Interview: Wayne Hussey (The Mission)
Interviewer: Phill Bruce
You often get to catch up with some amazing bands in my line of work, but musical legends now that’s rare. Wayne Hussey is one of Goth music’s true pioneers. He is famous being part of Dead or Alive, Sisters of Mercy and then more notably The Mission. Wayne has been an influence to the majority of the modern day alternative bands. So when he agreed to an interview with Grave Concerns I was amazingly happy and here’s how it went.
Phill – Firstly Wayne, May I thank you for agreeing to this interview with Grave Concerns Ezine. May I congratulate you on the 25th anniversary of The Mission. To celebrate your anniversary a little birdie tells me you are releasing a new album, what can we expect to hear on the album?
Wayne – Hmm, well, your little birdie has got it wrong, I’m afraid. The story regarding a new Mission album was actually an April fool’s joke perpetuated by yours truly that backfired spectacularly. I totally underestimated the strength of feeling that a lot of people still have for The Mission and there were quite a few people that got very angry at me for trying to dupe ‘em. My mistake. You can read all about it on MWIS (www.themissionuk.com) if you’re interested.
Phill – You have a tour planned too, where in this beautiful world can we expect to see you play?
Wayne – It is indeed a beautiful world contrary to the reports in the daily news. Again, the full dates are on the Mission website but we’re visiting Spain, Portugal, Greece, Holland, Belgium, Germany, and of course the two UK shows – Brixton on 22nd Oct and Leeds on 28th.
Phill – What’s it like to have Tim Palmer back on the new album, what elements do you feel he brings to the music?
Wayne – Well, as I said earlier we’re not making that album so we haven’t been working with Tim as much as I would love one day to do so again. Tim always brought immediacy to our music. He didn’t let us flaff about in the studio for weeks on end working on a guitar part. Tim liked to get things done fast and as a result you tend to create by instinct rather than intellect. There’s a lot to be said for working that way.
Phill – Fields of the Nephilim and Gene Loves Jezebel are the support bands for you at your 25th anniversary gig at Brixton 02 Academy on Saturday 22nd October. This is an amazing line up for a gig, how did this come about?
Wayne – Money, my dear boy. Every man has a price, even Mr. McCoy. Nah, we were really looking to add special guests that would help to make the evening something very special and who better to ask than FOTN and Carl very graciously accepted. I am looking forward to meeting the man. And GLJ are old friends of ours and as the evening had a kind of ‘80’s vibe going on it seemed perfect to us to ask them also.
Phill – You have recently announced European dates for your 25th anniversary tour, do you plan to tour further into November. Maybe some more UK dates?
Wayne – There’s only 12 shows in total and as I already said Leeds has been added but no more UK shows at this time.
Phill – About your early days, what was it like in Dead or Alive and what were your reasons to leave?
Wayne – I enjoyed being in Dead Or Alive and I have very fond memories, mostly, of that time. I loved Pete Burns and would’ve followed him to purgatory and back if he’d asked. It was very much a gang mentality with that band and we were very insular with Pete as our leader and Pete really didn’t and wouldn’t tolerate fools. I ended up going because we were making our first album and I just felt my contribution to the music was getting compromised. I was the guitarist who had a big hand in writing a lot of the tunes but my guitar parts were getting put into a keyboard and being sequenced. Nowadays I wouldn’t mind that at all but at the time I was an ambitious young man with something to prove and an axe to grind. So I left.
Phill – You helped define the genre of Goth music whilst in Sisters of Mercy when your studio expertise contributed to the album ‘First and Last and Always’. How does it feel to be a true pioneer?
Wayne – Well, thanks for that but we really didn’t consider ourselves to be making a ‘pioneering’ album at the time, we just did what we knew how to do. I know that Eldritch has since spawned a million imitators and I guess that is the mark of having had some influence but generally on a day to day basis it’s never something I consider.
Phill – You had certain issues when you left the Sisters Of Mercy setting up the Sisterhood. At what point did the name change occur to The Mission?
Wayne – About two months into the existence of the band. We always figured we’d have to change the name and thank God, and Eldritch and no they are not one and the same, we did.
Phill – And what was the inspiration behind the name The Mission?
Wayne – It was the only name we came up with that could stand up to scrutiny in the cold light of day. It’s a pretty good name for a rock band, I reckon. Every one in the world knows what a mission is?
Phill – So out of the three main bands for what you are known, which period has been your favourite
Wayne – Well, by virtue of the fact that I only spent 2 years with Dead Or Alive and only 2 years with TSOM and 25 years, more or less, with The Mission I’m going to have to say the best times have been with The Mission and there have been periods of that time which were certainly my favourite but saying that I do have very fond memories of working with both Pete and Andrew.
Phill – What is your most memorable experience from being in each band?
Wayne – Blimey, that’s a big question......and too big to answer really. Too many memories to go into here, I’m afraid.
Phill – So what’s your current guitar you use in the studio and also the one you use to tour? What is it about them that made them your weapons of choice?
Wayne – I have about 25 guitars that I use, obviously some more than others. I’ve recently been working with Schecter Guitars based in California and they are building me a signature guitar for the anniversary shows. A 6 string and a 12 string. Very nice it is too.
I guess my faves would have to be my Gretsch White Falcon, Fender Telecaster, and Fender Starcaster for electrics and my Martin D42 and Taylor G3 12 string for acoustics. As for why, well, they just feel and play and sound great. Simple really.
Phill – What are your musical influences?
