Interview with Wayne Hussey by Adrian Hextall
The Mission have returned with their new album, “Another Fall From Grace” , released on 30th September 2016.
Produced by Wayne Hussey and Tim Palmer, the album features guest backing vocals from Gary Numan, Martin Gore (Depeche Mode), Ville Valo (HIM), Julianne Regan (All About Eve) & Evi Vine.
Described by Hussey as a dark album, it reflects everything he went through during the recording process which left him a little crazy and even a little paranoid with his mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well being all suffering during the course of it. It’s helped inform both the music and the lyrics and it’s easy to see (and hear of course) what working in isolation can do for Hussey’s creative flow. Most of the album was written and prepared away from everyone, family, friends and band mates. The end result is an album that truly reflects the sound that we all hope to hear once more from The Mission. It’s not a sound of a band hoping to recapture old glories, it really feels like it could have been released when the band were at their peak commercially. It warrants therefore a chat with Wayne to understand what brought him to this point. We sit down in an old London pub, in a dark corner to discuss all things The Mission as the band are about to embark on a UK tour.
MGM: It’s quite a tight schedule to allow the band to get together and rehearse before the tour begins?
WH: I have seven days.
MGM: Seven days, several hours a day presumably.
WH: Could be about six to eight. Turn up somewhere I guess.
With a relaxed approach to the tour, Wayne then looks at the writing process on AFFG.
WH: I get it. I think with music, to a degree, you can contrive, you can control. You can set the parameters, you can control it a little bit. Contrive it a little bit in the music if you need to, if you want to. Lyrically I don’t think you can. I think you just have to go with what comes.
MGM: It’s very much from what you feel, how you are at the time, rather than sitting and trying to pen a tune as it were. I’ve read a couple of quotes in the press for the new album about wanting to bridge the sound between God’s Own Medicine and First and Last and Always as well.
WH: [with a drop in the shoulders and an audible sigh..] God, I regret saying that!
MGM: It’s going to come up in every interview.
WH: It does, yeah.
MGM: But on Met-Amor-Phosis [track 2 on the album] it actually felt like you’d done it there. That one to me felt like the closest bridge between the two sort of styles of bands.
WH: Yeah, well the thing, you’ve got to remember, I listened to First and Last and Always in its entirety for the first time about a year ago. A friend of mine suggested I should listen to it because he really likes the guitar playing on that and on God’s Own Medicine.
So I listen to it and I was just very pleasantly surprised at how fresh it still sounded to me. The songs are great, Andrew’s singing is great on that record. The lyrics are great and the guitar playing. I just really liked the sound of the guitars. And I listened to God’s Own Medicine exactly the same. It was like the 12 string electric guitar is the instrument that joins, it glues those two albums for me. So when I started writing tunes for this album, I got the 12 string out and basically started writing songs with the 12 string, electric. And that kind of informed where the record went and where the songs went.
MGM: So a slightly different approach this time to the last album where you did start the writing process with the acoustic guitar?
WH: Absolutely. I basically started recording things as if they were masters. So I put bass down, guitars, all the guitar parts, those are guitar parts. The drums are all programmed and stuff. So this is the way it’s going to go at very early points. It’s a different process, this record.
MGM: And with Met-Amor-Phosis.
WH: I don’t know. I came up with a riff for the guitar. It was like, “Yeah, I like that. That’s good.” And it just put the song together. It wasn’t… yeah, I was listening to the Sisters in God’s Own Medicine at that point. So as I say, it informed the sound, it informed the direction of the record. I Don’t know, it just came.
With a laissez-faire approach to touring and it seems with the creative approach to writing, Wayne also explains how he approached the vocal work and his intentions.
MGM: Certainly I can hear elements of the bass work, the drum sound. Even the vocals at times lent itself a little bit towards Andrew’s [Eldritch] style on that particular track, I would have said, which is why that gravelly, raspy voice creating the crossover comes in.
WH: I thought the last record– I had a cold when I did the last record and I was smoking quite heavily and I think you can hear that in the voice on that record.
MGM: I was going to say, raspy at times could’ve been used to describe some of the vocal work on that one.
WH: On this record I did consciously try to sing lower. I’m 58 years old now. It takes a lot of effort to reach this line [raises hand to indicate benchmark]. So it’s like, okay, I’ll sing a bit lower on this record.
MGM: Save yourself for the tour dates.
WH: We’ll see. There was a conscious effort on my part to try and sing lower on this record.
MGM: With this now being five or six years in since the three of you got back together. What has changed in the way you’re approaching everything because suddenly you’ve just said, I’m 58 years old. Presumably older, wiser, easier to deal with things. [laughter from Wayne as he offers…].
WH: Older. I don’t know about wiser.
MGM: Ah right.
WH: Yeah, we like to think we are. Obviously we’re a lot more moderate now. But on tour behaviour, you have to be. We certainly can’t live the lifestyle we once did. I mean we’d survive.
MGM: You put the effort in back in the day like every other good band?
