1.As Postcards From A Young Man is soon-to-be-released which
Nicky has called A tribute to the album can you tell
us a little bit about the making of it?
Well, I mean they came to me very well prepared, I must say
theyve bought their own studio in Cardiff now and they have an
absolutely fantastic engineer called Loz Williams, who they work with
all the time on the demoing process. So, they had a very clear idea
after Journal For Plague Lovers, that that record was a clearing of
the decks and that was the band that they could be with Richeys
lyrics. With Postcards From A Young Man, their phrase is, One
last shot at mass communication, and they wanted to make a follow-up
to Send Away The Tigers you know? James analogy which I love,
is that Send Away The Tigers was their Permanent Vacation and
this is their Pump (laughs heartily)! Which I think is a good
point, just in the sense that Permanent Vacation was Aerosmith recovering
from being completely on the ropes if you like, which I think is how
they felt when we went in to do Send Away The Tigers. Then they had
a hit with that on their own terms kind of thing, and then
there was the NME Godlike Genius Award and stuff like that,
so it feels like this time, theyre starting from a better place.
Hopefully, this record is even more consistent than Send Away The Tigers.
2.Has your method of working with the Manics changed from record to
record, i.e. approaches to songcraft / analogue vs. digital recordings?
Oh yeah, totally! Its changed partly with (pausing), you
know, Ive worked on 9 of their 10 records, starting with keyboards
on Generation Terrorists. Back in 1993, when we did Gold Against The
Soul, technology was so different, it was all tape everything
was full tape so if we did edits, it was on tape in the multi-track.
I suppose you could argue that it was more old-school and more organic,
but then as technology progressed, that enabled us to do things in different
ways. I wouldnt say that its necessarily evolved positively
or negatively, its just that we have followed technology to a
certain extent you know? They love being able to do lots of takes, which
with tape, you didnt have so much of an ability to do. James likes
to chase things down in his words, so we can work on something
for quite a long time, because when youre working in Pro Tools
or something like that, everythings much more immediate. So, theyre
naturally attracted to that method of working now, rather than constantly
rewinding and waiting for tapes to lock-up. I mean, it was a pleasure
to go back to tape for Journal For Plague Lovers, obviously because
Albini had said, This is how I do it and they were anxious
to do that when they recorded with him. So, when we recorded the extra
tracks and mixed it all, we were locked into the tape thing and it was
such a pleasure to go back to it and it does sound better (laughing)!
I was sort of hoping that Id press play on the tape and it would
be like, Oh, theres no difference, sort of thing.
But, it wasnt like that at all! I was like, Oh God, that
sounds great! The facilities and the abilities that you have with
digital, outweigh the perceived loss of magic if you like theres
worth to it, so its alright kind of thing. But when you do go
back to the old way, you think (excitedly), Oh God, yeah!
3.Of all the arrangements and sounds that youve helped bring
to life over the years, which are you most proud of?
Well, you know, youre always going to be attracted in a
positive way to the big hit. So Tolerate is always going
to have a special place in my heart, or our hearts, because it was the
first # 1. It was sonically adventurous, but also made in a very old-school
way that was actually the last one we did purely on tape. So
even though it sounded really modern, you could have made exactly the
same record in 1975 (laughing)! It didnt feel modern to us at
the time, because we recorded it as a b-side it was Be Natural
which that session was about we thought wed warm-up with
this weird, jerky, little b-side and it just grew. From when James said
he wanted a sound like a comet going through the sky and when we sort
of hit upon that sound, that was when it was like, Ooh, wait a
minute, this is quite good isnt it (laughing)? So that one,
I look back on very fondly and I always loved the mix of Australia.
I look back very fondly on Know Your Enemy, but I suppose that was a
lot to do with the fact that we recorded it in Spain (laughs heartily),
that was very nice! And Your Love Alone
is such a great pop moment
the moment where the guitar solo hits and the strings just go
up, I just love that and it always gives me a shiver! On the new record,
the duet with Ian McCulloch, Some Kind Of Nothingness, is really, really
special! Again, theres a real shiver-down-the-spine moment when
you come to the end of the middle 8, theres this huge soar up
to a big Gospel Choir.
4.I read that you love the idea of an album being a snapshot in
the life of the band really capturing where they are at that
moment in time. So, what are some of your favourite MSP guitar,
bass and drum parts + vocal takes that youve captured
Thats incredibly hard (thinking)
For a favourite guitar
part, theres just so many and with a guitar player like James
(pausing), thats a tough one actually, I must admit (long pause
From Despair To Where has some great guitar parts,
I adore the guitar solo on Autumnsong its absolutely fantastic!
