Sean and James quickly became very close: they shared books, records - even a bunk-bed - and bought their first guitars on the same day.
Unlike the rest of the band, however, Sean was classically trained as a musician. To this day, he's the youngest-ever trumpet player to play in the South Wales jazz orchestra, although his skills would often be harnessed to more political causes: even as a kid, he'd blow brass on marches organised by the National Union of Miners.
Sean's miserable demeanour and distinct lack of rock star good-looks have insured that he's the most criminally undervalued member of the Manics. Yet there's no doubting his conviction: In the early days, it was Sean's day job at the civil service that kept the band afloat. "He funded us, basically," said Richey. "He's more dedicated than any of us."
The whole hyper-sexualised, androgynous look, also, has never been Sean's thing: he refused to get in the nip and paint himself gold for a photoshoot for Melody Maker. However, he embraced the military aesthetic that came with The Holy Bible with some gusto. "We'd get a pin-on badge and Sean would come in with a £180 Russian medal," remembers James.
Indeed, Sean's love for conspicuous consumption is one of his few identifiable passions. He's a gadget fanatic, with a GameBoy never far from his fingers, and a fetish for the fresh and new. "I want everything to look like it's just come out of the wrapper," he told The Face. "I love the smell of, say, a Walkman when you first unwrap it. If it's got a scratch on it, that's it. That's the way I am."
Sean's approach to the drum-stool is also especially utilitarian. During sessions for The Holy Bible, his approach to the process of music-making made him sound more like a briefcase-clutching office drone that a million-selling rock star. "I used to commute in on the train," he explains. "Regular work. Drum until six and then go home. It was like a little office job."