WH: Absolutely. Of course. I think we were renowned for it. We were the band that just said, ‘yes’. I don’t know, I like to enjoy the shows now, I like just to be able to sing, I like to think that we’re playing well and to do that I think you have to be a little bit more in control than we were when we were younger. We can’t get away with just adrenaline anymore.
MGM: Yeah, presumably recovery times are longer.
WH: Absolutely. It’s a dangerous thing these days. I like to put on a good show now. I think that’s a priority for me. So my whole day is geared towards doing a show and trying to stay healthy.
MGM: And you got good sized venues for these shows as well. So there’s still a crowd draw.
WH: Yeah, we’ve been very blessed with an audience. Despite our best efforts they’re still with us. They’re a very loyal bunch despite some of the records we’ve made. They still come along. Like any other musician, we are nothing without our audience.
MGM: So many are coming to multiple shows which is why you’re putting the different songs into the set. It keeps you on your toes, but also you must get those requests as well for those songs, presumably.
WH: There are a certain few songs that were big and people come expecting. I’m of the mind that you have to give them at least a little of what they want before you can give them what you want. So we will play Beyond the Pale or Wasteland or Deliverance or Tower of Strength. Maybe not every night but we will play them. We’re not one of those bands that says we’re just going to play the new album. It doesn’t work.
I remember when we were working with John Paul Jones, he gave me a piece of advice that has been useful through the years and he said, “If you go on stage, the first two songs, if they’re songs that the audience know and love, after that you can play anything you want.” I thought that’s a really good piece of advice.
And he also told me that when they first went out on tour playing Stairway to Heaven the audience was like, “What the hell is this? We want Immigrant’s Song, we want a Whole Lotta Love.” So everybody, even Led Zeppelin with Stairway to Heaven.
MGM: It’s got to get into the psyche, the consciousness before you can actually get away with it, hasn’t it?
WH: Obviously we have a new album with new songs and that’s the ones we look forward to playing. But we also know that that’s not the ones that the audience want. That’s usually the ones where they go to the bar and get a pint or whatever. But like the last time we went out and we were playing songs from Brightest light, it was like, “We want Crystal Ocean or Deliverance.” But this time they’ll probably say, “Swan Song.”
MGM: I was going to say, you’re not resorting to just playing the classics in the new album. You’ll add songs from Brightest Light as well presumably?
WH: 43 songs. There are songs from every period of the band’s history amongst that.
MGM: Presumably in this day and age, modern technology means that location is not a problem for you guys in terms of recording?
WH: Not really, no. Obviously with the internet, distances aren’t a problem. It’s nice, with the Brightest Light we actually rented a residential studio up in Lincolnshire and we were there for a couple of weeks and that was great, being in the studio together and playing the songs. But that was that. That was that kind of record. We wanted that time together.
MGM: It’s like a live sound.
WH: Yeah, we wanted that. So that kind of worked. With this record it’s a bit more– a lot more overdubs. We’re using a drum machine as the basis of the rhythms. Simon would play parts and send them back. Craig would do the bass and send it back and Mike would overdub tom toms, cymbals and send it back.
I’ve got a pretty good studio in Brazil. It’s quite easy to do it. I sent the tracks to Tim Palmer who lives in Austin and then I joined him for a week, ten days to mix. Sadly, a lot of those studios now don’t exist and we don’t really have the budget to do it, to be honest.
MGM: Tell us about the latest single
WH: It’s going to be a double A side. Tyranny of Secrets but a remix but Tom Dalgety. We’ve done a new Pixies album, we did Royal Blood. He’s a friend of ours, a longtime friend. He’s started to do well for himself.
MGM: It’s good cred with Royal Blood at the moment isn’t it?
WH: Yeah, he’s done this remix that’s quite industrial actually. It’s going to be a double A side with that and an edited version of Only You and You Alone and two other songs that didn’t make it onto the album.
MGM: So quite a package for the fans, then.
WH: That’s going to come out towards the end of the tour. We did the video for Tyranny. We decided it would be good to release that ahead of the release of the album and the tour.
MGM: Just again, to get to people to hook in.
WH: There are two songs out there already, Met-Amor-Phosis and Tyranny of Secrets.
MGM: I was going to ask you if Met-Amor-Phosis is likely there for it to make it to be for the live show.
WH: Yeah. We’re going to rehearse six or seven from the album. We won’t play them all every night.
MGM: Mix them up a little bit. They’ll make it out there at some point.
WH: That’s the plan.
MGM: That’s good. In terms of content and the way that the song has been written, put together, Can’t See the Ocean for the Rain, that keeps grabbing me. What’s it about?
WH: Well, I was in the US earlier in the year, beginning of the year, and I had most of the tunes, seven or eight, or nine of tunes written but no lyrics. I had kind of vague, vocal ideas but no lyrics. They just weren’t coming. And so when I was in the US, I was up in Chicago. I decided to fly out to LA, I went to stay with some friends. I stayed with Gary, Gary Numan for a weekend there in LA. Then I drove up the coast to Santa Barbara and stayed with Martin Gore who is also on the album, another old friend and then I took two weeks to drive up the coast from Santa Barbara to San Francisco. And if you know that drive, you can do it in a day. So I just took my time, meandered. I ended up being in San Francisco for five to six days but it was basically a writing trip just to kick start the process for me.