Um (thinking), theres a bunch of great leads on the new record
as well (pausing), God, thats a toughie! Theres a few others,
like the guitar at the end of Tolerate
The one that we worked
on for the longest, was probably the verse guitar on The Masses Against
The Classes (singing guitar part). We must have recorded that part about
50 times James just kept saying, Lets go back and
try it again. Solo-wise, if you go back to Gold Against The Soul,
some of the solos on that are really brilliant (laughing)! Bass parts,
I mean probably everyones favourite bass part that Nicky has done
is on Archives Of Pain it wasnt one of mine, but I do really,
really love that! God, bass lines from Nick (thinking)
one on the new record actually, on a song called Auto-Intoxication,
where I think his bass is really, really great! And theres great
drumming across the whole of the new record, its extraordinary
actually theres a real sort of controlled Keith Moon type
thing, with a bit of Neil Peart thrown in as well. Sean sounds fantastic!
So musically, I feel like theyre at the peak of their powers!
As to what some of my favourite vocal takes are that Ive captured
on tape, its really hard to narrow it down and it depends, like
mental b-sides such as Sculpture Of Man, stuff like that, are just so
fucking out there (laughing)! What about the b-side on the Heavenly
version of You Love Us, Starlover, the middle 8 (singing), Cult
disciples of a still born Christ, I worship stone so lance my eyes
Its just such a mental lyric, Im loving it you know (laughing)?
Obviously, the vocal of Tolerate is pretty special, Design obviously,
and on the new record, we worked really hard on the vocals, James was
really, really, very particular and the vocals on the title track Postcards
From A Young Man and Some Kind Of Nothingness, are really, really brilliant!
Im very excited about the new record, but thats always the
case isnt it, when youve just finished it. I suppose you
need to look again in a year, but right now, as a snapshot of this moment
in time, a bunch of my favourite stuff is on the new record. But you
need to work out in time whether thats still the case, but it
feels that way, it feels like theyve done a corker!
*Returning to James voice momentarily, I say to Dave that I once
read that JDB will often pick the best bits from a few vocal takes,
but I wondered how he takes care of his voice / if he does any special
Hes always been such a natural singer. I work with lots
of singers that do a lot of that and are very, very careful with their
voice (pausing), James doesnt drink on tour at all now! As you
get older, it does get harder and harder and harder, but on the whole,
no. Hes aware of his voice as an instrument, without a doubt,
and hes very aware of his ability, like if hes at 98% or
anything like that, if he has a cold, hes very aware of what he
can reach and what he cant. He doesnt do any specific warm-ups,
well go out and we try to match microphones to songs its
not like he just uses one particular mic all the time. Theyll
be a couple of takes at the beginning where hes not really going
for it full-on, where were just sort of getting the vocal sound
kind of thing. So, you could say those were his warm-ups and then hell
get into it and give it a 100%. I suppose theres that aspect of
it, but no, hes never been to a vocal trainer and gone (singing
scales), La, la, la, la, la, la, la
It comes from
a very soulful place indeed and hes an intensely natural musician,
singer and guitar player. Its sickening to be honest with you
(jokingly + laughing)!
5.Sonically and structurally, have there been any songs that drastically
changed or grew out of others, which could almost be thought of as companions?
Well, a lot of the b-sides link songs by giving you a hint of
where theyre going next. One that comes to mind the most after
Gold Against The Soul, is Comfort Comes, which was clearly an indication
of where The Holy Bible was going to go, do you know what I mean? I
love the way their b-sides work like that. Then, I suppose something
like Removables on Everything Must Go, you can tell that that was still
vaguely coming from The Holy Bible style of writing. But have there
been any songs that drastically changed a lot from the original concept
(thinking)? I know Roses In The Hospital started out as a funk metal
track (laughs heartily)! It had this weird little riff and that changed
quite a lot, because James wanted a more Bowie, Sound And Vision type
of feel to it
There are probably demo cassettes of the funk metal
version in my loft! But I will say more than virtually any other
band Ive worked with that when they write, they know what
theyre going for from the off. I remember James played me Everything
Must Go on an acoustic guitar in his living room before theyd
recorded it and he was like, The drums will do this, the strings
will do this
It was just all there in his head it
was amazing! In general, there are sonic references for everything they
do, theyve got a very specific idea of how they want it to sound
and of course, in the recording process, things can send you off on
slight tangents. But they normally have a very, very clear idea
they know exactly what they want and with them, its the producers
job to make that happen, as opposed to saying, Lets do this
like this. Theyre very in-control of their own sound and
they know exactly what theyre trying to achieve, so there arent
that many songs that started out as a ballad and ended up as heavy metal
6.Which track caused the most discussion and debate amongst you all?
