One of Wales’ best known musicians has shared his thoughts on what he would do if he were offered an OBE.
Manic Street Preachers bassist Nicky Wire didn’t hold back his thoughts on the UK honours system in an interview with music magazine MOJO ahead of the legendary band’s new album later this year.
“You see supposedly left-leaning actors and pop star queuing up to get MBEs and OBEs – and I’d rather f**king stab my eyes out with a pencil than do that,” said Wire, 52, speaking with music journalist Keith Cameron.
“What was it, [Paul] Weller and David Bowie turned down knighthoods? That’s good enough for me.”
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Wire shared his thoughts in response to a question from Cameron about the bassist’s working class upbringing in the Manics’ hometown of Blackwood.
He said: “I’m so riddled with doubts and contradictions now, even though I still kept to those principles. My kids have been through comprehensive education, I still believe in high taxation and all those kind of things, I stay close to my roots… I haven’t abandoned any of those things at all. But I don’t know if they’re relevant to modern life.”
Wire previously described his experience growing up in Blackwood in a WalesOnline interview back in 2011.
Nicky Wire performing with Manic Street Preachers in Blackwood in 2013.
(Image: Kate Southall)
Speaking in 2011, the bassist said: “It could be a rough area at times, especially growing up under Thatcher and the mines closing down.
“It was a particularly politicised time, which helped us, I think, as it gave us a focus for our anger and something to fight against.”
The bassist isn’t the only Welsh star to voice his discomfort with the honours system. In December 2020, Port Talbot-based actor Michael Sheen confirmed he had returned the OBE previously given to him due to his views on Welsh history.
During an interview with Guardian columnist Owen Jones, the 51-year-old actor said that he changed his mind about the accolade when he began researching Welsh history when he was invited to speak at the Learning and Work Institute’s Annual Raymond Williams Memorial Lecture on November 16, 2017.
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“In 2017 I was asked to do the Raymond Williams lecture – Raymond Williams famous wrote a piece called Who Speaks For Wales in 1971 – and I took that as my starting point for the lecture as in who speaks for Wales now?” said Sheen.
“And in my research, to do that lecture, I learnt a lot about Welsh history, like I say I am still standing at the foothills of that, that was a crash course, and by the time I had written that lecture I think I had been given the OBE the year before, or maybe the year before that, by the time I finished typing that lecture on this laptop, that I speak to you on now, I remember sitting there and thinking ‘well I have a choice’ either don’t give this lecture and hold onto my OBE or I give this lecture and give the OBE back.”
He added: “At the time I did that I said ‘I meant no disrespect by giving it back I don’t want to cause a big fuss about it’ I genuinely felt incredibly honoured when I was given it and it meant a lot to me, and my family, and has clearly helped in lots of ways as suddenly you are Michael Sheen OBE – especially in the kind stuff I have been getting involved in – the none acting stuff – and I was aware of that.
“So I didn’t mean any disrespect I just realised that I’d be a hypocrite if I said the things that I as going to in the lecture about the relationship with Wales and the British state and the history of it all those sorts of things.”
The new Manic Street Preachers album, The Ultra Vivid Lament, is due to be released on September 3.