‘Er, Dave, four aliens have just landed in reception for you.’ The voice on the other end of the phone line sounded puzzled and not a little perturbed.
This wasn’t the sort of call I was expecting from the South Wales Echo security desk. And, when I headed downstairs from the first floor newsroom to investigate, I could see why. Terry, our affable 60-year old front-office comissioner and unofficial look-out post was eyeing my guests suspiciously.
There, dressed in homemade, tie-dyed shirts were four mascara-clad, dagger-edged spiky-haired youths named Nicky Wire, James Dean Bradfield, Richey Edwards and Sean Moore. All four wore skin-tight white jeans and looked a dazzling collision of mod, punk and casual chic.
The effect was unforgettable - just as if a spaceship had spilled its contents into the newspaper’s offices. The place had ground to a halt and was staring wildly at these four soon-to-be riders of the rock ‘n’ roll apocalypse. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time. All I was expecting was some punk band called The Manic Street Preachers that I was to interview for the newspaper. Once I’d reassured Terry that he could in fact take his finger off the 999 button, and that the four weren’t going to trash the place, he calmed down. The last time the old fella had seen men dressed like that was evidently in his worst nightmares.
But his horror was compounded when the hardest-looking for the four, James - whose hair was shockingly bleached with streaks of yellowy-blonde - introduced himself to me and then the rest of the band, before asking if he could borrow a felt-tip marker pen.
Terry duly handed over the marker and then watched in overstated astonishment as the band began to write slogans on their chests and arms. When the paper’s photographer arrived, he gave me and the band a swift nervous double-take before starting to rummage furiously through his bag for film. I think this was more out of fear of having to talk to them than anything else.
Seemingly oblivious to the fuss they had caused, the band wheeled on their Dunlop White Flash heels straight out of the reception with stoic looks etched on their faces, and firmly informed the photographer they had seen a great place to take the pictures.
reporter David Owens first meets the Manics pre-New Art Riot, recounted in music biography Cerys, Catatonia and the Rise of Welsh Pop (Ebury Press, 2000)