Ooh God, theres a lot of them! The Masses Against The Classes
we agonised over a lot. Some songs on Know Your Enemy, we just spent
forever on some that didnt even make it to the record.
Pedestal was one that we worked forever on (laughing) and then it didnt
even make the final cut. Some Kind Of Nothingness on the new record,
there was a lot of toing-and-froing on that, but there hasnt been
too much fractious discussion and debate, because like I said, they
have the vision and its not like I say, How about if we
do this or how about if we do that? Its about realising
their vision. I guess one that took a long, long time, which is one
that I only worked on in a very ephemeral way actually, was There By
The Grace Of God. There was a huge amount of toing-and-froing on that.
Mike Hedges produced it and then I did a mix of it with a big string
section and they didnt use that, they went with the more electronic
one, but that track caused a lot of discussion. I love that song, but
theyve gone off it.
*I say that the Manics often rubbish songs, only to eventually come
back round to them*
Yeah, regularly at any moment in time, the songs in their
back catalogue that they despise, will probably be the ones they choose
to love next! But, that one has fairly consistently been one that they
dont like though (laughing). I think quite rightly, they feel
that the single from Forever Delayed, should have been Forever Delayed.
7.Has it always impressed you how James along with additional
help from Sean has been able to take Nickys and Richeys
words and interpret them musically, while constantly striving to expand
the groups sonic palette and sound?
Of course (without any hesitation)! Its an incredible way
of working, and I cant think of any other band that Ive
ever known who have worked like that. So yeah, absolutely, without a
doubt! The words always inform the music, like when James read the words
for A Design For Life, he just knew that he had to do something special
he always says that that song just dropped out of the sky
in 20 minutes. But yeah, as musicians, they are extraordinary
and also as students of rock and pop music they are extraordinary, Ive
never known anyone with such an encyclopaedic knowledge! Even in sonic
terms, all the technical side although theyre not technically
minded people in a specific engineering way their knowledge often
weighs a record down. Its unbelievable!
8.When producing, how important is the balance between unprocessed rawness
and studio polish to you?
Um, well, I mean thats changed over the years. With this
record for instance, we were very deliberately going for a radio-friendly
sound, no doubt about it. But then back on say Know Your Enemy, we were
very deliberately going for the very opposite of that you know (laughing)?
It was all supposed to be super caustic and super confrontational sonically.
But how important is it for me personally? I think the energy is the
most important thing capturing the energy of the performance
and thats by whatever means necessary. With a lot of young bands,
that will mean setting them all up live and making a few sonic compromises,
just to capture the sense that theyre playing together. With the
Manics, thats not necessarily the case, they tend to have that
energy anyway its more about their mood if you like. But
yeah, for me personally, its nice to have a balance of both. You
dont want anything to sound half-arsed obviously, but at the same
time, the vibe is everything on a record. Id rather have a great
performance with some imperfections, rather than an anodyne, boring
9.Mixing is also an extremely important part of making a long player,
but for people who may not know how this works, could you give us a
brief insight + how do you feel about other people mixing tracks that
you have produced as happened with SATT and PFAYM can
fresh ears sometimes be beneficial in bringing a new vibe to a song?
Well, mixing is a spectacularly important part and if you mess
that up, then youve messed the whole thing up! Sometimes I mix
stuff and sometimes I dont. As you mentioned, with Send Away The
Tigers and Postcards From A Young Man, we were very lucky to have Chris
Lord-Alge, whos definitely one of the Top 5 rock mixers in the
world! Its an art form unto itself, especially mixing for radio.
The thing is, radio is very, very compressed and getting across a sense
of dynamics and a sense of things exploding, but still on the radio,
is a true art form unto itself and Chris is a real master! Weve
been very lucky to get him involved on these last couple of records.
But mixing is the process of realising the sonic landscape of the song,
just finishing it off and making everything fit together in the right
way and getting across the emotion and power, in the most concise way
possible. Making sure that its not cloudy, that the vocal is front
Its an artistic technical job.
10.Are there any Manics tracks that had lots of different mixes before
a finished version was finally settled on?
Tolerate we mixed 3 times, The Masses Against The Classes we mixed
3 times, There By The Grace Of God was mixed a bunch those are
ones that spring to mind. Others, like A Design For Life, which Ian
Grimble and Mike Hedges mixed, that was apparently like a magic moment
you know? They went in, pressed play and went, Oh My God! This
is absolutely amazing! Those magic moments are special, if theyre
there (laughs heartily) when its all just right! Autumnsong
was like that, when Chris sent it back we were like, Jesus! Thanks!
(laughs heartily). I think we went back 3 times to Your Love Alone,
just tweaks. But yeah, those are the ones that I can think of.
