We had a chance to catch up with Wayne Hussey and ask some tough questions regarding recent comments, etc. made. We’ll post parts 2 and 3 later, so keep subscribed to MWIS and The Mission Facebook page!
Q So, in a few recent postings here on MWIS and interviews you’ve seemed to be a little disparaging towards goths? What’s the story?
Yeah, I know some of my comments have read that way but I really don’t have a problem with “so called Goths”. In fact, some of my best friends are Goth….:) And if it wasn’t for the Goth faction in our/my audience then I doubt very much that I would still be around making records and playing shows as they have been incredibly loyal despite my sometimes best efforts to throw them curve balls. I never signed up for the lifestyle and just don’t particularly align myself with Goth as a movement or a fashion and I don’t think I ever really have despite some of my early incriminating song titles and some of the clothes I used to wear. I don’t think anyone who knows me at all can in all honesty call me an archetypical Goth but that doesn’t mean I have anything personally against Goth either as a movement or as individuals. I know The Mission have been perceived as a Goth band and again I don’t particularly have a problem with that at all, certainly not these days, but I’ve never really thought of us as such. If you’re asking for a definition then for me The Mission have always been a more traditional ‘rock’ band who you’d file somewhere in between The Cure, U2, and Led Zeppelin in your CD collections. The reason I sometimes take a poke at Goths is because it is an easy target and an easy option for sometimes getting across a point more succinctly. I mean let’s face it, the general perception of Goths is that they all dress in black, wear white face make-up, visit Whitby regularly (as I have done), are miserable and moody, read Charles Baudelaire and Edgar Allen Poe (as I, myself, have also done), have no sense of humour, and have a morbid fixation with vampires & crucifixes, and all things melancholy and that really IS an easy target for ridicule, not that I would ever dream of doing so myself. God forbid.
Q Going on from that it’s also been noted that you seem to have little or no ‘respect’ for your audience these days? Can you explain that?
I believe I extend the same level of respect and courtesy to my audience as they do to me.
Q You are also recorded as stating recently that ‘the Mission mean little or nothing to me these days’. Explain?
Well, before the Mission ‘ended’ in 2008 there was pretty much something every day of my life with regard to the band that needed my attention. I’d wake up, check my emails, and there was always a bunch in my in-box pertaining to The Mission that needed dealing with so there goes my mornings. I’d go into my studio and if I wasn’t working on something specific then I’d play around maybe on a guitar or a keyboard but always, always in the back of mind there was this thing, ‘will this work for The Mission?’. I was always planning and looking ahead to the next Mission activity and to be honest and frank with you it got to be boring and restrictive for me, like any job could possibly become after 22 years or so. So I wanted and, more importantly, needed a change. I knew I still wanted to make music but I didn’t want to feel shackled anymore, to my own or my audience’s expectations. And let’s get it straight here, I was probably putting more of myself into my work – Lighting The Candles DVD and God Is A Bullet album – than I ever have in the past. That’s a lot of emotional and physical investment to put into works that were being met by an ever decreasing and indifferent audience and an audience that I felt I could no longer satisfy. It seemed to me that there was a fair proportion of the Mission audience that I couldn’t win with. I was damned if I did and damned if I didn’t. They complained if I tried something new and complained if the new songs sounded like the old songs. It became a very inhibiting way to work and live. So, I got out as anyone else would from a situation that was beginning to induce inertia.
What I meant by my comment, and having to justify this is exactly what I’m on about, is that The Mission is no longer my no. 1 priority and I don’t wake up having to deal with Mission business or whatever, I can play the guitar or piano now and think ‘I like that’ or not and that’s the only criterion that matters. The Mission do mean little or nothing to me on a daily basis now. It’s not something I have to think about regularly anymore and I’ve been really happy about that. Obviously it’s changing again now as we’re gearing up for the 25th anniversary shows but it’s OK because I know that that is an inevitable and unavoidable part of playing the shows and I’m prepared to do it – at the moment.
Of course I am damned proud of what we’ve achieved with the band through the years and I do believe we have been one of Britain’s best rock bands of the last 25 years, largely unheralded in the media certainly in the last 15 years or so, but fuck ‘em. Who needs ‘em when we (along with FOTN, lest we forget) can sell out Brixton 02 Academy 4 months in advance. The Mission have made some mighty fine records over the years, recorded some ‘classic’ songs, played some cracking shows, and been a darn sight more exciting than an awful lot of bands that have enjoyed far more critical credibility and commercial success during that time and we’ve been a credit to the canon that is British rock. I don’t wish to demean other peoples feelings regarding the band but none of it really matters very much in the overall scheme of things though, does it, really?
Q With that in mind how are you qualifying to yourself the fact that The Mission are playing shows in a few months?
I don’t have to qualify it. All I will say is that I’m beginning to really look forward to the shows after feeling fairly ambivalent about it for quite a long time. It’ll be great to get in a room with Craig and Simon again and play the songs that we recorded together all those years ago and I think the shows will be great and I will be into it wholeheartedly. I can’t do it any other way.
Q We all know that you were in two minds for a long time about playing these shows, how do you feel about it now?