Wayne – Blimey, that’s another big question and really impossible to answer I think. I can tell you what I grew up listening to which was The Beatles, The Stones, The Kinks, and The walker Bros’ which were all my parents choice of music and then I got into T.Rex, Bowie, Roxy Music and glam rock in general and then went a bit heavier and progressive with bands like Pink Floyd, Free, and Led Zeppelin and then punk came along and I liked the more NYC end of punk – Talking Heads, Television, Blondie etc. My music tastes these days are very eclectic – from Massive Attack to Miles Davis to Talk Talk to Arcade Fire to old Delta blues to Radiohead to Hank Williams to O. Children to Etta James to Classical to Fado (Portuguese folk music) etc etc. Anything really with a bit of soul.
Phill – What is the current line up in The Mission besides yourself?
Wayne – Craig Adams on bass, Simon Hinkler on guitar and a drummer as yet unknown. Auditions are going be held in the next few weeks.
Phill – Amelia is a song which covers a quite distressing subject, what made you decide to write a song about such a sad scenario?
Wayne – Well, to most Mission followers this story is already well documented so apologies to them for repeating myself. I received a letter from a fan, a young teenage girl, with no return address. In the letter she was telling me about the sexual abuse she was suffering from her father and how she felt there was nothing she could do about it. I couldn’t reply to her as I had no return address and felt pretty helpless so I wrote a song about the subject I guess in an attempt to reach the girl and just let her know that I’d read her letter and there was someone listening. I don’t know what I thought I would achieve with it but it was born out of a genuine attempt to help the girl.
I did receive an email from her just a few years ago telling me that she’d eventually extricated herself from that horrendous situation and had had nothing to do with her father for years and that she was now happily married and had children of her own and that the song had helped her a lot at the time. So, for me in some measure, the song achieved it’s aim.
Phill – Out of all the songs you have ever done which is your favourite to play live?
Wayne – Well, that differs from tour to tour and even night to night. But if you pushed me to pick one I’d probably have to plump for Tower Of Strength. That song always, always, elicits a positive response from an audience whether I’m playing it with the band or solo and it always feels to me like a song of celebration and communion with the audience.
Phill – What is the thing that keeps you going making such great music as you do?
Wayne – I love it and the music.
Phill – What can you attribute in your music that sets you aside from others?
Wayne – I don’t know, that’s not for me to say really, is it? I’d like to think it’s something to do with integrity and honesty but I suspect it’s more to do with being able to write a good tune with lyrics that somehow touches people.
Phill – You have played some amazing venues during your time playing your music, is there anywhere you may not have played that you would like to?
Wayne – Never played Glastonbury Festival. Back in the day they, apparently, said we were politically incorrect, whatever that means. I’d still like to play there.
Phill – How do you think the advent of the internet has affected the music industry?
Wayne – I think it’s revolutionised the music industry, and for the better. Anyone can now get their music out to a prospective audience pretty easily. I know record companies are hurting with the slump in sales of CD’s etc but it’s largely of their own doing I think because they were running scared of the internet for a long time and didn’t try to embrace the new technology, they tired to inhibit it. You reap what you sow. I just think it’s great that so much music is so easily and readily available.
Phill – The Mission have parted company a couple of times, what do you feel it is that draws you back together?
Wayne – Time is a good healer, so after a time our grievances are forgotten and we get onto a tour bus together again to do it some more until we are sick of each other again. And whilst we all have other interests in music it is the music we make together that does ultimately bring us back together as there is no other group of people that can make that particular sound. The easy answer would’ve been money... :-)
Phill – Do you have any advice for anyone wishing to form a band?
Wayne – Not really. Just, if you believe in yourself – persevere and try to be honest to what it is that makes you want to make music in the first place. And try to be at least a little unique in what you do. And, of course, have a good haircut.
Phill – What’s on your MP3 player at the moment?
Wayne – I have 3 iPods...the first is a 40mb original that I just ran out of space with. That one resides in our bathroom. The next one is an iPod touch which is basically my ‘work’ iPod with demo’s and new songs and current projects and I also use it as an organiser – you know, address book and diary etc – and the last one is one of those 160 gb ‘Classic’ iPods which is my main listening device these days with currently over 13,000 songs on it. All the things mentioned above in the question about influences and many, many more. My current faves are probably Talk Talk’s ‘Spirit Of Eden’ and ‘Laughing Stock’ and Beth Gibbons with Rustin Man’s ‘Out Of Season’ and anything by Miles Davis.
Phill – Where abouts in this lovely world do you reside these days?
Wayne – Near a town called Sao Pedro near Sao Paulo in Brazil.
Phill – What car are you currently driving?
Wayne – A black one, what else?
Phill – What’s your favourite piece of clothing?
Wayne – A Corinthians football shirt signed to me by Ronaldo the Real One. Never worn it and never will.
Phill – If you could create your dream band, who would be in it and what would be its musical style?
Wayne – Simon Gallup on bass, Jonny Greenwood (genius) on guitar and other instruments, Budgie on drums, and Tim Friese-Greene on keyboards and production duties. Musically I think it would be panoramic with melodrama, a little bit rock, a little bit jazz, a little bit blues, and a little bit ambient. Organic and mechanical. Acoustic and electric.
Phill – Thank you so much for giving Grave Concerns this interview Wayne, is there anything you would like to add?
Wayne – Nah, not really. Just best of luck with Grave Concerns, and thanks for taking the time to read this.
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