11.Have you had many happy accidents in the studio in terms
of musical ideas / directions?
Oh yeah, definitely and serendipity is a big part of the process.
Sometimes the way two guitars will sit together, youll hear a
harmonic poking out between them and youll hear a completely new
melody that might be a lead part. There was definitely one like that
on Roses In The Hospital, me and James both heard the same thing that
wasnt really there, but that then became the lead part of the
bridge. But theres lots of broken channels that make guitars sound
really fucked up and you go, Oh My God, that sounds brilliant
quick, get that (laughing)! Thats a big part of the
process, just happening across stuff, thats why having a bit of
extra time in the studio is such a good thing you know? You allow serendipity
to occur if you like, just by sitting around sometimes (laughs heartily),
sort of doing stuff that might seem like time-wasting, but then something
comes from it. I cant think of any specific examples, but generally,
it will be a mixture of serendipity and intention. Like when James said
about the comet sound on Tolerate, it was plugging up lots of stuff
and just going, Wow, what can we do that will make that happen?
and getting a bit lucky I guess.
12.Which LP was the quickest to record and which one took the longest
+ whats the simplest recording and the most complex multi-tracked
recording the band has ever committed to tape?
The quickest record to make, was probably Send Away The Tigers.
I mean, theyve never been a lightning-fast band (laughs heartily),
you know, Ive done albums with people in 11 days, so it can be
very hard! Theyve always (pausing), I think they took nearly 6
months on Generation Terrorists, 10 weeks recording Gold Against The
Soul (pausing), I think they did The Holy Bible in 6 weeks, so that
might be the quickest? Everything Must Go was spread over a while with
Mike in France, they took a while on This Is My Truth and Know Your
Enemy was sprawling. Lifeblood they took a while on and with Send Away
The Tigers, they did 2 weeks in a studio in Wales, a week-and-a-half
I think with Greg Haver in Wales, and then we did 3 weeks in Ireland,
so thats sort of 6-and-a-half weeks isnt it? Then with Postcards,
we did it in 6 weeks, so the quickest are actually Postcards, Send Away
The Tigers and The Holy Bible. The simplest song recording is probably
Sculpture Of Man (laughing), thats pretty bloody simple! But there
are a few b-sides like that you could say the acoustic version
of Umbrella or something like that. Theres a song called Dont
Be Evil on the new record, that was literally a rehearsal the
take that you hear on the record, is the first time they ever played
it, it was completely live and there was a vibe to it. Then James put
a vocal on and there was a guitar solo and thats it, thats
the song. So thats up there, thats pretty simple that one!
The most complex multi-tracked recording, theres a bunch of them
(laughs heartily)! Some Kind Of Nothingness is a very big one
thats a very big one! There By The Grace Of God, theres
an awful lot going on in that, Indian Summer had a lot of tracks I think.
I mean, more so as time has gone on, just because technology I suppose
has allowed us to be more sprawling in the way weve recorded.
But certainly, I think Some Kind Of Nothingness is 100+ tracks! Its
got strings, a Gospel Choir, drums and electronic stuff going on on
there, then theres McCullochs vocals and James vocals,
multi-track backing vocals and then all of the guitars and keyboards
going on, its a big song!
13.James guitar playing has often been described as, The
Heart of the Manics Sound. But whats the most amount of
guitars that he has ever used on an album, and does he like to experiment
with different amps, playing styles, chords, tones and tunings a lot?
Whats the most amount of guitars that James has ever used
on an album (laughs heartily for ages)? That would be telling! I dont
know? On a song, maybe 8 or 9? You might build one part out of 3 or
4 guitars and that might be an engineering or production decision, in
terms of spreading it across the stereo. So just because theres
8 or 9 guitars on a song, doesnt necessarily mean that there are
8 or 9 guitar parts, and as time has gone on, I think hes tried
to be less is more. Definitely going into this record, we
tried to use 2 when we might have used 3 before make the sound
bigger by taking up more space, to allow us to do that. James is a complete
guitar player though, he uses all sorts of different styles; he does
finger-picking and hes had various odd tunings over the years.
He will pick up a style and sit and practise it, because hes still
in love with the instrument! From the moment that he strapped it on
(pausing), he was 15 before he picked up a guitar, but from the moment
he strapped it on, Nick said it just fell onto him and he fell in love
with it and he still feels like that about it! Hes constantly
evolving as a player and having new ideas, he listens to music all the
time everything and you can tell what hes been listening
to by the ideas he comes up with. So yeah, absolutely, hes experimenting
all the time. I think hes sort of semi-embarrassed by the amount
of guitars that he owns, but he always says that hes not an alcoholic,
hes never done any drugs, hes happily married and you know,
hes a good boy in all respects, but thats his one sort of
addiction (laughing). But, he does use all of his guitars Im
not sure whether that is borne of his guilt (laughs heartily)
but hell bond with a particular number of guitars for a certain
time and like anybody, he gets excited by different things at different
14.During the groups career, have Sony had a lot of say in
an LPs tracklisting, sequencing, length and feel, or have yourself
and the band usually been given free reign?
