christie winning a gold medal. There'll also be actors reading examples of our favourite poetry. I know it sounds pretentious but we are, It'll be quite artistic considering that it's going to be like one gigantic pub.

After the Glastonbury 'private toilets' scandal, one feels compelled to ask if you've checked the toilet facilities out...
"Oh yeah, top toilets! I'll have my own box and everything. Actually we had a box at the rugby today. Very nice - loads of food, loads of toilets.

You've been portraying yourself as the most hated man in rock recently...
"I think it has come round to that again. I'm an easy target cos I speak more truth than anyone else. I'm the bloke with eye-shadow who can't play the bass. That just makes me feel good. It makes me feel good that I'm the most intelligent pop star in the world."

'Masses Against The Classes' is scheduled for January. What can you tell us about that?
It's very much in the tradition of 'Motown Junk', in its kind of punky weirdness - it has lots of samples and little ad-libs. It starts with a sample of Noam Chomsky. Musically, it's more like 'You Love Us' - very straightforward, big chorus. The chorus goes 'The masses against the classes/I'm tired of giving a reason/When we're the only thing left to believe in.' The verses are kind of old-school James in that can't understand a word he's saying! The lyrics have a Cuban element, and the artwork will feature Cuban flags. Don't worry it's not the Buena Vista Social Club. We don't care if it it's a hit or not, We're just to put it out - no video - and see what happens, it won't be on the album, it's just a freak one off."

Have you written many songs for the new album?
"We've demoed five songs - I love them, they're brilliant. I have loads of titles for the songs. We've got one called 'Paul Robeson' [named after the black American spiritual singer and Shakespearean actor famed for his left-wing political views]. That's sort of about the McCarthy era, the witch-hunt after Robeson went to Russia and just about what a fine human being Paul Robeson was. There's another new Song called 'Pedestal', which I thought was the most wonderful title I'd ever come up with. Then I looked at the first Portishead album and realised they have a song with the same name."

So despite the rumours, the Manics won't be splitting up?

"No. One music paper ran a pretty irresponsible headline saying the Manic Street Preachers are splitting up - a headline on a report that actually made it clear we weren't splitting up! It's not like we're having next year off - we're writing and recording an album. We want to do something dramatic but we're going to do it with a record, not by killing the band. I'd say it'd be impossible for us to split up - we get on too well."

Finally, if your beloved dog Molly won't be in a West Wales hotel, where will she be?
"She's going to be in the box at the Stadium watching me - the Mollster. Yeah, she'll be there having a good time and woofing. 'Woof, woof' she'll say."