Mark Freegard
On Mixing Manic Street Preachers – The Holy Bible
November 2018
Interview: Steve Bateman

Completing a triptych of interconnecting, editorial features about The Holy Bible, which first began with an interview with the album's engineer/co-producer, Alex Silva, followed later by an in-depth 50 Further Facts write-up about the long player - now comprehensively updated (including new Postscripts) and totalling over 30,000 words.

For the last part in this set of exclusive R*E*P*E*A*T articles and to commemorate the fan favourite's 25th Anniversary in 2019. I spoke to the final piece of the puzzle, veteran producer Mark Freegard, who added the finishing touches to the record by mixing it - the intricate process of 'realising the sonic landscapes of individual tracks, with the specific aim of creating a listening experience that takes a fan right to the essence of the song.' Rather importantly then, and just before The Holy Bible was mastered, it was Mark who made certain that all 13 tracks on the LP were ready for the world to hear!

A note to readers, please continue scrolling after the interview has concluded, for a bonus Postscript which has extra detailed information from both Mark Freegard and Alex Silva about how some of the distinctive sounds on THB were achieved, and which can be used as a handy reference guide whenever listening to the classic album. There are also some fresh facts considerately provided by Sean Moore! Thank you fellow MSP Fans and we hope that you enjoy Part 3 of The Holy Bible triptych by R*E*P*E*A*T...

Lucy: Your band have been quite quiet for the last few months. Are you looking forward to playing gigs again?
Katie Jane Garside: I think I give very obtuse ans
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 that’s what prompted them to ask me to mix the album."

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 that’s 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 I’d 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, I’ll 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 I’ll 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 whole process?

"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. I’d get on with the mix on my own initially, to a point where I'd think it’s 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, I’d ask them to come in for a listen and they’d 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 - there’s 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. It’s 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 line."

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 haven’t listened all the way through since we finished mixing the album. I don’t often go back and listen to stuff that’s 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 wouldn’t get any radio play unless it sounded ‘bigger‘ and more American rock or something perhaps? Tell me - what’s 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! That’s 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 don’t 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 mastered version?
"I'm amazed at its longevity! At the time, it seemed pretty unique if not a little inaccessible. I couldn’t have foreseen you’d 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! There’s 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 it’s 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 - it’s 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 and help.

"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 Richey Edwards*

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 oscillator.

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 setting.

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.

4st 7lb
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 amp.

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 rate.

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 tape."

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 more specific."

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?

"Copyright issues."

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 Holy Bible...

James Dean Bradfield - Acoustic Magazine, August 2014 - Interview Extracts

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, nicely...

"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 & more

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 by Dave.

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 + 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 1994?
"I’m sure you’re 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 can’t remember the exact dates I’m 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?
"I’m 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!"


wers to questions...It's never about looking forward to it. Actually maybe I should change the
script, maybe we are looeir musicm the 3rd album?