Um, they know when to allow decisions to be (pausing), basically,
theyre always in control they are always in control! Sony
have never dictated anything. At various points, they might have made
a single choice that the band has acquiesced to if you know what I mean?
Like, Do you really think thats the one? OK, fair enough
kind of thing, because they accept that they may be too close. But in
general (pausing), I mean, as you would expect with any band that is
successful, as times gone on, theyve had more and more and
more control, to the point where they now have complete control! Theyre
not the kind of band that will say, Oh, thats The
Man, we wont listen to him and what he says. Theyve
always had a very good, healthy relationship with Sony to be honest.
Of course, people have had opinions and at the time, those opinions
have been taken onboard, but I think certainly with album sequencing,
I would say thats always been done by the 3 or 4 of them
certainly not me.
15.Is it difficult letting songs go, and how do you feel when you
listen back to a record once it has been cut then mastered?
It is hard letting songs go and like Ive just said, weve
been very lucky to have Chris Lord-Alge mix these last couple of records,
but its still hard the first couple of listens, because obviously,
somebody has done something slightly differently to how we would have
done it. It can take a couple of listens before you realise its
brilliant (laughs heartily)! When you first listen to it, it can be
a bit shocking, you go, Oh bloody hell, oh bloody hell, I thought
that guitar was going to be on the left! Silly little things you
know? Sometimes, it can take a while (pausing), I think because we mixed
certain songs quite a lot, you lose a sense of whether its right
or not. I didnt believe the mix of Tolerate was right until I
heard it on the radio and I thought, Yeah, that sounds good doesnt
it? The cut is generally the point where a bunch of mixes becomes
the record, then you take it away and listen very carefully. But certainly
with these last few records, when the cuts come in, weve
gone, Yeah, that sounds great!
*I ask Dave about his thoughts on the Loudness War, which
is to do with the loss of dynamic sounding records*
That is an issue, I mean theres no doubt about it
its not a positive thing. Mastering engineers that are forced
to do that, will tell you the same thing. Have you looked at turnmeup.org?
Thats the best website for that, theres a swathe of articles
on there that are absolutely terrifying and why its such a bad
thing. Because once youve flat-lined to the point where records
are now, where its just completely flat, your brain interprets
that as white noise. Its not a good thing. I mean, nobody listened
to Nevermind and thought that was a quiet record if you drag
the waveform of that into and editor and compare that to a record mastered
yesterday, its shocking how much quieter it is. Its not
really quiet, because you can just turn up the volume (laughing). But,
the actual dynamics of it are just so much more exciting. There are
mastering engineers who are really brilliant at getting the best out
of what we have to do now, and Howie Weinberg whos mastered the
last 3 or 4 Manics records, I think is one of them. We get it as dynamic
and as perfect as you possibly can, whilst having it at a commercial
level. But, the Loudness War is a shame, no doubt about
16.Nicky has spoken of his desire to eventually release Know Your Enemy
as was originally intended 2 separate records, Solidarity and
Door To The River which he labelled as a really vicious,
political album, then a softer West Coast LP. Do you think this
would be a good idea?
We were going to do that at the time, and I did think it was a
really exciting idea at that time. I mean, Know Your Enemy was a time
of transition for the band, I think they were reacting to this big success
that they had they felt that they may have lost touch with their
indie credentials and roots. So they were sort of forcing themselves
into production decisions, that maybe with retrospect, we would have
now done differently, do you know what I mean? Maybe we should have
waited for the single to come along. I often ruefully think,
What if theyd released Send Away The Tigers after This Is
My Truth? What would have happened? Coming out with a single like
that, coming off the # 1 with The Masses Against The Classes and everything.
So, its difficult to say, because also around that time, The Strokes
had just hit and all of a sudden, if you were a band pre-Strokes, you
were basically old and boring. You could also argue that maybe it was
just going to happen anyway, but I certainly think the decisions that
were made at that time, maybe werent the right ones. Like 2 singles
in a week did confuse people and some thought that was an arrogant thing
to do, plus Im not sure So Why So Sad was the right one either.
Its difficult to say if there were like a swathe of extraordinary
b-sides that should have been on the album, so we could have done it
differently, then maybe Id think that more. But I dont know?
