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Richey: "In terms of the truth, it's something quite personal that the band know and the management know and I know... um, in terms of anorexia, I was never severely underweight. I mean, there's a song on the album called '4st 7lbs', I was never 4 stone 7 pounds. The skinniest I've ever got is six stone. Just under six stone. In terms of alcohol abuse and drug abuse... yeah. That had been going on for a long time, but that's stopped. Thankfully. I did various things as well which at the time I didn't regard as a problem, but I guess it gets to a point where your body physically can't take any more, whereas mentally you maybe think you're strong enough to cope.
Everybody's got a different code of living, a different set of ethics. I'm a very unviolent person, I've never hit anybody in my life; but I am prone to extreme violent outbursts, but that's against myself cos I, um, um... I make things difficult for myself. I don't... I would never impose my standards upon anybody else. So if something goes wrong, I'm not gonna - um - smash up a hotel room, I'm not gonna smash up a bus, I'm not gonna smash up a dressing room, I'm not gonna abuse somebody else, and I've never raised my voice with anybody.
That doesn't mean I don't get fits of temper [laughs] or whatever. I just don't think I've morally got the right to take out my frustration on another human being."
Interviewer: "But you hurt yourself, all the time. Not only abuse of drugs and alcohol, but you cut yourself. That's one of the things I can't understand at all. Do you have any explanation for that?"
Richey: "I think it's quite common. It's on the increase. It's all about self-discipline. Like, self-obsession is connected completely with self-loathing, and it's the same with, um, if you've got a weight problem. It's all about... finding some worth in yourself, knowing that you've got the discipline to do it, and knowing that other people maybe can't do it. And it's also, I think, really connected to the fact that you almost feel, like, silent, you have no voice, you're mute, there's just no, you've got no option. Even if you could express yourself nobody would listen anyway. Things that go on inside you, there's no other way to get rid of them.
I mean, I've been in clinics where there's been lots of people who've cut themselves and abused themselves, physically and violently. It's pretty common, it's clichéd amongst people who do it that when they do it they don't actually feel any pain. You know, even when you're maybe having stitches in your body and things have been done to you, it doesn't matter. You're in a frame of mind where it really does not hurt.
You know, maybe a few days later you get a certain amount of pain as the skin starts to heal, but when you're in that frame of mind it's really natural. It's the only logical thing to do. Otherwise you feel you could almost do something to another person, and that is something that I would - again, like I said, I would never ever take it out on somebody else. Maybe the things I do, it's more concerned with the fact that I don't like myself very much, and so I would not expect anyone else to judge me that highly; so if I discipline myself I can feel relatively content with my mental state and my physical state. If I can balance those two then I feel OK, and I'm not really worried what people think about me. Because I judge myself harsher, and on more strict terms, than they ever could probably. I - I think. Mm."
Interviewer: "But why are you hard on yourself?"
Richey: "Um - I've always felt the need to prove myself against other people. I mean, I'm quite a weak person physically, and I think in school... I wouldn't say I was bullied but you do feel scared sometimes, or frightened, and the only thing I thought I had that was different from other people was the fact that I was actually quite intelligent. I like reading and passing exams or whatever. But even, say, things like A-levels - and I got straight As - but say somebody else got straight As I would not feel as good as them, because I didn't know what percentages we had. I wanted to know that I had 98% and they had 95% [laughs]. It wasn't enough. You know, I felt next to somebody with the same qualifications as me, I would not feel as good, because an A - what does an A stand for. You know, you don't even know what it means. So you're constantly trying to get better and improve all the time.
That's why I was so disappointed with myself when I started drinking, because I didn't drink till I was at university, I didn't use drugs till I graduated, whereas everybody was doing it in school. I didn't have the need for it, because I didn't want to, like, interrupt my mind, but it got to a point where I could not sleep and people said 'If you have a few drinks it'll help you get to sleep'. Which it did, alcohol for me was always very functional, drugs for me were always very functional. Obviously it escalates, your tolerance increases and... you know the story."
Interviewer: "Here on the road now with the band, I imagine if you do have a potential drink or drugs problem, it's the hardest place to be. How do you cope now?"
Richey: "No, like I say, that's easy. I know what happens if I drink, I know what happens if I use a stimulant that I don't wanna go back to... [pause] the last thing I want is to end up like somebody like Shane MacGowan, you know. I've seen him, I've seen him around, I think he was a fantastic lyricist when he started off and I hate the kind of grudging respect people give him now. When I see Shane onstage, sometimes when he can't even sing any more and he's falling over, and they're talking about the genius of the man and I find that very very patronising. It's just like watching somebody die very slowly. And that upsets me, because I think he was a godlike lyricist and I don't think that's there any more really, and I don't find that enjoyable. And I don't find the thought of being like that myself very enjoyable."
Interviewer: "I find that, again, extraordinary - the chorus [of 'Yes'], 'He's a boy, you want a girl so tear off his cock, tie his hair in bunches, fuck him, call him Rita if you want'. Where's it coming from?"
Richey: [laughs] "Well, in terms of actually ever doing that, I've never actually ripped off somebody's cock, um..."
Interviewer: "No, but I mean, just the idea. I assumed, at first, that it must be personal - intensely personal."
Richey: "Um... yeah. I think it is quite personal, um... they just... I mean, a song like 'Yes', it's about self-image and it's about feeling... used. Like, when I lost my virginity it was a definite act, that I was 21, everybody for years and years had been fucking around me saying how brilliant it was, and I felt like 'Ahhh, I'm not happy, maybe it is this glorious event that's gonna change your life'. And so I just deliberately went out and sat in a pub, drank until somebody came up and said 'Do you want to come back to my house', and we went back and we fucked - it was very clinical and the next day I felt really bad. I didn't like it... um, and that kind of shaked my perspective on things. Um..."
Interviewer: "But something that's puzzling me is that you come across as being very shy and introverted. So how can you get on a stage in front of thousands of people?"
Richey: [laughing] "Um, well, that's one of the reasons I started drinking , cos it always helped. Going onstage. I guess it's the part of the job that I don't like, you know."
Interviewer: "Have you ever been in love?"
Richey: "I've told myself I've been in love. I've told myself I've been in love lots of times, but that's kind of like forced. I'm supposed to be, I'm old enough now, I should feel this way. I would say I've been in lust, I've been physically attracted to people for lengthy periods of time and to the exclusion of everything else, but I wouldn't necessarily call that love because if it was love it would last. I'm too old-fashioned in that sense, you know. If it doesn't last then it's not love. Because I think love is eternal, probably."
Interviewer: "Generally speaking, are you happy with your lot?"
Richey: [long pause]" Um - [long pause] I don't wanna come across too much as a moaning old bastard. But there's certain things I would like to change, I would like to improve huge parts of my body... and mentally there's lots of things I wish I was better at. I mean, I cannot ever come to terms with the fact that I cannot learn a language. I can't say that I've ever really tried that hard, but it's the only exam I've ever failed, French. Every time I've tried to learn a few words I just cannot seem to do it, it just cannot seem to seep into my mind, and I know other people that learn languages so easily, you know they've got 4, 5 languages. I'm really really envious of that. So little things like that I would like to change, but generally... today... for these 24 hours I'm [laughing] I'm in a good mood!