Man On A Mission: Wayne Hussey on the band’s past, present and future
The Mission celebrate their 30th anniversary this year with a tour and new album
It’s been 30 years since vocalist and guitarist Wayne Hussey and bassist Craig Adams formed The Mission following their departure from The Sisters Of Mercy. And with a tour later this year to celebrate the milestone and a new album in the works, Hussey talks to TeamRock about the past, present and future of the band.
The Mission released their debut album God’s Own Medicine 30 years ago. What’s the first thing that comes to mind about that time?
“Well, it was all very new, fresh and exciting for us. We’d not really experienced any success to that degree before and were still relatively young. I remember making the record very quickly but then again, we’d been out playing most of the songs for the previous six months or so. But it was a very exciting time.”
As you look back over three decades, is there a particular album which stands out?
“Each and every album really is a testament to where we were at that particular point in time, so every album has emotional value to me. Not always good – there were albums where I wasn’t in such a good place emotionally, physically and spiritually. If I had to choose one, it would probably be God’s Own Medicine for the very reasons I mentioned. It’s very fresh, even today. There’s an innocence and naivety to that record that I wish we could still conjure up every now and then.”
You previously said you thought the shows in 2008 would be the last for the band, but you got back out for the 25th anniversary dates in 2011. Did the release of The Brightest Light in 2013 re-energise the band?
“The opposite actually. It was the shows in 2011 which re-energised the band. We enjoyed it so much that we carried on and did more shows in South America and a few other places around the globe. Then we got to thinking, ‘we quite like doing this – it’s quite a good noise we make. Why don’t we make a new record?’ So The Brightest Light came as a result of that. Now, I think we see ourselves as an active band. We play shows – not huge tours for various reasons. One of those being our age, I guess. A long tour would probably finish us off. It’s quite an achievement for any band to make it to 30 years old and still be able to put on good shows.”
With so much material in the group’s back catalogue, how difficult will it be to whittle the tracks down to a manageable setlist – and can we expect to hear a few tracks that haven’t been aired in a while?
“We have our favourites, as do the audience. I always like to thrown in a surprise or two with each tour and maybe resurrect an old song. I actually prefer doing two sets where we go on and play the first set of new songs, lesser known songs or songs we haven’t played for a while then go off for a breather then return with songs the audience really want to hear. I find it easier to do that than try and shoehorn in new songs to set a set of old ones. Predominantly, they want to hear the old songs, the ones they know and love and grew up with. When we worked with Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, he told the story about when they first started going out to play Stairway To Heaven and the fans didn’t like it. They wanted to hear Immigrant Song or Whole Lotta Love, so it happens to the best of them.”
Will there be a support on the upcoming dates, or are you tempted to use extra stage time to play more material?
“This being a rather longer tour, I think we’ll be using a support and just doing one set on this tour. As much as I’d like to do two sets, I think age and energy is a factor. And while we can sustain that over four or five days, I don’t think we can over six weeks.”
Will any of the shows be filmed or recorded for a future release?
“I’m presuming so. We haven’t talked about it but I’m sure George our manager has some ideas about that. I guess there’ll be something.”
As the live dates will be a celebration of 30 years of The Mission, is there any possibility that long-time collaborator Julianne Regan might join you on stage for a couple of songs?
“As much as I wish that, I don’t think so. I’m in constant touch with Julianne and we did the album Curios together in 2011. I think she’s one of the unheralded, great voices of the British music scene of all time but really under appreciated. But, no. I don’t think she’ll join us – I’ve asked her many times and I don’t think she will this time either.”
Aside from the tour, The Mission will release a new album in October. The Brightest Light had a stripped back, rawer feel than previous Mission albums – do you foresee a similar direction or will you change things up?
"That’s one of the reasons I’m was in the US recently, driving up the west coast – basically going where the wind blows me. I’m on a kind of writing trip – I’ve got a few tunes I’ve already put together for the new album but I’ve been finding it very difficult to write the words this time so I thought I’d change my environment to see if that provoked anything. With The Brightest Light, I liked the sound we made in a room together which, as you mentioned, was a lot rawer than some of our previous records. I wanted to capture that and I think we did. I also think the fact we were limited in studio time was a factor as well, but that’s the way we chose to work with that record. With the new record, yeah, I’m going to change it up. I think one of the things you can say about The Mission over the years, I think fans really don’t quite know what to expect from one record to the next which is quite a good position to be in. If you don’t try new things, it gets boring and stale.”
Regarding your solo material, I liked the different styles on Songs of Candlelight and Razorblades. What was the inspiration for the noir vibe on Madam G? It’s quite different from some of your previous material. “There are quite a few songs on the record that are different from my previous material. Madam G came about just plonking about on the piano at home and lent itself to a more jazzy feel. I have a friend who works with an orchestra so she scored it for me with a four-piece string quartet. I really enjoyed the experience – it’s not something I’ve done before but it’s certainly something I wouldn’t mind doing again.”
What was behind the decision to release a separate instrumental CD? Is it something you’d do again?
“Yeah, I think I would if the music was strong enough. With that album, I’d lived with the instrumental versions of those songs for so long that I became really familiar with them. After I put the vocals on, it felt to me like I’d lost a little of the musical detail. I thought doing an instrumental version would let people hear those tunes in the way I’d been hearing them for a year or so.”
Could any of your solo material feature on the upcoming live dates?
“With the last shows we did play Wither On The Vine which worked quite well and was fun to play. I don’t know whether we’ll continue playing that because we’ll have a new album to play. We’ll see.”
And finally, after 30 years, have you considered penning your memoirs?
“I have thought about it – and I have done a little bit of writing. I’ve got bits and pieces that I’ve started with this in mind. There’s a lot of discipline involved in actually putting it all together for a book. It’s all very well remembering little things then writing them down – but actually collating them into something more cohesive is another matter. I’m not sure I have that discipline. Also, I think there a little bit of conceit involved in autobiographies. I guess there would be a few people out there interested to hear my story – but it’s a story not too dissimilar from a lot of others. I don’t know whether it would justify my time, particularly at the moment when I’ve been making new records at a pace of one a year. I’d rather be making music than sitting down to write my memoirs.”
The Mission’s 30th Anniversary Tour begins on October 1. For more information, click here.