We recorded 27 songs for that album (laughing), it was a very long period
of time and it wasnt their best period of songwriting Id
17.On a similar note, The Wire also recently said that lyrically,
There was a difficult period before A Design For Life of stuff
that no one will ever see. But recordings-wise, do you know if
there are a lot of unreleased songs in the band's archives?
No, there isnt (without any hesitation)! I mean, when we
did Judge Yrself for the b-sides record (Lipstick Traces), that
was the one big one that we did that was also the last thing Richey
did, just before the week he went missing. So no, there really isnt
actually, not at all. Because over the years, theyve been a big
band and theyve been through a series of times when you need so
many songs! Back when they were doing Everything Must Go and This Is
My Truth, you needed 3 b-sides per single and they were releasing 4
singles! Then you needed 3 further tracks for the other disc, because
you were doing 2 CDs, both with 3 b-sides. They were typically doing
3 proper b-sides and then 3 remixes, but then you needed another track
for the cassette as well. So, youd need to write an entire album
and then 16 b-sides for a campaign, so its not like theres
tons and tons of material where theyve said, Well
leave that for later, because theyve needed all the songs!
These days, theres iTunes, Japanese extra tracks, live tracks,
Theres just a requirement for a lot of songwriting.
So Im sad to report, theres not a huge amount in the archives.
*I remark that James has mentioned that if a track isnt
working within 30 minutes, the group will usually discard it,
but I enquire as to whether or not there are any abandoned songs or
unfinished leftovers that Dave feels would be worthy of being revisited
No, not really, we pretty much always push on through and get
it to (pausing), they might downgrade it, like, We thought this
was an album track but its going to be a b-side. But, well
pretty much always finish a song once weve started it.
*I ask Dave of MSPs b-sides, if there are any that he thinks should
have been album tracks*
Oh yeah (without any hesitation), loads! Prologue To History is
the best one, that could have been a single, let alone an album track!
I love Prologue To History, I think its absolutely brilliant!
Socialist Serenade I think should have been on This Is My Truth, I really
love that one as well! Had you put those 2 on This Is My Truth and taken
off Born A Girl and Im Not Working, it would have been perceived
in quite a different way as a record I think. It would have been more
upbeat and more up-and-down. But those 2 always spring to mind, although
there are lots. Like a lot of Manics Fans love Donkeys and I do as well,
but I dont know where it would have sat on Gold Against The Soul.
Mostly, I think they get it right, what should go on and what shouldnt.
For a while, I thought Fearless Punk Ballad should have been on Send
Away The Tigers, but I listened to it just before we started Postcards
and I realised that it was great at just 10 songs, do you know what
18.Do you have a favourite opening and closing album track + a favourite
song intro, middle-section and outro?
Yeah, bookend songs are always really important! Let me think
(saying some of the Manics opening tracks to himself)
suppose Yes, thats an extraordinary opening to an album (laughing)!
I mean, Yes and PCP are pretty perfect bookends! I love Elvis Impersonator,
but sometimes I prefer it live, I dont know about you? I think
The Everlasting is quite a hard way to start a record, thats a
challenging start, I think maybe they should have started with Tolerate
that would have been a good start with that sound. What did we
start Know Your Enemy with? Ooh, Found That Soul, I love Found That
Soul! What did we start Send Away The Tigers with? Oh, Send Away The
Tigers, thats a great opener! The first track on the new record
is Its Not War (pausing), what was the first track on Journal
For Plague Lovers? Oh, Peeled Apples, I love Peeled Apples I
think thats my favourite opening track! And whats my favourite
closing track (thinking)
On Generation Terrorists it was Condemned
To Rock N Roll wasnt it, which is a mad statement
(laughing)! Gold Against The Soul from Gold Against The Soul, is probably
the weakest song on the record, so I wouldnt choose that. PCP
is obviously fantastic and I always loved South Yorkshire Mass Murderer,
but I realise that Im in the minority with that (laughing)! Oh,
No Surface All Feeling of course, thats the best closing track
its just a magic moment! My favourite song intros, middle-sections
and outros are (pausing), sorry to be so boring with the answers, Id
like to be more obscurist for the sake of it, but honesty is the best
policy! Intros: Faster and Tolerate. Middle-sections: Design, Autumnsong,
Starlover and Some Kind Of Nothingness. Outros: Tolerate, Postcards
From A Young Man and Some Kind Of Nothingness.
19.What has been the most valuable lesson that you have learnt from
producing, engineering and mixing?
Fuck me, thats a big question (laughs heartily)! From my
entire career, Whats the most valuable lesson that Ive
learnt? (laughs heartily again). Listen to the musician
its their record! Sometimes, I think producers can lose track
of that, but just by realising what the musician wants, you wont
go far wrong.