MGM: Clear the head and give you a little bit of inspiration?
WH: Well, just change of environment because the last two or three records I had written at home and I was struggling with this one. So I left Martin’s, Santa Barbara and I was going to drive up to Monterrey that day but it was raining and literally, driving by the ocean and I couldn’t see the ocean for the rain. That’s really where that came from. What’s the point of me driving this beautiful drive if I can’t see the ocean for the rain?
I basically stopped at a motel and bought a couple of bottles of wine, sat in my room and wrote the song. That kick started the process and I came away from that trip with about seven or eight sets of lyrics that needed top and tailing.
It’s my west coast song. So when we were recording it, in my mind I saw it as like a Fleetwood Mac and Eagles song. It doesn’t sound like that but in my mind that was my west coast song. So I wanted it to be a little softer.
Having said that it’s stuck between probably the two hardest tracks on the album but it kind of works.
MGM: It’s in the right place, to give the listener a little bit of a breather.
WH: Yeah, I think so.
MGM: In terms of the tour, you say kicking off in Ireland, is it a couple of nights?
WH: No, we’re doing one in Dublin, one in Belfast. We haven’t played in Belfast since 1990. So that will be interesting.
I think it’s sold out already. But it’s not a huge place anyway. I’m looking forward to it. Those first two shows, we don’t have support. So we’re going to be playing two sets. We’re going to take the opportunity to try and play as many as these 43 songs as we can get through.
MGM: So a little bit of a warm up for you guys as well in terms of just honing these skills.
WH: The last days of rehearsals, we’ve got kind of an open rehearsal. We got a bunch of fans coming down, 20, 25 fans coming down to sit in rehearsal. So that’ll be interesting too.
Gary [Numan] does it in LA when he rehearses for his tours and he was telling me about it. He charges $150. You know, and I thought that’s a really good idea. So we did it on through Pledge and we charge 150 pounds for them to come and sit. We give them beers and a cheese sandwich. They come and sit in rehearsals and see how we rehearse, the dynamic.
MGM: And they’re in there with you for the day?
WH: Yeah. That then pays for our rehearsals.
MGM: Absolutely. I assume all the spots have gone?
WH: Yeah. I think we sold 20.
MGM: What an experience for the guys that are coming down to see it.
WH: We have to put the decent clothes on that day and stuff.
Do the hair.
MGM: It’s that behind closed doors piece that nobody ever sees normally isn’t it?
WH: Yeah. When Gary told me I just thought, “What a brilliant idea.” So I’m going to nick that, mate.
MGM: You say you’re staying with him as you’re travel across the states, things like that. Are you still working with any of those guys as well that did work with in the past? You played live with Gary in the past didn’t you?
WH: This is the first time he sings on an album. It’s the first time we’ve actually have done a recording together.
MGM: It’s only ever been live work previously.
WH: Same with Martin Gore. We had a glam rock band in the early 90s. Martin played guitar, I sang. We were called the Sexist Boys.
WH: He formed the band to play his 30th birthday party. So we all dressed up in glam rock stuff and played glam rock cover versions.
So I was staying with him. The thing about these friendships, I don’t see these people for years sometimes. I haven’t seen Martin for years. But it’s like no time passed.
MGM: Doesn’t matter?
WH: No, it doesn’t. And they’re not friendships that you need to constantly sustain or maintain. Just every now and then you hear from them or whatever. But we never really talk about what we’re doing. I think that’s why the friendships survive because we’re not sat there, “Oh, I’m doing this. I’m doing this.” We don’t talk about things like that. We talk about, he supports Arsenal, I support Liverpool. We talk about other people’s music. We talked about Johnny Cash covering Personal Jesus. So, stuff like that. But we don’t really talk about– so with Gary, we’ve been friends for a long, long time. I’ve spent a lot of time staying with them but we’ve never worked together. He’s not been part of our dynamic. But this time I just said, “You fancy singing on one of the tracks?” He said, “Yeah, great.”
MGM: Which one is he on?
WH: Within the Deepest Darkness.
MGM: Why that particular one?
WH: I thought I liked the idea of having his voice in there with my voice. No discredit to Craig. He’s not the best backing vocalist in the world and I can do the backing vocals myself but I like the colour, the texture of having another voice.
MGM: Your style and Gary’s are remarkably different.
WH: Yeah, I mean you can mute it. It’s not very loud in the mix but you can hear it’s Gary Numan singing. The same with Martin Gore on Only You and You Alone and Julian on the record. Julian Reagan. So I like having those other colours. I could do them but it’s my voice.
MGM: Doesn’t matter how you dress it up does it? It’s you.
WH: Yeah. So it’s nice to get another–
MGM: A little bit of variety?
WH: Yeah, another colour there.
It’s at this point that the team from Classic Rock rings to chat to Wayne. He puts them off and asks them to call back a little later, sorry guys…………….