|1. Firstly, Alex Silva thought that the Manics asked
you to mix The Holy Bible, due to their admiration for your work on The
Breeders album, Last Splash. Is that correct?
"Yes, I understand thats what prompted them to ask me to mix
2. Can you remember your initial discussions with MSP about what
they wanted to achieve when mixing tracks for the long player?
"I had a meeting with them in my manager's office. We talked about
keeping it lo-fi and James said he liked the sound of Last Splash. I
think they were looking for something that was maybe the antithesis
of the previous album (Gold Against The Soul), hence the way that they
went about recording with Alex."
3. While making The Holy Bible, James revealed that "We actually
recorded on smaller tape; we didn't record on conventional tape. We
recorded on tape you'd use for demos usually and recorded on very small
16-track decks." But before a master disc is cut from the final
mixes, for people who may not know what this process entails, what are
the early steps taken with the original master tapes / raw materials
- are the separate music / vocal tracks transferred to a mixing console,
so that they are then ready for editing?
"This recording was made on multi-track analogue tape - as were
most modern recordings of that time - and there were various analogue
formats available. In this case, it was originally recorded on a 1-inch
analogue multi-track tape. This was considered more appropriate for
demo and home recording, because it was not as accurate in sound reproduction
and probably a good deal noisier than professional formats of the day.
The usual professional format was a 2-inch format. If set up correctly,
the wider format facilitates higher fidelity and greater dynamic range.
When I received the recording, it had already been transferred to a
2-inch format, so that I could mix it in some of the studios I usually
used at that time for mixing. Because it had been recorded on 1-inch
tape, the character of that format was, to some extent, copied to the
2-inch tape. So all of the separate tracks - guitar, bass, drums, keys
and vocals - are played back from an appropriate tape machine thats
been electrically set up to a certain reference playback standard. These
recorded signals, the drum kit as bass drum, snare, hi-hat, overheads
and toms - maybe a room microphone further away from the drum kit. The
bass amp and its direct sound from the bass guitar and keyboards etc.
and of course all the vocal tracks - backing vocals and so forth. These
sounds are fed into the separate channels of a mixing console directly
played back from the tape machine. I listen to these separate channels
through the mixing console and various monitor speakers. We make decisions
about balance, panning, tone, spatial effects and dynamics. I may also
make decisions about what may or may not be used - usually in conjunction
and in agreement with the artist as we build the mix. I might listen
to the song in its various guises several hundred times until we think
we have the final mix! The final mix is reduced to a 2-track tape machine
- in this case, it would have been stereo half-inch tape (running at
30ips for techie nerds). Left and right channels make a stereo signal."
4. Did Sony deliver the master tapes to you, prior to mixing commencing?
"Yes, to the studio that Id be mixing in."
5. The Holy Bible was famously recorded at Sound Space Studios in
Cardiff. Is there a reason why Britannia Row Studios in London, was
chosen as the complex where the record would be mixed?
"It was actually mixed in a few different rooms around London;
Brit Row, Nomis, The Strongroom and Townhouse, as I remember. These
were my preferred London rooms for mixing at the time. There may have
been issues around availability."
6. Do you recall which month in 1994, the mixing took place and how
many weeks this was over?
"I'm not sure when in 1994 (pausing), I mean, you're telling me
it was 1994 (laughing)! So, I can't tell you when we mixed it, but I
think it was mixed over a period of months, like 2 - 3 months. I mean,
I wasn't in the studio everyday."
7. When starting a brand new mix for the very first time, do you
begin by adjusting the fader levels for a specific instrument etc?
"Of course there are several ways to start a mix. Most usually
for me, Ill put the faders in a straight line - all the same relative
low attenuation/volume (to give myself lots of headroom to pull sounds
up without distortion) - then Ill dig around and look for the
heart of the song and start massaging it into shape by use of balance,
panorama, dynamic control and tone shaping."
8. Is it true, that the band worked closely alongside you during the
"They would brief me about a song I was about to mix - perhaps
some talk of what elements they considered important to the song and
some idea of the kind of atmosphere they were after. Id get on
with the mix on my own initially, to a point where I'd think its
working pretty well. I might do Take 1, have a listen back in a different
environment then make some revisions - make a Take 2 or whatever. Then,
Id ask them to come in for a listen and theyd respond after
having a good listen. They were very relaxed and very clear (pausing),
it was really just James and Sean coming in and working with me. I remember
seeing Richey and Nicky, but from recollection, it was really James
and Sean calling the shots. They were very kind and gentle - no histrionics!