20.Have there been any particular studios youve enjoyed working
in, or any equipment / people you have enjoyed working with?
Rockfields very close to our heart. We did both # 1 singles
there and I recorded virtually everything from the first 7 years of
my career there. So thats # 1 front and centre, and Grouse Lodge
where we did Send Away The Tigers is just fantastic, its a wonderful
place wonderful swimming pool, wonderful Jacuzzi (laughs heartily)!
We loved it there and the studio that they have in Cardiff, Faster,
is fantastic! Its one of those rooms thats just flukey,
it just sounds good it wasnt designed by anyone, but put
a drum kit in there and it sounds right. We love Faster! Those are 3
that spring to mind, but theres been many, like we had a wonderful
time in El Cortijo in Spain doing Know Your Enemy, but that was Location,
Location, Location (laughing).
21.Of all the other artists / bands you have collaborated with, which
records are you most pleased with and whats next for you
is there anyone who you would still love to work with?
Idlewild are obviously my other regular client if you like (laughing),
and 100 Broken Windows and The Remote Part are very close to my heart.
Theres a band called South who I did a record with called With
The Tides, which Ive always absolutely loved. Theres been
a lot of great young bands in the last few years; The Xcerts record
I was really pleased with. I did a Swedish band earlier this year called
The Guilty Ones and Im really pleased with that record, but theres
lots obviously. There are of course people who Id love to work
with, all of the obvious candidates really. But coming up, Im
doing a band called We Rock Like Girls Dont, who are a girl two-piece
and they do indeed rock like girls dont! Im also hoping
to work with Future Of The Left possibly, but well have to wait
and see. So yeah, there are a few things coming up, a couple of albums
in the pipeline.
*I ask Dave if its now possible for young up-and-coming artists
/ bands who have a smaller budget, to get good sounding records due
to the advancements in technology and home-recording equipment*
Um, of course technology has put a lot of power into our hands
in order to record things at home, but, if you look at the great artists
over the years, like say Springsteen, he didnt sell any records
until his third album, because Columbia were happy to pay for him to
work with great people over and over again. The Clash got to work with
Bill Price, one of the greatest engineers of all time, but it wasnt
until London Calling that they started selling records. A lot of people
love to demonise major labels, just the idea of spending proper money
making records but proper money, proper producers and proper
studios, made all of the records that we love! Its great that
you can bash something out and that it can be vibey and cool, and its
totally true, you can do that. But, I still love the idea of a team
making a record in a great room together, do you know what I mean? I
miss that and to a great extent, theres a lot of making-do now,
because technology allows us to make-do. Yes, of course technologys
a positive thing creatively in the long-run, but we are also leaving
22.Can you remember your first impressions of meeting the Manics and
why do you think youve maintained a long-lasting relationship
did you ever imagine that they would go on to achieve everything
that they have?
My first impressions were (laughing), Who are these mental
buggers! I was kind of a metal head tea boy, probably wearing
a mad KISS T-shirt and they walked in with their spray-painted T-shirts
to do Motown Junk. So I dont know, we just bonded over Guns N
Roses to be honest (laughing)! I think they recognised another outsider,
I was probably an outsider for a different reason I was at a
studio where there was lots of cool people and I clearly was not a cool
person, and I think they quite liked that. I dont know why, its
really hard to say. We are friends obviously, and over the years, theyve
worked with lots of other people, but when they felt that they had something
that my strengths were good for, they came back and recorded with me,
and Im very happy that they have done! I suppose its not
for me to say if you know what I mean? I think its just that they
know that Ill respect and love their vision Im not
going to try and say, We should put a jungle beat on that.
Im not going to force it into my shape Im going to
try and make what they want! In their early days, I did sort of think
that they would go on to achieve everything that they have, because
I knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime band, which they are, clearly!
Roddy from Idlewild, always talks about bands that could be your favourite
band, and thats a key distinction! A band like the Manics can
be your favourite band they offer you a way to think, a way to
look, books to read, everything! And they have incredible songs, right
through to the music and the lyrics. Other bands, like bigger bands,
they cant necessarily be your favourite band. However, a band
like REM can be your favourite band and in a very different way, a band
like Oasis can be your favourite band, because they offer the whole
package obviously in a very different way to the Manics
but they do fulfil that criteria. You know, its hard to imagine
Snow Patrol being your favourite band (laughing).
23.MSP Fans, are unquestionably the most faithful in the world, and
will forever be very precious about everything that the band releases.
But how does it make you feel, knowing that youve had such a big
hand in providing a soundtrack to peoples lives?
Oh wonderful, of course! When people say that, its lovely!