I answered that in the previous question. A big personal debate for me ensued over the question of whether ethically I could do this without Mick Brown’s involvement. I visited with Mick in Leeds last summer and it really was lovely to see him and apart from the usual ravages of age that unfortunately happen to us all he was exactly the same, same spirit, same personality, even cracking the same jokes he’s been doing for years, it really was wonderful to see him and made me vow not to let it be so long before I see him again. But he didn’t want to be involved. That was his decision. I strongly suspect, knowing Mick as I do, that a large part of his reason was the fact that because he hasn’t played drums in 15 years he said no because he didn’t want to let anyone down. But I did receive his blessing to go ahead with these shows without his involvement which I guess appeased at least a little of the guilt I was feeling about saying yes to these shows.
You know I am well aware that the 2008 Shepherds Bush shows were supposed to be the last Mission shows and I realize, and am very thankful, that people did make the effort and spend the money to travel from half way around the world for those shows. And I do feel a little like I deceived people by saying those were the last shows and now 3 and half years later I’ve changed my mind and we’re doing it again but I can honestly say at that point in 2008 I really didn’t have any intention of ever doing it again. That has been a huge dilemma for me even to the extent of posting a poll here on the MWIS forum to gauge people’s reactions to the idea. Overwhelmingly people seemed to be very positive about the idea of more Mission shows, but obviously a few dissenters with whom I empathize.
Look, the reality is that I am now beginning to really look forward to these shows whereas beforehand I must confess ambivalence at best, certainly more so now that the idea has proven so popular with our audience and we’ve already sold a lot of tickets. It’s true we will be getting well paid for these shows and that is always a factor in whether or not we want to or, even indeed, can do these shows but we are all working musicians trying to make ends meet just as you are and have the right to earn however we can. Bear in mind that these shows are the first Mission shows in 3 and half years so this is our first decent pay packet in that time and we will have to live off that for a while (maybe until the 30th anniversary….just kidding, you know me) so for every t-shirt you buy on top of your very-good-value-for-money ticket it helps us to keep the wolves from the door. Please bear that in mind when you come to the show and bring loads of cash…..:)
Look, whether somebody comes to the show is their choice, like it’s their choice whether they buy our latest CD or a t-shirt at the show. There’s always a choice and if someone has a grievance about us cashing in on 25th anniversary shows then they don’t have to come. These upcoming shows won’t supercede, at least for me, the very brilliant memory I have of the 2008 tour but I do hope they will be memorable in their own right.
Q It’s never been a secret that yourself and Carl McCoy have never previously had anything good to publicly say about each other. How come you asked FOTN to play with you as your very special guests at Brixton? And how do you think the meeting between yourself and Carl will go?
Well, yeh, that is true. We have sniped at each other in the press in the long distant past but you know we’re both somewhat older now and maybe mellowed and hopefully wiser so let bygones be bygones. I think a lot of it was probably that we both felt our bands were in competition with each other and at that time and age, for me at least, I was very driven and ambitious and felt that FOTN were a threat to our popularity. What I didn’t know and what has now become patently obvious some years later is that the two bands can quite easily and happily co-exist and both bands enjoy an audience that is loyal and in some cases downright rabid.
When we confirmed Brixton we were very aware of making that leap from 2000 people in Shepherds Bush to 5000 in Brixton and whilst we sold out the Shepherds Bush shows there were certainly a lot of people who came more than one night, some people coming for all four shows. Gluttons for punishment in my book but there you go, what do I know? Anyway, we knew that selling out Brixton would be something else so to ensure that we did it was decided that we needed really special guests who would help us to sell tickets as well as making it an event, an occasion to remember. I was asked who I would like to invite as special guests at Brixton and I came up with a few names, friends and such, but none of my suggestions really caught anybody’s imagination. Then Ian Richards, our promoter from the Academy group suggested FOTN. Perfect. Absolutely. But to be honest because of our pasts I never for a moment considered that Carl McCoy would say yes. But amazingly and graciously he did. And Carl’s take on the event is refreshing as he seems to view it as a celebration of a ‘scene, a movement’ whilst we were viewing it as a celebration of just one band, The Mission. Well, now it’s become an event and it’s sold out and that’s an amazing achievement for 3 bands (let’s not forget GLJ either) who haven’t had a hit record between ‘em in getting on for 20 years.
Carl and I have exchanged emails briefly recently, just introducing ourselves to each other really, and I am looking forward to meeting the man that has spawned a 1000 imitators and has managed to achieve longevity with what he does just as we have. Not sure he’s a wine drinker (or is it blood?….:)) but I shall certainly raise a glass in his presence.
Q A criticism of you through the years has been that your lyrics are vacuous and cliche ridden. How would you argue that accusation?
Well, I’d probably agree to a certain extent. I don’t think lyric writing is my strongest attribute, I’m certainly not a Bob Dylan, although there have been the odd occasion when I’ve gotten it right and managed to say what I’ve wanted to say in the context of a song. What I will say in my defence is that I do believe I’m an honest writer if not entirely articulate. There are only a couple of songs that I’ve written that I can think of where the lyrics didn’t mean something to me at the time of writing. Now, a lot of the early songs were written under the influence of speed so thought processes are somewhat different in that altered state and quite often I had no idea what the lyrics meant even just a couple of days after being written let alone many years later. But they did mean something to me whilst I was writing them. I stopped using speed around the time of the ‘Masque’ album and I think that album has a clarity in the lyrics that my earlier work didn’t have. And since then, whilst not being prolific, I think my lyrics generally have been very good and a notch or two above average. I am more able to articulate myself clearly but as I’ve gotten older I’ve felt that I’ve had less to say. Lyric writing for me remains the most difficult and emotionally demanding part of the process in putting together a new song.
Parts 2 and 3 will be posted on MWIS in the near future, so stay tuned!