Richey's last TV interview

Swedish TV 1994

Richey: The album's called The Holy Bible because for me, whether you choose to believe or not - believe in religion, Christianity, whatever; whether you're agnostic, atheist or believer, the simple fact of it is that religion has shaped world history and still does. Even if people deny it, it's still an important factor in world events right now. The holy book in any religion is supposed to be about the truth - and I think the way most religions choose to speak that truth to the public is always in a way to beat them down and keep them in their proper place. The Catholic Church still pretends that contraception is illegal or immoral and a human invention. Well, you gotta operate in the time that you live in, it's the end of the 20th century - you can't pretend it's the year 1350 again. In most European countries the very fact that women priests might be ordained offends a lot of religions. They're trying to say that women are second class and inferior, which is basically what they mean. They're the people who have been offended by the title 'The Holy Bible'. If The Holy Bible is true, it should be about the way the world is, and that's what I think my lyrics are about - you know, they speak about the world as it actually is, don't ignore things, don't pretend things don't exist; I don't think that's any way to live your life, really.

I think it's the first album, I mean, I don't know about the music - I write the lyrics…It's the first album where I've escalated my lyrical writing. I think it's better than the previous two albums - it's more like the idea I've got in my mind. I've always got an idea in my mind of how I want to express myself and I think the first album was lightly too naïve. I've got a rhythm and a melody in my mind that I know James has also got, and it's trying to get it to match perfectly. I think early on we were so inexperienced, it was hard to try and get it working properly - and now when I write I can almost hear James' music and I know what works and what doesn't work.

Every day of my life I feel I'm not as good a writer as I could be, I'm not as intelligent as I could be, I try and constantly read to improve my mind and get a better perspective on world history. Nobody's ever gonna get good enough to know everything, but I think I try - which is more than a lot of people do.

When I see a lot of bands' lyric sheets, before I hear the record I know what they're going to sound like - cause the metre in the text is like "da da da, da da da, da da da". I think when I see my lyrics written down, even though I know what the song's gonna be like, I can't really imagine how James could possibly sing the words. But I think that's the best thing about us, that's the one thing we do that's quite different from most bands - I think we operate in quite a traditional rock format musically. I don't think there's any ground-breaking music left at all, I mean, I like a lot of techno, I like a lot of rave, but nothing ever seems that new to me. I think my words aren't that special as regards literature or poetry cause it's all been done before - but in a rock context, my lyrics aren't really "baby I love you", "baby I miss you", "baby come back" or "baby go away", which is like 95% of every record in every record shop in the world.

What ever kind of writer you are, it obviously expresses something about how you feel. I mean, if you spend your whole life writing love songs, you know, you probably are psychologically damaged. If you're that obsessed that everything you put down on paper is always about relationships, then you must have some deep-rooted flaw. I mean, I think somebody like Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston are more ruined in the mind than I could ever possibly be, cause that's all they sing about. I think they've got bigger problems than I could ever dream about. I think it's perfectly natural to have an interest in the things that actually go along around you. If I wrote lyrics constantly about relationships, I would think I was walking around with, like, a plastic bag on my head, like, ignoring everything that goes on, you know, pretending things don't exist. So I think, I really think everybody should write like I write - I think everybody else is a bit strange, really.

Interviewer: Quite a few things have happened with you this year. How do you feel now?

Richey: Happy, joyous and free (smiles)..you know, I feel alright, you know, I'm OK. I think the most important thing I learnt is that……..the only person you can really change is yourself - there's no point getting that upset about things you've got no control of.

You kind of get respect in this society if you are aggressive, if you fight; people respect you, people like you for that. If you fight back, people like you for that as well. When I've been beaten up, say, when I've been in a pub doing nothing wrong, the fact that I choose not to fight back, that I would never throw a punch back, people say I'm weak. I don't think that's a weak thing to do at all, if I've done nothing wrong, throwing a punch back makes me as bad and corrupt as them, as evil as them, as stupid as them. I think I'm on a much higher plane than somebody that just picks on me in a pub for the way I look.

