60Ft Dolls escaped to the States almost two years ago. Richard Parfitt tells Jennifer Rodger why they have come back
"When we are at our best, there is an electricity, we get dangerously close to something and I get scared." Fear is rising in the bowels of a Soho film studio, as Richard Parfitt, the voice behind 60Ft Dolls, looks like he is about to confirm their wild-men image. "When we get close to truth, we back off," he says. To my relief, I realise he is talking philosophy.

The 60Ft Dolls have come dangerously close - close to super stardom, to breaking up, to fights with Tupac Shaker. After one single in 1994, for indie label Rough Trade, they were snapped up by Indolent in Britain and Geffen in America and embarked on a touring spree which marked them out as a powerful live band. Oh, and for being Welsh. As Taff-rock and Daff-rock were bandied around in music magazine offices, 60Ft Dolls sensibly crossed over to America and disappeared from the British music scene for almost two years.

Parfitt fiddles shyly, and I wonder how an interview could make someone who swapped insults with rapper Tupac Shaker, nervous? One could hazard hack psychology, saying it is because 60Ft Dolls have been everything but themselves; the Welsh scene, the Brit Pop high, riotous Punk rockers. But forget Welsh, because more like Irish Guinness, Parfitt's not bitter.

"There was one story about us and the headline was Yob Rock, and I nearly split up the band for that. It would be the worst thing to be associated with being laddy, the word yobbo frightens me. With the Welsh thing, you use anything when you first come out, and should, you know. If you get some guy from England coming down, fat cats waving their cheque books, my advice is take the money, for sure."

Having spent the past year in America recording and "midwest hell, playing to bemused cowboys and mutant mods," 60Ft Dolls are back with a tour, single and album. Are they nervous that the tide has turned? "We are not scared or worried, we are just anxious. You could never say we were successful, but we were the new sound thing. A lot changes," says Parfitt.

At least this second album should stop them from being pigeon-holed; relentless guitar rhythms and gritty emotion sounds like early Jam, but could just as easily be New Order or even the Beatles. "I figure this one is more eclectic, sophisticated, but in a good way. Like Carole King's Tapestry, no one would dream of referencing it as that!" he says.

"Originally, we were going to call the album "Nine Stories", as in different stories in each song. It's almost conceptual, but I'm glad it's not. It would be crap then, the idea would take over when the songs should be first, and I think they are."

I mention that on The Big 3 album someone said that "Maindee Run" described his home town of Newport. Apart from my pronunciation causing amusement, Parfitt will not tolerate trick Welsh questions. "Maindee Run" is the only song our drummer has ever written. It is a row of pubs where Mike often was, and the maindee run would be when we wouldn't see him for a week," he says.

"The main difference between all the Welsh bands that are around is that those from the north or west, where it is rural and agriculture, are magic- mushroom enhanced - all wizards with pointy hats who live in caravans. And those like Manic Street Preachers and us come from the south, which is industrial, much more rock 'n' roll."

"Moving into the second millennium, that people can be so stupid annoys me. Talent isn't exclusive to any area. And people are suddenly surprised, oh, good bands can come out of Wales. It is racism. I think the Welsh- language speakers are the lowest social class in Britain, because they have been robbed of the language of their culture, their identity. It is still okay to take the piss out of them."

Parfitt's interest in nationalism means not speaking to the Daily Telegraph since a journalist's Welsh insult (oh, and saying "Why didn't you vote for Kinnock, you miserable racists? Was it because he was a ginger-haired taffy yobbo?"). So, we are not going to see another member of the British music industry get pseudo-political on Newsnight, then?

"I think Oasis were incredibly stupid, the union jack on the guitar was very distasteful, and the same with the Manics waving the Welsh flag. Everyone is nervous now, when Blair came in they thought Alan McGee would run the country, but they were as anxious to walk into Downing Street as Tony Blair was, as guilty as him for doing it for publicity and their own selfish interest."

The time may be right for 60Ft Dolls to embrace success. "The portals of success are guarded by failures. Embittered and wearing bobble hats," he says.