They'd have said things like: 'Ooh, could you just turn-up the hi-hat
a wee bit?' Or: 'Can we get a bit more weight on the snare drum?' Or:
'Could we try the guitars a bit brighter?' Stuff like that (laughing).
But from what I can remember, it was quite straightforward. I had a
brief listen to some of the album just before you called and I noticed
there's some heavily effected mixes - theres flanging and other
psychedelic stuff going on! So, there must have been some discussion
around that sort of stuff. But really, from a mix point-of-view, I remember
it being stress free and it coming together without too much fuss."
*I ask Mark if he remembers being unavailable for a recall of She Is
Suffering, which although he's unlisted on The Holy Bible sleeve credits
for, Dave Eringa then completed*
"I don't remember that, but maybe - it's certainly possible. They
probably wanted a fresh ear on it. Its so long ago you know (laughing)
and a lot of water has passed under the bridge!"
9. What was the first song and the last song to be mixed?
"I think the first song was either P.C.P. or Faster, especially
as they were released as the AA-side lead single first of all (before
the album), and I suspect that The Intense Humming Of Evil may have
been the last one... I think I remember that being quite far down the
10. Were there any songs that took much longer to mix than others,
perhaps due to having complex multi-tracks or because yourself and the
group were attempting to achieve the desired sound / dynamics?
"I don't think so... Maybe She Is Suffering if Dave Eringa finished
it?! I mean, in those days, a mix (from me) would usually be a day and
another morning because of budgets and studio costs etc. So, I'd do
a mix as a series of takes one day and then I'd review and revise the
final takes the next morning. With the spoken-word samples, MSP had
a very clear idea about what went where. At that time, I carried a little
suitcase full of various crackly speakers and cheap electronic circuits,
and I think I processed some of that stuff through these as we dropped
it into the recording."
11. Sonically, is there a mix that you are particularly proud of?
"I havent listened all the way through since we finished
mixing the album. I dont often go back and listen to stuff thats
finished and let loose in the real world! I might hear something somewhere
or other and be pleasantly - or unpleasantly! - surprised by it in some
way. I always loved Ifwhiteamerica... as a song and just enjoyed hearing
Faster - some of the mixing with spatial effects around vocals and guitars
throughout that song still seem to work pretty well. I have to say,
I was a bit disappointed that it went onto be remixed for the American
market - perhaps there was some insecurity around the lo-finess of it?
Radio pluggers probably telling the label it wouldnt get any radio
play unless it sounded bigger and more American rock or
something perhaps? Tell me - whats the consensus on the American
version and the British version?"
*I comment that although the raw Original Mix is many fans' favourite
and also my personal favourite from beginning to end, some devotees
do prefer Tom Lord-Alge's more airbrushed, smooth-edged and hi-fi sounding
alt rock US Mix. Whereas MSP themselves and a considerable amount of
other fans, actually have cherished mixes on both versions - with selected
'Bible Ites' even cherry-picking songs from each album to make their
very own, mix 'n' match customised copy of The Holy Bible*
"Ha! Thats fair enough I guess. I was a bit bemused by that.
But if the record company felt a different mix was going to get them
more attention and more sales in the US market, then so be it. I dont
know if it did though?"
12. Lastly, The Holy Bible was unsurprisingly named '# 1 Favourite
Manic Street Preachers Album Of All Time' in a recent Albumism readers'
poll. Did you think you were mixing something very special at the time,
and also, how did you feel when you eventually listened to the final
"I'm amazed at its longevity! At the time, it seemed pretty unique
if not a little inaccessible. I couldnt have foreseen youd
be asking me about it in this context in 2018. When one of my sons who
was 13 or 14 at the time, got wind that I was mixing a Manic Street
Preachers record, he and his friends were all like: 'Bloody hell, that's
amazing!' Tomas came down to the studio at one point and met the band.