I'd rather not say what happened to me when I was actually in hospital. I guess you've gotta put your faith in something, and it gets to the point where you can't really operate anymore as a human being - you can't even get out of bed, you can't make yourself a cup of coffee without having something go badly wrong or your body's too weak to walk. There comes a point where, if somebody says "this will work, this will make you feel better" then you've got no option, really. Well, you can say "no", but I don't think you'd be in any fit state of mind to say "no, I disagree" (laughs), not really.

I think the only thing that's fundamentally different about me at the moment from six months ago is that I don't use drugs and I don't drink. Everything else I think and believe in is unquestionably the same. I believe that anybody that uses or drinks does it cause they are fundamentally dissatisfied with themselves. I do not go alaong with the argument that people drink to have a good time. Any kind of chemical alters your perception of yourself and that means you're unhappy with yourself. When I drank, I drank to forget about certain problems I had. Now, just because I've stopped drinking, doesn't mean those problems have gone away. I've just found a different way of dealing with them. Solutions do not miraculously appear, unfortunately.

Interviewer: Is it easy to deal with those problems now, without alcohol and drugs?

Richey: (smiles) not at all, just my day's longer now. Drinking was a really effective way for me to close off the day. When things got too much, drink as fast and as much as I could 'til I passed out. For me, sleep is a fundamental part of my day, it shapes my day. I like to go to sleep, I can't sleep, and when you're lying in bed thinking about things, some things get too much sometimes. But now I've coped with it, you know.

Interviewer: What do you think was the reason behind the breakdown?

Richey: I don't think it's anything to do with being in a band, I don't think it's anything to do with being a writer, I don't think it's anything to do with the music industry. I mean, there's lots of things about the music industry that I completely, inherently dislike, but that's not a problem. Everybody's got a job to do, every job involves pressure, I quite like pressure - it makes you feel a bit alive, you know. But hospitals that I've been in, mental illness doesn't take any account of what job you do. There's people in the same wards that are bricklayers, doctors, hairdressers, medical profession, judges, jurors, whatever. You've just got no control.

Interviewer: What did you think about speculation in the press saying you were doing all this just cause you wanted press for the new album?

Richey: Well, you expect things like that from the British press - you don't expect much different. I don't think people in bands make that much difference anyway. If people I respect and care about said something like that, I would be upset, but if seombody I don't even know writes it, I'm not interested in their opinion. I know what happened, I know what's gone on in my life since I was a child, I know what happened to me when I was a child. Since I've grown up, I know what I live for, what I believe in, I know what my philosophy on life is………selling a few copies of a CD is not very high on my list of priorities.

People that I care about think I write good music, people that I care about think we write good music and that's all I'm really interested in. I don't want any applause if it's on terms that I cannot accept.

Interviewer: How do you look on the future of the manic street preachers?

Richey: The future? That's a big nasty word, isn't it? (looks away) No, well we finish touring in December, then I think we're going to Asia and America early next year and then…..being in a band's pretty much routine, you know? Then we'll get a few months off and we'll write and we'll records, then we'll do the same thing all over again. The reason I'm doing this is for the two months we have off where I can just be on my own in the flat and write. You know, that's what I do, I do 9 months of touring so I can get time to write words - that's what I care about. It's very nice touring, it's very nice staying in hotels, it's nice doing concerts, but it's not as satisfying as maybe getting 2 or 3 lines in a lyric that you really think encapsulate how you fell. That's what's really important to me, I can look back on a lyric and think "that's a good song, that's as good as maybe works that I really respect". That's what I'm in a band for.

Interviewer: Do you have a dream of settling down with, like, your wife and kids?

Richey: No, I have a dream of writing a lyric which I think is…flawless, really - that I think that's got no broken edges, that makes sense. To me, not anybody else could just make sense to me that I think in 15-20 lines sums up exactly how I feel about everything, not just today, how I've felt all my life. Everything I've read, everything I've seen, everything I believe, that in those 15 lines you just say it all.