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What Rock 'N' Roll Has Taught Me - NME, 7th October 2006

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ARTICLES:2006



Title: What Rock 'N' Roll Has Taught Me
Publication: NME
Date: Saturday 7th October 2006



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With a new solo LP each and 10 years on from their chart-conquering album 'Everything Must Go' the Manics singer/guitarist and bassist spread their wisdom.

The record I aspire to be as good as is...
James: "Sex Pistol's 'Never Mind The Bollocks'. People just don't realise the dark voodoo and science that went into that record. Only one band has ever come close to making a rock record as good as that - Guns 'N' Roses with 'Appetite For Destruction', and that's with the aid of modern technology. Nirvana couldn't do it with 'Nevermind'"

Nicky: "'I Am A Wallet' by McCarthy. Lyrically. it's the ultimate distillation of politics and pop,"

The biggest cliché in rock'n roll...
James: "Is that musicians all love each other and they wanna be in supergroups together. Most musicians are jealous of each other and will stick the knife between the shoulder blades of another musician."

Nicky: "Musicians love having a go at politicians and doing charity events, but generally are the biggest bunch of cunts you could meet. There's not many musicians I'd like to have a conversation with. Except Liam Gallagher. I really like Liam in a Tourette's Syndrome humour way - no-one makes me laugh as much him, I still think his interviews are absolute genius."

The three things I will never do are...
Nicky: 1) "Take drugs...
It's not a mighty moral stance, just fear and not wanting to damage my brain, which I feel is the one perfect organ in my body."

2) "Slag Richey off...
Whatever he did and how he did it, I still think of him as a true artist and a true friend."

3) "I'll never stop reading NME...
No matter how much pains me. I'll never stop reading. Or learning. Or watching TV. And I'll never stop writing."

James: 1) "I'll never let Nick play a fretless bass."

2) "I still have no desire to sing a love song...
'Further Away' on 'Everything Must Go' was more a song of longing than love."

3) "I'll never set myself on fire Like Richey said we would."

Never trust anyone who...
Nicky: "Tells you they really love their wife and kids 'cos it often means they're shagging around and trying to prove themselves. You can apply that to different aspects too - anyone who says life is going brilliantly, be deeply suspicious."

James: "Yeah, anyone who's nice all the time. They'll fuck you over at some point. Nice people who say, 'Fantastic' to everything. I despise that word more than any in the English language."

My advice to new bands is...
"Nicky: "As if I could give any advice with my track record of fucking disasters! It's a personal thing, but ambition and ideas over being technically competent. I like bands who are always reaching for something that they can't quite get. That's why I like The Libertines. They just sound like they're gonna fall apart. I just want to hear some badly-produced shit records again! And think long-term because if you look at us and Radiohead and Blur, we didn't make our best records 'til our third or fourth albums, I feel u bit sorry for Arctic Monkeys now - where can they go next?"

James: And if you have somebody in the band who drinks too much vodka, switch him over to whisky. Vodka brings out self-hating viciousness, whereas whisky brings out the warm, Ready Brek glow and the Cliff from Cheers - the useless bar-stool philosopher that never did anybody any harm."

You don't know the meaning of the dark side until...
"James: "You realise that you cant reach somebody once they're gone. When you lose people you realise that there's no spiritual redemption, there will be no, 'Well meet again" moment. Once you understand that you didn't do the things that could have done with that person, that's when you become the darkest."

The best piece of advice I've ever been given...
James: "It was from my dad. He said, 'Don't try and keep up with the big lads,' In that, he meant don't adopt other people's tactic,s use your own."

Nicky: "My dad, despite serving in the army and being in the tank regiment, always said, 'It's better to be a live coward than a dead hero.'"

Drummers are usually...
Nicky: "Obsessed with guns and gadgets. It's ingrained in their nature - they're kind of silent assassins. Sean [Moore, Manics drummer] is in that mould. Since we've had time off, me and James have made albums and Sean's been learning the art of [Japanese fencing] Kendo. He's the dark side of the band. Drummers are impenetrable. You see it in Dave Grohl. When he was a drummer nobody knew what he thought, but, he becomes a singer and suddenly he's Mr Nice."

At one point in their lives, everybody should...
James: "Be allowed to hate themselves, because you soon realise how pointless it is it's just an act of vanity. Like Richey wrote in 'Faster', "self disgust is self-obsession, honey". It leads to nothing and it comes from a false impression that you might have once been perfect and you lost it."

In the pantheon of rock my new record sits between...
Nicky: "'Metal Machine Music' by Lou Reed 'cos it's 50 minutes of unadulterated noise. And 'The Sky Is Too High' by Graham Coxon. It took five records before he sold any albums and I feel comfortable in that place."

James: "'No Dice' by Badfinger and 'Fear' by John Cale."

I will never have my haircut Like...
James: "Me in 1992. I tried to achieve that Lou Reed 'Berlin' look, with my dyed blond, hair and it was fucking just the worst haircut in music history. I remember Richey looking at me and just shaking his head."

Nicky: Or Thom Yorke when he went to America when 'Creep' was happening. It's crimped, he's a pony-tail and it's bleached. If only he had a mullet as well - it'd be the epitome."

The best photograph of me is...
James: "A Pennie Smith picture of us backstage at the last Astoria gig [in December 1994, the band's last shows before Richey went missing in early 1995]. If you didn't know the context, there wouldn't be anything special about it, but. it's one of the last proper pictures of all of us together. We look so assured that we're band. It looks like the calm before the storm. It felt like we expected something. but I didn't know what. After that kind of violence there's always a calm moment of reflection where you feel like the ghost has left you."

Nicky: "Maybe the one around 'Generation Terrorists' that Kevin Cummins did for the cover of NME, where I've got love bites all over me and 'culture slut' written on me. Richey's with me and he's got HIV spelt backwards, because he was looking in the mirror when he did it with the compass so it says VIH."

The coolest rock star in the world is...
James: "The Clash's Paul Simonon. Always walked it like he talked it. He inspired so many people like Richey."

The greatest guitar solo ever recorded is...
Nicky: "James Dean Bradfield, 'Motorcycle Emptiness'. He was 19 when he wrote it, 20 when he recorded it. I still don't know how he managed that, Genius."