I couldn't really make head or tail of much of the lyrics, even though
I had access to vocal channels in isolation. I found the words themselves
to be rather unintelligible! When I got a copy of the final CD with
the lyric sheet though, I was really like: 'Oh, my God!' (laughing).
My son would play the record and he seemed to know all the words! Maybe
he was reading the lyric sheet! Theres some sort of quiz, where
you can guess the lyrics and people come up with their own very funny
interpretation of the words, and it was rather like that for me, I have
to say. When mixing, you've got to decide where the vocals are best
balanced from an intelligibility point-of-view, and its a discussion
you might have with the artist: 'How intelligible? How loud? What proximity
are we looking for here?' Playing it today, I can hear the vocals clearly
in the mix, but I do have trouble making out the lyrics. Maybe it needs
a remix? In terms of mastering, with the UK version, I'm pretty sure
this would have been Tim Young or Ian Cooper at the Townhouse... Maybe
Metropolis if it existed in 1994?! The US version, possibly went to
Masterdisk and Howie Weinberg in New York? I can't actually remember
attending a mastering session - I guess James and Sean took that on
themselves... I loved the next record that they did with Mike Hedges,
Everything Must Go. Mike Hedges was someone I assisted at the beginning
of my time working in recording studios, at a place called Morgan Studios,
Willesden in London (became Battery Studios). I assisted him when he
was recording The Cure's first album (Three Imaginary Boys). I think
I was aware that the Manics had asked him to produce The Holy Bible,
and it was great he went onto produce the next album. I think Everything
Must Go is a classic record. I was a bit miffed, because it seemed that
your hardcore Manics Fans were not enamoured with it, certainly initially,
I think that was the case? But, I don't know about all of that, I'm
just looking at it as a piece of work. Great songs and the way it's
presented - its a marvellous record! I really became a bit of
a Manics Fan (from then on) and I enjoyed some of the records MSP Fans
appeared not to like so much (laughing). Like, If You Tolerate This...
from This Is My Truth... Fantastic stuff!"
A very special thanks to Mark for all of his time
"The Holy Bible is true artistic expression, musically and lyrically."
- Nicky Wire
When I interviewed The Holy Bible's engineer/co-producer, Alex Silva,
he very kindly informed me about how a number of distinguishing sounds,
embellishments and nuances across the whole LP, were created and crafted
in the studio. Giving further insight into James' musical mindset at
the time, this inventive sonic palette was mainly accomplished through
a combination of using JDB's electric guitars, a Zoom micro-pocket
guitar processor, playing techniques, amp distortion / feedback, reverb,
sustain and white noise etc. All of which, can be clearly heard to varying
degrees in the long player's 13 songs. Similarly, Mark also generously
told me about some of the unique sonic textures that he himself added
during the mixing stage. I have written snippets based on this info...
The swooshing sound on James' guitar between 2.48 - 2.56, is most likely
a mix phasing effect.
*In relation to Ifwhiteamerica..., when JDB performed this track as
part of his recent Velindre Fundraising acoustic gig, he revealed that
it is "one of his favourite lyrics" ever penned by the irreplaceable
Archives Of Pain
The warping sound on James' guitar between 3.13 - 3.20, is a sort of
flange effect. I think I was using a Marshall Time Modulator.
Mix FX on both the music and vocals, is what resulted in the slightly
unclean / softened definition 'sonic blanket' effect.
This Is Yesterday
The muffled / quivering bed of sound that runs through the entire song,
is the same thing as used on Archives Of Pain I reckon - Marshall Time
Modulator. I want one again! Maybe some of The Publison as well - I
think there was one at Nomis Studios where I remember mixing this track.
With several other queries about sounds that I had, Mark explained
that these would have actually been recorded by Alex during The Holy
Bible sessions (rather than being applied during the mixing stage).
So, after getting back in touch to see if he may be able to help, Alex
graciously provided me with these very interesting technical details,
which again, I have written snippets for. My deepest gratitude to Alex
for his time and thoughtfulness...
The surging white noise type of sound that appears a couple of times
between 3.00 - 3.15, is a drum cymbal roll played with soft beaters.