Its hard to put it into words, because its right across
the spectrum of (pausing), thats why you want to do something
like this. It makes all the 5 in the morning finishes worth it (laughing)!
24.Some final quickfire MSP questions, do you have a treasured recording
session, memory, gig, melody, hook and rhyming couplet?
A favourite session is a toughie, because sometimes the most difficult
sessions, were the ones that the best things came out of. I guess recording
Send Away The Tigers in Ireland the session in Grouse Lodge
was very comfortable (laughing) and great stuff came out of it, so thats
one! The one in Spain for Know Your Enemy was just a great time
it was a great time! When we did The Masses Against The Classes, that
was a very difficult time in James life, but some great things
came out of it, but it wasnt like a jumpy-up-and-downy happy session.
Like The Holy Bible, that wasnt the happiest time in their lives,
but of course, some great art came from it. So how much of a good time
you had at the time, doesnt necessarily correlate with how much
greatness came out. A favourite memory would be them phoning me on Sunday
morning in 1998, saying that Tolerate was # 1 it was just complete
elation and vindication you know? It was the culmination of a 10-year
journey for them and just seeing them as my mates going from a transit
van to that, it was a great feeling a great feeling (laughing)!
I also felt that way as well at their first arena gig, which was at
the Nynex, and again when I turned up for the soundcheck at the Millennium
Stadium, walking out and just thinking, Its so huge! Fuck
me! You know, all these things and they happen to be my mates.
A favourite gig, would be the Astoria gigs with Richey they were
*I say that theres a bootleg video available with a couple of
the shows on it*
I havent seen the bootleg video, but at the time, it was
just so intense, it was unbelievable! But also, I have to say the Saturday
Roundhouse show last year, when they played the whole of Journal and
then the Greatest Hits set, I walked away from that Roundhouse show
just thinking, How much better can a rock show be? That
really was up there, it was a great show for me! A favourite melody,
fuck me, probably Design. A favourite hook, ooh (thinking), I suppose
its Motorcycle isnt it? And a favourite rhyming couplet,
oh God (laughing)
Lyrically, Wills and Harry dressed in
drag, standing over the sodomised body of their mother, would make a
beautiful poster in Athena, only for its madness (laughs heartily)!
I mean, that is just so mental its brilliant! Again, Starlover
"Leper cult disciples of a still born Christ (laughs heartily)!
I mean, there are so many on The Holy Bible, like on the end mellow
section of 4st 7lb, Ive finally come to understand life,
through staring blankly at my navel. That was always in my head
for a very long time. But a rhyming couplet, thats a particular
thing isnt it? I mean, Libraries gave us power, then work
came and made us free is pretty remarkable, but its not
a rhyming couplet. Im trying to think, but there arent many
big rhymers that I can think of.
*Dave asks me if I have any favourite lyrics / rhyming couplets, but
I say there are so many that I wouldnt know where to begin*
Yeah, I suppose you like lyrics for lots of different reasons
as well, like, 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 (laughing).
What other band could write that? But like you say, too numerous to
mention its hard to pick a favourite lyric.
25.Lastly, chips or cream buns?
*I mention that all of the Manics went for chips as well*
Oh yeah, we love our chips (laughs heartily)!
*After our interview has finished, I thank Dave for his time and wish
both him and MSP Good Luck with the release of Postcards From A Young
Thank You very much and lets just hope it does well
I do think its a great record!
A very special thanks to Dave for all of his time
Postscript March 2016
With Everything Must Go celebrating its 20th Anniversary
this year, I recently remembered the longstanding rumour as to whether
or not Richey played some of the guitar parts on the album's closing
track, No Surface All Feeling. As this has never been officially clarified
to my knowledge and is still debated amongst MSP's dedicated fanbase,
I e-mailed Dave Eringa
to ask if he would mind confirming and he very kindly sent me this reply...
Happy to sort this out for you no, Richey didn't play on No
Surface, La Tristesse was his only recorded performance!
Having said that, No Surface was the last thing we recorded before
he went (literally the day before actually!) & we did use that version
for EMG, only adding the coda at the end!
Hope that helps,
Second Postcript, December 2018
Dave Eringa on the coda for No Surface All Feeling...
What is the swirling, white noise type of sound in the background?
"The swirling sound at the end of No Surface is simply a very deep
flanger on the whole drum kit. We recorded that coda a year later on
the sessions for the b-sides of Design For Life (I think) & we were
in a different studio with a different drum kit, so of course sonically
it didn't match at all & my solution to that was just to put all
the drums in one speaker & flange them to hell to make it sound
fucked up & (hopefully) cool & to mask the edit!"
I never wanted to be anything but a record producer,
Its the best job in the world!