Mansun command a Manics-like intensity of devotion from their fans, deeply taken as they are with the band’s equally fierce commitment to both the essential superficialities of pop (the glitter, the foundation) and the Big Issues (God, Marxism).
Yet, unlike rent-a-gob Nicky and co, Mansun sometimes seem an enigmatic bunch. Changelings by musical nature, they set out to confound any expectations built up around them, refuse to be cast as type, join the ‘in’ crowd or easily lend themselves to parody.
NME catches them in the middle of a mini-tour which takes them, with typical perversity, to such godforsaken outposts as Margate and, this evening, King’s Lynn. All of which inscrutability seems to intrigue their fans, who deluged us with a welter of queries, ranging from the deadly earnest to the daringly cheeky. So join us please as singer Paul Draper, guitarist Dominic Chad, bassist Stove King and drummer Andie Rathbone cope with the sticklers you hurled at them – does God exist? Can humanity ever co-exist? Who sent Paul the big, brown, furry square? And will Chad ever get a proper haircut?
Did you ever try any part- time jobs before you became rock stars? (Yukiko Kanai, Chiba, Japan)
Stove: “I was a milkman.”
Paul: “You were a milkman?? (Laughs) I worked in a clothes shop and I worked in Sainsbury’s as well. On the checkout. Oh, and I worked in Clark’s Shoes. My first ever job.”
Andie: “I worked in an abattoir. When I was 16, for six weeks. Did I turn veggie? No, of course not!”
When was the last time somebody made you cry? (Richard Culver, Sussex)
Paul (after a long pause): “Er… I think I cry quite regularly. I can’t remember the last time. It definitely wasn’t after watching Titanic. A bad review, or something – he said with great sarcasm. When did I last cry? Probably listening to a record. We all cry sometimes. The last time I saw Chad cry was when he lost all his car keys.”
Do you believe the only pureness left is that preached by Marx? (Ryan, Cardiff)
Paul: “No, not strictly speaking. Maybe we said that out of a general disillusionment with life and the whole set-up of political systems. Me and Chad talk a lot about old-school pure communism being a valid idea but the reality of getting something like that to work or exist is virtually impossible, human beings being inherently capitalist, greedy, power-seeking. As an idea, though, in its purest, philosophical form, I’m attracted to it. But I’m not likely to jack it all in and join a kibbutz…”
Does it bother you that making such a weird album like ‘Six’, you attract weirdo fans? (Chris Penman, Newport)
Paul: “People always say our fans are weird but they’ve always struck me as cool – well-informed, well-read. Not yobs or anything.”
Chad: “They seem to be on the same wavelength as us.” Paul: “That’s because the books we’ve been reading get regurgitated into our records and our listeners end up reading them – whether it’s about Marx, The Prisoner, it provides a catalyst, a meeting point for people with the same ideas. I’ve always reckoned you don’t get many mini-cab drivers whistling Mansun tunes.”
Do you think that using Tom Baker and opera singers on the last album was a good idea, or were you taking your ‘experimental’ phase too far? (Glen Cooper, Pemberton Gardens, London)
Paul: “I don’t think we’ve had an experimental phase, really! The main thing we try and do is something different from the last thing we’ve done. The next thing we do will definitely be different again. We tend to make things up on the spur of the moment. We don’t think about whether things are going to be cool or uncool, or listen back to things and hone them down and try to make singles out of them. We tend to leave things in our records rather than edit them out, which accounts for the mad streaks in them…”
How do you rate Roobarb And Custard, the programme, on a scale of one to ten? (Martin Binfield, Bournemouth)
Stove: “Ten! The best thing was the giggling crows.”
Paul: “And The Mister Men.”
Chad: “I’m a Mister Benn fan, me. Apparently, they’re making a film out of it.”
Everyone: “That’s Mr Bean!”
Chad: “No, seriously, they’re making a film. Mr Benn – The Movie! Honestly!”
What is the strangest thing you have ever been sent by a fan? (Sucker Love, London SW6)
Paul: “Dead animals, mainly. Oh, and the other day, I did get sent this big, brown, furry square. I don’t know what the fuck it was.”
Stove: “A brown, furry square, Paul.”
Paul: “I don’t know what it’s for. Cuddles?”
Who was the most evil? Hitler, Stalin or Nixon? (Samuel Lewis, Nottingham)
Paul: “I think Nixon’s probably the least evil of a pretty bad lot, there. What, rate them on a scale of one to 50? Hitler, 50, Stalin, 50, Nixon… 23.”
Click back on Monday for part two.