Of Walking Abortion
The sinister effect on Nicky's bass for this particular track, is a
static flanger, i.e. full depth and slowest rate. JDB's spiralling guitar
sound from 0.15 - 0.28, is a chorus pedal - again full depth and slow
Archives Of Pain
The slithering electronic sound at 0.19 - 0.20 and during 5.22 - 5.25,
when the song ends, was done by plucking the guitar strings with a pick
on the wrong side of the nut, i.e. between the string pegs and the beginning
of the fretboard. The sound was then processed with a non-linear reverb
The wriggling sound from 0.03 - 0.07, with feedback and a strum at its
conclusion, is a bass played high with a high feedback chorus pedal.
The howling, turbulent feedback from 0.13 - 0.26, is caused by guitar
power chords sent into feedback by playing it in front of a loud guitar
The whirling sound between 0.00 - 0.07, is the guitar riff which plays
throughout the track in different octaves. From 3.22 - 3.39 though,
it is also played with a tempo synched heavy tremelo setting.
The screeching sound on the guitar riff from 0.10 - 0.16, is just how
James played it and the effect is chorus with a very fast oscillator
The Intense Humming Of Evil
I can't remember how we created the hissing noises between 1.08 - 1.13
and 5.47 - 6.11, although it sounds like it could be a guitar with a
heavy feedback delay, but I can't be entirely sure.
Sean Moore via Twitter - 'The Holy Bible Mini Q&A'
As a final addition to our triptych of interconnecting,
editorial features about The Holy Bible - a record that continues to
inspire cult worship and fans remain evangelical about! After having
forensically analysed THB's components and its conceptual unity / apostasy,
we asked Sean for some supplementary information not covered elsewhere.
Much appreciation to R*E*P*E*A*T's Editor, Rosey, for tweeting the questions
and to @seanmooremanic for answering them...
Is it correct that you had purchased a Sampler prior to recording The
Holy Bible, which was then used for the spoken-word samples, and can
you remember the make of this?
"S1000 Akai, which we bought during GATS recording."
Would you be willing to explain the sampling process?
"Most of the samples were taken directly from TV recorded on VHS,
then directly fed into the Sampler and then edited and transferred to
Do you know when Tom Lord-Alge did the US Mix of The Holy Bible?
"Sometime between UK release and USA release. Sorry I can't be
Is there a reason why the US Mix of She Is Suffering has a spoken-word
sample, that wasn't used on the Original Mix?
PPS - Christmas 2018 / January 2019
After carefully rechecking The Holy Bible triptych by R*E*P*E*A*T, I
noticed that I still needed to tie up a few loose ends about one of
the Manic Street Preachers' masterworks, and in Nicky's own words, the
long player where lyrically, Richey "was reaching some sort of
peak of intelligence." Having famously signed a multi-album deal
with Columbia Records / Sony Music UK in 1991. Then, as 'the shock of
the new', self-assuredly proclaimed how they would "go out in a
blaze of glory after their debut, Generation Terrorists, had sold 16
million copies, they'd achieved world domination and said everything
that they wanted to say - leaving behind a definitive rock 'n' roll
statement!" James would later express how grateful he was that
the band didn't split up, as otherwise, MSP would have never made The
James Dean Bradfield - Acoustic Magazine, August 2014 - Interview
To begin with, I have cut and pasted several enlightening extracts from
a JDB interview with Acoustic Magazine. In this, he discusses his initial
songwriting process prior to laying down demos and the Manics' studio
recordings (which are comprised of multilayered musical arrangements),
are then 'captured' by a producer, sonically processed and manipulated,
before finally being tweaked at the mixing stage. My reason for doing
this, is because rather aptly, James touches upon writing the music
for The Holy Bible and Faster, which complements R*E*P*E*A*T's interviews
with Alex Silva and Mark Freegard, plus the 50 Further Facts write-up,
"Transferring your electric sensibility to an acoustic one is
a notoriously hard thing to do. I look for something that I can strip
back to its barest bones and it still communicates the essence of the
song. Most music I've written with the Manics has been on acoustic guitar.
Strangely, even The Holy Bible, which is bizarre because it is really
riff-based. It was written on an acoustic (12-string, Fender F-5-12)
back in my parents' house in Wales. By then, I had the confidence to
write a riff on an acoustic guitar and I knew that it would transfer
to an electric guitar... My Mum and Dad bought me the Fender as an Eighteenth
Birthday present. I still use it on lots of records - it's got a Guns
N' Roses sticker on it, too. It was all over Generation Terrorists and
even The Holy Bible, tucked away on one of the tracks... A lot of stuff
I've written from Nick and Richey's lyrics has just come from me absolutely
loving them and then it bringing something out musically... With Faster,
I went through 20 drafts of the music to get the song and in the end
it's so simple, but it's all about the riff."
The Holy Bible completion date, demos, P.C.P. backing vocals &
Next, something else of importance which I feel is worth stating, is
how the Life Becoming A Landslide EP - which was released on February
7, 1994 and concluded the Gold Against The Soul promotional campaign
- contained the b-side, Comfort Comes (a precursor to The Holy Bible
sound), that was engineered by Alex Silva and mixed by Dave Eringa in
late '93. Then, after THB had been committed to tape and therefore dating
from around the same time as these legendary recording sessions, Alex
also engineered the b-side, Sculpture Of Man, which was once again mixed
So, as Alex Silva and Mark Freegard were unsure about some Holy Bible
questions, I decided to contact MSP's long-term producer and close friend,
Dave Eringa https://www.facebook.com/daveeringa + https://twitter.com/DaveEringa
who as mentioned above, also did a mix recall for She Is Suffering.
Due to having had some involvement with The Bible, thankfully, Dave
was able to help and even very kindly asked James if he could clarify
what he's singing on the backing vocals for P.C.P. - an unknown lyric
that has kept fans guessing for years! A very special thanks to Dave
and JDB for these THB scoops and for clearing things up...
Timeline-wise, it would seem that The Holy Bible was completely finished
- including mixing and mastering - around late spring / early summer
"Im sure youre right about the finish dates for it.
I remember This Is Yesterday was the last track recorded - they went
back for an extra session for it as they felt the album needed a little
balance, but I cant remember the exact dates Im afraid!"
What are your recollections of mixing Sculpture Of Man?
"We mixed Sculpture Of Man at Wessex Studios in Highgate. As far
as I remember, it was from the main Bible sessions but I could be wrong
there - it was a long time ago!!"
PPS - Christmas 2018 / January 2019 (Dave Eringa Q&A question 3)
As far as unreleased material from this era, the vaults have now
been emptied. However, as only a couple of demos have ever been officially
released (on The Holy Bible 10th Anniversary Edition), did home acoustic,
studio or live rehearsal demos once exist for all 13 tracks?
"Im pretty sure the only demos done were Die In The Summertime
and Mausoleum (which was still called No Birds at that point), but I
could be wrong."
*In a (newly-uploaded to YouTube) 2015 BBC Wales interview about the
exacting and towering achievement that is The Holy Bible, James confirmed:
"The first songs that we completed, were Die In The Summertime
and Mausoleum, because they're the only two songs which have existing
demos. So, we'd kind of talked the talk about this mood change in the
band and the direction that we were going to take, which is always an
essential part of what we do. We always try to talk a good game before
we actually even write a song for that new direction, or whatever it
is... They set the tone perfectly I suppose, really. There was an essential
bleakness to them, but it was still energised - it wasn't maudlin in
its musical attack. It was still very pointed and we knew that essentially,
we could take those songs on the road and we could still be that live
act that was very confrontational."*
A number of songs on The Holy Bible feature BVs, with some of the
most prominent being on Ifwhiteamerica... (including Nicky's soundbites,
which were treated with Mark Freegard's various crackly speakers and
cheap electronic circuits during the mixing stage, in order to create
the megaphone type of effect). But, on the backing vocals for P.C.P.
from 3.18 - 3.39, can James recall what he's singing? This particular
line isn't printed in the CD booklet and after viewing archived message
board posts on the Forever Delayed Forum, it appears that fans remain
uncertain about what the actual lyrics are.
"I asked James, and after listening to the track to check, he told
me that he sings: 'P.C.P. gives me no home'."
*Additional notes on some of The Holy Bible backing vocals, courtesy
of Alex Silva via email - January 2019: "As far as I remember,
James and I did BV gang vocals between us on P.C.P. and Revol."*
The Holy Bible (US Mix) - Differences with the original
withdrawn CD pressing
In closing - and following on from a couple of Mark Freegard and
Sean's answers - I thought that it may be interesting for MSP Fans and
record collectors, to document how the original withdrawn The Holy Bible
(US Mix) CD, differs to The Holy Bible (Original Mix) CD...
Firstly, listeners may already be aware from owning The Holy Bible
10th Anniversary Edition, that the running time for the US Mix is 57:16,
compared to the 56:17 running time of the Original Mix. Although there
are slight variations in the length of some songs' endings, the most
notable changes are actually on Yes, which has an extended outro (19
seconds longer) and on She Is Suffering, which has an extended intro
(15 more seconds) - including the aforementioned US Mix-only, John G.
Bennett spoken-word sample: "It is impossible to achieve the aim
without suffering." Aesthetically, even the sleeve artwork was
modified by the American label (Epic Records Group), with the tracklisting
being moved to the back cover opposite the quote taken from the introduction
of Octave Mirbeau's book, The Torture Garden. There is also a different
promo photograph of the group, taken by lensman Tom Sheehan. While on
the front cover (in a bold and much larger Gill Sans typeface than used
for its UK counterpart), Manic Street Preachers now appears above the
title, The Holy Bible (which has been reduced in size). Jenny Saville's
painting, Strategy (South Face/Front Face/North Face), has also been
printed a tad darker. Interestingly, the actual 1993-94 oil on canvas
triptych measures in at a hulking, 274 x 640cm or 108 x 252".
Other restyles, include the spine lettering (which also has the North
American catalogue number) and how rather than having a 12-page lyrics
booklet, this pressing instead has a double-sided, 6-panel foldout lyrics
insert - which again, has design alterations. One side features all
of the colour imagery and the other side is in black & white (the
photographs of each of MSP as children are on this side, making them
all monochrome in this release). As a consequence, this has resulted
in the lyrics / various images each relating to their corresponding
songs, being sequenced differently to those in the UK CD lyrics booklet.
However, as with the Original Mix, the order is again random and doesn't
mirror the album's final tracklisting. Although the lyric sheet layouts
remain almost identical (the words for This Is Yesterday, She Is Suffering
and Revol aren't highlighted). The 8 b&w portraits of James, Nicky,
Richey and Sean, taken by photographer Neil Cooper, have actually been
enlarged / closely cropped and fill much more of the page space as four
sets of pairings across two pages (both shots of James and both shots
of Nicky are positioned together on the same page, and likewise with
the pictures of Richey and Sean). There is no sepia tone added to the
side-on photograph of Sean, as found in the UK version.
The sleeve credits are unchanged, apart from the fact that the American
music publishing information is listed, as are the US Mix's mixing and
mastering details. And, although briefly issued in Canada in March 1995
(these extremely rare copies have the Sony Music Entertainment (Canada)
Inc. HQ address on the back cover, and also state Made in Canada), realistically,
the mixing and mastering must have been completed at some point during
late '94, as both the music and product still have a © 1994 date).
The mix is obviously credited to Tom Lord-Alge, while mastering is credited
to Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound, NYC. Lastly, the record is packaged
in a standard clear CD jewel case - as it was worldwide - but the printed
text on the physical CD has been adjusted, making this withdrawn edition
unique all round, highly sought after and collectible - as are the hard
to find, advance promo cassette and CD versions as well!
With regard to Manic Street Preachers collectors and fan favourites,
at in-store signings over the years, Nicky has observed how "there
are always A LOT of Holy Bibles!"
Postscript August 2019
Since this article was originally published, Farrow Design reunited
with MSP in 2013 and 2014, to help create the album / single sleeves
for both the Rewind The Film and Futurology campaigns (with Nicky having
again worked closely alongside the design agency by choosing the photographs).
In 2016, Farrow designed the exclusive 'Record Store Day' A Design
For Life 12" vinyl and the assortment of Everything Must Go 20th
Anniversary reissues. Then, in 2018, This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours
received the same loving treatment from them to commemorate its 20th
Finally, as it is now almost the 20th Anniversary of The Masses Against
The Classes as well, Mark has very kindly provided some additional information
about the cover concept: "It was a while ago, obviously, but my
recollection was that it was Nicky who wanted to leave the 'Lone Star'
off, something about it being 'not quite a Cuban flag.'"